Kelli Buckley and One Royal Princess * Photo by Performance Horse Photography

Fun in the Snow: CRCA Sagebrush Derby Results

Colorado Reined Cow Horse Association’s (CRCA) Sagebrush show held April 19-23, 2023, in Pueblo, Colorado, at State Fairgrounds reached record numbers with an increase in entries of every derby and spectacular class. With over $45,200 added to the show it rallied in a great group of competitors from more than 14 different states all battling the same element, snow.

The CRCA members, judges, and event staff toughed it out and braved the weather in an all-day snowstorm. Thankfully, the facility in Pueblo features a large outdoor arena in addition to a sizeable covered arena that offered adequate warm-up space and could have served as the show ring should conditions have worsened and become dangerous. Luckily though, the ground stayed good, and exhibitors got to experience the winter wonderland.

With over 58 entries spread through the Open Derby classes, the first day of the show was filled with big scores from top to bottom. Rounding out the Open Derby rein work was a three-way tie of Sarah Dawson on Itchin Ta Shine (Call Me Mitch x Sheza Shinette x Shining Spark), Nicole Westfall riding Cat Like (Bet Hesa Cat x Smart N Katsi x Smart Little Pepinic), and Debbie Crafton aboard Ohh You Betcha (Bet Hesa Cat x Isabellena x Quejanaisalena) all marking scores of 146, and each taking home a check for over $900 in day money.

After a great day of rein work, securing the win in the Open Derby herd was once again Dawson, this time fighting her way to the top riding Vince Von (Stevie Rey Von x Hottness x Spots Hot) to a high score of 148.

Rounding out the final leg of the Open Derby was an outstanding fence work class. After the dust had settled, it was EJ Laubscher riding Tattle Cat (Metallic Cat x Kathryn x Smart Lena Boon) who walked away with the go round win with a 149.5.

Debbie Crafton riding Catbernet (Jazarell Cat x Belles On My Peptoes x Peptoboonsmal) topped the Non-Pro Derby herd work with a 144, and to match that score in the Non-Pro Boxing Derby was Cheryl Chown on Hippster (Metallic Rebel x Hip Hip Sue Rey x Dual Rey).

Following a successful first day out of the herd for the non-pros, the arena switched over and it was Jecca Ostrander riding Boxo Opus Magnum (WR This Cats Smart x Opus Chic x Smart Chic Olena) to a win in the Non-Pro Derby rein work with a 145.

Cheryl Chown rose to the top of the Non-Pro boxing derby rein work winning with a 143.5 on Hippster.    

The final leg of the race for our Non-Pros came down to a single cow showdown. Kelli Buckley riding One Royal Princess secured the Non-Pro derby fence work with a 145.5.

Lori Frampton-Crafton’s 148.5 in the cow work won her the round while showing One Smart N Timely in the Non-Pro Boxing Derby.

Composite Sagebrush Champions

While everyone appreciates go round money, it’s after the last horse and rider leave the pen that the champions are crowned.

Leading the composite in the Open CRCA Sagebrush Derby after all three goes was Matt Koch aboard the 2018 mare Smart Lookin Secrets (WR This Cats Smart X Secrets Blue Angel) with a composite of 441 worth $5,100 for owners XIT Ranches.

Matt Koch at the CRCA Sagebrush Derby
Matt Koch and Smart Lookin Secrets * Photo by Performance Horse Photography

Koch said his favorite thing about the Sagebrush show was, “Getting to show outside in a really neat facility,” adding, “I was just happy to get shown. That mare wanted to be good down there and get along. Thank you to everyone who helped the show run smooth and kept a a positive attitude through the weather.”

Reserve Open Derby honors went to Sarah Dawson riding Vince Von for owner Wendy Buehler with a close 439.5 composite worth a check for $4,149.

Winning the Intermediate Open Derby, Novice Horse and the 4-Year-Old Incentive was EJ Laubscher riding Tattle Cat, a 2019 stallion owned by Cassidy Jesperson. Tattle Cat earned a composite of 438 for combined earnings of $2,471 plus day money.

