horse and rider and cow
Wes Housler & MCC Travalin Tos • Photo by Primo Morales

NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Non-Pro Prelims Crowns Two Champions

Wes Housler made his first trip to the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Snaffle Bit Futurity count when he rode two horses to two championships. In addition to winning the Amateur at the Hackamore Classic, he piloted a second horse to the Futurity Amateur title.

Housler rode MCC Travalin Tos (MCC Travalin Cat x MCC Tens Widow x Ten O Sea) to the Futurity Amateur championship, banking $4,170. They also tied for eighth in the Non-Pro, fourth in the Intermediate Non-Pro and second in the Novice Non-Pro. The duo’s 210 in the herd work brought them another $200, and their 216.5 down the fence, which was the third-highest score overall, garnered another $2,100. In the rein work, they marked a 207.

“I just wanted to get him shown, just try and be solid,” Housler said. “Just get him shown and hopefully make the finals. I know the amateur is a one-go kind of deal, so just try to be solid but I wanted to get him shown. We were a little soft in the reining, so I had to make it up a little on the fence. I’ve shown ranch horses in ranch horse competitions for a while, so I feel pretty good going down the fence and I knew that was his strong event.

“He’s good on a cow,” Housler added. “He can be good in the reining, it’s just rider error. That wasn’t his fault.”

Housler, who is from Cloudcroft, New Mexico, originally purchased “Buck” to show in the small futurities in the Texas panhandle and to use on the ranch. The gelding soon proved to be better than he expected, and after two years of buying horses to show at the Snaffle Bit Futurity but “chickening out” and not going, he decided to give the buckskin horse a shot.

Bred by Matador Cattle Company, Buck is from MCC Travalin Cat’s first foal crop and is the stallion’s only money-earner so far. The gelding is also a successful roper and carried Housler to the 2018 Caprock Rancher’s Futurity win in Levelland, Texas, in July.

“He’s a little funny,” Housler said. “Half the time he’s still wild on the ground. Even down there in the awards and stuff, he wasn’t having it. But as soon as you catch him and get on him and ride him, he’s gentle as can be.

“I showed him a few times this summer and he’s real big and mature and strong, and other than being a little goofy on the ground, mentally he’s there. He takes things good, handles the pressure good.”

Housler trains his horses by himself, but he thanked his herd help for their assistance in the Futurity – Chris Dawson, Kyle Trahern, Corey Cushing and Matt Koch. He had the opportunity to ride with Clayton Edsall this summer, and he said the horseman helped him clean up some things.

“I live in New Mexico and there’s not really anybody around to help me much, so I travel around and get these guys,” he said. “It’s hard to do it by yourself when you ain’t got no help! There’s a lot of people that need thanked. I just thank my wife for supporting me first of all, she doesn’t get to come very often.”

Housler planned to continue showing Buck in the derbies next year, and in the meantime, he’ll continue working as a ranch horse, too.

Also marking a composite 633.5 in the Amateur were Nic It In The Smarts and Dillon Cox, but their lower cow work score gave them the Reserve Championship. Cox and the gelding (Nic It In The Rey x Smart Wimpy Bar x Smart Shiner) marked a 208 in the herd work, a 212 in the rein work and a 213.5 in the cow work and collected $3,336, plus $900 for their cow work score and $500 for their rein work.

Futurity Non-Pro Limited

horse and rider
Andrea-Lee Ellsworth & Gunning Moonshine • Photo by Primo Morales

When Andrea-Lee Ellsworth, of Bakersfield, California, rode into the arena at the Will Rogers Colliseum aboard her first reined cow horse, she set the stage for a series of first time experiences that won’t soon be forgotten.

Ellsworth and her Cats Moonshine mare Gunning Moonshine made their debut at the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity, marking a 630 composite score (207 herd/211.5 rein/211.5 boxing) to secure the Non-Pro Limited Championship and a $3,660 paycheck. They also banked $240 for having the second-highest rein work score in the division.

“This is my very first reined cow horse show. My horse came here to show in the Open Futurity and had a little bit of trouble in the herd, so after that we decided I should enter the Non-Pro Limited,” Ellsworth explained. “I entered the night before the class. I didn’t expect this at all, not at all. It’s amazing; I can’t even believe it!”

Going into the class, the boxing caused her the most apprehension, but with some last-minute advice from trainer Roger Bias and the encouragement she needed from his wife, Cynthia, and her barnmates, Ellsworth was determined to “make it happen – to stay up there and make a good run.” Having a steady, consistent mare only strengthened that resolve.

Gunning Moonshine, affectionately know as “Stella,” is out of Young Guns Missy (by Young Gun). Her sire, Cats Moonshine, garnered more than $150,000 in the cutting pen before retiring to the breeding shed.

“I bought her in January of her 2-year-old year. I started her myself and trained her the whole first year under the guidance of Roger Bias, my awesome trainer,” Ellsworth said. “He really put all of the finishing touches on her this year and made her into a really solid horse.

“She’s not a super affectionate horse, but she’s the same every single time I ride her – never stupid, never really gives me any problems at all,” Ellsworth added. “I know I can trust her to do her job, as long as I do mine.”

A solid horse, and a solid performance in their NRCHA debut to prove it, further validated Ellsworth’s decision to enter the sport.

“I love the cow horse; it’s awesome. All you have to do is ride one once, and you’re hooked,” said the competitor, who grew up showing in youth events. Ellsworth spent 12 years living in Kauai, Hawaii, where she bred and raised horses before returning to California to start her new adventure.

“I’m still surprised I even showed. It’s just been an amazing experience.”

A tied composite score of 628 gave two horse-and-rider teams the Futurity Non-Pro Limited Co-Reserve Championship. Tillee and Marissa Greenberg marked a 210 in the herd work, a 206.5 in the rein work and a 211.5 in the boxing and garnered $2,562. The mare, who was bred by Frank and Robin Merrill, is by Gallo Del Cielo (Rooster) and out of the Docs Stylish Sam mare Foxy Samntha.

Laura Campbell and Jules In The Light also took home $2,562 (211 herd/199 rein/218 boxing), plus $240 for their herd work score and $360 for winning the boxing. By CD Lights, Jules In The Light is out of Cobys Soula (by Soula Jule Star).