Garrell Williams could feel the nerves as she rode Sparks On The Fence into the arena with the lead for the Non-Pro Limited cow work in the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Derby.
Didn’t matter. The Arizona horsewoman was determined to do her mount justice.
“I remember being so nervous, because I had never been in that position before. I’ve never gone into the final run leading, and I didn’t really know how to take it,” said Williams, of Casa Grande, Arizona. “I wanted to ride like I know my horse can do it. She’s the best, and I just wanted to ride her like I ride her every other day.
She and Sparks On The Fence, a daughter of Smart Boons, gave everything they had to box a tough cow. It was such a handful that it almost got away at the end.
“That calf came out an kind of looked at me and I thought ‘Oh, this is gonna be a piece of cake.’ And then it ran, and it challenged her and I think I almost came off two or three times when she was going back to the left.
“She’s just so gritty,” Williams continued. “She just handled it like she can and I just stayed out of her way, and by the time the buzzer came which I almost lost my cow at the buzzer, they actually had to review the run to make sure I didn’t.”
The resulting 218.5 for her boxing run gave her a winning composite of 644 (213 herd/212.5 rein/218.5 cow). The Non-Pro Limited Reserve Championship went to Katie Fox and Metallic Heritage (Metallic Cat x Dual Heritage x Dual Pep), who marked a composite of 638 (203 herd/213 rein/222 cow). They earned $1,920 for owner Dan Fox.
The first-place check of $2,453 – plus another $228 from the go-rounds – pushed Sparks On The Fence’s lifetime Equi-Stat earnings to more than $31,000. Williams now has more than $27,000 in earnings.
The NRCHA Derby will be Williams’ last time riding in the Non-Pro Limited. She and Sparks On The Fence, who won the Non-Pro Two-Rein Spectacular Reserve Championship earlier in the Derby show, will be going down the fence from now on.
She was thrilled to have won a major event on the mare, who she intends to keep as a bridle horse. As far as Williams is concerned, the mare nicknamed “Carlee” will be with her forever.
“She showed me what it’s like to trust a horse and to give 100 percent back to that horse. She is so honest,” Williams said. “She is always there for me, in competition and at home. She’s just my best friend. She wants to be with me as much as I want to be with her, and it’s a relationship with an animal unlike any I’ve ever had.”
Sparks On The Fence is the leading earner for her dam, Spark Chic Olena. An earner of $31,195 in the show pen, the 2006 mare by Smart Chic Olena out of JDF Shining Anna (by Shining Spark) is the mother of two other performers, both reiners: Chicsntheirdiamonds ($6,639, by Whizkey N Diamonds) and Sparks N Whizkey ($2,222, Whizkey N Diamonds).
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