Lance Johnston tore off his cowboy hat and sent it soaring across the arena to the roar of the crowd after Three Fingers Holly carried him through a monster fence run in the first-ever Protect The Harvest Wild Spayed Filly Futurity.
The 226-point run – far and away the highest of the competition – broke a string of second-place finishes to give the California horseman and 3-year-old Mustang filly a Championship during the special event held Friday, Sept. 14, during the Reno Snaffle Bit Futurity. They won $25,000 for owners JPH Stang Gang, but Johnston wasn’t talking money after the win.
“I’ve been second at every major event except for the World’s Greatest Horseman. Won a lot of money, but never…I was always the bridesmaid,” Johnston said, smiling while waiting to ride the bay filly back into the arena for the win picture. “And, finally, I come out to a big event and I finally win it, and it took a Mustang to do it.”
They did it with a composite of 654 (212 herd/216 rein/226 cow). The high cow work score served as a tie-breaker to give Johnston the win over Rebecca Sternadel and Three Fingers Blonde, who also marked a composite of 654 (217 herd/219 rein/218 cow).
The Wild Spayed Filly Futurity featured a dozen spayed 3-year-old Mustang fillies sold through the 2017 Reno Snaffle Bit Futurity Horse Sales. At the time of the sale, all of the fillies were spayed, vaccinated and had been handled for 30 days. All were eligible for the Wild Spayed Filly Futurity.
Three Fingers Holly, Three Fingers Blonde and the herd work winner – South Steens Shy Charlotte, ridden by Tyler Johnson-Clark – stood out from the rest of the field and were clearly crowd favorites.
Sternadel, who trained Three Fingers Blonde, said owner Cynthia Bias’ big sorrel filly with a flowing flaxen mane and tail has a good mind and was a great horse to train.
“She’d use her feet more [than a domestic horse], so she’d strike out [and] maybe kick every once in a while,” Sternadel said of the strapping filly, who she says is at least 16.1 hands tall. “But, we just had to respect her space and take it a little slower. And, she started putting it together and she just realized that nobody was out to hurt her, and then she just took it from there.”
Three Fingers Blonde won a $12,000 check for Bias.
Johnson-Clark, of La Grange, California, finished third aboard South Steens Shy Charlotte. Their composite of 641.5 (218 herd/211.5 rein/212 cow) earned $7,500 for owner Carmen Johnson.
Although the 21-year-old’s family trained horses, Johnson-Clark said South Steens Shy Charlotte was the first horse he’d ever trained by himself. He currently works at Ward Ranch in Tulare, California.
“I just kind of took it maneuver-by-maneuver and event-by-event and just tried to be smooth,” he said.
Dave Duquette, director of strategic planning for Protect The Harvest, told the crowd at this year’s Reno Snaffle Bit Futurity Sales the goal of the Wild Spayed Filly Futurity is to promote more effective management of the country’s wild horses and burros.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which is tasked with managing the country’s wild equines, estimated there were 81,951 wild horses and burros roaming BLM lands as of March 1, 2018. Another 47,683 were being cared for at BLM pastures or corrals at its holding facilities, according to the Wild Horse & Burro Program website.
“The end goal is to bring an extra tool to the toolbox with the [BLM] and help the BLM be able to manage the horses,” Duquette said.
Officials say another goal of the Wild Spayed Filly Futurity is to showcase the significance and abilities of wild horses, and demonstrated their trainability to encourage more people to consider adopting the horses.
Ten of the entrants in the inaugural Wild Spayed Filly Futurity went through the Reno Snaffle Bit Futurity Sales again a day after the futurity. Three Fingers Holly and South Steens Blonde were failed to reach their reserve at $9,750 and $9,500 respectively. Overall, the session grossed $10,850 with an average price of $1,808.
Prospects for the 2019 Wild Spayed Filly Futurity sold in the next session. A blaze-faced bay filly named Sagebrush Annie and a gray called Three Fingers Peppermint Patty tied for the high mark of the session with $7,500 bids. The session grossed $62,240 with an average of $5,658.
Protect The Harvest Founder and Executive Director Forrest Lucas said he was blown away by the horsemanship demonstrated during the inaugural futurity.
“The talent that these guys who rode the horses and broke the horses of course, [which] probably are the same people…Good job,” said Lucas, who was in Reno for the event. “And I think a lot of them are going to be really shocked at how much respect they get from the horse world.”
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