Tammy Jo Hays is an accomplished non-pro cow horse competitor with numerous titles on her resume, including the 2010 National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Derby Non-Pro Championship and the 2012 NRCHA Futurity Intermediate Non-Pro Championship. But the NRCHA Stakes had not historically been kind to the Nocona, Texas, horsewoman; she had never qualified for the Non-Pro finals at this event. Hays broke her Stakes curse with a vengeance in Las Vegas, Nev., when she rode her mare, Two Kitties (Smooth As A Cat x SR Jaguar) owned in partnership with her father, Walter Greeman, to the Stakes Non-Pro Championship with a total 646.5, earning $6,474.
“I’m thrilled! I’m blessed beyond my wildest dreams,” Hays said. “I’m really proud of my horse.”
Hays and Two Kitties won the Stakes Non-Pro preliminary round and continued to dominate in the finals. Though they drew last in the herd work, Two Kitties impressed the judges to the tune of a 220, the high score of the round. The stellar work helped steady Hays’ nerves, which she admitted were in overdrive as she prepared to compete.
“I was more nervous than I have been in a long time, because I’ve never made the Non-Pro finals at the Stakes and I was last in the set,” she said. “I thank God, my husband and my herd help – Chris Dawson, Robbie Boyce, Jake Gorrell and Jon Roeser. The herd work was the score that put me over the top today, and you cannot do this well without good herd help.”
Following her help’s advice paid off for Hays. The cows she selected were ideal for her cowy, talented mare.
“There was nothing she didn’t do perfect. She was always in the right spot. If you get her in the right position in the herd, it’s easy to ride her,” Hays said.
In the rein work, Two Kitties spun and slid her way to a 213.5, again, the high score of the round. Hays said the stop is not the mare’s strongest maneuver, but she makes up for it in almost every other way.
“She turns around really big. I know that she’s so good in the herd and down the fence, that if I can just get along in the reining, and plus my turnarounds, it might save me. She worked really well for me today. She was honest and quiet,” Hays said.
The judges whistled Hays a second cow in the fence work, and she was pleased with how Two Kitties handled it.
“It was one I had picked in the herd, and I knew it was soft but would probably head. It did, to the left, and then we didn’t have the best right turn, which was my fault – I should have ridden by and committed to that turn a little more, but then she followed through on everything else and made a good run,” she said.
Hays and Two Kitties won the NRCHA Futurity Intermediate Open Championship together last year, and next on their show schedule is a trip to the Hackamore Classic in Pueblo, Colo., in May.
Stuart Bozeman Wins Non-Pro Reserve Championship, Intermediate Non-Pro Championship & Novice Non-Pro Championship aboard Merada In Style 09
Stuart Bozeman, Idalou, Texas, continued his winning ways in Las Vegas when he claimed the Non-Pro Stakes Reserve Championship, the Intermediate Non-Pro Championship and the Novice Non-Pro Championship. He kicked off his trip to the South Point Equestrian Center by winning the Stakes Amateur Championship on Thursday.
Multiple division sweeps are already becoming familiar for Bozeman, 30, who just started showing cow horses last year under the guidance of NRCHA Hall of Fame Horseman Don Murphy. At the NRCHA Celebration of Champions Derby in San Angelo, Texas, in January, Bozeman and “Squiggy” swept five division championships – and the quiet-natured gelding takes all the showing in stride with minimal extra maintenance.
“Since San Angelo, he’s gotten a little stronger and a little more solid in what he’s doing,” Bozeman said. “I had a good draw in the herd so I had a lot of options on cattle. I just got in there and cut shape, but I cut three cattle I knew.”
The resulting 217 was the top herd score in the Amateur division. As he prepared Squiggy for the rein work round, Bozeman discovered the gelding had more enthusiasm than usual.
“He made me a little nervous. He was pretty wound up. I hadn’t showed him since San Angelo, and being up here in this cool mountain air, and indoors – I’m outside in 85 degrees and the wind’s blowing 50 miles an hour every day where I live, so you can wear one down pretty quick. Up here, he felt good and he was running away from other horses warming up – not like he normally is. I just tried to relax on him and not over think what I was doing. After 45 minutes or so he got where I thought he would show pretty good,” Bozeman said.
Their 214.5 rein work topped the Amateur round, but in the cow work, a difficult bovine left Bozeman wondering what he should have done differently.
“We could have made that bad cow a little bit better,” he said. “I knew it wasn’t a very good cow, but I thought I had a horse that could mark more than that on a bad cow. But I don’t know how to handle cattle going down the fence yet.”
In the Non-Pro finals, rode Merada In Style 09 (Cats Merada x Stylish In White) to a total 639.5 score (213 herd/212.5 rein/214 cow) for a triple payday totaling $10,414.
Sisters Shine In Limited Non-Pro Stakes
It was like déjà vu all over again, as sisters Linda Wood, Rolling Hills Estates, Calif., and her sister, Polly Potocar, Thousand Oaks, Calif., claimed the NRCHA Non-Pro Limited Stakes Championship and Reserve Championship, respectively. Wood and Potocar pulled off an identical one-two finish at the 2012 NRCHA Derby in Paso Robles, Calif.
“We couldn’t do it without each other! It wouldn’t be as much fun,” said Wood, who guided her 2008 gelding, Cee Mr Cats Merada (Cats Merada x Cee Miss Money Rio) to a total 624 score (herd 205/rein 206/cow 213). Potocar earned the high-scoring cow work, a 214, aboard Cats Smart Oak (WR This Cats Smart x Cookie Q Lena) on her way to a composite of 615.5 for the Reserve placing.
Wood’s Championship came with a Gist buckle and C.R. Morrison Trophy from the NRCHA and a $1,215 paycheck, while Potocar took home $1,012. The prize money is substantially more than the Limited competitors are accustomed to, thanks to a new $1,000 added-money sponsorship from Gardiner Quarter Horses/Hes Wright On.
“Thank you to Amanda and Garth Gardiner for adding the money – it was really nice, and it’s a wonderful class,” Wood said. “We don’t want to go down the fence, but we wanted to do the herd work. We talked about going to the cutting, but now, with this division, we don’t have to go anywhere else!”
She and Potocar have supported the idea of a herd-rein-boxing division at the NRCHA limited age events from the beginning. They actively recruit their friends to compete, and were thrilled that their division attracted an impressive 10 entries at the Stakes.
“We are also really excited about the new Non-Pro Limited Futurity at Reno this year, too. I think it’s going to get bigger, I really do,” Wood said.
The sisters ride with NRCHA professional Mark Luis, Paso Robles, Calif., where their geldings reside full-time. They live several hours away from Luis’s facility and only ride a couple of times a month, which makes preparing for shows a challenge.
“That’s the hard part!” Potocar said, laughing. “That’s what we have Mark for.”
Both Wood’s and Potocar’s horses are 5-year-olds, which means they are not eligible for Derby competition after this year. The sisters reluctantly admitted they are considering selling their beloved mounts in the future, to make room for up-and-coming youngsters.
“We love them both, but then, on the other hand, we can’t keep them all. And if we get a 3-year-old, we can show them for three years, where with these, we just had them for two years,” Wood said.