JR Marshall rode Playboy Powder to his first-ever NRCHA premier event title when they won the 2020 Derby Level 1 Limited Open in Scottsdale, Arizona. • Photo by Primo Morales.

Big Fence Run Vaults J.R. Marshall & Playboy Powder to NRCHA Derby Level 1 Limited Open

Life with horses has been interesting for J.R. Marshall. It started with riding in West Virginia under the tutelage of his father, took him to the backstretch of Thoroughbred racetracks and even to the backs of jumping horses in Germany.

This week, it took him to the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Derby Level 1 Limited Open Championship with Playboy Powder. Their winning composite of 647.5 (214.5 herd/214 rein/219 cow) also qualified them for the Intermediate Open and Limited Open finals.

“It was by far my best fence run at one of these bigger events, so it was pretty exciting,” he said.

The win Thursday night at WestWorld of Scottsdale, which paid $3,770, was especially meaningful for Marshall because of what it meant to the horse’s owner, Brett Weaver, of Madera, California.

“It just means a lot because that guy had faith in me,” he said. 

Playboy Powder

Playboy Powder joined Marshall’s string late in his 3-year-old year for owner Brett Weaver. An owner of a tree-trimming business back in California, Weaver had team penned on the horse’s sire, Bucks Little Playboy, Marshall said.

The NRCHA Derby wasn’t Playboy Powder ‘s first success. The gelding had two money-winning efforts last year, picking up checks at the Idaho show and the Reno Snaffle Bit Futurity.

Though Playboy Powder had showed talent, Marshall said it was the first time the horse was able to string together three solid rounds at the same show.

“I have won (a round) on him in every event I’ve just never been able to put three events together, and our goal was just to be smooth,” he said. “He’s real go-ey.”

The first-place check this week in Scottsdale pushed Playboy Powder’s lifetime earnings to more than $4,700.

Playboy Powder is the only earner recorded in Equi-Stat for his sire as well as his dam, Full of Powder (by Powder River Playboy). He was bred by Carmen Johnson, of La Grange, California.

East Coast Beginnings

After growing up in West Virginia, Marshall worked at Thoroughbred racetracks and as a farrier before moving into jumping horses. It was while working in the jumping field that he hopped aboard a reined cow horse trained by Jay Holmes at a charity event in Ocala, Florida.

“That was the first time I ever sat on a cow horse,” he said. “He showed my jump horse and I showed his horse, and that’s been 8 years ago.”

After a move to Germany for jumping horses, Marshall came back to the states and began to ride reined cow horses. He said he’s had a lot of help along the way, and is thankful for everyone who has helped him with the horse, and the transition to showing cow horses.

That includes Clayton Edsall, who he works for, and fellow cow horse rider Justin Wright and several members of his crew in Santa Maria, California. NRCHA Hall of Famer Don Murphy also assisted with the transition.

“Don Murphy’s been a huge part of that, just helping me, because going from English to this it’s a completely different world,” he said. “And so I’ve had to change a lot of ways of riding, and some of it does overlap for sure.”

Marshall posted his first earnings to Equi-Stat in 2014 aboard Freckles Are Magic, a horse he rode in the Limited Bridle at the Rancharrah Cow Horse Classic and Nevada Stallion Stakes.

Last year, his most successful show season to date, he earned more than $6,000 with a highlight being the Idaho Reined Cow Horse Association Level 1 Limited Open Championship with Time To Honkytonk.

The win at the NRCHA Derby boosted Marshall’s lifetime Equi-Stat record past the $15,000 mark.

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