“We don’t get to show outside very often anymore, and it just opens and frees them [horses] up and they feel refreshed,” said Laubscher, referring to his favorite aspect of the Sagebrush show. “This colt got sick last summer and had all summer off so he’s a little behind, and it feels like he is finally catching up. I took him out there and took a chance, and it paid off.”

“I am grateful for the great clients I have who are willing to take a chance and send us down the road,” added Laubscher. “Without our clients none of this would be possible, so thank you to them. I want to thank CRCA for like always, running a smooth and professional show.” 

Reserve in the Intermediate Open Derby was Debbie Crafton piloting Ohh You Betcha, with a 434.5, winning a check for over $933. 

Richard Winters walked away with the Limited Open Derby win aboard Smack Talkin (Smooth Talkin Style X Haelies Comet x Halreycious) for owners Spahn Land & Cattle Co., LLC, with a 432 composite winning $1,037.

“Everyone on the organizational side was so wonderful and willing to help,” said Winters. “Everyone from the office all the way to the back gate was happy to be there and happy to help.”

Winters’ long trip from Texas proved worthwhile.

“Knowing I had a 12-hour drive home, it made it a lot easier to be able to call the owners and tell them you got a piece of the pie,” he said. “The drive home is always easier when that’s the case. I sold this horse to a client just starting out in the cow horse and we’ve been sharing him. I asked the owner if he wanted to go to this show and he couldn’t, but he still sent me, so I’m just really thankful he let me go.”

Reserve behind Winters was Nicole Westfall aboard Cat Like with a 431 composite and a check for over $860.

Rounding out our list of open derby winners with a 427.5 worth $597.98 was Level 1 champion Cassie Jo Marshall on TGR Quarter Horses’ Bet On This Pepto 18 (Bet Hesa Cat X Ima Fern Believer x Peptoboonsmal).

“I loved the laid-back atmosphere, and the show ran really smooth. It was just a memorable show,” said Marshall. “This was my first Level 1 win with higher overall scores than ever before. This mare is actually bred so that was fun to win on one, and hopefully have a little champion inside. I couldn’t do this without TGR Quarter Horses. They’ve done a lot for me.”

Reserve Champion in the Level 1 was Bailey Bixenman (Owner/rider) on Starlit Lil Angel (Docs Soula X Nics Lil Angel x Nic it in the Bud) with a 417 composite to earn $498.

Non-Pro Derby

It was Jecca Ostrander sweeping the Non-Pro, Intermediate Non-Pro, and Select Non-Pro Derbies on home-raised stallion Box O Opus Magnum with a 431 composite to earn a combined check of just over $1,300.

“Competing in the snow was my favorite thing. Going down the fence in the snow was just awesome,” said Ostrander. “This is my first Non-Pro Derby win. I’ve been successful but I’ve never been in the winner’s circle. It’s neat that it all came together even with the weather.”

“I want to thank my husband and the crew at home, Stetson and the kids,” she said. “Thank you Matt Koch for the excellent start and Jeremy Knoles for putting up with my non-pro ways. I want to give God the credit and glory because he puts the horses and everything else together.”

Jecca Ostrander and Boxo Opus Magnum wins the Non-Pro CRCA Sagebrush Derby
Jecca Ostrander and Boxo Opus Magnum * Photo by Performance Horse Photography

Closely following Ostrander was Kelli Buckley riding One Royal Princess (One Time Royalty X Dillons Skarlet Chic x Matt Dillon Dun It) to the Non-Pro Derby reserve win, as well as an Intermediate, Limited, and Level 1 Non-Pro Derby championship thanks to a 430 composite that gained her combined earnings of $1,844.82.

“My favorite thing was getting to show in the snow. It was cool and different. I liked that it was a nice, big show and I got to catch up with everyone,” said Buckley, adding, “This mare is just doing so well, even with missing out on her 3-year-old year.” Thank you to CRCA for always putting on a great show with great prizes and added money.”

