In his first trip to the National Reined Cow Horse Association Snaffle Bit Futurity Open finals, Nick Dowers, Dyer, Nev., claimed the $100,000 Championship aboard Time For The Diamond (One Time Pepto x Diamonds With Style x Playin Stylish), a horse he owns under the name of his family’s Triple D Ranches, LLC.
Dowers, 31, piloted the sorrel stallion to a total 661 score (218.5 herd/218.5 rein/224 cow), earning a deafening ovation every time he entered the arena.
“I wasn’t sure I would be able to hear the horn at the end of my fence work,” he said, smiling. “This is surreal. It hasn’t even sunk in. I’ve been telling my wife for a year – I got the horse to do it. If I can get things done right, I got a shot.”
Besides the six-figure paycheck, Dowers won two Bob’s Custom Saddles sponsored by Jeffrey & Sheri Matthews/One Time Pepto and the NRCHA; two custom saddle racks sponsored by Sunmoon Ranch; two Gist buckles sponsored by Hooker Creek Ranch/Matt & Lesley Day and Lone Oak Veterinary Clinic; the Dorothy Jenkins Bush Perpetual Trophy, sponsored by the Ralph Gragg Family and Keith Christie; a polar fleece cooler from Classic Equine; Platinum Equine from Platinum Performance, a 30x hat from JW Brooks Custom Hats; Back On Track product sponsored by Back On Track; and a 10 pound bucket of UltraCruz Sand Clear plus a $50 gift certificate and a coffee tumbler in a cooler tote bag, sponsored by San Juan Ranch, a division of Santa Cruz Animal Health.
Time For The Diamond was bred by Gardiner Quarter Horses, Ashland, Kansas. Dowers purchased the stallion at the 2011 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Sale as a yearling – and it was love at first sight.
“I saw his head and neck sticking out of the stall, and I was, like, ‘Wow.’ He’s got the prettiest head and neck of any horse here, in my opinion. And that’s what drew me to him.”
Dowers considered selling “Cactapus” – nicknamed by his 5-year-old daughter, Tuli – when an elite NRCHA professional threw a six-figure offer on the table this summer.
“I stewed over it for three or four days,” he said. “I called a good friend and mentor and asked him what he thought. He said, ‘Well, is your dream worth that?’ I was, like, ‘You’re right. It isn’t.’ So that was my decision. My dream of this, tonight, wasn’t worth the price.”
The Futurity Open Reserve Champion was Blind Sided (Peptoboonsmal x Lil Miss Shiney Chex x Shining Spark), shown by Jay McLaughlin for Aaron Ranch. McLaughlin maneuvered the roan stallion to a total 656 (215 hed/ 217 rein/224 cow). The placing paid $70,000 and came with a Bob’s Custom Saddle sponsored by NRCHA; a custom saddle rack sponsored by Sunmoon Ranch; Gist buckles sponsored by Missy Capone and Ruby View Quarter Horses/Jim & Holly Gregory; a 30x hat from JW Brooks Custom Hats; a Cinch jacket from Bob’s Custom Saddles/The New West; Platinum Equine from Platinum Performance; Back On Track product sponsored by Back On Track; and a 10 pound bucket of UltraCruz Sand Clear plus a $50 gift certificate and a coffee tumbler in a cooler tote bag, sponsored by San Juan Ranch, a division of Santa Cruz Animal Health.
Futurity Intermediate Open Champion
Up-and-coming professional horseman Kelby Phillips, Ashland, Kansas, claimed the biggest win of his young career when he piloted Garth & Amanda Gardiner’s stallion, Hickory Holly Time (One Time Pepto x Hickorys Holly Cee x Doc’s Hickory), to the National Reined Cow Horse Association Cinch Intermediate Open Championship Thursday, Oct. 3 in Reno, Nev.
Phillips and the roan stallion scored a total 648 (214 herd/218.5 rein/215.5) for the win, which came with a check for $30,000, thanks to a sponsorship from NRCHA Corporate Partner, CINCH.
“This means a lot. This is probably my most favorite horse I have ever had. Ever since I’ve had him, he’s just kind of a pet, always wanting to nibble on you. He’s always been fun. It doesn’t ever seem like he has much of a bad day,” Phillips said.
