October 19, 2007 -- The premier event for 3-year-old reined cow horses, the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Snaffle Bit Futurity came to a conclusion October 7 in Reno, Nev., after 15 days of grueling competition.
The top 25 open finalists began competition early in the morning with the herd work. An emotional opening ceremony featured living Hall of Fame members receiving commemorative rings and showcased the newest million dollar riders and sires.
The excitement built and escalated until the very end, when Boyd Rice and Oh Cay N Short, by Oh Cay Quixote out of Bit Of Shorty, took the lead of the cow work with a 221.5--with a review!
"I was sick when I heard the review," Rice admitted after the awards ceremony. "But I was thinking I could have gone down five points and still tied for the win."
Owner Kevin Knight added, "I was positive. I try to stay that way. I figured they had already penalized him, so it would only go up."
Once the set was over, NRCHA Announcer Mark Thompson solemnly intoned that the judges had reviewed the run. Then, he cheerfully announced that the new score was 222.5, and that Rice had won the event with a 653 composite.
The open championship earned Kevin and Sydney Knight $100,000.
This is the first horse that Rice has ridden for the Knights. Although Rice had met Kevin Knight a few years ago, it took a year before the new owner figured he knew the cutting trainer well enough to ask something important.
"It took a while to pop the question," Knight laughed. "But I just told him that when he found one he thought could win here, to call me. I didn't hear from him for a while."
Knight bought the bay stallion sight unseen after Boyd tried him last December. "I have only talked to Boyd about six times; I try to stay out of the way. I know he knows what he's doing," Knight said.
Although there were plans to go to some of the major cuttings, things have changed. "We'll still go to some cuttings, but we'll plan on going to Idaho for the Stakes, since we have done so well," said Rice.
The Reserve Open Championship was won by Lance Johnston and Shes Full Of Diamonds, by Hes A Peptospoonful and out of Shining Rings. The pair scored a composite of 648.5, earning the Reserve Championship check for $85,000 for owners Gary and Kay Watt.
Johnston also won 13th place with the Watts' other horse, Im So Smart, which paid an additional $18,000.
Johnston had captured the Open Hackamore Championship earlier in the week, but then caught a cold before the finals.
"I think the cold might have been a good thing," he said. "I had the lead in the herd work, and instead of being nervous, I had to stay focused so I could get through the rest of the finals. Luckily, adrenaline helps."
The NRCHA, 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.