NRCHA Derby Kicks Off Today

Tagged “Where the Best Go Next” the Derby features 4- and 5-year-old cow horses, and gives post-futurity horses a further chance for great earnings. They are shown in a snaffle bit or hackamore, whether or not they have been shown in a bridle elsewhere in their career, which is an exception to the normally strict bridle rule of the NRCHA.

Last year’s Derby proved to be an exciting event. Corey Cushing and Smart Boons, owned by Kevin and Sydney Knight of Peoria, Arizona, blew away the competition to win the Open Championship by eight points – a margin of victory almost unheard of in the elite competition of the Derby – and that win was worth $45,866!

In the Non Pro Derby, the name at the top of the list was Anne Reynolds. She rode Very Smart Flo Jo, by Very Smart Remedy out of Teena Cash Flo to the Derby Non Pro Championship with a 651 composite and earned $11,960.

Along with being one of the highest paying NRCHA Premier Events, the Derby also boasts a full-slate of NRCHA-approved classes. Beginning in 2010, the horse show will feature the $50,000 Added Holy Cow Performance Horses Open Bridle Spectacular, featuring the CD Survivor Memorial Trophy. Nancy Crawford-Hall and Holy CowPerformance Horses came on board as the sponsor of the class in late 2009, and the Memorial Trophy – a ¼ size replica of Doug Israelsen’s Great Western Tradition – was created to honor Crawford-Hall’s late stallion, the great bridle horse CD Survivor.

The Derby Open Champion saddle is sponsored by Centennial Cattle Co. while Target Constructors is sponsoring the Non Pro Champion Saddle.

With over 350 horses on the fairgrounds, the economic impact on the local economy, by standard economic impact formula, is over $1 million brought directly into the Paso Robles area. Considering the turnover multiplier, that translates to a total economic impact on the community of over $4 million!

The National Reined Cow Horse Association, now in its 61st year, is the governing body of cow horse competition, is responsible for promoting the sport, insuring high standards of competition and educating members and the public about the history and tradition of the cow horse. Through the support of a Corporate Partner family that includes Markel Insurance Company, Wide World of Horses, John Deere, Adequan®, Bob’s Custom Saddles, Cinch, Inc., Classic Equine, Gist Silversmiths, MD Barns, Platinum Performance, Inc., Nutrena, Quarter Horse News, Pfizer Animal Health, Rios of Mercedes, Merial products ULCERGARD and EQUIOXX, Running W Designs, and the Silver Legacy Hotel, the association works to keep the vaquero tradition alive in today’s equine industry. For information on the National Reined Cow Horse Association, call 580-759-4949 or visit the NRCHA Official Web Site at

Cowtown Derby Highlights

This past weekend (June 4-6) saw the National Reined Cow Horse Association-sanctioned, Cowtown Derby & Stockhorse Show in Claresholm, Alberta at the Agriplex.

The 2010 show featured an earlier date, so as not to conflict with the NRCHA Derby, Friday paid warm-ups and a practice pen.

Judged by Tom Neel of Milsap, Texas, the show boasted an NRCHA approved Derby and a plethora of other NRCHA classes. There were additionally numerous jackpot classes and the crowd favorite, Cowtown Fence Challenge.

Clay and I were super excited to be at this event as it was not only a chance to compete, but also presented the opportunity to visit with many family and friends. (Tomorrow on My Stable Life, I’ll share a bunch of pics of the many people we had a chance to catch up with during this time.)

Watching from the sidelines.

This was one of the greatest things I saw on Sunday: all theses little ones playing “Old Timer’s Hockey” as I overheard them say…

A big thank-you goes to the Holowath family and 7P Ranches, for all their hard work in putting this event on. I’ll be back later this week with win pics and champion results, so stay tuned!

The Saturday night pizza fest.

The Cowtown Derby champion sheets.

