A crowd of professionals gathered behind the arena gate to watch Limited Open rider Trevor Carter make his National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) event finals debut during the Stallion Stakes in Las Vegas. As the fence work score was called — a 220.5 — the celebration started.
For the New Mexico horseman, the win aboard MC Cowhammer (Metallic Cat x Gunsmart Gay x Playgun) was overwhelming.
“I’m 37 today. I didn’t get into this very early, but I’m not going anywhere,” Carter said with a huge smile on his face. “I enjoy the discipline and the crowd, and it’s very supportive. Everyone has helped me out a lot.”
The son of a southern Texas farmer who kept his son away from agriculture, Carter gravitated toward the cowboy life and attended Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas, before working on ranches. He hung his colt-starting shingle out 15 years ago and, in 2015, was a Road to the Horse Wild Card competitor.
Owned and bred by Bogle Brothers LLC, “Hammer” as the Carter family calls him, is a roan stallion that exceeded all of Carter’s expectations. He credits the documentary “Down the Fence” with lighting the spark of an idea that Hammer could be competitive in the NRCHA.
“I’ve been showing a lot of versatility trying to figure [the cow horse] out. This is a pretty high-caliber horse, and I decided to give [NRCHA] a shot,” he said. “This is how I got started. I’ve gotten tons of help from Nick Dowers, who welcomed me out to his place where I learned a lot and a good representation of what I want my horses to look like. Riding in Texas, you have the Dawsons there and tons of exceptional people. Now, coming out to Vegas, I got to know the West Coast folks. Everybody in this arena and the ‘Down the Fence’ documentary, I credit them with my interest.”
Though Carter showed the 4-year-old stallion at the 2018 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity, the pair didn’t make the finals. At the Stakes, though, the roan horse shined.
“In the prelims, my job was to be mistake free because I knew I had the horse under me,” Carter said. “I wanted to have good cuts, but the plan I go in with is to show my horse to the judge. In the reining, he was amazing, and it was one of the first times I’ve actually rode him and trusted what I’ve done. He excelled. In the prelim fence work, we had a little trouble, but in the finals, he was there.”
A 653 composite (213 herd/219.5 rein/220.5 cow) captured the title and earned the owner $8,148. After a thrilling win, the stallion headed back to begin his breeding career. But, Carter isn’t retiring Hammer from competition. The horse is too much fun to show.
“This horse is legit, no pun intended, and I want to keep campaigning him. He is unfazed, and showing keeps him getting better,” Carter said. “I’ve always had the bug [for cow horse], but I’ve never had the flesh to go out and do it — or I didn’t have anyone to coach me to see when I was ready.
“This horse has really been it for me. Everything I do right he excels at, and if I make a mistake, he overcomes it. There aren’t enough good things you can say about this horse.”
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