Leading National Reined Cow Horse Association professional Todd Bergen, Eagle Point, Oregon, added another Premier Event title to his impressive resume when he guided Some Kinda Merada (Cats Merada x Ima Fern Believer x Peptoboonsmal) to the NRCHA Derby Open Championship.
Bergen and the 2011 mare, owned by Cable Creek Ranch, Aurora, Oregon, earned $30,767 when they scored a 670.5 (218 herd/225.5 rein/227 cow).
How did Bergen feel about another big win?
“It never gets old,” he said. “This event has gotten so tough and so deep. Everybody’s always rooting for each other. We could run this whole thing again tomorrow and it could change around completely. Any time you come out on top, it’s a thrill. I don’t care how many times you show or compete, it’s always gratifying.”
Bergen, a NRCHA 2 Million Dollar Rider, had piloted Some Kinda Merada to just over $24,000 in reined cow horse earnings since he bought her for Mike and Cindy Warn’s Cable Creek Ranch as a 3-year-old. While Bergen never doubted the mare’s abilities, a major win had eluded her until her performance in Paso Robles.
“I have to thank Justin Wright and Eric Freitas for selling me this mare, and I’m sorry it took me so long for me to show everybody what she could be,” Bergen said, “I’ve always believed in her. This has been a great mare for a long time, and I just have never got it all put together. I was starting to scratch my head and wonder why. I told myself to trust her, and just do it, so that’s what I did, and it worked,” Bergen said.
Some Kinda Merada was in a three-way tie for first place after the herd and rein work finals. She needed a big score down the fence to move into the lead, and when the judges marked the run a 227, the resulting 670.5 composite score proved untouchable.
The last time Bergen won the NRCHA Derby Open Championship, it was in 2010, and he was riding another horse owned by Cable Creek Ranch: Smart Luck (Very Smart Remedy x Gunna Be Lucky x Gunna Smoke), a 2006 stallion who has gone on to be a brilliant performer with more than $245,000 in reined cow horse and reining money on his record.
“That goes to show you how great a customer Cindy [Warn] is. She supplies me with good horses and trusts my program and trusts my judgment about what to do with these horses and where to go with them. I can’t thank her enough. This mare just got an embryo flushed out of her about a month ago to Smart Luck, so hopefully, in a few years, we’ll be riding that baby,” Bergen said.
The Derby Open Championship prize package included a Scottsdale Western World and Silver Spurs Equine saddle sponsored by Eric Freitas and Korie Baker; a Gist buckle; boots from Rios of Mercedes, and gift certificates from San Juan Ranch/Santa Cruz Animal Health and Platinum Performance.
The Derby Open Reserve Champion was Smooth Bellingrath (Smooth As A Cat x Very Special Peppy x Peppy San Badger), shown by Nevada professional Nick Dowers for Triple D Ranches.
Dowers and the 2011 stallion had the high score in the preliminary composite, and in the finals, they had the high rein work score on their way to an overall 664.5 (217 herd/226.5 rein/221 cow). They took home $23,283, as well as a pair of boots from Rios of Mercedes and gift certificates from Farnam and Platinum Performance.
Intermediate Open Champion
Dualin Stargun (Dual Rey x Amanda Stargun x Playgun) and Justin Lawrence, Alzada, Montana, are two-for-two at National Reined Cow Horse Association Premier Events in 2016. At the NRCHA Stallion Stakes in Las Vegas, Nevada, in April, the pair won the Intermediate Open Championship and qualified for the Open finals. They did the same thing in Paso Robles, scoring a 661.5 composite (220 herd/218 rein/223.5 fence) to win the Intermediate Open title and finish fifth in the Open.
“I was excited at the Stakes, and probably more excited now, because you wonder if it was a one shot deal. He was better this whole trip. Better in the prelims, better in the finals. It was such a tough finals, with great horses and great riders. I’m pretty stoked!” Lawrence said.
The Intermediate Open Championship paid $6,583, and Lawrence collected another $11,641 for their top 5 Derby Open finish. He and his wife, Kelcie, own the 2011 stallion with another couple, John and Heather Kennedy, as the Dualin Stargun Partners.
“They [the Kennedys] make everything possible. I don’t know if we’d venture that far on our own paycheck, and they’re always there and always supportive, and it makes it easier to go to the shows,” Lawrence said.
The little gray stallion may barely make 14 hands in height, but Lawrence says he possesses the grit and heart of a horse three times his size – and proved it again in Paso Robles. Lawrence was most proud of their fence work in the preliminaries and in the finals.
“In the prelims cow work, we were a 224.5. The cow – I’ll be the first to say wasn’t the fastest cow — but it was 100 pounds bigger than he was, and he pushed it around. Today in the finals, the cow was faster, and he stepped up and handled it. I’ve waited a while to have one like this that’s so consistent and gives me his heart,” Lawrence said.
Besides the two paychecks, Lawrence took home a Gist buckle and a gift certificate from Platinum Performance.
The Intermediate Open Reserve Champion was Metallic Masterpiece (Metallic Cat x Kings Masterpiece x Peppy San Badger), shown by Kyle Trahern, Walsh, Colorado, for owner Silver Spur Operating Co. LLC. They scored a 651.5 (214.5 herd/221 rein/216 cow), earning $4,851.
Limited Open Champion
The 2016 NRCHA Derby was the first time for Ryan Thomas, King Hill, Idaho, to make the finals at a National Reined Cow Horse Association Premier Event. He marked the occasion by winning the Limited Open Championship and finishing 8th in the Intermediate Open aboard Magicat (Metallic Cat x Magical Lena x Little Lenas Legend).
Thomas and the 2011 mare worked their way to a 646.5 composite in the finals (211 herd/215.5 rein/220 cow), winning the Limited Open Championship by a 26.5 point margin. Their combined paychecks totaled $6,930. Thomas also took home a Gist buckle and a gift certificate from Platinum Performance.
“I’m just happy I did it right,” Thomas said. “It’s only my second time to show her, and I didn’t get her shown very well the first time [at the NRCHA Stallion Stakes in Las Vegas]. I’m grateful to be able to show her, especially at two major events.”
For the past four-and-a-half years, Thomas has worked as an assistant trainer to NRCHA Hall of Fame Professional and Million Dollar Rider Anne Reynolds, King Hill, Idaho. Magicat was raised and trained at Reynolds’ Why Worry Ranch. She is owned by Reynolds’ mother, Joyce Pearson, as part of the mother-and-daughter team’s joint breeding program.
“There are a lot of real good horse trainers who have trained on her, and I just got to capitalize on that this week,” Thomas said. “Nick Dowers started her and Nic Brunelli [Reynolds’ former assistant] rode her ,and Annie rode her, and Gusti [Buerger, another former assistant to Reynolds] rode her a little bit. Now I get to show her – how lucky am I?” Thomas said, smiling.
Thomas acknowledged the mare’s particular talent for the fence work, and noted that their rein work performance in the preliminary round, where they scored a 218, was a personal best and a mental victory for him.
“She’s a machine down the fence, as long as she’s relaxed, and she was super relaxed here,” he said. “The fence work was fun, in the prelims and in the finals.The prelims rein work was awesome for me as well because I never have scored a 218 at a major event.”
He thanked Reynolds and Pearson, and also appreciated the motivation and coaching from two other mentors in particular.
“I’m grateful to Annie for letting me show her, and to Joyce for raising awesome horses, and all my help – Jake Telford is an inspiration, and Nick Dowers is an inspiration, and I’m fortunate to be around those guys as much as I am.”