Corey Cushing riding Sonita Lena Rey (Dual Rey x Sonita Lena Chick) who emerged victorious!
After 10 thrilling days of non-stop reined cow horse action, the National Reined Cow Horse Association’s Celebration of Champions concluded on Saturday, February 23, from Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth, Texas. After four grueling phases of the DT Horses and Hashtags World’s Greatest Horseman, it was Corey Cushing riding Sonita Lena Rey (Dual Rey x Sonita Lena Chick) who emerged victorious in front of a sell-out, standing-room-only crowd. Cushing won a plethora of first-rate awards and a check for $40,000 thanks to Finals scores of 212 out of the herd, 217 in the reined work, 223 in the steer stopping and 225 on the cow. Cushing and Sonita Lena Rey, who is owned by Sheri Jamieson and was bred by Jim Holmes, achieved the highest scores of the steer stopping and fence work portions of the Finals. The team fought their way up from the last qualifying hole into the Finals in order to snag the win. This marks Cushing’s second World’s Greatest Horseman title.
The caliber of the field of horses and riders and the level of difficulty in doing four events well enough to make the finals makes this one of Sonita Lena Rey’s biggest accomplishments. “This was a group of 49 of the best bridle horses in the country. Any of them had a chance to win,” exclaimed Jamieson, “Knowing Cinco as I do I believe he understood he needed to rise to meet the challenge. And he did.”
“Cinco” has only been doing steer stopping for a short time and Jamieson had only seen him on video. “I was amazed at his spot on performance in the prelims and also the finals. In fact, I believe he was the high score in the finals for that event.” Jamieson said.
Cinco is a great fence horse and has a hard time trying to exceed Jamieson’s expectations. “He's fearless, positions himself perfectly, and has enormous resolve to get the job done. I knew as soon as he entered the arena that the fence work for the WGH finals was going to be a big event for him and he rewarded everyone with an electric performance,” explained Jamieson. “Cinco just trusts Corey so much and he always tries to excel at what is being asked of him.”
No plans are set for Cinco in 2019. “Corey and I haven't discussed that yet. I think we'll give him some well deserved time off and let him wind down a bit, Jamieson says. “He worked pretty hard in 2018 and had a great show year. If we feel he wants to show of course we will make that happen. Every decision we've made about Cinco has been for his benefit and I think he'll just trust that we'll always do the right thing for him.”
Cinco holds a special place in Jamieson’s heart. “He is, by nature, the gentlest and kindest horse imaginable. He has the biggest heart in the world and much of that is why we have made decisions concerning him so carefully,” she said. “It is an honor to own him and to care for him because he truly is one of a kind.”
Boyd Rice riding Royal Smart Fletch (Royal Fletch x Little Smart Ginger) took an early lead with a spectacular 222 in the cutting.. Next came the reined work where it was eventual reserve champions Rubys Radar (One Time Pepto x Ruby Bagonia) owned by C Ranches, Inc., and ridden by Zane Davis who took the round win with a 224.
Non Pro Bridle World Champion
Karen Stallings rode she and husband Kevin Stallings’ home-raised and –trained Sheza Voodoo Dr (Shiners Voodoo Dr x Leapin Lindy Chex) to the Non Pro Bridle World Championship. Stallings marked a composite score of 433.5 (216.5 rein/217 cow).
“He always made me look like a superstar so it’s just awesome to win it on a granddaughter,” explained Stallings. “I might have been a little nervous, but she handled me really good and covered up a lot for me. I might have been a little tight in my run downs, but she went ahead and stopped. She’s just honest and rides so good. I’ve got to thank my husband Kevin, I wouldn’t be here without him.”
Open Bridle World Champion
Winning the Open Bridle title was Dera Cat (Smooth As A Cat x Dera Dually) ridden by B.J. Avila for Rainlynn, LLC. Dera Cat and Avila posted a 428.5 (212.5 rein/216 cow).
Roy Rich riding Very Smart Luck (Very Smart Remedy x Gunna Be Lucky x Gunna Smoke), owned by Rocking J Ranch, took home the reserve title in Open Bridle. Roy and the 2011 gelding were also the Intermediate Open Bridle Champions.
