Reining trainer Dell Hendricks won his first major reined cow horse event when he and Ill Be Stylish won the NRCHA Stallion Stakes Level 1 Limited Open Championship. • Photo by Primo Morales.

Champion Reiner Wins NRCHA Stallion Stakes Title

The reined cow horse bug finally got to Dell Hendricks.

The Equi-Stat Elite $1 Million Rider spent the past two decades perfecting sliding stops and spins while preparing reining horses for the sport’s biggest shows. He’d wanted to try reined cow horse for years, but only recently was able to find time to give it a serious go.

On Wednesday, the Tioga, Texas, trainer won his first premier cow horse title when he took the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Stallion Stakes Level 1 Limited Open Championship with Ill Be Stylish.

“I always liked going fast and they always made me slow down in the reining, so it’s something I kind of go and do and enjoy,” quipped Hendricks. “And, I like working cattle and it’s just a lot of fun.”

The National Reining Horse Association Futurity Open Champion credited trainer Luke Jones with getting him into reined cow horse competition. The two men became friends after the Iowa-based trainer campaigned a stallion for Hendricks.

“He sends a bunch of his 3-year-olds out to me for a while and I do reining on them, and he helps me with the cattle work,” Hendricks said. “And, of course, I wouldn’t have hardly anything to show in cow horse if it wasn’t for Luke, because he just keeps throwing horses at me.”

That was the case with Ill Be Stylish, a 2013 mare by Mr Playinstylish out of Lean Little Lena (by Smart Little Lena) bred by Kit and Charles Moncrief, of Fort Worth, Texas. Jones trains her for owner Wayne Hanson.

“I rode her a little bit last spring, worked on reining a little bit for him, and [Jones has] shown her and been real successful with her and they just asked me in February if I wanted to show her out here at the [Stallion] Stakes and I said absolutely,” Hendricks said. “I mean, I always like to show a nice horse.”

He and the mare topped the field with a 633.5 (206 herd/213 rein/214.5 cow).

“She’s just a really nice, gritty mare,” Hendricks said. “She has a lot of stop, a lot of cow and she’s real easy to ride.”

Hendricks plans to ride in reining and reined cow horse in the future. His goal in cow horse, of course, is to win the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity.

“That’s a big dream and a pretty lofty goal, but I had that in reining and I did it once, too, so I’m just going to get up every morning and keep working towards it,” he said.

Cow horse required Hendricks to flex different riding skills – using his legs differently on a cow horse than he would a reiner and adjusting to showing a cow horse in a snaffle with two hands, for instance – but said his biggest challenge was just getting started. He encouraged anyone considering a new discipline to go ahead and take the plunge.

“Just go do it and have fun,” Hendricks said. “Probably the biggest hurdle that I had, because I wanted to do it years ago, but being real successful in the reining world and stuff, I didn’t want to have to step down and be a Level 1 rider again – kind of start at the bottom.”

Adding cow horses to his busy schedule wouldn’t have been possible without his family, Hendricks said.

“I’ve been gone a lot on the road doing all this and they’ve been very patient,” he said. “My son, Jimmy, and my wife, Terri, have been great supports of me trying this new discipline.”

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