The 2012 National Reined Cow Horse Association Celebration of Champions concluded Sunday, February 5, with the finals of the World’s Greatest Horseman competition. The finals – which featured ten of the most accomplished horse and rider teams in the western performance horse industry – thrilled the west Texas town.
The lifetime earnings of the 10 equine athletes averaged more than $115,000 – and the combined lifetime earnings of the riders exceeded $5 million. “The finals were tough – but so were the preliminaries,” Ron Emmons, who won the Championship on Olena Oak, exclaimed. “The scores in the preliminary round would have scared you they were so high. Just being able to get through it and make the finals was an accomplishment.”
Emmons and the 10-year-old cow horse were steady in the first two phases of competition, marking a 216 in the herd work and a 219.5 in the rein work. Then the pair earned the high score of the steer stopping – a 222. “I told my wife Ladona that I was going to let it hang out a little today, and every time I asked this horse for anything he gave it to me,” he explained. “He just kept getting better and better as the day went on.”
Emmons and “Ernie” had a two-point lead going into the cow work. The pair was competing as the first draw – and slammed the door on the competition with a remarkable fence run that the judges awarded a score of 228!
“Before the fence work I really wanted to mark a 225 – I wanted to get 75s from the judges,” Emmons said. After circling to complete the fence work, Emmons leaned over to pat the cow. He explained, “At that point, I knew that I had definitely gotten those75s!”
It seems like Olena Oak has done it all. The Smart Chic Olena stallion, out of Fritzs Oak E Doakie, has won two American Quarter Horse Association World Championships, won the Magnificent 7 competition twice, won the $50,000 Added Holy Cow Performance Horses Open Bridle Spectacular, and numerous other NRCHA premier event titles. All total, his lifetime earnings now exceed $257,000.
Owners Mel Smith and Nichole Scott were on-hand to take home the prizes, which included a check for $25,000, a Bob’s Custom Saddle sponsored by Dechra Veterinary Products, a Gist Silversmiths buckle also sponsored by Dechra Veterinary Products, a monogrammed cooler from Classic Equine, custom boots from Rios of Mercedes, and a CR Morrison trophy.
Emmons, of Ione, California, said that he thanked everyone for their support. When asked for specifics, he said, “I thank my herd help – Corey Cushing, Ron Ralls, Doug Williamson, and Mark Luis; my sponsors – Pro Orthopedics, Harlan Feed, Nutrena, and CowTrac; My wife, Ladona, and Mel Smith and Nichole Scott for letting me ride such a great horse.”
He added, “I also thank everyone here at San Angelo. The people here go out of their way to help us feel welcome, and I really appreciate them.”
Shawn Hays and Smart Chic Aloha finished the World’s Greatest Horseman competition with the Reserve Championship with a score of 875.5. The reserve title came with a check for $17,000, a Gist Silversmiths buckle sponsored by Garth and Amanda Gardiner, and a monogrammed cooler from Classic Equine.
Hays has only been riding Smart Chic Aloha, by Smart Chic Olena out of Lei Aloha, since early December. The mare had just been weaned from her foal in September, and owners Frances and Aaron Labourdette asked the Nocona, Texas, trainer if he’d be interested in competing on her.
“I had ridden her before and knew I could get along with her – she’s a really talented and nice mare. The entries didn’t close until the end of December, so I said to bring her out and we’d see if we could get her ready. She felt good so we entered,” he explained. “I really appreciate Frances and Aaron Labourdette for letting me ride her.
“I thank my herd help – Robbie Boyce, Ron Ralls, Phillip Ralls, and Boyd Rice. Thank you to my Sponsors EquiPride and EquiLix, and to the NRCHA for producing such a great event.”
He added, “Hat’s off to Ron – he went out there and earned it. He did an amazing job today.”
The National Reined Cow Horse Association, now in its 62nd year, is the governing body of cow horse competition, is responsible for promoting the sport, insuring high standards of competition and educating members and the public about the history and tradition of the cow horse. Through the support of a Corporate Partner family that includes Bob’s Custom Saddles, Cinch, Classic Equine, Gist Silversmiths, John Deere, Markel Insurance Company, Platinum Performance, Quarter Horse News, Rios of Mercedes, the Silver Legacy Hotel and Casino, and Merial products UlcerGard and EQUIOXX, the association works to keep the vaquero tradition alive in today’s equine industry. For information on the National Reined Cow Horse Association, call 580-759-4949 or visit the NRCHA Official Web Site at www.nrcha.com.