Kelly Warner Rides “Dream Horse” Metallic Pearl to NRCHA World Title

From the minute Kelly Warner rode her beloved 7-year-old stallion Metallic Pearl out of the show pen with their $1,000 Non-Pro Limited World Champion awards, she was on a mission. Warner wasn’t concerned about shaking hands and visiting with the well-wishers waiting to congratulate her for the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) win, or making her way to the photographer’s backdrop to have a World Champion photo taken.

Nothing was going to stop this cowgirl from taking care of Metallic Pearl’s immediate needs — removing his tack and making sure he was comfortable — before she took time to relax.

Warner and Metallic Pearl (Metallic Cat x Precious Lil Pearl x Travalena), a red roan stallion bred by Sprig Haven Farms of San Jose, California, and owned by Warner and her husband, Mike, scored a 426.5 composite [210.5 rein/216 cow] that rewarded them with an $1,860 check and an armload of prizes. Coming into the Celebration of Champions, Metallic Pearl, who Warner affectionately calls “Pearl,” had an Equi-Stat record of $9,466.

Pearl of a Find

This year’s win not only marked Warner’s first NRCHA World title but it also marked her first time to compete in the prestigious NRCHA Celebration of Champions.

When asked about the unusual name of Pearl — for a stallion, Warner, whose Equi-Stat  record before the Celebration of Champions totaled $130,092, said the name fit the horse perfectly, because, she explained, “He is such a pearl! He’s a dream horse — a once-in-a-lifetime horse.”

Although Warner was in shock following the win, she admitted she had thought they’d done pretty well during their work, and that she thought they were going to be in the top 5.

Describing their finals work, Warner said, “Every time I ride him, he’s wonderful. He was a little strong going into it [the reined work], but he felt good. And then he loves working the cow more than reining, but I think a lot of [horses] do — probably, most of them do.”

Warner’s most favorite thing about Pearl is his personality. 

“He has tons and tons of personality and he always keeps me on my toes. I just love him to death!”

“He’s just full of himself and has such a good time [in the show pen],” Warner said. “He loves to show — he’s like a dog that gets so excited to go for a ride in the car, when he’s going to show.” 

Warner and Pearl do show at some regular National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) events and have won money at them, she said. And, Warner said, she also  may do some cutting and other things with the stallion, who excels in reined cow horse but whose family was successful in cutting. 

Pearl’s dam (Precious Lil Pearl) was a cutter with lifetime earnings of $110,770. She has produced three money-earners that have won a total of $18,014 in reined cow horse and cutting, with Pearl as her leading money earner. 

His sire, Equi-Stat Elite $32 Million Sire Metallic Cat, was a National Cutting Horse Association Futurity Open Champion with lifetime earnings of $637,711. Metallic Cat has sired 1,274 money-earners with his No. 1 money-earner, Hashtags, having won $485,293, followed by Stevie Rey Von with $420,559.

Not long after Metallic Pearl’s win in Fort Worth, another horse by Metallic Cat — the mare Metallic Cat Rose — won the 2020 World’s Greatest Horseman with Canadian John Swales.

Trainer Hayden Upton helped the Warners find Pearl when the horse was 2. They purchased him as a Futurity prospect but, unfortunately, he was injured right before the show.

“During his recovery period, is when Pearl and I bonded,” Warner said.

‘Love & Respect’

The Warners, both native Californians who have bred horses with earnings of more than $72,231 and owned horses that have won more than $153,455, say they have no interest in breeding mares to Pearl.

 “We are not going to breed him,” Warner said. “I just prefer [to ride] stallions over geldings. I feel there is something missing [when riding a gelding]. And as far as mares, I like mares, but I think my passion is riding a good stallion.

“We’ve had many people want to buy him, but I just can’t part with him,” Warner said. “All I can say [if she were to sell him], what am I going to ride? It would be hard to find a special horse like him.

“We love Pearl,” Warner added. “He will stay with us forever, as most all of our animals do. This is obviously not a business [for the Warners], but a love and respect of animals.”

Warner and her husband, who is an attorney, own The Final Cut Ranch, a private cutting horse facility near Lipan, Texas. Warner said she grew up competing in a variety of disciplines, including pleasure, reining, cutting and reined cow horse.

“Then I gravitated toward the reined cow horse,” Warner said. “I think it’s a more humbling sport and the people are more down to earth. The cutting is a lot of fun and I love cutting, but I just wanted to do something different and mix a few disciplines together and the reined cow horse was the way to go.”

Support & Friendship

Warner choked up as she began to name the individuals she wanted to thank for the help they had been in her obtaining a World title.

Other than her husband, Mike, who Warner credited as “the best husband in the world,” she said, “Unfortunately, some others [she wanted to thank] are not here [they are deceased].

“I want to mention Diane Bradley, she was my first trainer and taught me how to ride as a little girl. Beyond shaping me into the best horseman I can be, she taught me integrity, sportsmanship and, most important, how to be humble. I miss her!

“And, I want to thank my loving parents, Howard and Jean Quinn, who, too, are no longer here. And, I also want to thank Bill Freeman. He was an amazing friend and coach. He taught me finesse when working cattle, how to trust my instincts, how to build my confidence and how to have fun.

Warner also thanked her farrier, Tommy Boudreau — “We’ve been working together for over 20 years,” she said. 

 “And, of course, Boyd [Rice], whom I ride with now,” Warner said. “We have known each other since the 90s and have just started riding together presently. He also shows Pearl, and if the stars align [right], maybe one day, Boyd and Pearl will shoot for the World Greatest [Horseman title].”

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