The preliminary round of competition at the National Reined Cow Horse Association Jack and Phoebe Cooke Memorial Derby in Paso Robles, Calif., concluded Thursday, June 13. Besides determining the Open and Non-Pro finalists, the preliminaries also decided the Champions in the Derby Amateur, Non-Pro Limited, Level 1 Limited Open and Open Novice Horse divisions.
Level 1 Limited Open & Open Novice Horse
With a 651 composite score, Luke Neubert and This Cats Crackin (WR This Cats Smart x Stressin x Dual Pep) would have made the Derby Open finals if they had entered that division, but Neubert had no regrets. The 2008 stallion he owns in partnership with his friend, Barbara Ditmore, scored a 219.5 in the herd work, a 215 in the rein work and a 216 in the cow work – good for dual championships in the NRCHA Derby Level 1 Limited Open and pen Novice Horse.
“I don’t show horses for a living; I start horses for a living. My friend and I are partners on him. I only had to pay half my entry fees. I wanted to stick with something I thought I could do well in,” Neubert said.
The Level 1 Limited Open Championship came with a check for $2,457, a Gist buckle, a Platinum Performance gift certificate and quick wraps from Back On Track.
For the Novice Horse Open, Neubert collected $3,012, another set of Back On Track wraps and certificate from Platinum Performance.
The 27-year-old trainer lives about eight miles from the Paso Robles Event Center.
“I show at whatever’s here in town. I cut on him mostly, but I enjoy the reined cow horse deal. He’s not a reiner by any means. He doesn’t even have sliders on; he just has keg shoes. He’s a good little horse,” Neubert said.
He operates Neubert Colt Company in Paso Robles with his wife of two years, Kelli Neubert. While he and rarely shows, Neubert enjoys himself when he does step into the competitive arena.
“I like showing this horse,” he said of the stallion he bought from his friend, cutting horse trainer Morgan Cromer, adding that he hopes to compete at the NRCHA World’s Greatest Horseman with This Cats Crackin in the future.
He thanked fellow Paso Robles horseman Phillip Ralls for helping him prepare This Cats Crackin for cow horse competition, and thanked Ditmore for her partnership in the stallion.
The Novice Horse Open Reserve Champion was Short And Smart (Smart Little Lena x Miss Shorty Paloma), shown by Doug Williamson, Bakersfield, Calif., and owned by Rocking J Ranch. He earned a 650.5 composite score (216 herd/215 rein/219.5 cow). The placing paid $2,357 and came with a set of skid boots from Classic Equine.
The Level 1 Limited Open Reserve Champion was Shiney Dual Rey (Dual Rey x Shiners Madam), shown by Tucker Clark for Rogers Heaven Sent Ranch. They scored a 645 (212 herd/216.5 rein/216.5 cow), earning $1,966 and a pair of skid boots from Classic Equine.
Derby Non-Pro Limited Champion
In only her first year to show reined cow horses, and her second time to compete at a major NRCHA event, Kristy Johnson, Porterville, Calif., netted the Jack and Phoebe Cooke Memorial Derby Non-Pro Championship with a 634 composite score (206 herd/212 rein/216 cow) aboard her 5-year-old mare, Lenas Gun A Smokem (Smokums Prize x Shortys Scat Cat x Shorty Lena).
The Championship paid $1,215 and came with a pile of great prizes: a Cow Trac system donated by Cow Trac, a Gist buckle, a Platinum Performance gift certificate and quick wraps from Back On Track.
Kristy Johnson won the Derby Non-Pro Limited Championship.
Johnson, a pastor and licensed counselor, started team sorting about three years ago. She bought a horse from her trainer, Roger Bias, who suggested trying her hand in the reined cow horse show pen. Johnson then bought Lenas Gun A Smokem last year – and the rest is history.
“I love it. it’s so fun. It’s a great community. Everyone is so encouraging,” she said.
Johnson was pleased with her mare’s performance in all three phases of Derby competition.
“I feel the least competent in the herd work. i ride with roger about once a week and we work cows, but I still feel a little intimidated by the herd work. but we went in there and she was really trying hard for me and helping me out. I walked out very happy with my run. In the reining, she did great stops but was a little chargey in our lead change. Going into the cow work. I knew I had to be a 212 or so to take the lead but I tried to forget about it. We got a really strong cow, and I thought, if I lose it, I’m done, so I decided to just go for it,” she said.
She thanked God, her family, her husband, Tim, who also shows cow horses, and appreciated the support of her trainer, Roger Bias, and his wife, Cynthia.
The Derby Non-Pro Limited Reserve Champion was Barbara Truex DVM, riding Nic It Starlight (Nic It In The Bud x Okie Starbella x Grays Starlight). She scored a total 631 (209 herd/211 rein/211 cow) earning $1,012 and a set of skid boots from Classic Equine.
Derby Amateur Champion
The Jack and Phoebe Cooke Memorial Derby Amateur Champion was Stuart Bozeman, Idalou, Texas, aboard his steady performer Merada In Style 09 (Cats Merada x Stylish In White x Docs Stylish Oak). Bozeman worked his way to a total 635.5 (205 herd/218 rein/212.5 cow). The Championship paid $1,647 and came with a Gist buckle, a set of Back On Track quick wraps and a Platinum Performance gift certificate.
Derby Amateur Champion Stuart Bozeman and Merada In Style 09
Bozeman, who has a strong background in cutting, is in his first full season of showing reined cow horses. He has enjoyed tremendous success at other NRCHA premiere at the NRCHA Celebration of Champions Derby in San Angelo, Texas and the NRCHA Stakes in Las Vegas, Nev.
“I count my blessings that I have a really good horse and some really good friends who have helped me, and I keep making good friends. It’s been a blast. Some people say it’s a dream deal I’ve been doing, but I also work pretty hard at it. I don’t just show up at the shows and get on him and hope my horse is trained. We work every day at it, whether it’s my 2 year olds, three year olds or four year olds. Every person I meet has something to offer me, and I hope I have something to offer people someday. Don and Nelle [Murphy] have been a blessing to me, that horse has been a blessing, and my family’s behind me,” Bozeman said.
He also qualified for the Derby Intermediate Non-Pro and Novice Non-Pro finals on Saturday.
The Derby Amateur Reserve Champion was Kay Brewer, Kennewick Wash., riding Ichis Jewel (Cat Ichi x Jewel In the Night x Grays Starlight) She scored a 625 (206 herd/207.5 rein/211.5 cow), earning $1,318 and taking home a set of skid boots from Classic Equine.