Corey Cushing Wins Snaffle Bit Futurity Championship on CD Diamond!
With four horses in the National Reined Cow Horse Association Snaffle Bit Futurity Open finals in Reno, Nev., tonight, the odds were most definitely in Corey Cushing’s favor. He still had to work for every bit of the $100,000 Championship paycheck as he staged a thrilling come-from-behind victory on CD Diamond (CD Olena x Shiners Diamond Girl x Shining Spark), owned by San Juan Ranch.
It was an emotional night for the 32-year-old Scottsdale, Ariz., trainer as he talked about his first Snaffle Bit Futurity Championship and the high-scoring 222 cow work that sealed the win.
“It always comes down to the fence work, and that’s what it came down to today,” Cushing said.
He began the finals performance aboard the palomino stallion with 214.5 in the rein work, and then scored a respectable 215.5 in the rein work. The 430 composite score still put him seven-and-a-half points behind Todd Bergen, who had built an imposing lead after two events with a 437.5 aboard This One Time (One Time Pepto x Katie Starlight x Grays Starlight), owned by Pamela Bailey.
Cushing drew first in the cow work and immediately put up the highest score of the Open Finals, a 222. Given CD Diamond’s natural talent for that event, it wasn’t entirely unexpected, Cushing said.
“He’s been a fence horse from day one. As the saying goes, great fence horses are born, they are not made. It’s been something that is so easy for him, to wrap himself around that cow. I wanted to put him in the best place I could and let him do his thing. He just gives a guy confidence.”
CD Diamond’s owners, John and Brenda Stephenson of San Juan Ranch, had been in Reno to watch their horse throughout the preliminaries. It was the second time they had seen a home-bred horse win the Snaffle Bit Futurity Open Championship; their mare, Stylish Little Oak (Playin Stylish x Shiners Little Oak x Shining Spark) won the title in 2010 with Tucker Robinson in the saddle.
“I still can’t believe it!” Brenda Stephenson exclaimed. “I’m really excited for Corey. He deserves to win this futurity. He’s a great trainer, he’s a great guy, and he’s good to his horses. He’s just a class act. We love working with him.”
The Championship came with a slew of prizes, including two Bob’s Custom Saddles sponsored by Jeffrey Matthews/One Time Pepto and Bob and Kate Ballew/Mattie Neal; a one-of-a-kind custom snaffle bit handmade by artisan Greg Darnall; a CR Morrison Bronze sponsored by Farnam Horse Products; Gist buckles sponsored by Hooker Creek Ranch/Matt & Lesley Day and Lone Oak Veterinary Clinic, Cinch jackets from Bob’s Custom Saddles/New West Country Store, Platinum Performance from Doug Herthel and CR Morrison Commemorative Medallions from NRCHA.
Bergen, who won the 2011 Snaffle Bit Futurity Championship aboard Shiners Dun Juan (Smart Shiner x Cremes Chic Olena x Smart Chic Olena), claimed the$80,000 Reserve Championship check with This One Time for owner Pam Bailey. He admitted it was disappointing to see the Championship slip away, but he couldn’t help being happy that his long-time friend and fellow trainer reached the winner’s circle.
“I was very close tonight to winning it again, but one little misstep is all it takes,” Bergen said. He scored a 650.5 composite to earn the reserve placing. “I’ve known Corey and watched him show since he was 12 years old. You just watched him and knew he was going to be here one of these days. You knew he was going to be one of the best in the industry.”
Doug Willamson, Hes Wright On Win Open Bridle Championship
Demonstrating his typical flair in the fence work, timeless champion Doug Williamson, Bakersfield, Calif., claimed the Open Bridle Championship at the National Reined Cow Horse Association Snaffle Bit Futurity aboard Hes Wright On (Lenas Wright On x Shesa Lota Nic), owned by Gardiner Quarter Horses.
Williamson guided the 9-year-old stallion to a 218.5 in the rein work, and then conquered an uncooperative cow in the fence work for a 224 – the highest score of Thursday’s Open Bridle finals. The Championship paid $6,076.
“When it comes to a tough cow, he says, ‘Bring it on, because I can handle it.’ That cow was really a bad one. It wouldn’t stay on the fence, for one thing. After the first turn it wouldn’t get there. He just open-field turned it anyhow. He’s such a gritty, good horse. The harder it is, the better he likes it,” Williamson said, grinning.
The two-time Snaffle Bit Futurity Champion horseman is thrilled to have Hes Wright On back under his saddle, following a year-long rehabilitation for a suspensory ligament injury.
“I didn’t think I’d ever get to ride him again. He had several stem cell treatments, and we laid him off, swam him all winter and spring, and they brought him back to me as good as new. About four months ago we started riding him and getting him in shape again, and here we are, back in the ring!” Williamson said.
He thanked his farrier and Hes Wright On’s owners, Garth and Amanda Gardiner, who plan to send Williamson and the stallion to the NRCHA World’s Greatest Horseman in San Angelo, Texas, in January. The pair came close to the title in 2010, but had to settle for the Reserve Championship.
“We’re going to try to get it this time. That’s our next goal,” said Williamson, adding that Hes Wright On tops his personal list of all-time great horses.
“I had a horse called Baldy Cee back in the 1960s that was probably the best horse I’ve ever ridden, until this one. This one has the same heart, he’s the same size, and if you had them both together, they’d look just alike. It’s amazing,” Willamson sad.
The Open Bridle Championship also came with a Bob’s Custom Saddle sponsored by Eric Dunn, a CR Morrison Trophy from NRCHA, a Gist custom buckle sponsored by Debby Sanguinetti and Tish Wilhite, a 10 lb bucket of UltraCruz Sand Clear and a $50 gift certificate from Santa Cruz Animal Health and San Juan Ranch, a monogrammed Cinch jacket from Bob’s Custom Saddles and New West Country Store and Platinum Performance from Doug Herthel.
The Open Bridle Reserve Champion was Jake Telford, riding Nabisco Roan for Holy Cow Performance Horses. Telford and the stallion scored a 440 composite to earn $4,774.
The National Reined Cow Horse Association, now in its 62nd year, is the governing body of cow horse competition. It is responsible for promoting the sport, ensuring high standards of competition and educating members and the public about the history and tradition of reined cow horses. With the support of a Corporate Partner family that includes Bob's Custom Saddles, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Cinch, Classic Equine, Gist Silversmiths, John Deere, Markel Insurance Company, Platinum Performance, Quarter Horse News, Rios of Mercedes, Santa Cruz Biotechnologies, Silver Legacy Hotel and Casino, Bloomer Trailers and Schwalbe Trucks presented by Great West Trailers, and Merial products UlcerGard and Equioxx, 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 official NRCHA web site at www.NRCHA.com.
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