Tammy Jo Hays collected her third National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Snaffle Bit Futurity Non-Pro Championship last night when she marked a composite score of 650 on Hat Six Keep Sparkin to win $20,359.
As the second-to-last rider out in the cow work of 17 Non-Pro finalists, Hays had to give it everything she had to get by the eventual Reserve Champion, Laurie Richards, who had a composite score of 649.5. Richards and her mount Glitter N Glam (One Time Pepto x Cats Tiara x High Brow Cat) won $12,528 for being second.
After watching the cattle and seeing they had a lot of gas, Hays and her trainer/husband, Shawn, developed a tactical plan that involved holding the cow at the end of the pen in the boxing so her gelding wouldn’t run out of air once they got going down the fence.
“That went according to plan,” said Hays, whose 221 in the cow work was the highest score of the night. “The cow set up around the corner good for me. It was just a really good cow – it read right.
“When I made that first turn, I’d been really schooling him hard on coming clear around in that turn and I’d almost over-schooled him to where he stalled out for a second, but after that, he never got away from that cow, he stayed with it the whole time. After that second turn we started circling, and I was just along for the ride.”
In the herd work that morning, Hays and “Tater” had a 212 to finish in the top five. Their run didn’t get off to the best start when Tater didn’t hook up with the cow as well as Hays would have liked. On their next two cows, the big gelding was tied in tight.
“I’m so delighted with him because from that second cow on, he did everything according to plan for me,” said Hays, who went on to be second in the reining with a 217. “He warmed up really, really good for the reining and then executed it for me. I couldn’t ask him to be better all the way through.”
Earlier in the year, Hat Six Keep Sparkin (Dual Spark x Hat Six Little Paws x Peptos Stylish Oak), who was bred by Hays’ parents Walter and Jocelyn Greeman, wasn’t one of her favorite horses. He finally earned her affection a few weeks prior to the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity.
“He was kind of heavy and he was hard for me to ride because he pulled too hard. My husband, Shawn, rode him a bunch for me, and then Robert Smith came to work for us in May, and when Shawn didn’t have much time because he had his horses to get ready, Robert took him over and got him over some humps for me,” Hays said. “When I got back on him, I liked him a lot better. Through the summer, Shawn rode him down the fence and got him more solid and working to the point where I could get on and do some of the work myself.”
It was at the Southwest Reined Cow Horse Association Pre-Futurity in Fort Worth, which Hays won, that she really started to like Hat Six Keep Sparkin.
“He just started being with me, and we started having runs like that [one we had tonight] down the fence,” Hays recalled. “I told my husband, ‘I think he might be the better horse.'”
Hays was the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Non-Pro Champion in 2013 and 2014. She said none of her wins would have been possible without Shawn.
“He’s always there supporting me and nobody roots louder for me. I can’t do this without him.”
Futurity Intermediate and Novice Non-Pro
Lanham Brown had to overcome a tragedy to be triumphant at the 2017 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity, but with a little help from his friends, that’s exactly what the second year competitor did. Riding This Shiney Miss, a horse that was gifted to him by Wagonhound Land & Livestock, Brown marked a composite score of 638.5 to be the Intermediate Non-Pro Champion, Novice Non-Pro Champion and place third in the Non-Pro for a check amounting to $23,103.
“It’s a great accomplishment. It’s something that I’ve looked forward to all year, although it’s the journey of training her throughout that I’ve enjoyed the most. I’m really proud of this mare,” Brown said.
The journey for Brown and This Shiney Miss (WR This Cats Smart x Shiney Miss Hickory x Shining Spark), who was worked as a 2-year-old by Matt Koch and Matt Frederick, began a year ago when he got a call from Wagonhound Land & Livestock in Douglas, Wyoming.
“I’d gone up to Wagonhound and helped brand last summer,” Brown said. “They called me after I lost a mare that I showed at the Snaffle Bit last year and said, ‘We hate to hear it, but if you come pick this mare up, we’ll give her to you.’ I can’t thank Wagonhound enough for their support and generosity.”
Brown and This Shiney Miss marked scores of 209 in the herd work, 218 in the reining and 211 in the cow work. It’s the mare’s grit that Brown likes most about her.
“The heart that she showed is what I liked most about her here. It’s been a long week, and she never gave up on me. When they’re in these little stalls and walking around on concrete, it’s easy for them to get tired, but she stayed strong and with me the whole time,” Brown said. “This mare reins around real good, and I think she’s got a lot of upside that we haven’t got to yet. We’ll give her a little time off, let her get strong and I think she’ll come back even better.”
Brown attends Texas Tech and is involved in his family’s ranching business. He and his cousin, Myles Brown, who won the 2017 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Level 1 Limited Open and Limited Open championships, both started competing in reined cow horse at the same time.
“We point out each other’s faults quite well, but we’re also each other’s biggest supporters. We work with each other and try to help each other out when we can. We’re both really green, but we’ve both been blessed with some really good horses,” Lanham said.
Lanham would like to thank his parents, Donnell and Kelli Brown, for their support, as well as all the trainers, including Matt Koch, who have helped him learn about training cow horses.
Bret Paulick was the Reserve Champion in both the Intermediate and Novice Non-Pro classes. He rode Smart Smoken Remedy (Very Smart Remedy x Miss Slic Smoke x Chic N San) to a composite score of 636 to win checks worth $6,111 and $2,348.
After marking huge scores of 222.5 in the reining and 225.5 in the cow work on Shiney Outlaw, Sarah Dawson took home the Open Hackamore title from the 2017 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Horse Show and a check worth $8,120.
“He’s a great little horse. He’s easy to show. He’s pretty much always good in the rein work, and it’s just drawing a cow that can let him go score big enough because he’s huge down the fence,” Dawson said. “It all fell into place tonight. He was spot on in the reining and he drew a good cow, and it just worked.”
Throughout the reining, Dawson could feel how good the horse was so her score didn’t surprise her one bit.
“He felt like he was being good and he didn’t miss anything, so I knew that they were going to like him,” Dawson said of the stallion. “He’s a huge stopper. You can’t hardly get him to not stop. You say, ‘Whoa,’ and he slides for miles, and he does it every single time. You can’t teach one to do that, they just do it or they don’t.”
During the cow work, Shiney Outlaw (Shiners Nickle x Mereyda x Dual Rey), owned by Michelle Cannon, didn’t disappoint, and neither did the cow.
“That cow was good all the way through. He didn’t really take a wrong step in the boxing,” Dawson said. “He honored my horse and gave us a good feel when he came out of the gate. Then he ran down the fence nice until he threw us a little dirty in that first turn, but ‘Outlaw’ just gathered himself up and went and got it.”
Shiney Outlaw, who is 5 years old, was originally trained by Zane Davis. At 3, that duo made the Snaffle Bit Futurity Open finals together, but had to scratch due to an injury that was sustained during competition.
“Zane did a great job training him because you can just step on him and go,” Dawson said. “He’s a real good horse and good-minded.”
The Reserve Champion, Cashed My CD (CD Lights x Shiney Sushi x Shining Spark), who is owned by Aaron Ranch and was ridden by Jay McLaughlin, marked a 447 to win $6,496.