The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) World Show crowned two Working Cow Horse Open World Champions on Nov. 10 in Oklahoma City. In the afternoon, Pony On The Boat and Brandon Buttars had their work cut out for them as the 12th team in the 16-horse finals, but they prevailed to win the Junior Working Cow Horse title.
Jay McLaughlin and Blind Sided (Peptoboonsmal x Lil Miss Shiney Chex x Shining Spark), who were the 2013 National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Snaffle Bit Futurity Open Reserve Champions and the 2015 NRCHA Stakes Open Champions, set the bar at 439 from the fifth draw.
Pony On The Boat (Shining Spark x Shesa Lota Nic x Reminic) and Buttars, the top team in the preliminaries and the Level 2 Champions, still had something in the tank for the finals. When the finals ended, Pony On The Boat was 5.5 points better than his nearest competitor – marking a 221.5 in the reining and a 223 in the fence work for a combined score of 444.5. McLaughlin and Blind Sided added the Reserve World Champion trophy to their case.
“He can stop,” Buttars said of Pony On The Boat’s best attribute. “We run him hard, too. The ground was a little deeper, but I knew that he would hold it so I ran him pretty hard. He stopped all three times really good. When Blind Sided came out and marked a 39, I thought, ‘I’m going to have to be awful good to beat him today.’ We got lucky, I guess, and had a good run on both ends.”
Bred by the AQHA’s all-time leading performance horse breeder, Carol Rose, in partnership with Grammy award-winning artist Lyle Lovett, Pony On The Boat topped Rose’s 2012 production sale with a bid of $165,000 from Bob and Kate Ballew, of Casper, Wyoming.
“Bob and Kate Ballew bought him from Carol Rose as a 2-year-old, and Jay [McLaughlin] had him,” Buttars said. “He got hurt as a 3-year-old. They were going to take him to the [National Reining Horse Association] Futurity. That horse has just had bad luck after bad luck after bad luck. We were going to enter him here and Kate said, ‘Is he good enough?’ I told her that I thought that he was good enough to win it. I’ve been razzing her about that. I’ve had him since he just turned 4. I’ve had him almost two years now. He’s one of the best horses that I’ve ever had.”
Senior Working Cow Horse
With three brains – horse, human and cow – in the arena for cow horse, things often get interesting and are rarely dull, and the Senior Working Cow Horse finals at the AQHA World Show offered plenty of excitement in addition to some spectacular runs.
Adding to the evening’s excitement, McLaughlin competed with a broken sternum, NRCHA Million Dollar Rider Doug Williamson had to stop to remove a dangling rear cinch before calling for his cow, and Brad Lund went down making a turn on the fence but was able to finish his run unharmed. The competitive thrills were saved for the final run of the 17-horse finals, when Matt Koch, of Douglas, Wyoming, and SDP Blue Blood (Laredo Blue x SDP I Got Good Genes x Dual Rey) gave the crowd plenty to cheer about.
The 2012 AQHA Junior Working Cow Horse World Champions earned another title and gold trophy with a memorable performance. Koch and SDP Blue Blood marked a 221.5 in the reining and a 225.5 in the fence work for an AQHA Senior Working Cow Horse World Championship winning 447. SDP Blue Blood is owned by the Blue Blood Partners, which consists of Koch and his wife, Brianna Koch, and Darrin Miller and his wife, Rhoda Miller.
“He’s a phenomenal horse,” Koch said. “Everything that I’ve got and where I’m at is because of him. He’s just a great horse.”
Koch and SDP Blue Blood earned a 429 (216.5 rein/ 212.5 cow) in the preliminaries and were 11th out of 39 entries. It took a 422.5 to return to the clean-slate finals. Corey Cushing and Shiney Dual Rey (Dual Rey x Shiners Madam x Shining Spark) marked a 434.5 (217 rein/ 217.5 cow) to earn Reserve World Champion honors.
“My thoughts when I came was that if I made the finals on him, I was going to let it all hang out,” Koch said. “We went in there, and I opened the throttle and he stayed with me and away we went.”
Amateur Working Cow Horse & Boxing
The Amateur Working Cow Horse got exciting fast, as Amy Bailey, of Sparta, Tennessee, handled a stingy cow for a 222 riding second in the draw. That score combined with a 216.5 from the rein work to set the bar high throughout the finals, and the duo proved to be untouchable.
Bailey rode Callme Mister Mister, a 2009 Mister Dual Pep gelding out of Travelin With Sass (by Travalena). The duo had the high score in the prelims, and Bailey said that put extra pressure on her to do well in the finals. Bailey and Callme Mister Mister won the NRCHA Non-Pro Hackamore World title in February.
Jenna Bell, of Fort Worth, Texas, and Very Smart Colonel earned the high score and the World Championship in the Amateur Boxing. The 10-year-old Very Smart Remedy gelding is out of the Colonel De Boon mare Colonel De Light. Bell marked a 221.5 in the boxing and a 211 in the rein work for a composite 432.5.