First Champions Crowned at NRCHA Hackamore Classic

ReysStarCatReys Star Cat and Todd Crawford • Photo by Kelsey PecsekThe National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Hackamore Classic preliminary round determines the champions in several divisions, and a hard-luck horse received a well-deserved moment in the spotlight when he won the Novice Horse Open Championship.
Reys Star Cat (High Brow Cat x Reys Starlight x Grays Starlight), a 2009 gelding shown by NRCHA Two Million Dollar Rider Todd Crawford and owned by Dom Conicelli, won the title with a total 434 (143 herd/145.5 rein/145.5 cow).

Reys Star Cat, originally trained by leading National Reining Horse Association professional Craig Schmersal, entered Crawford’s program as a 3-year-old.

“I showed him at the [NRHA] Futurity. Unfortunately, it was not successful,” Crawford said. When Conicelli, a stalwart NRCHA supporter and non-pro competitor, purchased Reys Star Cat, he was gelded to improve his mental focus, and introduced to cattle last year as a 4-year-old. Making up the training time was a challenge, Crawford said.

“Not having that foundation as a 2- and 3-year-old with the cow work was difficult. He was very scared of a cow, and it took a long time to teach him to go down the fence. If the cow hit him, he would exit stage left. He showed here in all three events very well. I was quite happy with him,” Crawford said.

Besides a career change, Reys Star Cat also missed five months of training while he recovered from an injury sustained last fall. Crawford appreciated his owner refusing to give up.

“Dom is one of our great people in the cow horse world. I always believed the horse had the talent, but I kept telling Dom it was going to take a little time. It’s been a challenge, and a lot of people would have bailed a long time ago. I appreciate him sticking with it,” Crawford said.

The Novice Horse Championship came with a check for $2,482, as well as a custom sheet and a set of skid boots, both donated by NRCHA Corporate Sponsor Classic Equine.

Level 1 Limited Open

Pueblo, Colo., was an appropriate place for Coloradoboonsmal (Peptoboonsmal x Miss Playboys Josie x Freckles Playboy) to win the Level 1 Limited Open Championship. It was a meaningful title for the 2010 gelding’s trainer, Keith Vogel, and his owners, Ted and Cheryl Swanson.

“We’re all Colorado residents, and that’s pretty special. When you have a big event in your local area, it’s nice to go get something done,” Vogel said. “The horse never ceases to amaze me. I’m really happy with him. Good horse, big heart, big stop, lots of cow. He’ll be a great bridle horse, I think. He has yet to live up to his ability.”

Coloradoboonsmal scored a total 423 (143 herd/139 rein/141 cow), earning $1,487. He also took home a Gist custom buckle from the NRCHA and a sheet and skid boots from Classic Equine.

The roan gelding, known as “Ed” around the barn, was a less-than-willing partner as a 2- and 3-year-old, but Vogel was determined to uncover the talented performer that he knew was somewhere inside.

“It takes time. You have to try to get those tougher-minded horses to like you. You can’t be the reason they hate to go work,” Vogel said. “I thank the Swansons for letting me take the time with this horse. With that kind of support from my owners, my family and friends, there’s not a whole lot I can do besides go win. I’m just the lucky guy in the middle,” he said, smiling.


It was an emotional win for Tara Matsler, of Canyon, Texas, who claimed the Hackamore Classic Amateur Championship aboard her homebred mare, Soula Boon (Soula Jule Star x Blues Nu Boon x Peptoboonsmal).

“It’s absolutely amazing. This is a second-generation horse that my family has bred and raised. My dad won a reserve world championship on her granddam, and I showed her dam for the last few years. It’s very cool to win something like this on one you raised and have such a history with,” Matsler said.

She guided the 2009 sorrel mare to a total 425 (139 herd/141 rein/145 cow), taking home $1,080; a Gist buckle from the NRCHA; an embroidered sheet from Classic Equine; and a gift certificate from San Juan Ranch, a division of Santa Cruz Biotechnologies.

Matsler owns Soula Boon with her husband of almost a year, Cody.

Non-Pro Limited

When Curt Fender, of Cave Creek, Ariz., won the Hackamore Classic Non-Pro Limited Championship, he became the first NRCHA Free Ride member to win a Premier Event title.

Fender was also celebrating his 44th birthday as he piloted Dynamite Nic (Tinsel Nic x Lenas Dynamite Chic x Smart Chic Olena) to a total 403.5 (130 herd/134 rein/139.5 cow), earning $1,215. The Championship also came with a Gist buckle and a custom sheet from Classic Equine.

“I haven’t been at this very long, so it’s pretty cool to win a major event right off the bat,” said Fender. He started showing cow horses last November, at the encouragement of longtime friend, roping partner and professional trainer Brad Barkemeyer. He bought Dynamite Nic in February, and the 2010 gelding, previously trained as a reiner, received a crash course in cow work.

“He had never seen a cow before I bought him. He was shown in the reining and the ranch pleasure,” Fender said. Dynamite Nic had barely 90 days on cattle before Fender showed him at the Hackamore Classic, and even less time in the hackamore.

“We put him in the hackamore maybe two and a half weeks ago. The day that the entries were due, I asked Brad if we were doing this or not, and he said OK. I’m planning to show him at the [NRCHA] Derby next. We’ll see how the next month goes.”

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