Battle in the Saddle

Trainer and competitor Brad Pedersen at last year's NCHA World Series stop at the Calgary Stampede Cutting. Photo courtesy of James Hudyma.

Although it would require a serious commitment in travel hours for any cutter, the 2010 Mercuria National Cutting Horse Association of Cutting is an exciting string of competition held in world-class arenas, and often, in conjunction with venues which at the same time, host a variety of recreational opportunities.

The World Series of Cutting is a series of eight events across the United States and Canada that draws the world’s best Open cutting horses and Non-Pro riders. Each of the World Series shows offers $25,000 in added money to both the Open and Non-Pro events. Every finalist cashes a cheque and the crowd-pleasing format helps bring cutting to new audiences all across North America.

Battle in the Saddle, the country’s newest equine event has been selected as a tour stop in the National Cutting Horse Association’s Mercuria World Series of Cutting.

“The Mercuria/NCHA World Series showcases the sport’s best seasoned horses, and attracts tens of thousands of fans,” said Jeff Hooper, Executive Director of the National Cutting Horse Association. “We are excited to add a tour stop to Battle in the Saddle, itself a unique event in our industry.”

The Mercuria/NCHA World Series of Cutting began its 2010 tour in February at the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo and then made a visit to the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo in March. From there, the tour hit the Breeder’s Invitational May 15 and 16, and continues on to the following locations:

June 24-26 – Reno Rodeo, Reno, Nevada

July 5-7 – Battle in the Saddle, Oklahoma City

July 11-15 – Calgary Stampede, Calgary, Alberta

September 16-18 – El Rancho Futurity, Rancho Murieta, California

October 7-9 – All American Quarter Horse Congress, Columbus, Ohio

Battle in the Saddle was announced last November in Oklahoma City and is an exciting new competition owned by State Fair Park and managed by AQHA. The competition will take place July 5-10. Battle in the Saddle is open to all breeds and will feature $130,000 in added money for an estimated $300,000 in total purses. Cutting, reining, roping and working cow horse classes will be recognized as AQHA special events. All breeds are welcome but Quarter Horses competing will receive AQHA points. The ranch horse competition is open to all ranches that meet the criteria of the AQHA-Bayer Best Remuda Award.

Roping events will be recognized by the American Rope Horse Futurity Association and follow ARHFA rules. Horses competing in the cutting will receive National Cutting Horse Association recognition. Ancillary reining classes will be approved by the National Reining Horse Association and NRHA affiliate Oklahoma Reining Horse Association. The National Reined Cow Horse Association will be involved as well.

Adding to the excitement of the competition, the selection trial for the United States Reining Team that will be representing the United States at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games will take place during Battle in the Saddle. See who will join the U.S. Equestrian Team as reining members to go for the gold at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games,

Battle in the Saddle will be held in conjunction with AQHA’s Youth World Cup, a team competition between youth from 17 nations scheduled to attend. In addition to the exciting equine competition in the arena, Battle in the Saddle will also feature a trade show. Other special events are also being planned to be held during the competition.

State Fair Park in Oklahoma City, often referred to as “The Horse Show Capital of the World,” is a premier equine facility that annually hosts the American Quarter Horse Association World Championship Show, the National Reining Horse Association Futurity and Derby, the U.S. Team Roping Championships, the International Finals Rodeo and many other major equine events. With more than $70 million in recent renovations and stalls available for 3,000 horses, State Fair Park has become the go-to destination for top-tier equine competitions and events.

For more information, or to enter, visit

Neat is Sold to Canada

Jac Daniels Neat

Kevin and Cindy Smith of Carberry, Manitoba recently announced their purchase of the AQHA stallion Jac Daniels Neat. The 1990 dun will stand at their Silverado Colt Company facility.

Jac Daniels Neat is sired by Hall Of Fame Sire Hollywood Jac 86 and out of NRHA money earner, Lady Bee Great, who is sired by Hall Of Fame Sire, Great Pine.

