When graduating senior Shelby Walker’s high school announced it was having a celebratory drive-through in its parking lot for the class of 2020 the second week of June, the 17-year-old had a choice to make.
Should she delay her trip to the National Reined Cow Horse Association Derby by a day for the vehicular graduation ceremony, or should she hop in the truck with her mom and leave on time for Arizona to compete in the Non-Pro Limited?
She’s a horse person. Was it ever really a question?
“I was like, no, I’d rather go to a horse show than drive through the parking lot of my high school,” said Walker, of San Louis Obispo, California.
It proved to be a good choice. Not only did one of her trainers, Tina Robinson, bring a little festivity to the scene by stringing graduation decorations in their stall area, but Walker won the Derby Non-Pro Limited Championship with SJR Katmandoo.
“I got a celebration here which probably fits better than a real graduation,” she said via phone from the show grounds in Scottsdale.
SJR Katmandoo delivered her a gift in the form of the winning composite of 648 (212 herd/214.5 rein/221.5 cow) on Thursday, June 11. The $2,709 first-place check pushed Walker’s lifetime Equi-Stat record to $9,709.
The 6-year-old gelding bred by San Juan Ranch is Walker’s first Derby horse and has proven to be a great one –” I couldn’t have asked for a better first derby horse to learn to show on two handed.”
“I make a mistake for the most part he’ll just cover for me,” she said. “He’s pretty solid and consistent himself, so it’s made it good for me to get in and out of the show pen on him and have him know that he’ll be pretty honest with me and not try to mess me up.”
Last year, Walker and SJR Katmandoo won the Non-Pro Limited Championship at the National Stock Horse Association Futurity show, and were third in that class at the NRCHA Stallion Stakes.
She was able to ride him at one smaller show this February, before the show season stopped during the COVID-19 restrictions, and then had the gelding at home for most of the down time. They spent time trail riding and roping the sled before he went to trainers Tucker and Tina Robinson for a tuneup about a month before the Derby.
“That was really good for him mentally, but he definitely needed to go back and get back to his show mentality there at the trainers,” she said.
At the Derby, Walker just wanted to enjoy her time with the horse. She plans to finish out his derby years at the rescheduled NRCHA Stallion Stakes and the Reno Snaffle Bit Futurity.
I” knew I’d won a lot on him and no matter how it goes, my derbies left on him are limited so I just needed to be appreciative of what happened,” she said.
Sired by Equi-Stat Elite $29 Million Sire Smooth As A Cat, SJR Katmandoo is one of 11 winners out of Shiners Diamond Girl (by Shining Spark). The win pushed his lifetime earnings to $9,639.
The mare’s top earner is 2012 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Open Champion CD Diamond (by CD Olena). Other top earners out of Shiners Diamond Girl include NRCHA Stallion Stakes Open Champion SJR Diamond Rey ($75,591, by Dual Rey) and SJR Smooth Rio ($60,428, by Smooth As A Cat).
In all, Shiners Diamond Girl has 11 money earners with a total show record of $327,014.
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