Matt Day

The Hall of Merit rewards goes to an individual based not on what that individual has done for himself, but for what he has done for the National Reined Cow Horse Association. The NRCHA is proud to name Matt Day of Bend, Oregon among the elite recipients of this award.

Matt Day was born in Los Angeles, California and grew up on the Monterey Peninsula. His mother, Williametta was one of the grand dams of the horse show world. She showed gaited horses, harness horses, played polo and had many hunters, jumpers, and stock horses shown by trainers such as Jimmy Williams and Gene Lewis.

Jimmy Williams was Matts godfather and Gene Lewis was the godfather of Matts brother. Matt comes from a family of riders and showmen as almost all his siblings rode.

Growing up Matt primarily showed hunters and jumpers, even training with the Olympic team one year. As a teenager he showed against Clyde Kennedy, Barbara Worth, Jimmy Williams, Gene Lewis, Louie Greeno and many other famous trainers of the time. He showed some in the cutting and a little in the stock horse events.

Matt attended Cal Poly State University with Smoky Pritchett and Pat Russell and later moved to Reno where he graduated with a business degree from the University of Nevada.

Matt got out of the horse industry for awhile until he met his wife Lesley on a blind date in Sacramento at the CRCHA Derby in 1981. After that he was back in the business.

Lesley was from Bend, Oregon and was not moving to Los Angeles, so Matt moved north and started helping Lesley and her two boys, Palmer and Brian, on their ranch. Matt also has two children of his own, Lucinda and Matt Jr., and two grandchildren T.J and Chas and another one on the way.

After moving to Bend, Matt founded the successful Hooker Creek Companies. Matt decided to take one of Lesleys horses to train with Ronnie Richards for the Snaffle Bit Futurity. Ronnie had trained horses for Matts mom many years, including the great cutting mare Holly Day Doc. Ronnie told Matt there was no sense in showing Shaker because there was no way he could make any money on the horse. Matt proved him wrong by making the finals and placing 4th. He was hooked on cow horses and cutting from then on. It was Matts dream to win the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Non Pro Championship and in 1993 he did just that on Hollywood Boulevard, trained by Bob Avila.

Smart Zanolena is owned by Matt and Lesley Days Hooker Creek Ranch and won the 1999 Open Snaffle Bit Futurity with trainer Bob Avila. The ranch also owns the mare Days Zanolena who Tucker Robinson has shown to many championships. Matt won the AQHA Amateur Cow Horse on Tuckernic in 1997. He won this honor twice and teamed up with Bob Avila to win the Amateur and Open in 1991. His Non Pro NRCHA earnings now total $99,575.

Matt has enjoyed his relationship with NRCHA over the last 25 years, especially reconnecting with friends from his youth including Ronnie Richards, Bobby Ingersoll and Benny Guitron.