The pressure was rising in the John Justin Arena at the Will Rogers Memorial Complex in Fort Worth, Texas, on Aug. 18. The Southwest Reined Cow Horse Association (SRCHA) Pre-Futurity Open fence work took place, and the 31 teams with the highest total on two came back in the evening for a showdown to see who would walk away as the champion.
All scores were held, but after Oh Cay MC and Todd Crawford turned in a stellar performance down the fence, it was obvious the duo would be sitting high in the running. When Tornado Watch and Chris Dawson also presented a remarkable run, many in the audience were left debating which of them would come out on top.
In the end, a half-point separated the top two composite scores, and while Crawford’s fence run scored the highest, it was Dawson and Tornado Watch who took the Futurity Open title.
“A huge congratulations to Todd Crawford because that was awesome,” Dawson said of the Equi-Stat Elite $3 Million Rider’s performance. “I was sitting back here going, ‘Well, Todd won this deal.’ He’s been such a mentor to me that it means a lot just to be up here in the same realm. I was really pulling for him. I like to win as much as the next guy, but I was looking for Todd to win that, so we were all kind of surprised right there.”
Dawson and “Twister” marked a 149 down the fence, a move that didn’t come easy. Although the cow events are probably the stallion’s best, Dawson said the cow he drew that night gave him a challenge.
“You find out about fence horses at the horse show,” he noted. “If that has anything to do with it then I’d say the fence work [is his best event], because that was a difficult situation out there tonight. I drew a really good cow on him, but he found a way to get it done in not necessarily the most perfect situation there.”
Dawson used the Pre-Futurity as a marker for how well Twister is progressing toward the National Reined Cow Horse Association [NRCHA] Snaffle Bit Futurity. He was particularly pleased with Twister’s reining performance, where after stepping up the stallion’s rundown to his stops, they marked a 147.5. He also tweaked him a bit in the cutting, and the duo scored a 147. Dawson said Twister answered the call everywhere.
For his 443.5 composite score, Twister banked $15,000 for owner Wendy Buehler, plus $854 for tying for second in the cow work. The son of Metallic Cat is out of Tornados First Mate (by Smart Mate), an earner of $88,761 in the cutting pen.
Crawford and Oh Cay MC’s 150.5 down the fence elevated their composite score to a 443, giving them Reserve in the Open and the Intermediate Open Championship. They collected a check for $15,000, plus $1,139 for winning the cow work, for owner/breeder Russ Mothershead.
Oh Cay MC (Metallic Cat x Oh Cay Meriah x Light N Lena) already had $1,625 in earnings from the East Coast Reined Cow Horse Classic, where he and Crawford won the Open and Intermediate Open titles. They bettered their scores in the cow and herd (147.5) work while in Fort Worth and marked the same score – a 145 – in the reining. Crawford hopes to improve even more by the time they return for the Snaffle Bit Futurity.
“We’ve got plenty [of events before then],” Crawford said. “We’re going to go home and let him kind of come down for a little bit, then start back up and go to working on the weak spots.
“He doesn’t take much loping,” he continued of “Mario.” “He takes preparation, but you have to be careful that you don’t overdo him before. He has to have a little time to get back.”
He thanked Mothershead for giving him the opportunity to show the stallion, who hasn’t been easy, but “picked a good time to gel” with him.
“Sam Smith started him and did a lot of reining with him last year, then Dustin Mills, who works for me, did a lot of the work on him, too,” Crawford noted. “I sure appreciate him. Probably without Dustin, we wouldn’t be here right now.”
Peptos Stylin Time (One Time Pepto x Stylin Jewel x Docs Stylish Oak) and Kyle Trahern’s composite 440.5 (147 herd/146.5 rein/147 cow) took the Intermediate Open Reserve Championship and placed fourth in the Open. Altogether they collected $10,769 for owner Hanging H Ranch LLC.
Limited and Level 1 Limited Open
He’s a familiar face in the reining pen, but Dell Hendricks is making a name for himself as a reined cow horse trainer, as well. At the SRCHA Pre-Futurity, he rode Reyzn Debra to a composite 432, winning the Limited and Level 1 Limited Open championships. The mare’s owner, Tyler Senior, banked a check for $5,488.
“It means a lot,” Hendricks said. “I’m pretty new to the cow horse, and it feels really good to be able to get in there and compete with these guys. It was a lot of fun to show with the big boys tonight.”
This is Hendricks first year to train snaffle bit horses, and he is having a blast, he said. Still, his reining roots were apparent at the show, as Reyzn Debra marked the highest rein work score overall – a 150.
“She was incredible in the rein work,” Hendricks said. “My plan was to just come and show her where she was comfortable. She had been riding really good in the reining, and I kind of just stepped out there and went, and it just all came together.
“My toughest event’s the cutting,” he admitted. “That probably was what tickled me more than anything because I was a 144 in the cutting! Usually I have my head screwed on pretty good down the fence, but I wasn’t very good tonight. I don’t know if I let the pressure get to me, but I just didn’t make good decisions. I’m a little disappointed in how I showed her tonight, but we’ll get it all straightened out by the Snaffle Bit.”
Hendricks said he needs to go back and touch on the basics with the mare, who is by Play Dual Rey and out of Conquistarima (by Conquistador Whiz).
“I need to get her a little bit tighter going down the fence. I kind of put her in a difficult position – I didn’t leave the corner, I kind of left from the middle and angled across, and it just wasn’t my best decision to do that,” he said of their cow work, where they duo marked a 138. “I need to make better decisions to get her tied to the cow.”
Still, the Equi-Stat Elite $1 Million reiner said while he is having to overcome some challenges going between the reining and cow horse arenas, he is enjoying his horses and having a lot of fun.
“I’ve gotten where I don’t fall off every day!” he added with a laugh. “There for a while I fell off every day when the cow moved. It’s pretty humbling to step over here.
“I’d just like to thank my wife and my little boy, Jimmy, for all their support,” he continued. “Doing this and the reining together, I’m gone a lot. They don’t get to come with me, but they’re pretty big support and it’s fun to have them here tonight.”
MC Cowhammer, ridden by Trevor Carter, and WR Ingredient, piloted by Terry Riddle, each scored a 429.5 composite to take the Limited Open Co-Reserve Championship. MC Cowhammer (Metallic Cat x Gunsmart Gay x Playgun) scored a 142 in the herd work, a 141 in the rein work and a 146.5 in the cow work. The red roan stallion is owned by Bogie Brothers LLC.
WR Ingredient, a daughter of WR This Cats Smart (out of Sunshine Ingredient x Mr Sun O Lena) owned by Burnett Ranches LLC, collected a check for $316 for marking the fourth-highest cow work score, a 147. She also scored a 144 in the herd and a 138.5 in the rein work. Each horse received $2,085 for sharing the title, and MC Cowhammer took another $1,947 for the Level 1 Limited Open Reserve Championship.