SJR Smooth Rio, shown by Corey Cushing and Mamas Voodoo Shiner, shown by Todd Crawford, are tops thus far in the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Snaffle Bit Futurity Open rein work preliminaries.
At this time in 2014, they were weanlings. Now, as meticulously trained 3-year-olds, the horses entered in the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity face the most demanding test of their young lives as they vie for the coveted $125,000 Futurity Open Championship. The journey began Wednesday, Oct. 4, with the first leg of preliminary competition, the rein work, at the Will Rogers Equestrian Center in Fort Worth, Texas.
The rein work preliminaries span two days. On Wednesday, approximately half the field of nearly 230 Futurity Open horses circled, slid and spun under the judges’ critical eyes. The eighth set of the day proved the most exciting, as two back-to-back runs by leading professional horsemen earned identical 223 scores, the highest of the day.
First, as draw 91, it was SJR Smooth Rio (Smooth As A Cat x Shiners Diamond Girl x Shining Spark), marking a 223. The stallion, bred and owned by NRCHA Corporate Partner San Juan Ranch, is shown by NRCHA Million Dollar Rider and two-time Snaffle Bit Futurity Champion Corey Cushing, of Scottsdale, Arizona. Cushing has been tremendously successful with San Juan Ranch-bred and -owned horses out of Shiners Diamond Girl. In 2012, he won the Futurity Open Championship aboard San Juan Ranch’s stallion CD Diamond (CD Olena x Shiners Diamond Girl x Shining Spark); and in 2016, he piloted SJR Diamond Rey (Dual Rey x Shiners Diamond Girl x Shining Spark) to the 2016 NRCHA Stallion Stakes Championship.
The next horse in the arena after SJR Smooth Rio was draw 92, Mamas Voodoo Shiner (Shiners Voodoo Dr x Big Mama Cat x High Brow Cat), bred and owned by Russ Mothershead. At the reins was NRCHA 2 Million Dollar Rider Todd Crawford, of Blanchard, Oklahoma, also a past Futurity Open Champion. In the eyes of the judges, Mamas Voodoo Shiner’s maneuvers equaled SJR Smooth Rio’s, and he also marked a 223.