Cow Horse action returned to Scottsdale, Arizona, for the 2023 Kimes Ranch Jeans Western Derby, May 31st through June 10th where the best horses and riders compete for their shot at a portion of $246,000 in added money. The NRCHA Western Derby, increased added money awaited the 4- and 5-year-old horse and rider pairs, many of which competed at the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity® when the horses were 3 years old. Horses were judged in three challenging events: herd work, rein work and fence (cow) work. The Western Derby featured nine divisions to suit all levels, from million-dollar riders in the Open, entry-level competitors in the Non Pro Limited and Boxing, and every level of competitor in between.
A commanding run in the reined work and a monster run in the cow work propelled Nick Dowers to the champion title of the Open Derby Finals at the 2023 National Reined Cow Horse Association Western Derby.
Dowers rode his family’s gelding Cabanna Boy to a 216.5 in the herd work, tying him for 16th place going into the reined work, but he still thought he had a chance to win. “I was a 223 in the reining prelims, 223 and then then a 23 and a half in the fence work as well,” Dowers said. “I knew if I could match those runs or maybe improve upon them that I would have a chance, and sure enough, we did.”
In the finals, Dowers had the top score in the reining, a 224.5 that pushed him to fifth place in the composite before a score of 226.5 in the cow work powered him to a 667.5 composite. “I just remember knowing that if I laid down a monster run that I had a shot to win,” Dowers said. “I remember trotting some circles in the back and saying, you know, if I’m gonna go to battle, what better horse than this for this moment? Because he has just been such a reliable fence horse.”
The 2019 gelding (WR This Cats Smart x Shining Madonna) was bred by Wagonhound Land & Livestock and is owned by Triple D Ranches of Dyer, Nevada. Dowers bought the horse through the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity sale.
Clay Volmer rode Pitzer Ranch’s Metallic Casanova to the reserve championship. Volmer and the 2018 stallion (Metallic Cat x Dark And Sultry) marked a 220 in the herd work, putting them in third place going into the reined work, where they marked a 222.5. The judges scored them a 224.5 in the cow work to place second overall with a composite of 667. The duo earned a check for $35,000.
In the Intermediate Open Derby, Clay Roeser rode Sliding J Ranch’s Remember The Boon to the title and a check of $15,000 with a composite of 661.5 (H: 219/R: 221/C: 221.5).
In the Limited Open Derby, Tucker J. Clark rode DeeAnna Penna’s DT This CatsDualRey to first place and a check for $4,090 with a composite of 645 (H: 214.5/R: 219.5/C: 211).
Non Pro Derby Champions
With a big composite score of 657.5, Abbie Phillips and Purdy Talker took home the Non Pro Championship, banking $10,000. “This mare is pretty special to me,” Phillips said. “She’s very sweet, and I love riding her. I’m glad I finally got her shown and she got the win. The non pro class is getting tougher and tougher, and you just have to have your A-game every time you walk into the pen.”
Phillips said the mare (Purdy Boy Flash x Money Talks Smart x Smart Mate) is talented in every aspect of the cow horse, and their performances throughout the finals proved it. In the herd work, they scored a 217, which tied to top the class. Their score of 222.5 won the rein work, and a 218 down the fence — the third highest in the cow work — gave them the boost they needed to win the whole shebang.
“I need to thank my herd help — Corey Cushing, Phillip Ralls, Brandon Buttars and my husband, Kelby,” Phillips said. “I was first out in that set [in the herd work], and they put me on three good cows. A big thanks also to Oklahoma Equine, who vets our horses, and the Kelby Phillips team for being there and helping me out.”
Tammy Jo Hays and Shiverz (Woody Be Tuff x Cats Boonolena x High Brow Cat) picked up the Reserve Championship with their composite 652 (H: 216.5/R: 215/C: 220.5). The pair, who marked the highest score in the cow work, banked $7,500.
Horse Show and Spectacular Champions Were Crowned
CR Dainty N Tuff and Lee Deacon marked a 298 for owner Lee Ann McDaniel to win the Open Hackamore. In the Intermediate Open Hackamore, Lil Stormy Jones, owned by Sliding J Ranch, LLC and shown by Clay Roeser marked a 286.5 to claim the title. VE One Hired Gun and Bailey Kimball marked a 277 to win the Limited Open Hackamore for the Vere Earl Ranch, INC. Linda Kratz’s CD Highlights and Randy Paul took home the titles in both the Open Bridle and the Intermediate Open Bridle with a 445.5. Ruby Merada, owned by Amanda Dingley and shown by Patrick Appleby marked a 423 in the Limited Open Bridle. Picking up their second win of the week, Smart Chic An Tari and Sarah Dawson marked a 663.5 to win the Open Bridle Spectacular for the Aaron Ranch. Tabasque O and Ron Ralls marked a 661.5 to win the Intermediate Open Bridle Spectacular
In the Non Pro Super Spectacular, Parke Greeson and SCR BetThisTime marked a 582 to capture the title. Whose Tuff and Shadd Parkinson captured the Open Bridle Super Spectacular title with an 880.5 for owner Christa Hampton. Marking the high score of the steer stopping was Quahadi, owned by the Burneett Ranches LLC and shown by Boyd Rice with a 224.5
SnapDrangons, owned by Shane Law and shown by Zane Davis, marked a 296 to win the Open Two Rein. Winning the Open Two Rein Spectacular was Aaron Ranch’s Smart Chi An Tari and Sarah Dawson with a 441.5. Cutter McLaughlin and SCR King Of The Road topped the Non Pro Bridle and the Non Pro Bridle Spectacular with a 440.5. Sarah Clymer took home the title in the Intermediate Non Pro Bridle with a 292 aboard Royal Roanie Smart. In the Level 1 Non Pro Bridle, Lainey Grewing marked a 292 riding Metalic Blaze. Kristy Kay Mille and Glamour Royallty marked a 284 to win the Select Non Pro.
Olivia Bethe and Smar Dual Cat took home the Youth Cow Horse Spectacular title with a 651. Caroline Buchanan showed Sweetes to a 289 to win the Youth Cow Horse title. Hunter Hays and TheCrowdLovesMe earned a 287.5 to win the Youth 13 & under Cow Horse title. Dona Waddell showed Shes Divine to a 290 to win the Intermediate Non Pro Boxing. In the Limited Non Pro Boxing, Josey Brown and Hesa Twisted Bet marked a 284.5 to secure the win. Marking a 293, Delinda Jokela and Ice Wynnd Fire won the Select Non Pro Boxing title. Niamh Sexton and Im Metallic Shine marked a 295.5 to win the Box Dirve. Heather Vatcher and Sippin Boons Farm marked a 289 to win the Select Box Drive
Courtesy of National Reined Cow Horse Association