Sonya DiStefano had redemption on her mind when she and High Brow Kitty Cat arrived in Las Vegas, Nevada, for the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Stallion Stakes.
They’d narrowly missed making the premier event’s Non-Pro finals last year, and DiStefano was determined to get it done this year. She ended up doing quite a bit more than that.
When the dust settled Saturday night, DiStefano, of Millarville, Alberta, Canada, and the 2013 mare (Palo Duro Cat x Hickorys Jac O Lena x Jac Pic A Nic) were NRCHA Stakes Novice Non-Pro Champions.
Their composite of 630.5 (209 herd/212.5 rein/209 cow) also earned the Intermediate Non-Pro Reserve Championship and placed them third in the Non-Pro. They banked $9,233 in the finals.
“It’s so exciting,” DiStefano said after getting her winner’s photo taken. “I love it so much and she’s such a great horse and it just means the world just to be here.”
DiStefano, who’s been competing in cow horse about four years, arrived at the sport after stints riding English, barrel racing and team penning. She believes she’s found her true equine calling in cow horse, and a great partner in High Brow Kitty Cat.
“She’s just got such a big heart and she tries so hard every time and she’s so fun down the fence. That’s her favorite part,” DiStefano said. “She loves it and, you know I’ve just got to hang on really; but, she’s just such a sweetheart and I love her.”
The NRCHA Stakes was only their most recent success together. DiStefano rode the mare to the 2016 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Amateur Reserve Championship. They also made the Futurity Non Pro, Intermediate Non Pro and Novice Non Pro finals.
The duo’s success in Saturday’s finals at the South Point Hotel, Casino and Spa pushed High Brow Kitty Cat’s Equi-Stat record to more than $38,000.
“It means so much to me and I’m so, so grateful just to be here and to be able to show,” DiStefano said. “And, to have such a great mare, it just makes it so much better. To win the Novice, it’s just icing on top of the cake.
“The whole experience is amazing and it’s just a bonus.”
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