horse and rider and cow
High Stressin Cat & Nick Dowers • Photo by Primo Morales

High Stressin Cat and Dowers Named Hackamore Classic Open Champions

Limited Open

horse and rider and cow
Mr Fletch Cat & Will Pennebaker • Photo by Primo Morales

Although two horse-and-rider pairs each garnered a 647.5 composite score, Mr Fletch Cat and Will Pennebaker’s higher cow work broke the tie, placing them in first.

Mr Fletch Cat and Pennebaker, of Wilton, California, were in the money in each Limited Open event during the Hackamore Classic. The duo garnered a 647.5 composite score, and their herd and rein work – a 215 and a 216.5, respectively – placed second, while they won the cow work with a 216.

The duo also tied for fourth in the Intermediate Open and 11th in the Open. Altogether, they won $6,887. For the horse who didn’t start showing until he was 4 years old, it was quite the accomplishment.

“I got him in the middle of his 3-year-old year. He’s 5 now,” Pennebaker said. “He got kind of a late start, so he never got shown until he was 4, but he was kind of like showing a 3-year-old against the 4- and 5-year-olds. We won a little bit of money on him last year but not very much, so I feel like this year is his first real year that he was competitive because he was broke. I think he’s pulled a check at every show he’s been to all year.”

With earnings of more than $30,000, Mr Fletch Cat is making up for lost time. In 2018 alone, he has won more than $21,000.

Coming into the Hackamore Classic, Pennebaker’s goal was to get a solid score in each event. He knew his horse had the potential to win, but he would be satisfied with just having good runs.

“The cutting went well, and I was happy with that. He’s always good in the reining,” Pennebaker said. “The cows were bad today and so it wasn’t his best fence run, but it was kind of a blue collar slug fest kind of a run. I just got through it and ended up with an OK score. It wasn’t pretty and shiny, but we got it done.”

Mr Fletch Cat is by Mr Playinstylish and out of Lil Fletch Cat (by Royal Fletch). He was bred by Kit and Charlie Moncrief. He is owner Sabrina Thomas’ first show horse, and when she got him, he was missing something important.

“He was pretty lazy when we got him and he didn’t have a name, so the owner asked us, ‘If you think of a good name, go ahead and name him.’ So we rode him for a month or so. We named him ‘Mo,’ which was short for ‘Molasses.’

“So we called him Mo and we never told her the whole story about it until yesterday. We finally fessed up and told her why his name is Mo,” Pennebaker admitted with a laugh.

Although the horse is laid-back, Pennebaker said he is very smart, equating him with intellectual canine Brian Griffin on the TV show Family Guy. He said one of the gelding’s biggest assets is how physical and strong he is – he thinks having so much bone helps the horse stay sound.

And with the horse’s easy-going personality, Pennebaker hopes to see Thomas, of Anderson, California, show him in the boxing one day.

“She’s talking about buying another one [show horse], and I told her really, you should probably just quit while you’re ahead. She’s had it pretty easy, no vet bills, goes to a horse show and wins money, pretty easy!” he added with a chuckle.

A lower cow work score gave Bet Shesa Fancy Cat and Jared Jones, who also had a 647.5 composite, the Limited Open Reserve Championship. Jones and “Fancy” scored a 216 in the herd work, a 218 in the rein work and a 213.5 down the fence.

The Stan Snodgrass-bred mare is by Bet Hesa Cat and out of the Lil Bit O Hickory mare Real Hickory Smoke. Jones purchased her after seeing her photo on Facebook.

“She doesn’t like very many people but I think she likes me, and I like her,” Jones said. “I’m going to show her all next year in the derbies and keep her forever.”

Level 1 Limited Open

horse and rider and cow
Peptos All About Me & Liam Macneill • Photo by Primo Morales

Liam Macneill and Peptos All About Me competed in their first NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity in 2017. In 2018, they went down the fence again, but this time they were called back into the Will Rogers Coliseum to collect their Level 1 Limited Open Hackamore Championship title.

“I bought ‘Roani’ when he was two and just kind of trained him, and he’s been getting better,” Macneill explained about the Peptos Boon Shadow gelding, who is out of Docs Red Lass (by Freckles Commando). “He’s a lot stronger this year. He’s been great. He’s been an excellent little learning experience for me. I’ve never shown in the hackamore before; this is my first time. We’re both learning together.”

The 4-year-old red roan, who was bred by Randy and Joan Martin, of Decatur, Texas, earned a composite score of 643 and a $1,957 paycheck. The duo were three for three when they topped the herd work with a 216, the rein work with a 215.5 and the cow work with 211.5, earning additional checks totaling $339.

“He’s always strong in the reining and that’s my strong suit, so I wanted to rack up as many points as we could there and then hopefully a good cow came out, and we could get something done,” Macneill, of Gainsville, Texas, said of his plan going into the arena. “Just to show where I could show him and be smart and hopefully just get down the fence. He was good, he was really good. I was happy with him.”

Macneill, who has $57,035 in lifetime earnings according to Equi-Stat, said Roani’s mind and attitude are what set him apart.

“If you ask him for more, he will always give you more and he just wants to be good. He’s the same all the time,” Macneill said with admiration. “Even when he was two, you could put anybody on him. He’s always been quiet and laid back, and nothing rattles him. Mature from day one.”

More than anything, Roani enjoys the attention that Macneill’s girlfriend, Kris, is generous to give – generosity which has made her Roani’s unequivocal favorite.

“I want to thank my girlfriend, Kris, and anybody who has ever said anything to me has been a help,” Macneill said, thanking Chris Dawson, Lee Deacon, Ron Ralls, Robert Chown and Robert Smith, who have all helped him “a pile.” “Todd Crawford has given me a lot of advice, especially when it comes to the hackamore stuff, and Nellie Murphy sat in practice works and helped me a pile as well. There’s a million to thank…”

He recounted the most important advice he has been given is to relax and “just breathe.”

“I’ve enjoyed learning about the hackamore, and he feels better and better in it. So many of these trainers around here have helped me and given me advice, and I appreciate all of it,” said Macneill, who is looking forward to the red roan’s 5-year-old season. “I just want to keep learning more about it. I think he’s a good horse to do that with.”

The Reserve title went to Taylor Gillespie, who rode Lesley Marshall-owned Iconic Cat to a composite score of 629.5 (212.0 herd/215.0 rein/202.5 cow). The 2014 High Brow Cat stallion is out of Wood I Never (by Zack T Wood) and was bred by Wrigley Ranches LLC, of Weatherford, Texas. The duo earned a check of $1,631 for their success in the arena, plus $121 from the herd and rein works.