Debbie Crafton achieved two dreams this year, her recent 2019 Lucas Oil American Quarter Horse Association Amateur Working Cow Horse World Champion title and the Non-Pro Snaffle Bit Futurity Champion title in October. She said that there is no other way to describe it but that she is blessed.
On Tuesday, November 19, Crafton piloted two horses in the Amateur Working Cow Horse finals. Aboard 2014 gelding A Quick Remedy (Very Smart Remedy x A Quick Prize x Smokums Prize), Crafton earned the golden globe with a 435.5 (rein 219/fence 216.5). She and “Squirrel” haven’t partnered long, but they definitely found their groove.
“I bought him a year ago and he has been really good to me,” said Crafton. “The first show for him and I was the [National Reined Cow Horse Association] Stallion Stakes [in April] and we made the finals there, then we were reserve at the Derby in Paso Robles, and made the finals at the Hackamore Classic. He is a nice [rein work] horse, and is pure and honest. His love is the fence. He is such a fence horse and if I do my part, I know we will be fine.”
Crafton was out on her buckskin stallion Shiney Lil Belles (Shining Lil Nic x Dual Reys Belle x Dual Rey) as draw two. Their cow run didn’t go as planned and showed Crafton that the cattle were not on the rider’s side last night.
“Everybody was struggling and cows were tough,” she said. “The cows didn’t want to take boxing long and were angry cows. On my buckskin horse we had an angry cow I thought I should have handled different. I made a phone call to Matt Koch and asked him what he thought. Matt is my hero down the fence. He is so smart about reading cattle and working what you’re dealt. He is a friend of mine. Squirrel can handle any cow, so we talked about just knocking the cow back and forth, then going.”
As the last horse in the 15-horse finals field, Crafton had time to make a new plan. She boxed quickly and then drove down the fence, and it paid off. It wasn’t her best fence run on the gelding, she said, but it was enough.
“I got hung up circling on that first circle, so I didn’t get circled up quite like we can do,” she said. “But, we pulled it off! Corey Cushing was in the corner and he helped me. I am so thankful for that—the reassurance of the great trainers you look up to stepping in without being asked.”
For the last year, Crafton has focused on cow horse events. Prior to competing in cow horse she’s ridden reining and barrel horses, and also team ropes. At the NRCHA Stallion Stakes in April this year, she had an epiphany.
“It was at the Stallion Stakes when it came over me that this was my event, what I was born to do,” Crafton said. “This is what I love. This is my world and that keeps me driving. I love training these horses! It is a partnership in these events and a bond. It is such a blessing to be on top. It is still a learning experience with a cow. The cows are always educational and keep you driving.”
A stay-at-home mom to five kids, Crafton trains her own prospects and competition horses. The daily activity of riding helps create the bond she shares with horses like A Quick Remedy.
“He is always happy! There is never a bad day where he says no or is cranky,” she said. “He is a willing partner, and that is what he is to me, a partner. He’s a great little horse! I am so happy for him to finish out his Junior year this way. We will show him in the hackamore at the Celebration of Champions, then I’ll show him in the two-rein.”
There were 26 qualified entries in the Amateur Working Cow Horse, a class sponsored by McCann Performance Horses with a purse of $7,924.28. Judy Fortenberry of Bulverde, Texas, was named Reserve World Champion on her gelding, Cold Hard Smart Cash (Big Chex To Cash x Smartin Up x Smart Little Lena).
Follow the AQHA World Championship Show coverage at quarterhorsenews.com.