Any major National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) victory is special. For the connections of Gunna Stop, the horse’s win in the NRHA Derby Level 3 Open was even more meaningful.
The son of Gunnatrashya’s previous owner, Ali Gokey, recently died after a fight with AML, an aggressive form of leukemia. He showed with trainer Kole Price in the Derby on Saturday, June 20, under the ownership of Ali’s sister, Amber Gokey.
“People don’t realize that horses can do strange things for people, and I witnessed that through Ali. It is so much more than what we see, and this horse definitely helped her keep going. I still get choked up every time I talk about it. She loved this horse, and I think she kept fighting for him. I honestly feel like Ali was up there with me when I was riding,” said Price, who rode the colt to a winning 222.5. “You do this for the love of the horse, and Ali was a perfect example of that. She loved everything about him.”
Competing in the first section of the Open Finals, Kole Price knew he and Gunna Stop would have to catch the judges’ attention quickly. With that in mind, he pushed the 5-year-old stallion into the pen to run down for a big stop.
“He stopped big and backed up really pretty, and then just stood there quiet as a church mouse. He was super hooked up, stylish, and quiet,” Price said. “Coming around the ends, my reins were a little tangled up and I couldn’t steer him quite like I wanted to, but he took care of me. In the last stop, he dragged his butt, and it was just like how we prepared. He was incredible.”
The judges agreed, awarding a big score of 222.5 and the Level 3 Open Championship, which paid $23,477.
Gunna stop was originally trained by Austin Roush, and the pair earned the 2018 Level 1 and 2 NRHA Futurity Championships, and qualified for the finals in Levels 4, 3, 2 & 1.
“First, I have to thank Ali [Gokey]—she was an inspiration,” Price said. “Obviously, without her, I never would have got this horse. I have to thank the whole Gokey family for continuing to support us, my wife [Kelsey], my groom, Javi Soto, because he’s the one up in the middle of the night icing this horse and taking extra care. I want to thank my assistant, Diego Gaona—he’s another set of eyes for me. Along with my shoer, Seth Jordan and our vets, Josh Donnell and Jason Walter. It’s a team, but everyone pulls their own and everybody comes together.”