Legend De Lena and Toni Hagen Heath may be well on their way to becoming Fort Worth legends. Heath and her gelding’s latest Fort Worth victories took place Sunday when they won the National Reined Cow Horse Association’s (NRCHA) Non-Pro Hackamore Classic with a 654 composite score.
They also won the Non-Pro Hackamore NRCHA class that ran concurrently with the Non-Pro Hackamore Classic.
This year’s victory marks Heath’s second time to win the Hackamore Classic. She also won it in 2012 aboard Smokums Dream.
“He was really good,” Heath said about Legend De Lena, aka “Charlie.” “He was ‘beautiful’ in the reining, I couldn’t fault him there. Our first cow was really, really slow and thankfully, they gave me another one because the second one was nice and Charlie was right on it. He came to play today — it was like he was here to win the horse show.”
Charlie stayed in her hand, which, with the hackamore, is always a challenge — you never know what the heck is going to happen, Heath said.
“He’s a fun ‘horse show’ horse because he doesn’t get hot or excited, doesn’t pull any shenanigans and doesn’t try to outthink you.”
Following this year’s Hackamore Classic show, Heath’s Equi-Stat lifetime earnings have reached more than $217,593. She and Charlie, who has won more than $36,308, has had success down the line — qualifying for both the [NRCHA] Stakes and Derby finals, but this win was indeed special, Heath said.
“Other than winning the Tres Osos Cow Horse Derby Non-Pro earlier this year, it seems there’s always something that happens [to keep them from winning], like ‘I almost’ [won] and then, ‘Oh darn it!’ So finally, Charlie gets his limelight back here in Fort Worth. I guess it’s a good spot for him and maybe it will work for him again at the [NRCHA] World Show.”
Heath and husband Dan raised Charlie, as well as his mother, My Legend Del Cielo, who qualified for the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Open finals. Actually, Heath explained, Charlie was “a little bit of a surprise.” The couple, which had some Smart Peppy Doc frozen semen stored at a veterinarian clinic, had stopped at the clinic when My Legend Del Cielo came into heat. Because she and Dan didn’t know whom else they were going to breed the mare to, they decided to use the Smart Peppy Doc semen.
“And the result is Charlie!” Heath said. “He’s ranch-raised, and my husband and I also bred and raised his mother.”
Hagen had planned to show Charlie in the 2017 Snaffle Bit Futurity, but, because of a horse-related injury she sustained that year, she was unable to do so. Instead, Heath’s trainer, Shadd Parkinson of Scottsdale, Arizona, where the Heaths spend the winters, showed the gelding and they qualified for the Intermediate Open finals.
“He’s a character,” Hagen said of Charlie’s personality. “He’s absolutely into everything, all the time. Every day is a happy day for Charlie — he’s like a big puppy dog. He plays, bounces and just has boundless energy. Everything is just happy in ‘Charlie’ land.”
Heath grew up competing in high school and college rodeo competition (roping, barrel racing and goat tying). When she met Dan, she said he was already into reined cow horses. So, if she wanted to do stuff with him, Heath decided she ought to give cow horse a try. It started out as just a fun thing to go to some local horse shows, Hagen said.
“Then one thing led to another and now we do it quite competitively.”
Dan no longer shows. His joy comes from the breeding of the couple’s horses.
“He picks the stallions, produces the babies and works with them. He really loves that and, of course, getting to see them show. And, he’s my biggest cheerleader for sure, plus the support, backbone and all of that stuff [to their program].”
Non-Pro Hackamore Classic
Legend De Lena & Toni Hagen Heath
14G (Smart Peppy Doc x My Legend Del Cielo x Gallo Del Cielo [Rooster])
Owner: Daniel Heath, La Grande, OR
Breeder: Daniel Heath, La Grande, OR
654 (215.5 herd/218 rein/220.5 cow) | $4,360
Intermediate Non-Pro Hackamore Classic
SCR Playin One Time & Parke Greeson
15G (Mr Playinstylish x PRF One Time Candi x One Time Pepto)
Owner: Sarco Creek Ranch, Victoria, TX
Breeder: Milton & Bridey Greeson, Victoria, TX
648.5 (216 herd/211 rein/221.5 cow) | $2,096
Novice & Amateur Non-Pro Hackamore Classic
Shezacrackinnsparkin & Kristen York
14M (Nabisco Roan x Sheza Shinette x Shining Spark)
Owner: Thad & Kristen York, Saratoga, WY
Breeder: Holy Cow Performance Horses Texas LLC, Weatherford, TX
645 (211.5 herd/216 rein/217.5 cow) | $939 | $2,052
Unos Blue Lightening & Julie Gibbons
14G (Uno What Time It Is x Miss Vibrant Chex x Nu Chex To Cash)
Owner: Julie Gibbons, Highlandville, MO
Breeder: Julie Gibbons, Highlandville, MO
638 (206 herd/215.5 rein/ 216.5 cow) | $1,580