Kevin said they have high aspirations for “Neat” and referenced the famous story of Sally Brown, who partnered up with Richard Greenberg on Hollywood Jac 86, naming the syndicate the “Jac Pac.”

“Ironically, we live only hours away to the north where the Hollywood Jac 86 breeding story began in Minnesota,” he noted.

Jac Daniels Neat, at 20-years-old will stand to a select group of mares, including the Smith’s stellar broodmare band that includes two own daughters of Topsail Whiz.

Currently, in 2010 Jac Daniels Neat sits at #69 in the NRHA All-Time Leading Sire’s List with earners of more than $250,000 in NRHA events, and another $45,000 in NRCHA and NCHA events. “That just shows the versatility of his offspring,” said Smith. “We hope to carry on the great tradition of the Hollywood Jac 86 line with Neat, and the dream that prior owner Roxanne Peters from Auburn, Washington, had started.”

~ NRHA Reiner notes

Our Day With A Cow Horse Legend

Today we got to hang out with cow horse icon, Kevin Stallings. In addition to providing us with training information, he also showed us around his home and training facility in Tuscon, Arizona.

Have you ever wondered what the inside of a living legend’s house looks like? Keep in mind, this is only one set of buckles to be found here...

Kevin has a medley of credentials too numerous to list. But to summarize, let’s just say that he is an NRCHA Open Hackamore National Champion, NRCHA Open Bridle World Champion, and NSHA Open Bridle Champion.

Kevin, as he is about to climb into his 2009 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Open Bridle Championship saddle. He trains colts from start to finish and work with riders in several areas; cow horse, roping, cutting and reining.

I love the way the Stallings’ decorated their mantle!!

In 2004, Kevin earned 3rd place in the Worlds Greatest Horseman Competition aboard his great stallion, NMSU Truckin Chex (also known as “Elvis”).

The Runaway Creek Outstanding Bridle Mare Award. An exquisite trophy Kevin won for riding the high scoring mare of the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity’s Open Bridle Class.

He is additionally an NRCHA-carded judge and garnered his background with the help of Ray Hunt and Tom Dorrance.

Kevin’s wife, Karen is equally as accomplished. Karen was the 2008 AQHA World Show Amateur Champion, the 2008 NSHA Non-Pro Bridle Extravaganza Champion and the 2007 NRCHA Non-Pro Bridle World Champion. Stallings Cow Horses operate out of Banderlero Ranch, just minutes outside of Tuscon. The facility is a fantastic wonderland of horse activity and was partially designed by Kevin.

Aboard a stunning liver chestnut stallion, Kevin showed us just how it easy it is (for him<smile>) to properly work a cow and maintain a position of working advantage. “I always want my horse to turn first, then go towards the cow. I absolutely need him to turn, before I will kick him forward towards a cow.”

In that respect, Kevin’s goal is always to stop the cow and then turn with the cow.

“I always say to people, try driving the cow as opposed to ‘rating’ it. Once you change your mindset about how you are working a cow – from rating to driving – you will have much more success for boxing and going down the fence,” Kevin says.

“You can really school your cow during boxing with this mindset. You’re teaching your cow that when you step up to certain point, you want that cow to move forward. And you train him for going down then fence. You’re schooling the cow and getting your horse hooked up for going down the fence.”

The world calibre trainer continues, “Then if you continue to think about ‘driving’ a cow down the fence, you can almost turn it from behind. You can see when the cow is about to make a decision about changing direction, because it is raising its neck. That’s when you should quit riding and get your horse on its hocks – or land on his butt.” (Landing on the horse’s butt is a good thing – what Kevin is referring to is simply the act of the horse slamming on the brakes.)

“Drive, drive, drive and when you see that cow toss its head, land on your horse’s rear end.

“Drive him and stop. Once you can do that, you’re ready to go down the fence.”

For more information about Kevin Stallings, check out

And next week, I’ll take you for a tour of Bandalero Ranch!