At the Abilene Spectacular, held Jan. 3-11 at the Taylor County Expo Center in Abilene, Texas, contestants bundled up, grabbed some coffee and continued to bring in the awards during the last day of competition. Although the weather was predicted to be bad, everything ended up working out just fine. In fact, this event turned out to be a great start for most of the competitors 2015 show season, leaving them with high hopes for the rest of the year.
Chris Schiller and her homebred gelding Athenas Picasso, owned by Schiller and Rezabels, had their first win as a team in Abilene. The duo was draw 11 out of the 13-entry 4-Year-Old Amateur class, giving Schiller enough time to pick out her cattle and try to get a plan.
“My first cow was a little soft just because I wasn’t asking [Athenas Picasso] as well as I should’ve. The second cow was very good. It felt like [Athenas Picasso] got to something cool in the middle where he locked up with the cow. Then the third cow, the cut wasn’t as clean as I would like, but it worked. I just put my hand down in the middle and he did the rest,” Schiller said about her run.
Schiller and Athenas Picasso marked a 215.5, taking home the 4-Year-Old Amateur Championship and a $1,800 check. The duo also won the 4-Year-Old Gelding Amateur and received another $1,304.
“I hope we have a good year. It sure started good and I’m really looking forward to it!” Schiller said.
The 4-Year-Old Amateur Reserve Champion was Burt Bull, of Sarita, Texas, and Bobs Rio Mink with their score of 215. The duo received a $1,346 paycheck for their performance.
5/6-Year-Old Amateur & Unlimited Amateur
Don Hudson, of Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada, is a long way from home. However, winning one of your first aged event classes can make the trip more worthwhile, and Hudson walked away with two championships.
Hudson and Ginas Rey were draw 17 out of 23 in the first go-round of the 5/6-Year-Old Amateur and marked a high-score of 218.5, earning $225. In the 6-horse finals, the duo drew first but that didn’t slow them down. They set the bar high with a score of 219 that held to the end, earning them the 5/6-Year-Old Amateur Championship with an additional $3,000.
“This is my first aged event win in any class, so it feels really good to finally breakthrough and get something done. [The run] felt really good. The corner help was obviously the best in the world and that horse is just one of the best I’ve ever owned,” Hudson said. “He’s just incredible. I’m just thrilled!”
The duo came back the next day and entered in the 5/6-Year-Old Unlimited Amateur. They were draw 26 out of 30 in the first go-round and marked a 219 to take the lead, and received a $388 check for their high score. In the 8-horse finals, the duo walked to the herd as the last draw and once again, marked a high score of 216.5, earning the Championship and a $5,000 paycheck.
When asked again how it feels to win yet another class, Hudson was still in awe and said, “I just feel pretty lucky!” All in all, Hudson and Ginas Rey went back to Canada with an $8,613 check.
The 5/6-Year-Old Amateur Reserve Championship went to Jaylee Hall, of Weatherford, Texas, and High Brow CD Deuce, owned by Jay and Shelly Hall. The pair marked a 215.5 and received a $2,250 paycheck.
The Reserve Championship in the 5/6-Year-Old Unlimited Amateur went to Troy Stewart, of May, Texas, and Awesome Lil Catilac. The duo marked a 216 and earned a $3,500 paycheck. They also won the Senior division and took home an additional $2,434.
4-Year-Old Unlimited Amateur
Wade Smith, of Geary, Oklahoma, piloted Some Sweet Checks to a Championship in the 4-Year-Old Unlimited Amateur. As draw 16 out of 16, Smith and Some Sweet Checks walked out of the arena with a score of 222. They had a 8-point lead on their nearest competitor, which was actually Smith aboard his other horse GSR Smooth Jewel with a score of 214.
“It’s exhilarating. It was more than I could’ve hoped for. To win this being the last horse in the bunch, it was a big rush and a lot of fun,” Smith said. “There were a lot of good horses in the class. Winning anything is always the ultimate and I was so proud of all my horses the whole show”
Smith and Some Sweet Checks earned a $3,000 paycheck for their 4-Year-Old Unlimited Amateur Championship, while Smith and GSR Smooth Jewel received a $2,200 for their 4-Year-Old Unlimited Amateur Reserve Championship.
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