You CD Signs and Cody Crow at the NRCHA Celebration of Champions
Cody Crow won his first NRCHA Limited Open Bridle World Championship on one of the coolest horses he said he’s ever ridden. Photo by Primo Morales

You CD Signs, Cody Crow Avoid Limited Open Bridle Tailspin

Cody Crow and You CD Signs’ Limited Open Bridle finals round started out a little shaky at the John Justin Arena.

You CD Signs’ tail extension nearly fell off and the pair’s first cow was so wild that a second cow was soon ordered by way of a blown horn. 

But, in the end, their performance earned Crow his first National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) World title at the Celebration of Champions. You CD Signs (High Sign Nugget [AP] x Big CD Lights x Play Mia CD) and Crow scored a 433 (213.5 rein/219.5 cow) to win the Limited Open Bridle World Championship and $3,940 check. 

“Mitch,” as You CD Signs is called, is a 9-year-old Appaloosa gelding bred by Jim Dobler and Heather Mclevin of Delburne, Alberta. He is owned by Ardith Alcorn of Gallop, New Mexico. 

Entering the NRCHA’s Celebration of Champions, he had lifetime earnings of $12,174. Mitch’s sire, High Sign Nugget [AP] had lifetime earnings of $10,028 and has sired 73 money-earners with total earnings of $433,929 for average earnings of $5,944. 

Crow, who owns and is head trainer at No Where But UP Performance Horses LLC, near his home in Johnstown, Colorado, said he was pretty excited about the horse.

“He loped in, stopped really good and turned around [good]. He can be a little fresh at times when you start the circles, but he loped off pretty good, changed [leads], ran down and stopped good all three times.

“When our cow came out, the first one was a little flighty, but he [Mitch] really dialed in, so I was excited about that. Then, when they gave us a new cow, I was a lot more confident.”

When asked if he noticed the hair extension in Mitch’s tail had come loose, Crow said he had. When they made their second circle, something “kind of caught” his eye.

“I thought, ‘Oh no,’ then when we came around again I couldn’t see it anywhere on the floor, and I just thought, ‘Well, it must still be stuck to us.’ I guess I need another lesson or two in tail tying.”

Crow, a relative newcomer to cow horse who has only been able “to dabble” in the discipline, has had Mitch in training for several years and they showed a lot in ranch horse classes. Crow said he has won roughly 13 Appaloosa World and reserve World titles on Mitch — in the ranch trail, ranch riding and ranch reining classes.

Competing at the Celebration of Champions was something both Crow and Alcorn wanted for Mitch.

“We thought this horse deserves a shot to come here and show everybody what he can do.”

When it comes to personality, Crow said, “This horse is like Dennis the Menace. He’s just the coolest horse, but probably the most naughty horse that I’ve ever been around my entire life. If he can let himself loose, he will and then go down the line and let everybody else out, too. And, if he can chew it up, he will.”

“He’s just a character and the most fun horse I’ve ever ridden my whole life,” Crow said.

Crow said he’ll continue to show the horse, but they generally don’t show him a lot during a season.

“We get him qualified for the Appaloosa World show and then show him there, but the plan is to step him a lot more to the reined cow horse,” Crow said. 

And, there may be little double-dipping going on during the year. Crow said Ardith, the owner, wants to start showing him a lot in the Non-Pro.

Crow’s family ranches in the southeastern part of Colorado, so he grew up as a ranch kid — rodeoing and roping. 

His father and mother, Russell and Dianna Elliott, raised four sons with varied interests: Cody and his twin brother, Cory, who team ropes; their older brother, Keith, who is into construction; and their younger brother, Lane, who is a police officer.

When asked if he wanted to thank anyone who helped him win the World title, Crow said, “Absolutely, it takes a village [to win a World title]. I want to give a huge shout out to Garrett Ashby” — Crow’s assistant trainer — “who helps get me ready and makes me be as good as I can be. He doesn’t give me any slack. 

Also, one of his assistants, “Emily Dahle, who helps us when we ride. And Ardith Alcorn, who has given me a shot and left him with me for several years to see what we can do. I appreciate all of that.”