LaDona Emmons had something to prove – to herself – when she entered the arena for the cow work during the Novice Non-Pro finals of the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Derby.
She hadn’t had a good preliminary run on her mare, Hey Nicci, and was starting to wonder if she was cut out for it. The finals on Saturday, June 16, were her chance at redemption.
“I mean at one time I’m like, ‘If I’m not tough enough to do this I don’t need to keep, you know, spending the money because I’ve got to be frugal.’ And, so it was one of those things that you just push and you know are you tough enough to get down there, [but] can you do this,” she recalled thinking. “I had a good run on her early in the year in February at a derby, had a really good run, so I knew that I had it in there.”
She got her answer with a big 220.5 fence work score that not only topped the Novice Non-Pro cow work finals, but gave Emmons and the mare by Nic It In The Bud a winning composite of 649 (213 herd/215.5/220.5). Getting the cow worked so well was positive affirmation for Emmons, who started going down the fence in recent years.
“I enjoy it and it’s something that, probably, before I get on my horse I’m a little sick to my stomach, maybe nerves,” she said. “Yeah, it made me feel for sure that I was doing the right thing.”
Emmons, who grew up riding pleasure and equitation, started showing cow horses in 2012 after meeting her husband, Ron Emmons. She competed successfully in boxing on her bridle horse, Anuther Mister 505 (by Mister Dual Pep), winning several titles and an American Quarter Horse Association World Championship. She also won the 2015 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Non-Pro Limited Championship with Stylish Ike (Playin Stylish x Miss Catty Cash x Nu Cash).
She bought Hey Nicci (out of Sugartime 691 x Doc’s Hickory) from her boss, Dr. Hilda Baisel, of 808 Ranch, in Acampo, California. Emmons thought the mare, who her husband was training, would be a good mount for the 2016 Snaffle Bit Futurity – the final edition show held in Reno, Nevada, before its move last year to Fort Worth, Texas.
“She’s just a super kind mare and she’s big and pretty, and she has so much talent, and she’s just gotten better as she’s gotten older,” Emmons said of the mare bred by Baisel.
After the Futurity, Emmons eased up on her schedule with Hey Nicci in order to practice more, and then brought her back into major competition at this year’s NRCHA Super Stakes. They didn’t make the finals there, but Emmons was determined to try again at the Derby, the NRCHA’s next premier event.
“I thought, I’ve got to go to the Derby, because it’s the last derby,” she said.
The winner’s check pushed Hey Nicci’s Equi-Stat record past the $12,000 mark. Emmons now has earnings of more than $45,700.
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