Jens Naglestad on Shiney Lil Tick Tock (Hickory Holly Time X Cowgirl Sparkles x Shining Spark) took reserve in the Limited Non-Pro Derby with a 427 composite and a check for $141.33.

Stealing reserve honors in the Level 1 Non-Pro Derby was Haley Pavlick riding LK Make It Reyn (Reyzin The Cash X LK Frozen In Time x One Time Pepto) with a 415.5 composite and $397.60 in earnings. The 4-Year-Old Non-Pro Incentive Champion was Debbie Crafton riding Biscuits R Smokin (Hickory Holly Time X IC The Buiscuits x Dual R Smokin) to a 425 composite to earn $395.50.

Karey Louthan and One More Time Johnny (One Time Pepto X Shesa Dancin Diamond x Diamond J Star) walked away with reserve in the Non-Pro 4-Year-Old Incentive marking a 422.5 composite and earning $237.30.

Rounding out the derby divisions was Cheryl Chown aboard her 2019 gelding Hippster. Chown won the Non-Pro Boxing Derby, 4-Year-Old Boxing Incentive, and Select Boxing Derby with a 433.5 composite and a paycheck for over $900.

“Watching and meeting JR Vezain was my favorite part,” said Chown. “He is a super cool guy, and it was amazing to watch. The herd work on my 4-year-old was also a blast. This horse is super talented but he’s a lot of horse, and really spooky. He has been a big challenge for me, and getting through the reined work in the snow was such an accomplishment.”

Chown added, “CRCA has some of the most welcoming and accommodating people I’ve experienced. This show was a lot of fun and a good feeling because of it.”

Reserve in the Non-Pro Boxing Derby was Lori Frampton-Crafton on One Smart N Timely (One Time Pepto X Ima Smart Response x Smart Little Lena) with a 432.5 composite to bank $454.28.

The 4-Year-Old Boxing Incentive reserve win went to Gary Hawkes on Sendin Smoke Signals (Sigala Rey X Shesa Dualn Fine x Kit Dual) who marked a composite score of 414.5 to earn $144.38.

The Level 1 Non-Pro Boxing Champion was Ashleigh Olds-Sanchez on homegrown mare Boondock Playgirl (Boon A Little X Highrolling Playgirl x WR Hickorys Playboy) with a 410.5 composite to win $160.34.

“It was fun to show outside and the closest show to my house,” said Olds-Sanchez. “This is my first homebred horse I’ve gotten to show, and I had only ridden her once before showing. I think the Level 1 Boxing Derby Is amazing because it gives us with less experience somewhere to go. Thank you to CRCA for a great show and to Matt Matusio for all your hard work and help. Also, thank you to whoever brought the hand warmers!”

CRCA Director’s Dish

The Sagebrush was the first full show for CRCA’s new Executive Director, Emily Perry.

“The show was so much fun, and we have such a great team behind us,” reflected Perry. “Thank you to everyone that came to show and thank you to new and recurring sponsors. These shows would not be possible without them. We appreciate everyone who stepped in and had a hand in helping throughout the show, especially setting up and tearing down the cutting pen. I’m just grateful for everyone who chose our show.”

Supporting Perry behind the scenes was CRCA’s president and show manager Tawny Fye. Fye’s motto “Don’t quit Showing!” held true in Pueblo.

“The weather posed a bit of a challenge,” said Fye, “but everyone kept a good attitude and soldiered their way through it. It didn’t feel like work to me, everything just ran so easy, and everyone had a great time. If this was your first time showing with us, thank you for joining our growing association. This is the way we like our shows to run—smooth, fun, and relaxed. We love to see all the new faces. Thank you to all the board members, Emily Perry, and our show secretary Keri Croft for helping make this such a smooth running show for everyone involved.”

Next up is the CRCA Drought Buster in McCook, Neb., followed by the Western Slope Futurity in Montrose, Colo., then two shows in Douglas, Wyo., which are the Firecracker in July and Mid-America in September. Visit for more information.