Sage MaisenAvent

The Young and the Relentless

Sage MaisenAventMy daughter, Sage Wheatley, is pictured with her friend Maisen Avent, winner of the CRCA Youth Limited circuit award. • Photo by Sylvia McComberThe latter part of October my kids and I showed in Castle Rock, Colorado, at the Colorado Reined Cow Horse Association (CRCA) Futurity. A few weeks later, we loaded up for the Ranch Horse Association of America (RHAA) show hosted by the Working Ranch Cowboy’s Association during their 20th anniversary year-end championships in Amarillo, Texas. I thought it appropriate to devote this blog to the impressive level of youth entries at both venues. After all, what is to become of our ranching and equine industries without new blood inheriting the values and knowledge held so dear?

Members, parents and trainers at the CRCA shows all get behind the kids and it makes for a lot of fun, plus the polished showmen these kids are becoming bodes well for the future of the cow horse. The youngest of them, Caden Allen, 7, from Alamosa, Colorado, absolutely blew the doors off the place showing his broke and in the bridle cow pony “Tinkerbell” – and yes, Tinkerbell really is a pony! I applaud the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) for promoting youth, from the horse shows to the high school rodeos. Not only is it a positive for the cow horse industry, it makes for better riders whether they rope, barrel race, cut, etc.

The Youth in Amarillo was divided into two age groups – 12 & Under and 13-18 – and all of them meant business. It was a treat watching the under-12 set paired with some fabulous horses as they tackled a freestyle reining, cow work and roping (or circling) within the confines of the Amarillo National Center. The winners in the Senior Youth could – and did – compete against adults in other RHAA classes that weekend, and roped and reined their way to the top. The determination and skill of the kids was about as tough as you’ll find.

CoachingMy kids getting some pointers from their Papa, Jack McComber, in Castle Rock. • Photo by Sylvia McComberI appreciate the facilitators of the Youth and RHAA classes for making the show happen and the families, friends and fans of good horses that attended to cheer these youth riders on. Some truly exceptional horse-and-rider teams were entered in the adult RHAA classes, and you could find guys like Tripp Townsend, Chance O’Neal and Matt Koch (hot off his American Quarter Horse Association Senior Working Cow Horse World Championship riding SDP Blue Blood) coaching those kids enthusiastically from across the fence.

Much hard work is invested into the breeding and training of the level of horses that were shown at both venues, not to mention teaching the young cowboys and cowgirls. In a world where hard work and cowboy ethics often appear to be out of vogue, events like these – that welcome families and celebrate ranching and Western traditions – are vitally important. Keeping this heritage alive and well rests largely on some small shoulders, but the kids I watched can handle it.

Bonnie Wheatley has been the editor of Barrel Horse News since January 2007. She grew up horseback working for various horse trainers, including her parents Jack and Sylvia McComber. Bonnie and her husband, Scot, have two beautiful children who also love riding – son Regan and daughter Sage. The Wheatleys live on the Eastern Colorado plains near Colorado Springs where they rope, ride and enjoy the Western lifestyle as much as possible.