cow horse rider
Darleen Wood & Cat Walks Into A Bar • Photo by Shane Rux Photography

Facebook Buy Pays off With Select World Win

Cat Walks Into A Bar, more commonly known as “Grasshopper,” has added another, perhaps more influential, name to his repertoire – that of American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) Adequan Select Working Cow Horse World Champion. Guiding the 4-year-old gelding to victory was owner Darleen Wood, of Goodyear, Arizona.

Wood and Grasshopper (WR This Cats Smart x Sue C Shiner x Shining Spark), bred by Gardiner Quarter Horses, of Ashland, Kansas, accumulated a 427 (214 rein/213 cow) to claim the gold trophy. Wood was doubly blessed, as she also rode her Easy Peezy (Tuck It Easy x Steadys Heartthrob x Gangster Chic) to the Reserve World Championship.

This was Wood’s second consecutive year to win the Working Cow Horse World title; she won it in 2017 riding Wright Olena (Lenas Wright On x Starlight Playmate x Grays Starlight), a gelding owned by Wood’s husband, Bill.

Wood has owned Grasshopper for less than a year. She was searching for a derby horse and one of her girlfriends suggested she try looking on Facebook. Wood, who still uses her flip phone and didn’t use Facebook, got on her computer, set up an account and started looking for horses.

“Maybe just three days later, I saw this horse [Grasshopper] posted for sale. I called the gal, instead of going the normal Facebook channels, and asked her about him,” Wood recalled. “We talked for an hour or so and made a deal on the horse. I bought him sight unseen over the telephone and wired her the money for him.

“And, just like Amazon, two days later, he showed up at my doorstep!”

That unique buy paid off in a big way in Amarillo, Texas, when Wood grabbed the Championship by 3 points.

“I was a little worried about a couple things going in [the finals],” said Wood, who was the first rider to compete. “I hate being first [to go] with a passion, so my stomach was churning a little bit over that, and not seeing the cattle before the class was another.

“I saw the cattle in the cutting – they had a lot of run to them and were all heifers – so I kind of expected them [the cattle for the Working Cow Horse event] to be runners and be pretty fast. But, not seeing how they reacted [in the arena] beforehand was kind of a disadvantage.”

In the past, the Boxing class went first, which gave Working Cow Horse competitors an opportunity to see how the cattle were going to act, Wood explained.

“This year, pretty much everybody watched me to see how the cattle were going to be, and they were all I thought they were going to be, and then some,” Wood said. “They had a lot of run in them, but they did peter out pretty fast.”

Wood also worried about the competition she and Grasshopper were up against – a number of World champion horses and riders.

“Here I was with a 4-year-old horse in a hackamore, so I was a little concerned going in to compete,” she admitted.

Wood just wanted to have a smooth run, understanding it would just be what it would be. If the duo got beat, that was OK. She simply wanted to build her horse’s confidence and work ethic, showing her horse at his current skill level.

“He was very quiet, very much a gentleman and was very responsive,” Wood said of how Grasshopper performed. “I thought our dry work was real pretty for the level that he is at right now.

“I kind of messed up our cow just a little bit,” she continued. “I could hear my trainer telling me, ‘Take it,’ but I thought I still had a lot of cow and boxed it one more time. Then the cow got slower. I should have taken it one pass earlier, and we would have had a better cow score and nicer run.”

Wood said she was really satisfied and happy with Grasshopper and with herself, as well.

“I kind of felt some pressure and was fairly pleased with myself in how I reacted to it. I thought I actually handled it – being first to go and knowing that I was up against some tough competition – pretty well.”

There are a couple of individuals Wood credits for her successful World Show.

“I have to go with my husband first – he writes the checks and pays the bills,” she said, adding that she also appreciated his support in and out of the arena. “Another big influence on my success would be my trainer, Jason Grimshaw. He’s done a great job coaching me and with both of my horses.”