With temperature approaching the century mark in Paso Robles, California, the horses turn up the heat in the arena at the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Derby with championship performances. On Thursday, June 18, four titles were awarded at the event.
Gregg Lafitte and Shes Playin Rey (TR Dual Rey x Playin Acre x Playin Stylish) won the NRCHA Derby Amateur with a composite score of 633.5 (207 herd/212.5 rein/214 cow). The 5-year-old mare added $1,364 to her bankroll and also punched a ticket to the finals in the Derby Non-Pro, Intermediate Non-Pro and Novice Non-Pro finals on Saturday.
Not too bad for an exhibitor who traded his hobbies of golf and spending time at the lake for horses nine years ago at the age of 50. Lafitte, who lives near Dallas, Texas, wasn’t planning on making the trip to California, but a successful show in Colorado, changed his mind.
“I’ve been struggling along trying to learn the two-handed thing, and it just wasn’t coming easy, Lafitte said. “We decided to go to Pueblo and had a good show there – I won the Amateur there and made the Non-Pro finals. We decided to come, and I’m glad we did.”
Lafitte purchased “Jessie” from Don Murphy, who describes the mare as one of the “quicker-footed horses that he’s ever had in his barn.”
“It’s good and bad,” Lafitte said of the mare’s quickness. “What’s been so difficult for me is trying to stay on her.”
Open Novice Horse
Carol Rose’s homebred Reys A Shine (Dual Rey x Lil Miss Shiney Chex x Shining Spark) won the Open Novice Horse with Chris Dawson aboard. Reys A Shine and Dawson had a composite score of 659.5 (214.5 herd/219 rein/226 cow) and picked up a check for $3,188 while also qualifying for the Open finals.
“We’re just kind of getting him figured out,” Dawson said. “It’s the first time that we’ve taken him to the horse show and he’s the horse that we have at home.”
Dawson laughed as he added, “He’s got the training of a 3-year-old right now,” as the horse had a year off from training.
“He’s just a phenomenal show horse – he’s like his mama,” said Dawson, who also trained Lil Miss Shiney Chex.
Dawson had a game plan during the cow work, but his cow had other ideas.
“I wasn’t really ready to go – I was going to drive him back and forth across there a little bit,” Dawson said. “I was sitting decent on him so I didn’t feel like I needed to be real big, but that cow didn’t really give me an option. The cow said he was going to to go so we went on with him and my horse was really good – perfect.”
Level 1 Limited Open
Jayson “J.J.” and Teresa Fisher’s Justa Doin It (Smart Little Pepinic x Justa Hot Chic x Just Plain Colonel) is adding to his list of accomplishments. With Russell Probert aboard, Justa Doin It won the Level 1 Limited Open with a composite score of 640.5 (212 herd/213 rein/215.5 cow).
J.J. Fisher describes the horse as “pretty casual,” which helps him do double duty. At the NRCHA Derby, Fisher also qualified Just Doin It for the Non-Pro finals.
Justa Doin It added $3,444 to his earnings with the Level 1 Limited Open Championship. At the NRCHA Stakes in Las Vegas earlier this year, the 4-year old won the Limited Open with Probert and the Non-Pro with Fisher.
In the Non-Pro Limited, Claire Armstrong and Hal O Matic (Halreycious x Miss Hickory Hill x Doc’s Hickory) earned a composite score of 643 (213 herd/209.5 rein/220.5 cow) to win the title. Armstrong found the mare through a Facebook post, and has now won several titles on the mare, as they also captured two Limited Non-Pro titles at the NRCHA Hackamore Classic in Pueblo, Colorado.
“This last boxing run was pretty exciting,” Armstrong said. “I heard a couple of the scores before me, and I knew that I was going to have to be pretty aggressive. The really cool thing about this mare is that she was trained as a cutter when we got her, so she definitely takes care of me on the cow. I just went in there and tried to be as aggressive as Tom (Neel), my trainer, tells me and just try to get a good run.”
The pair picked up a check for $1,876 for the victory.
“It’s a dream come true,” Anderson said. “I’ve had her a year and a half, and I’ve learned all the way. I had never done herd work until I got this horse. It’s been awesome learning. Tom has taught me everything that I know, and it’s been great.”