Cow Horse Utopia


The members of the National Reined Cow Horse Association have converged on the west Texas town of San Angelo, and the reined cow horse action of the 2011 Celebration of Champions is set to start. It's actually three shows in one – the nine days of action kicks off with the Circle Y Ranch Derby, followed by the NRCHA World Championship Show presented by John Deere, and the World's Greatest Horseman.

The competition begins Saturday, January 29, when the nation's top 4- and 5-year-old cow horses compete in herd work, rein work, and cow work in the Circle Y Ranch Derby. In 2010, Jay McLaughlin piloted CD Dee Vee Dee, owned by Shannon and Hershel Reid, to the Open Championship. This year, the Circle Y Ranch Derby is expected to pay out over $120,000!

On January 31, the preliminary competition starts for the 2010 NRCHA World Championship Show, presented by John Deere. All year long, contestants showed worldwide in 12 reined cow horse classes to earn a chance to compete for a World title. The qualifiers from each class compete in preliminary competition with the top 10 in each class advancing to the clean-slate finals for a chance at a title and part of the nearly $200,000 purse. The finals of the World Championship Show will be held Friday, February 4, and Saturday, February 5.

And on February 6, the final day of the Celebration of Champions, the Western horse industry's best riders and horses will team up for the World's Greatest Horseman contest to win one very impressive title. The event tests each team's skill in the traditional reined cow horse events – cutting, reining, and cow work – but also adds one more element, steer stopping, to the mix. The 26 entries will compete in the preliminary competition early in the week, beginning on Wednesday, February 2 and running through Friday, February 4, narrowing the field to the top ten. In 2010, Randy Paul and Smokeelan claimed the title and the $30,000 Championship check!

But before the contest even begins, the World's Greatest Horseman contestants will receive their special commemorative back numbers during the World's Greatest Horseman Reception, sponsored by NRCHA Corporate Partners Classic Equine and Quarter Horse News. The reception, which begins at 7pm on Tuesday, February 1, is open to the public and will be held at the historic Fort Concho.

Admission to the NRCHA Celebration of Champions begins at 8am daily and is free during the Circle Y Ranch Derby and preliminary week, and will be $5 February 4-5 and $10 on February 6 for the World's Greatest Horseman Finals. There will also be a weekend package available for $15.

Thanks to the NRCHA's official videographer Galloping Video, the entire Celebration of Champions will be webcast. To view the webcast, visit, If fans miss the live action, the World's Greatest Horseman will be featured on The Ride on RFD-TV. The Ride is hosted by accomplished trainer and World's Greatest Horseman competitor Aaron Ralston.

It will be an evening of fun for everyone on Thursday, February 3, when some of San Angelo's finest meet in a heads-on stick horse herd work competition at 6 pm. The event benefits two great causes –   Mosaic TRAILS and Rein In Cancer. Prior to the contest, a Reception in Memory of Mary Sheard Sugg will be held on the concourse of the Spur Arena, and everyone is invited.

Immediately following the Celebrity Stick Horse Herd Work, the NRCHA Youth members will host the return of the Wild Bunch – a costume class in which the exhibitors compete in fence work. All money raised will benefit the NRCHYA.

From a concierge desk to help plan excursions, to exhibitor breakfasts and help finding stalls, the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo Association and its volunteers have rallied together in hopes of making this event spectacular. The hospitality and support from the San Angelo community quickly made the West Texas city a favorite destination.

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. For information on the National Reined Cow Horse Association, call 580-759-4949 or visit the NRCHA Official Web Site

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