The Championship also came with a Bob’s Custom Saddle Sponsored by Heart River Ranch/Keith Candee; a Gist Custom Buckle sponsored by TKO Ranch/Bob Stevens; a CR Morrison Trophy from NRCHA; a 30x Hat from JW Brooks Custom Hats; a polar fleece cooler from Classic Equine; a monogrammed Cinch jacket from Bob’s Custom Saddles/The New West; Platinum Equine from Platinum Performance; and Back On Track product from Back On Track.
Phillips showed another Gardiner-owned horse in the Intermediate and Limited Open finals: Bed Head Cat (Wild Haired Cat x Isabellena x Quejanaisalena), and he qualified both Hickory Holly Time and Bed Head Cat for the Futurity Open Finals on Saturday, Oct. 5.
Phillips has had tremendous success in the Limited Open at NRCHA Premier Events in 2013 aboard horses owned by the Gardiners. He won the NRCHA Stakes, Hackamore Classic and Derby Limited Open Championships, but this is the first time to qualify for the Open finals.
“These are the first two horses I’ve ever trained from the start to bring here, so it’s a pretty big deal to me,” he said. “To bring these two horses here, the first ones I’ve trained, it’s pretty unbelievable.”
Phillips thanked Don Murphy for coaching him before and during the Futurity, and also appreciated herd help from Brandon Buttars, Zane Davis, Faron Hightower, Boyd Rice and Robbie Boyce. He also particularly credited his wife, Abbie, for her help and patience, and was glad to have extra friends and family in his cheering section. His parents were in Reno for the finals, and some of Phillips’ close friends flew in from Texas with their 10-week-old twins.
Although Phillips was thrilled to win the Cinch Intermediate Open title, he admitted the high point of his trip to Reno so far was watching his boss, Garth Gardiner, score a 217 to win the cow work round in the Futurity Non-Pro preliminaries.
“This is really an exciting moment for me, but to see Garth win the fence work was probably the proudest I’ve been. We had his horse ready, and had him ready, and he came in and marked a 217 and won himself a gold buckle,” Phillips said, smiling.
The Futurity Intermediate Open Reserve Champion was Smooth A Roany (Smooth As A Cat x Boons Pepto Roany x Peptoboonsmal), shown by NRCHA Hall of Fame horseman Ted Robinson, Oak View, Calif., for owners John and Nikki Jump. They scored a 645 (214 herd/218.5 rein/215.5 cow), winning $15,000.
Limited Open Champion
Winston Hansma, Weatherford, Texas, removed his National Cutting Horse Association Futurity Open Championship buckle from his belt – and replaced it with his brand-new National Reined Cow Horse Association Futurity Limited Open Championship buckle. Hansma piloted Bossy Brother (CD Lights x Diamonds Sparklette x Genuine Doc), a stallion bred by Carol Rose and owned by Hansma and Danny Motes, to a 650.5 composite score (218 herd/214.5 rein/218 cow), earning $5,403.
It was the second time for Hansma, a veteran cutting horse professional, to show a Snaffle Bit Futurity horse. The first time was in 2010.
“I’ve been involved with pretty much every discipline except gaited horses at one time or another. I did a little cow horse in Canada before I started cutting. I’ve always appreciated the horsemanship skills involved in training reined cow horse. To me, they’re the true horsemen. There are some good horsemen in the cutting industry, but it doesn’t matter what lead youre on. We just train cutting horses. These guys are horsemen and I have a real appreciation for that term,” he said.
Bossy Brother is sired by Hansma and Motes’s stallion, CD Lights, and out of a full sister to Rose’s leading sire, Shining Spark. Although Hansma said he felt under-prepared to compete at the Snaffle Bit Futurity, Bossy Brother rose to the occasion with some big scores in the herd and fence work.
“I was really pleased with him. He was on his game today. He’s good on a cow,” Hansma said.
The Championship also came with a Bob’s Custom Saddle Sponsored by Flagg Ranch/Larry Rice; a custom Saddle Rack Sponsored by Sunmoon Ranch; a Gist Custom Buckle sponsored by Doug Granade; a Cow Trac system sponsored by Cow Trac; a CR Morrison Trophy from NRCHA; a 30x Hat from JW Brooks Custom Hats; a polar fleece cooler from Classic Equine; a monogrammed Cinch jacket from Bob’s Custom Saddles/The New West; Platinum Equine from Platinum Performance; and Back On Track product from Back On Track.
The Limited Open Reserve Champion was Hickory Holly Time, shown by Kelby Phillips for Garth and Amanda Gardiner, Ashland, Kansas. They collected a check for $3,929.