Hackamore NDowers

NRCHA Hackamore Classic Open Champions Decided

Hackamore NDowersNick Dowers & Raise A Smart Cat • Photo by Primo MoralesThe National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Hackamore Classic, held for the first time in conjunction with the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity in Reno, Nevada, wrapped up on Sept. 27, with the rein and fence work for the Open divisions.

Raise A Smart Cat (WR This Cats Smart x Raise The Best x Mr Sun O Lena), shown by NRCHA Professional Nick Dowers for owner Bill Stevenson, had a rough start in the three-event competition. In the herd work on September 18, Raise A Smart Cat scored a lackluster 206 in the herd work, placing him far down in the pack of 70 competitive Open horses.

At that point, Dowers thought the compact sorrel gelding had little hope of finishing as the Champion, so he set his sights on simply getting in the money and qualifying for the Open Hackamore horse show class finals on Thursday.

“My goal was to just come back, have two really clean runs in the rein and fence work and make the horse show Hackamore finals. That was the goal. I thought if I had two good runs, I could probably squeak out a check in this [the Hackamore Classic], and make the finals,” the Nevada horseman said.

However, Raise A Smart Cat seemed to have other plans. He came roaring back from his herd work deficit with a 224 in the rein work and a 228 in the fence work – the high scores of both events – to win the Hackamore Classic Open Championship. 

“As soon as we started loping in for our reining pattern, I thought, ‘He’s on today.’ He can really be awesome. We’ve had some good runs this year, but today he was extra tuned-in mentally, and that led to our good reining. As soon as the cow came out in the boxing, I could tell he was crisp and sharp. That cow was kind of funny. In the boxing, it headed and stopped really easy, but once it went down the fence, I literally had to force turn it and make it do what I wanted,” Dowers said.

Raise A Smart Cat was more than happy to prove he could handle a rude bovine.

“That’s, like, his thing. He loves a cow that’ll push on him and he can push back. He likes to get in there and bang around,” Dowers said.

The Championship paid $14,094 and came with a Scottsdale Saddlery Custom Saddle, a Gist buckle and a custom sheet from Classic Equine.

Dowers also tied for the Hackamore Classic Open Reserve Championship aboard Smooth Bellingrath (Smooth As A Cat x Very Special Peppy x Peppy San Badger), owned by his family’s Triple D Ranches. They scored a 653.5 (209 herd/222 rein/222.5 cow), earning another $9,689. Smooth Bellingrath and Raise A Smart Cat will both compete in the Open Hackamore horse show class finals on Sept. 29.

The other half of the Reserve Champion tie was Smartly Starstruck (Very Smart Remedy x Katie Starlight x Grays Starlight), shown by NRCHA 2 Million Dollar Rider Todd Bergen, of Eagle Point, Oregon, for owner CTC Equine Assets LLC. They also scored a 653.5 (217.5 herd/221.5 rein/214.5 cow) for a $9,689 payday.

Intermediate Open continued on page 2