High school rodeo and reined cow horse competition can lead to a college scholarship thanks to a new partnership benefiting competitors at the National High School Finals Rodeo (NHSFR). The Reining Horse Foundation has joined with the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) to provide a $2,500 scholarship to the student athlete marking the highest score in the reining during the NHSFR, held July 17-23 in Gillette, Wyoming.
The winner of the inaugural scholarship is Jayde Atkins, of Broken Bow, Nebraska, who scored a 146.5 in the rein work and a 150.5 in the cow work, the high score for both events, in the short go. Atkins also received a Morrison bronze courtesy of the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA). She was riding Sonitas Last Dual (Dualin Jewels x Sonitas Ann x Sonita’s Last), a 2003 gelding nicknamed “Harry.” In a field of 112 reined cow horse contestants, Atkins achieved a total score of 884.5 (two go-rounds plus the short go) to win the national championship.
In late 2014, the National High School Rodeo Association (NHSRA) began offering reined cow horse as an optional event. It joined a lineup of bareback riding, bull riding, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, team roping and cutting for boys, and breakaway roping, barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying, cutting, team roping and the queen contest for girls.
“While reined cow horse might not be a traditional rodeo event, we believe it fits nicely with our ultimate mission of preserving the western heritage and providing opportunities for our youth members,” said NHSRA executive director James Higginbotham.
NHSRA, NRCHA and NRHA all acknowledge that reined cow horse can elevate the riding ability of NHSRA members who choose to learn and take part in the event. As part of the reined cow horse competition, contestants must complete a reining pattern, commonly referred to as dry work.
“Providing youth scholarships is a core program of the Reining Horse Foundation,” said Mandy McCutcheon, a $2 million NRHA rider and secretary of the Foundation Board. “Reaching out to the youth contestants of high school rodeo who are competing in this event makes perfect sense. Our hope is that more students will be introduced to reining and reined cow horse and ensure these sports grow and succeed for generations to come.”
Based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the Reining Horse Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the National Reining Horse Association. Core programs for the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization include youth scholarships, the Dale Wilkinson Memorial Crisis Fund and the NRHA Hall of Fame. The Foundation is celebrating its 15th anniversary.