Equi-Stat Reined Cow Horse Open Rider Award Winner Corey Cushing

coreycushingCorey CushingFire and passion are key elements for success in any sport, and especially in the horse world. For 32-year-old Corey Cushing, Scottsdale, Ariz., endless grit and determination during a busy year landed him at the top of the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) leader board for 2012. His earnings of $329,621 make him the recipient of the Equi-Stat Open Rider Award.

“It’s dang sure something to be proud of,” Cushing said of his recent success. “It’s kind of like a Cinderella story, I guess. My hat’s off to my customers and the great horses I’ve had the opportunity to show.”

One of those great horses is CD Diamond (CD Olena x Shiners Diamond Girl x Shining Spark). Owned and bred by San Juan Ranch, Shandon, Calif., the palomino stallion carried Cushing to the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Open Championship. Along with earning the $100,000 paycheck, he gained the honor of becoming the youngest NRCHA Million Dollar Rider. 

CDDiamond CoreyCushingCD Diamond and Corey Cushing. Photo by Primo Morales.“He’s a nice horse for both the cutting and the reining,” Cushing said of CD Diamond. “The first time I took him down the fence, Don Murphy was sitting up there watching me and he goes, ‘Yeah, he’s gonna be a really nice horse.’ Ever since then, he’s been a horse that it doesn’t matter how fast or how soft a cow is, you know that he’s going to handle it.”

Cushing also had a great run on Smart Boons (Peptoboonsmal x Smart Little Easter x Smart Little Lena) to win the Magnificent Seven All-Around Stock Horse Championship and a check worth $11,284. The 2005 stallion was bred by Buffalo Ranch, Fort Worth, Texas, and is owned by Kevin and Sydney Knight, Scottsdale, Ariz. 

Docs Catty Jo (Cowboy Cattylac x Lena Jo Doc x Doc O Dynamite), bred by Matthews Cutting Horses LLC and owned by Suzanne Clark, Yuma, Ariz., and Cushing won the NRCHA Derby Open Reserve Championship, earning a nifty check for $24,126. The 2007 gelding accounted for $42,479 of Cushing’s earnings in 2012 and has Equi-Stat career earnings of $76,720.

“He’s one of those [horses] that makes you work at it at home. He is always a horse I can count on, just because he is such a great show horse. But, at home he always kind of makes me nervous and makes me work for it. When it comes down to it, he was always up there when I needed him to be,” Cushing said.  

Cushing also rode Very Shiney (Very Smart Remedy x Shirley Shine x Shining Spark), owned and bred by Annie Reynolds, King Hill, Idaho, to place third at the NRCHA Stakes and garner a check for $15,982.

“I’m just lucky enough to have [had] a great year with every horse I showed,” he said.

Outside of the NRCHA, Cushing was one of two riders who showed 2005 mare Rising Starlight (Little Bay Starlight x Peppys Hot Star x Lucky W Peppy Lena) to the title of Superhorse at the American Quarter Horse Association World Championship Show in Oklahoma City. Cushing and Rising Starlight won the Senior Working Cow Horse World Championship, a title they had also won in 2011 on the way to the Reserve Superhorse title.

Aside from the good horses, there are plenty of people Cushing believes helped him achieve his success. Cushing is quick to credit his wife, Kristen, as one of his biggest supporters. 

“A lot of people don’t understand all the work that goes into being a horse trainer’s wife. They don’t realize that, at home, she’s always putting together entries, keeping the books right [and] doing the invoices every month. I couldn’t do it without her.”

Even with all the success Cushing achieved in 2012, he made it clear he would not be backing down or trying less in the future.

“As much fun as last year was, I just want to try and make the best out of every year,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of really nice horses. I sure want it to be a strong year for them. I just keep telling myself to try and make the best out of every day, and I just have to hope for the best.

“I’m the same person. I still get up, start work and try to make it as productive as possible.”