Sparking Metallic and Hope Miller at the NRCHA Celebration of Champions
Shining Spark and Hope Miller walked off as winners on Friday at the John Justin Arena. Photo by John Henry

Sparking Metallic, Rider Conquer Non-Pro Hackamore

Friday’s Non-Pro Hackamore finals of the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Celebration of Champions at the John Justin Arena came with a moral of the story.

It’s amazing what happens when you just show up.

Hope Miller weighed the pros and cons of making the more than 1,990-mile trip over 30 hours from Brush Prairie, Washington, to Fort Worth, Texas, lugging a derby horse and 6-year-old Sparking Metallic, but she’s now elated that she did. 

Aboard her most special mare, Miller and Sparking Metallic are headed back to the northwest as World Champions.

“I’m just really excited it was on this mare, and that we decided to come,” said Miller 22. “Washington is kinda far from here, but I’m happy that we came.”

Their performance was a convincing one to the judges. No one came within 10 points of the pair’s 438.5. Reys Redbud (Reys Dual Badger x Genuine Redbud x Genuine Doc) were the closest, earning the Reserve title. 

Sparking Metallic is by super sire Metallic Cat, with offspring earnings now eclipsing $32 million, according to Equi-Stat, and out of Sparking train (by Shining Spark, an Equi-Stat Elite $9 million sire). The former is an NRCHA Three Million Dollar Sire. The latter a Four Million Dollar Sire.

Sparking Metallic and Miller had a 220.5 in the rein work and 218 in the cow work, both finals highs.

Victory came with a bunch of treasure, including $4,020.

“This is her last hackamore, so I wanted to end it on a good note,” said Miller. “I went out with her and put it all out there. If it didn’t go well … oh, well.”

For Miller, the Celebrations of Champions represented her first NRCHA World Show. 

“She’s a very special horse … she’s my friend. Always wants to please you and always tries so hard. 

“She has a large personality, more of a dog than a horse. Always wants to be in your pocket, playing with your zippers, loves cookies. Loves to be pet and messed with. She wants to be in your bubble.”

Sparking Metallic, who had an Equi-Stat record of $44,277 before arriving in Texas, was bred by Gardiner Quarter Horses of Ashland, Kansas. Miller has owned her since she was 3.

They grew up together, literally, in cow horse. They competed in the Snaffle Bit Futurity in Fort Worth three years ago. “Not good,” said Miller, who has lifetime earnings of $178,564, according to Equi-Stat.

“We were both green. It was my first year and she hadn’t hauled anywhere, so it was a lot going on. We made it to the finals, but I blinked.

“I learned my lesson that sometimes speed doesn’t count. They don’t give you credit for just running.”

However, it’s those kinds of experiences that make Friday’s triumph all the more worth savoring.