Tammy Hays made the most of her chance to ride Metallic Sparks in the NRCHA Stakes Non-Pro on Saturday, March 31, in Las Vegas. • Photo by Primo Morales.

Big Heart: “Midget” Wins NRCHA Stakes Non-Pro Championship

Tammy Hays is thrilled Metallic Sparks is so short.

If he was much bigger, she probably wouldn’t have gotten the chance to win the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Stallion Stakes Non-Pro Championship with him.

“Oh, my gosh! I’m so excited, because that’s the first one out of that mare I’ve ever gotten to show,” said Hays, who co-owns his dam, Shine Smartly, with her father, Walter Greeman. “She’s 19 years old and I’ve never gotten to show one, because they’re all good enough to show as open horses, or we sell them or and [her husband] Shawn shows them -and he’s too little!”

Nicknamed “Midget,” the 2014 gelding by Metallic Cat carried Hays to a winning composite of 640 (209 herd/213.5 rein/217.5 cow). They earned $8,481, doubling his lifetime Equi-Stat record to roughly $17,000.

Going into the cow work, Hays’ best shot at victory appeared to be Hat Six Keep Sparkin, a son of Dual Spark out of Hat Six Little Paws (by Peptos Stylish Oak) she rode to the 2017 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Non-Pro Championship. She and the buckskin were leading the competition going into the cow work, but a 199-point score erased any hope of finishing with the leaders.

“[Hat Six Keep Sparkin] just didn’t feel like himself and I kept telling myself, you made a couple little tiny mistakes, but the big problems that went wrong were because he wasn’t feeling like himself,” she said.

Although disappointed, Hays put the poor score out of her mind and focused on what she could do with Metallic Sparks. The sorrel gelding gave her confidence almost immediately. Their 217.5-point run topped the cow work.

“I knew as soon as that cow came out [and] he was bright and quick,” Hays said. “And, when he’s like that he’s usually going to be really good.”

Hays said the championship wouldn’t have have been possible without the help of God and her husband, Shawn.

“I always do a lot of praying before I go and I feel like [God] gives me peace and confidence,” she said. “Of course, I thank my husband, because he gets my horses ready [and] takes good care of me.”

The winnings pushed Shine Smartly’s Equi-Stat produce record to more than $282,000 from 10 performing foals. The daughter of Shining Spark (out of Smartly Dressed, by Smart Little Lena) has a record led by Thecrowdlovesme ($105,240), Smart Chic Olena), Nee On Lights ($72,510, CD Lights) and Spark N Boon ($28,739, Peptoboonsmal).

Thecrowdlovesme was the 2013 American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) Junior Working Cow Horse World Champion, 2014 NRCHA Open Two-Rein World Champion and 2015 AQHA Senior Ranch Riding World Champion. Nee On Lights and Shawn Hays won the 2017 AQHA Junior Ranch Riding Championship and several aged-event Intermediate Open championships or reserve championships.

Shine Smartly won $128,850 and two American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) world championships during her show career. Hays and her father still own the mare, who has been bred to a variety of stallions over the years.

“She’s never missed. Every foal up to this point is a money earner,” Hays said. “Obviously, not every foal has been that [Open-winning] caliber, but most of them have been. She’s just a super consistent producer. Every one seems to work.”

They harvested two embryos from Shine Smartly this year. Hays is hoping for a third, but is satisfied with whatever the mare is able to produce.

“I’m just thankful for every foal we get at this point, and I realize that every one could be the last one and that’s fine,” she said. “I hope she lives until she’s 30. She can live out in my pasture and eat cookies.”

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