A champion cow horse performer must truly be a versatile athlete. He, or she, must also be exceptionally good-minded. And, to get through all the tasks required of him, or her, they must possess a "heart of gold."
A reined cow horse is asked to sort a single cow from the herd and hold it (keep it from returning to the herd) for the required time - no different than what is required of a champion cutting horse.
The cow horse is also asked to perform a designated reining pattern which requires such maneuvers as circling, lead changes, turnarounds (or spins), and sliding stops - the very same tasks asked of a champion reining horse.
And, if that was not enough, then, a cow horse must exhibit his, or her, complete control of a single cow by circling the cow in a figure-eight pattern and finally, taking the animal down the fence and turning it back both directions!
The reined cow horse is truly an awesome specimen. While the beauty of watching a talented cutting horse perform his job and an athletic reining horse smoothly execute his spins and stops is very enjoyable to watch, there's just nothing else better than watching a multi-talented cow horse barrel "90-to-nothing" down the fence and maintain complete control of some cow which would much rather have her own way.
The National Reined Cow Horse Association, which was established in 1949, has strived to preserve the traditions of the "Old West" vaquero. Many of today's trainers use similar training methods and ride with the same style of equipment as used by those gifted vaqueros.
While the reined cow horse event might not have grown in numbers as quickly as some of today's other popular disciplines such as cutting, reining, pleasure and barrel racing, nonetheless it has maintained the majority of the disipline's loyal enthusiasts and added a good percentage of new ones to its membership base.
The year, 2001, will not be forgotten by many Americans as well as people from around the world. The tragic loss of life on that September day cannot be erased. But, "life" as a whole did not end on Sept. 11th, and has gone on. The horse industry has shown little, if any, negative effects from the terriorist attacks. Horse events across the country have drawn record number of entries and the number of spectators has not dropped significantly, if at all. The horse market appears to be strong and all indications point to a healthy "horse economy."
While the reined cow horse event has certainly not lost any of its appeal to its many enthusiasts, the event numbers, overall, are down from a year ago. The total purse distributed in 2001 ($1,813,519) reflects a drop of a $271,838 from the previous year's total ($2,085,357).
A review of the year's major events could explain why the discipline's overall monies are down. The NRCHA's prestigious GMC Sierra World Championship Snaffle Bit Futurity's purse dropped from $842,383 in 2000, to $762,436 in 2001 - approximately $80,000. (Note: In 2000, the Snaffle Bit Futurity Show recorded 667 total entries. The number of 2001 Futurity entries were not provided with results obtained by Equi-Stat.) Also, the large High Desert Western Spectacular (held every other year), paid out $208,750 in 2000 and was the No. 2 reined cow horse event. Other major reined cow horse events which reflected a drop in purse monies in 2001 were the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Stakes & Maturity, ranked as the No. 3 event in 2001 ($162,210 in 2000 - $159,580 in 2001), and the World's Greatest Horseman contest, the No. 4 event in 2001 ($160,000 in 2000 as compared to $119,900 in 2001).
The River Front Farms Derby, ranked as the No. 2 event in 2001, showed an increase in payout ($199,870 in 2001 as compared to $199,190 in 2000). Another event, the Idaho Reined Cow Horse Association Futurity, held in Caldwell, Idaho, also reflected an increase in payout ($50,342 in 2001 as compared to $45,918 in 2000.
One of the newer events, the Florida Reined Cow Horse Association Orange Blossom Spectacular Snaffle Bit Futurity & Show ranked No. 7 on the Events Chart with total payout of $40,482. The East Coast cow horse enthusiasts are growing in leaps and bounds and appear to be one the industry's newest strengths.
One of 2001's most exciting reined cow horse events was the annual GMC Sierra World Championship Snaffle Bit Futurity. One of the reining industry's leading riders, Todd Bergen, displayed his versatile talent by guiding Boonlight Dancer to victory. Boonlight Dancer is the first futurity champion sired by his famous cutting horse champion performing and sire, Peptoboonsmal.
The "ladies" showed their strengths and abilities during the 2001 season with JoAnne Carollo winning her third NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Non-Pro Championship. Also, NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Champion rider, Sandy Collier rode Diamond J Star to a tie with Gunnalena and Bob Avila, for the Open Snaffle Bit Futurity Reserve Championship. Another "big story" was Anne Reynolds placing second in the "World's Greatest Horseman" contest, riding her 1998 NRCHA Non-Pro Snaffle Bit Futurity Champion Magical Lena. All three of the aforementioned women are ranked among the year's top five reined cow horse All Ages, All Divisions Riders: Reynolds, Hammett, Idaho, the No. 3 rider with earnings of $83,850 on six horses; Collier, Buellton, Calif., with $80,243, and Carolla, Atascadero, Calif., who earned $77,675 on four head of horses.
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