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Foundloveathooters and Debbie Crafton found the winner's circle at the NRCHA Stallion Stakes. * Photo by Primo Morales

Debbie Crafton and Foundloveathooters Win NRCHA Stallion Stakes Non-Pro

It’s difficult enough to make the finals on one horse at a National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) premier event, but Debbie Crafton knocked it out of the park when she qualified four horses for the Non-Pro finals at the Teton Ridge NRCHA Stallion Stakes.

She then upped her game even more to win the event with Foundloveathooters, and also take the Reserve Championship with Hesa Wee Bet.

“They’re all pretty consistent. Any one of the four, it could be their day,” Crafton said of her mounts in the April 2 finals. “It was just who had the best day. Foundloveathooters is very solid in all three events and has a lot of talent and eye appeal. I have a lot of confidence in him, so I felt good going into it on him.”

Crafton and Foundloveathooters, or “Zaro,” started out their finals bid as draw eight in set one of the herd work. Crafton admitted the herd work is her weak point, but Zaro gives her a lot of confidence.

“Everything felt really good there, but I had a little miss that I created on one of my three cuts,” Crafton said. “He was solid and felt really good. Luckily, I had a good crew helping me get those four horses through the finals, and it’s not like he takes any kind of special attention. We just jogged him, loped him and went and showed him.”

The pair scored a 214.5, putting them in seventh as they went into the rein work. With their most challenging event behind them, Crafton knew she just had to let her horse do his job for the rest of the show.

“I haven’t had him a super long time. I bought him from Shawn and Tammy Hays at the end of last year, and we were just really meshing,” Crafton said. “When I entered the rein work last night, I just decided, ‘He’s good everywhere. I’m going to trust my program and trust him, and we’re a team.’”
That attitude paid off with a 219.5, the highest score in the rein work. Zaro was the last of Crafton’s horses going into the cow work at the South Point Equestrian Center in Las Vegas, so she’d already had a few runs under her belt when she entered the arena with him.

“I was feeling pretty good,” Crafton said. “He’s so cowy and accurate, and I just had a ton of confidence with him. We had quite a bit of beef when we rolled with it. We both were reading that cow so perfectly together, so when it threw us a zinger, we read that and were able to stop its thought. I was just really proud of him. It was a magical moment because he really delivered down the fence.”

The pair scored another 219.5, giving them a winning 653.3 composite. She and Zaro (Smooth As A Cat x Rey Lena Rey x Dual Rey), who was bred by Connie Down-Cicoria, banked $10,000 for their win. 

Crafton also collected $7,000 for the Reserve Championship with Hesa Wee Bet (Bet Hesa Cat x Wee Quejana Gal x Quejanaisalena), who she rode to a composite 651.5 (216 herd/218.5 rein/217 cow). She additionally tied for eighth on Hughes This Chic (Thomas E Hughes x Smart Playing Chic x Smart Chic Olena) and SJR Sumkindarockstar (Smooth As A Cat x Sumkinda Pinkcadilac x Peptoboonsmal) after marking 641.5 composites on each.

 All told, her show winnings totaled $20,446.

Crafton thanked her team that helped her get through the show with so many horses: Isy Scheffel, Riley Wilson, Jay McLaughlin, Lori Crafton, D.J. Crafton, and her herd help, Cayley Wilson, Tyler Merrill, Chris Dawson and Matt Koch. She also thanked the NRCHA, all the stallion owners and Teton Ridge for putting on a good show.

“Without those people involved, I could not have done what I got done,” Crafton said. “I’m so grateful for all of them.”