Bret Paulick has come close to winning the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Snaffle Bit Futurity before, but it was homebred Illbeyourhickleberry that helped him win the elusive Non-Pro Championship.
The win clearly meant a lot. So much so, the horseman from Utah had a hard time finding words to describe his gratitude to all those who helped him to the win Friday, Oct. 23, in Fort Worth, Texas.
“It’s the pinnacle. Everybody dreams of this,” he said. “I’ve worked, a lot of years you always question… you go home from every show and think, man, am I ever going to get there? Am I ever going to do it?
“I’ve been close a few times, but today was our lucky day, our lucky year with a great horse, a great team.”
He and Illbeyourhickleberry won the title at the NRHA Futurity, presented by Metallic Cat, with a composite of 652 (214.5 herd/215.5 rein/222 cow). It was one point more than Reserve Champions Playin With Cher and Josh Briggs, who finished with a 651 (216.5 herd/218 rein/216.5 cow).
Paulick gave credit to his wife, Amie, and children — Bodee, Payton and Laramie — and a long list of friends from in and out of the industry that ranged from trainers who offered guidance, to friends who let him ride in their indoor arena and saddle maker Doug Koontz, who sold him the lucky saddle he won on in Fort Worth.
He also said it wouldn’t have been possible without the Lord.
“I said a lot of prayers this week,” Paulick said, tearing up. “I don’t deserve what I got.”
Pauilck has been showing horses for roughly 25 years, compiling a record of more than $100,000 in earnings. Their horses don’t just compete in the show pen, but are used for work when the Paulicks brand calves at ranches near their home in Erda, Utah.
That includes the Snaffle Bit Futurity winner, Illbeyourhickleberry. Paulick said the son of Hickory Holly Time acted like a bridle horse in the branding pen earlier this year.
“These horses go to brand hundreds, literally hundreds, of calves every year,” he said.
In the show pen, Illbeyourhickleberry had one entry on his Equi-Stat record prior to the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity. That came in August at the Utah Reined Cow Horse Association Snaffle Bit Futurity, where he and Paulick placed second in the Non-Pro.
Illbeyourhickleberry’s Family Tree
The Paulicks bought Illbeyourhickleberry’s dam, Miss Slic Smoke, from her breeder, Phil Rasmussen, of Corrine, Utah. Paulick had tried to buy one of the mare’s maternal relatives — she’s out of Poco Smoken Lena (by Smokin 45) — from the breeder, but couldn’t get him to sell, and instead bought Miss Slic Smoke after she passed out of a sale.
The mare is by Chick N San, a Peppy San Badger stallion out of 1981 National Cutting Horse Association Futurity Open Reserve Champion Chick Tari (by Doc Tari). He showed the mare to more than $12,000 in earnings, and since retiring her to breeding duty has made a habit of riding her foals in NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Non-Pro.
Before his win with Illbeyourhickleberry, Paulick rode the horse’s half brother, Smart Smoken Remedy (by Very Smart Remedy) to the Intermediate and Novice Non-Pro championships at the show in 2017.
He also made all three Non-Pro finals with another sibling, Master Slic Smoke (by Master Snapper) at the 2012 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity.
The more than $33,656 first-place paycheck from this year’s show bumped Illbeyourhickleberry’s lifetime earnings to more than $34,308. That makes him his dam’s leading earner, just a couple dollars more than Smart Smoken Remedy ($34,285)