In customary reined cow horse fashion, Open, Intermediate Open and Limited Open championships at the $1.2 million dollar National Reined Cow Horse Association Snaffle Bit Futurity ® would be decided by the outcome of the fence work. The 50th running of the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity opened with red carpet introductions honoring the 25 Open Finalist owners and riders, after which time the Open Futurity rein work, Intermediate and Limited Open cow work, and thrilling Open cow work finals rocked the famed Will Rogers Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas.
After posting an outstanding 220 in the rein work, Lance Johnston and Here Comes The Boon (Once In A Blu Boon x Sta Outta My Shorts x Shorty Lena) trailed the leaders, Kelby Phillips and Nineteen Ten (Hickory Holly Time x Lil Miss Shiney Chex x Shining Spark), by 7.5 points going into the cow work. Never a hair out of position on a challenging cow, Johnston and the 2016 roan stallion owned by Rocking BS Ranch and bred by Rob A. Brown, lowered the boom to overtake the lead with a score of 226.5. After working 11th in the draw to tie for the lead, Johnston waited as one by one the greatest 3-year-old three-event equines ridden by some of the most accomplished horsemen and –women challenged his cumulative score of 664.5 (220 rein/ 218 herd/ 226.5 cow)—but came up short despite valiant efforts. While Johnston and Phillips were tied for the overall lead after Phillips rode Nineteen Ten to a solid 219 on the cow, with the tiebreaker being the cow work score, Nineteen Ten would finish as reserve champion with a 664.5 (224 herd/ 221.5 rein/ 219 cow). The $125,000 Open Futurity paycheck was officially awarded to Here Comes The Boon ridden by Lance Johnston for Rocking BS Ranch.
When interviewed by in-arena color commentator and NRCHA professional Brady Weaver, a jubilant Johnston says he knew he needed to lay down a precise run to challenge the lead.
“I thought it was going to take a Charolais cow to beat Kelby,” said Johnston, knowing they’d been tough but yielded high marks if mastered. “But then Kelby told me we were only working black cows and I thought ‘oh, they’re not going to be enough.’ I thought, ‘well I just need to be really accurate and they’ll pay me if I’m accurate.’ But then that black cow came out and he threw his head up and snorted at me a little bit and I knew I had my cow.”
Indeed he did. Having already cashed a fourth place paycheck for $8,512 in the NRCHA Western Bloodstock Sale Incentive Open composite, Johnston said how pleased he was that Brent and Susie Stewart of Rocking BS Ranch purchased Here Comes The Boon at his urging.
“They’re awesome,” said Johnston of his owners. “Anybody who knows them knows what great people they are.”
Johnston expressed appreciation for his wife Tammy and her unyielding support and hard work, as well as for his cow horse friends and family. “Without my wife Tammy I couldn’t make it here,” said Johnston. “She does everything for me. Three years ago at the [NRCHA] Stakes I couldn’t even dress myself, she had to do everything for me.”
Johnston has straightforward plans for the future—to continue showing great horses in the NRCHA. “I ain’t quitting,” he said. “I love this, I love the reined cow horse family.”
Nineteen Ten (Hickory Holly Time x Lil Miss Shiney Chex x Shining Spark), bred by Carol Rose and owned by DT Horses, LLC, was ridden by Kelby Phillip to the reserve championship and $100,000 paycheck.
Intermediate Open Futurity
Here Comes The Boon (Once In A Blu Boon x Sta Outta My Shorts x Shorty Lena), owned by Rocking BS Ranch and ridden by Lance Johnston, took the Intermediate Championship home to Lindsay, California
Reserve Intermediate Open Champion TBR Wright Moonshine (Cats Moonshine x Wright Time To Play x Lenas Wright On), ridden expertly by Shane Steffen to a 221.5 down the fence for a 664 composite for owner Darci Roat. Steffen, of Powell Butte, Oregon, scored 220.5 in the rein work and 222 out of the herd en route to the win.
Center Ranch bred CR Tuff Secret (Woody Be Tuff x CR Shes Uh Secret x Peptoboonsmal), ridden by Ben Baldus for Double F Ranch, achieved a 656 (219 herd/ 216 rein/ 221 cow) to finish fourth in the Intermediate for $14,450.
Limited Open Futurity
Bringing the Limited Open Futurity Championship home to Earth, Texas, was Tripp Townsend riding the Tongue River Ranch bred TRR Lucky Brazos (Pepcid x TRR Ms Lucky Gun x Playgun), thanks to a dominating fence run of 223 for a 653 composite (214 herd/ 216 rein).
Vintage Ambrosia (One Fine Vintage x Miss Fancy Juice x Smart Like Juice) is Limited Open Futurity Reserve Champion, ridden by James Ferreira. They scored a 219.5 in the fence work to combine with 216’s in both the herd and rein for a 651.5. The 2016 mare is owned by Robertson Ranches and was bred by Mike and Linda Silveira.
Tori Simons, Santa Ynez, California, rode her 2016 roan stallion PRF Peptos Smart Cat, bred by Peter De Leeuw, to reserve in the Novice Non Pro Futurity. Simons hustled her way to a 215.5 down the fence for a 641.5 (220 herd/ 206 rein).
The Amateur Non Pro Champion was crowned with Amy Lund taking the title and $6,509 home to La Cygne, Kansas. Amy scored a 642.5 (212 herd/ 213 rein/ 217.5 cow) riding Bet Hes Got Style (Bet Hesa Cat x Genuine And Stylish x Playin Stylish), owned by her husband Brad and bred by Melissa Ann Miller.
Reserve champion of the Amateur Futurity was Julia Winders riding her 2016 gelding Chics Smart Elan (Chics At The Doc x Miss ElanADual x Elans Playboy), bred by Lucas D. Jochem, with a 641.5 (214.5 herd/ 210 rein/ 217 cow).
Nick Dowers, Dyer, Nevada, earned the second Snaffle Bit Futurity Open Hackamore title of his career with a brilliant 221 rein work and massive 227 on the cow for a total on two of 448. The 2014 stallion, Santiago Time, by One Time Pepto is out of the Dual Rey daughter Reymanising and is owned by Clinton Marshall.
Since 1974 the Snaffle Bit Futurity Open Bridle class has been a place for the highly respected finished bridle horse to shine. The Snaffle Bit Futurity Open Bridle Champion was the 2012 stallion Smartly Starstruck (Very Smart Remedy x Katie Starlight x Grays Starlight), ridden by NRCHA $2 Million Dollar Rider Todd Bergen of Eagle Point, Oregon, for McSpyder Ranch.
Reserve honors in the hotly contested Open Bridle went to Hez The Kats Meow (Bet Hesa Cat x Miss Lucky Starlight x Grays Starlight), ridden by Ashley Deacon for owner Dustin Deckard to a 444 (221.5 rein/ 222.5 cow).