It was a banner year for reined cow horses with multiple milestones crossed, at the 2021 National Reined Cow Horse Association Snaffle Bit Futurity®, Clayton Edsall became the newest Million Dollar Rider to join the elite club. At the Snaffle Bit Futurity, presented by Metallic Cat, Edsall made the Open Finals at the event, needing only $5,000 in earnings to push his lifetime total over the mark. He earned $10,000 in the Finals and finished the year with $1,016,157.75. While the cows weren’t cooperative during his Finals run, the in-arena announcement of his milestone had the crowd on their feet in the Will Rogers Coliseum.
Edsall, originally from Montana, recently moved his training operation from Oakdale, California, to Mineral Wells, Texas. His roots run deep in horses, where he started evolving his horsemanship riding ranch-raised horses in Montana. Today, he counts every major NRCHA premier event championship title to his résumé, bar the Snaffle Bit Futurity.
“My success started in the bridle and went backwards, really,” Edsall, 41, said. “I started [my premier event earnings] winning the World’s Greatest Horseman on Skeets Oak Peppy in the bridle, then won the Stallion Stakes, won the Derby then Hackamore Classic. Now, it would be sure fun to win the 3-year-old Futurity. I just got to thinking about that and it seems a lot of times it goes the other way, but I’ve gone from bridle to snaffle with my wins. Most of those horses that I’ve won on are still showing—Metallic Train, Bet He Sparks, Bet Hesa Boon and Skeets Oak Peppy.”
And, they all helped Edsall to achieve the million-dollar mark. His biggest paycheck has come aboard Metallic Train (Metallic Cat x Sparking Train x Shining Spark), owned by Beverly Servi, with $35,471 for first place in the 2018 NRCHA Stallion Stakes. The mare has amassed $172,250 in NRCHA earnings with Edsall, and along with the K&L Phillips-owned stallion Bet He Sparks (Bet Hesa Cat x Sparking Train x Shining Spark) that carried Edsall to a $30,173.69 payday at the 2019 NRCHA Derby and to more than $187,000 in NRCHA earnings, have been big factors in achieving this honor.
For Edsall, part of his measure of success is not only picking up the wins, but watching the horses he has trained continue to compete and have long careers.
“Some of the horses I’ve done good on, but I’m not still showing them, they are still going,” he said. “There were four horses I had a part in training in the World’s Greatest last year and that is special to me, important to me. If you do your homework and keep a horse sound, not only physically but mentally, it is great to watch a horse go on and be successful. That means a lot to me.”
First and foremost, Edsall thanks his wife, Chelsea, he says, for not only being his wife and biggest supporter but also for being a great partner helping in his horse business. The backing of his parents, all of Edsall’s clients and customers that trusted him with their horses, and the support of his late brother, Roy, have all had a hand in helping him in his career.
“When I was getting started [training horses] I was around a guy, Tink Elordi, who would harp on me about how it didn’t matter what you put on a horse’s face but it was about how you use your feet, ride with your body and the energy you put out,” said Edsall. “That has been a huge focus for me and been a positive in the older horses. I wasn’t raised in the industry and throughout my career, fellow trainers have helped me learn, whether they knew it or not. Watching someone else warm a horse up, bouncing ideas off each other, it is so valuable and helpful.”
It takes a lot of support to keep a training operation running flawlessly, and Edsall recognizes the efforts from not only his family and customers, but also all of the veterinarians and farriers that help his horses get the job done in the show pen.“Dr. Marty Gardner of Western Performance Equine, Dr. Joe Carter of Oklahoma Equine, our farriers, the staff and so many more people help keep us going,” he said. “I’m humbled and appreciative of everyone that has helped me and the horses along the way.”
Edsall becomes the 21st rider in the NRCHA Million Dollar Rider Club.
“Earning a spot in the Million Dollar Rider ranks at NRCHA is a life’s effort for many of our professionals,” said Anna Morrison, NRCHA executive director. “We couldn’t be happier for Clayton and the team surrounding him for achieving this milestone.”