Open Two Rein World Champion
Sippin Boons Farm (Smart Boons x Peppy Nicolena) ridden by Corey Cushing for Eric and Wendy Dunn earned the Open Two Rein World Championship. Cushing scored 220.5 in the reined work and a massive 225 down the fence for a 445.5 to cinch the win.
Limited Open Bridle World Champion
Limited Open Bridle World Champion honors went to Scootin Jule Lee (Scootin Boon x Angelina Jule Lee) owned and ridden by Kaleigh King. Scootin Jule Lee and King scored a composite 440 points thanks to their 218.5 reined work and 221.5 on the cow.
Open Hackamore World Champion
The Open Hackamore World Championship was decided in dramatic fashion when Clayton Edsall rode Metallic Train (Metallic Cat x Sparking Train) to beat an ultra-tough field of hackamore horses with his score of 442.5 (222 rein/220.5 cow), which was worth $9,000 for owner Beverly Vaughn.
“It was a run-in, of course, and she’s really good at running and stopping so I just wanted to make sure I got her started off correctly,” said Edsall of the reined work portion of his winning run. “I felt like I got her stopped good that first time and turned good. I was a tick concerned with how the circles were going to go after the run-in pattern, but she handled it well, it was definitely a difficult pattern, and a good one for the Finals for sure.”
Edsall went wide open on the cow and the judges rewarded him accordingly. “I didn’t help her any by blowing a stirrup in my first turn,” he said. “I tried to get it back and our second turn wasn’t great, then I finally got it back and finished up good.”
Making the championship even more special for Edsall were the friends and family on hand to share it with him. Edsall thanked his wife Chelsea and was happy to have his kids on hand to celebrate the win with him, as well as Metallic Train’s owner Beverly Vaughn.
“This mare’s been a real special part of my year, so to win this and then drop her off at Oswood’s [Stallion Station] to start breeding her is what we were hoping for, for sure,” said Edsall.
Intermediate Non Pro Bridle World Champion
In the hotly contested Intermediate Non Pro Bridle Finals it was Sareece Brown and Very Smart Playmate (Very Smart Remedy x Gunna Be Mine) who took the title.
While Brown and Judy Fortenberry aboard Cold Hard Smart Cash (Big Chex To Cash x Smartin Up) tied with identical scores of 430.5, the tie-breaker was the cow work score—Brown’s being a 218 (212.5 rein) and Fortenberry’s a 216 (214.5 rein). Having made the decision to retire Very Smart Playmate, the win was emotional for Brown.
Non Pro Limited World Champion
Kristin Bacchetti rode Heart Of A Remedy (Heart Of A Fox x SPD Remedys Response) to the Non Pro Limited World title thanks to a score of 434 (212 rein/222 cow).
“He was the first cow horse I ever bought,” said Bacchetti. “He’s just been amazing for me. This is the one title we didn’t have and I was coming here whether I got it or not. It might be one of my last shows on him so it’s been kind of emotional, he’s been a dream come true.”
Limited Open Hackamore World Champion
SJR Smart Dancer (WR This Cats Smart x Like A Sundance) owned and ridden by Rebecca Sternade earned her the title of Limited Open Hackamore World Champion.
“I felt like my run went pretty good, I felt like he was doing his job and pulled through for me,” said Sternadel. “I’ve gotten a lot of help from Jake Gorrell and Don Murphy, they’ve helped me immensely. I got him as a long yearling and started him and have had him ever since, so I have a long history with him.”
Non Pro Two Rein World Champion
Morgan Holmes rode The Smart Dun (Dun It Big x Poco Smart Oak x Smart Little Lena) to the top of the field of Non Pro Two Rein finalists scoring 211 in the reined work and a thrilling 220.5 on the cow for a total on two of 431.5.
Addison Coutts on Peppys Please won the NRCHA - National High School invitational class with a score of 290. Since she qualified for High School Nationals last Summer in Wyoming, the NRCHA has joined with NHSRA to create this Invitational class at Celebration of Champions in Ft Worth for those NHSRA riders that made the short go.
Since Addison left California in January to attend North Central Texas College to compete on the Stock Horse team, she has been fortunate enough to get to work with cow horse legend Don Murphy and then catch up at Ft Worth with her long time trainer Sunni McCormick. "I just want to thank everyone- from Sunni and Don to all my family who were able to come to Ft Worth to cheer us on,” Addison said. “Looking forward to a fun new year with the NCTC team."