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Sandy Miller's SCRCHA Triple Crown win was a rehab journey with 'Cruz'

From Horsetrader staff - December 4th, 2014 - Cover Story, Show & Event News

1412A cover imageTEMECULA – What do you do when your horse sustains bowed tendons on both hind legs, right before your key season-ending competition?

Nothing. Not for a whole year.

That’s the fate that faced Sandy Miller and Dual Ya Luv Me, a promising then-4-year-old on which she was gaining momentum heading into last year’s Southern California Reining Cow Horse Association Saddle Shootout.

“We still aren’t certain how the injury happened,” says Miller, a non pro from Winchester who was floored by her gelding’s October 2013 injury. “When the vet told me it was going to be a whole year, I was stunned.”

After 12 months of patient rehabilitation, working closely with trainer Roy Rich and her vet, Dr. Steve Colburn, Miller and “Cruz” entered the showpen Nov. 15-16 at the SCRCHA Non Pro Triple Crown. They left it with the Non Pro Derby title.

It was one of the highlights of the popular SCRCHA weekend at Casner’s Ranch that featured top non pros from throughout the region. While all winners enjoyed buckles and earnings of their wins, Miller may have felt some extra satisfaction after her long haul back from uncertainty. It was just the second show back after the rehab.

“It’s a blessing that I am just able to ride him again,” says Miller, who acquired Cruz as a 3-year-old from Smokey Pritchett in June 2012. “People thought that I was never going to be able to ride him again, but I did it. A whole year. I did everything Dr. Colburn told me to do.”

After starting with platelet rich plasma treatment (PRP) injected into the injured area, he was iced two to three times a day, along with brief hand-walks twice a day. Her friend, Melanie Suthard-Thompson, helped Miller with electromagnetic pulsating therapy — a low wave frequency that promotes healing — and, every two months, ultra sound was used to check progress.

Ninety days later, Cruz was turned out into a 24×24 stall, and the hand-walking and ice routine continued until the four-month mark, where Miller was finally cleared to walk him under saddle for 20 to 30 minutes a day.

“I just did what the vet told me to do,” Miller says. “I waited until they said I could get on him. I got on him and I walked him 30 minutes a day for two months.”

That was February. Eventually, she picked up the pace, trotting him daily — at first, just seven minutes in each direction — for 60 days, increasing his time along the way. At the seven-month mark, TheraPlate therapy was added, something Miller says her horse will get indefinitely.

“We monitored his progress and eventually started to lope,” she says. “His workouts were real short — about 30 minutes. By September, we were stopping, just little stops. And I took him and schooled him. We didn’t turn the cow, we just boxed the cow and went through it.”

The goal was to show in the SCRCHA Saddle Shootout last October. They succeeded.

“In the first day, I made an operator error, and we zeroed out,” says Miller, admitting she under-spun. “Then, on Sunday, we won the hackamore class!”

At the subsequent Triple Crown show, Miller was so focused on her performance with Cruz that she didn’t know she had won the Non Pro Derby until reserve champion Heather Livingston came up and told her.

“I remember being six points behind after the herd, and the next day I didn’t really pay attention to the scores and just went our and did the reining and cowwork,” says Miller, who earned $450. “Then Heather said, ‘You won!’, and I said, ‘What?!'”

She and Rich are preparing with lessons now to compete in the two-rein next year, and she is thrilled to be back in the saddle with Cruz under her.

“It’s very gratifying,” says Miller, who works at CostCo in the evenings and has launched her own video business, shooting cow horse events. “On the fence, he is so strong. Just confident and smart. He’s always right there. I think out of all my fence runs, we’ve only lost like one cow.”

In other competition at the SCRCHA Non Pro Triple Crown, Michael Berg rode Mary Tamme’s Im Bratman to wins in both the Two Rein and Bridle Spectacular, earning $696 combined.

Other Non Pro Spectacular winners included Tiffany Neal on her Hickorys Mr Chip in the Novice Non Pro Bridle Spectacular, earning $596, and Janet Bache on her PG Reylena in the Non Pro Limited Spectacular, picking up $620.

Allyson Tapie rode Linda Collins’s Stylish N Petite to the 5000 Non Pro Limited Spectacular title, collecting $744, and Brock Heiber took his Shining Rose Bud to the Youth Limited Spectacular to claim $248 in earnings.

MORE ONLINE: Http://bit.ly/412A_SCRCHA

2014 SCRCHA Non Pro Triple Crown
Nov. 15-16, 2014 * Casner Ranch, Temecula, Calif.
Show Champions
Horse/ Rider/ Owner/ Score/ Money

Hic A Roo/ Tommy Thompson/ Jay Lyndes/ 287/ $240.00

Soula Jule Girl/ Heather Livingston/ Rory & Heather Livingston/ 289.5/ $250.00

Leos Frosty Barbie/ Monica Pratt/ Monica Pratt/ 262/ $100.00

Full Throttle Pepnic/ Daniel Daponde/ John Scheck/ 290.5/ $270.00

Tangys Sugar Nic/ Tiffany Neal/ Tiffany Neal/ 257.5/ $20.00

Im Bratman/ Michael Berg/ Mary Tamme/ 144/ $100.00

Ka Rona/ Maggie Cincotta/ Maggie Cincotta/ 281/ $40.00

Magics Lil Chicolena/ Megan Barnes/ Megan Barnes/ 289.5/ $200.00

Magics Lil Chicolena/ Megan Barnes/ Megan Barnes/ 289.5/ $160.00

Im Bratman/ Michael Berg/ Mary Tamme/ 430/ $595.80

Hickorys Mr Chip/ Tiffany Neal/ Tiffany Neal/ 428/ $595.80

Dual Ya Luv Me/ Sandy Miller/ Sandy Miller/ 409.5/ $446.40

PG Reylena/ Janet Bache/ Janet Bache/ 428.5/ $620.50

Stylish N Petite/ Allyson Tapie/ Linda Collins/ 425/ $744.30

Shining Rose Bud/ Brock Hieber/ Brock Hieber/ 401/ $248.00

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