Murfreesboro, Tenn., March 3, 2008 -- Defending champion Chris Cox of Mineral Wells, Texas, emerged victorious at his second Road to the Horse competition with his win March 2 at the Tennessee Miller Coliseum, making him the only competitor other than Clinton Anderson to win back-to-back championships.
Along with taking the title, Cox also received a $15,000 donation toward his charity, The Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids with Cancer from Quest and Fort Dodge Animal Health. The winning horse was WR Shinosmoke by Shining King Cody out of Alamosa.
The competition was neck-and-neck until the moment the winning envelope was opened. Judges Robert M. Miller, DVM, Jack Brainard, James Gholson, Terry Crofoot and Toni Warvell took in the action both days, and even into the last minutes of competition felt it was any man's game.
"None of us knew where it was going to go," said Warvell. "It was so close. The clinicians were spectacular in the short-go."
The Arkansas-bred Wood Ranch horses proved to be the challenge Boss Wrangler Thomas B. Saunders V was looking for. Competitors Tommy Garland, Ken McNabb, Mike Kevil and Cox tested their knowledge and horsemanship skills on four three-year-old American Quarter Horse geldings. The exhibitors and competitors enjoyed this year's selection of horses. Garland even bought his colt.
McNabb and Kevil, a former judge, had two of the most impressive turn-arounds going into day two, and both clinicians left the arena to standing ovations after the obstacle course round.
"It is absolutely amazing the feel that these gentlemen have developed over the years," said celebrity host Larry Mahan.
According to host Rick Lamb one of the main aspects of Road to the Horse is learning to stay flexible and adjusting to fit the situation. This year learning to adjust played a big part in the clinician's tactics. When day two began Cox was the underdog and adjusted his program after the judges instilled a 10 minute time penalty at the beginning of the second round because he did not rest his horse for the required time during round one.
"The thing about horsemanship is that you have to learn how to adjust," Cox said during his obstacle course round. "This colt has come a long way."
Entertaining, exciting and educational are all words to describe the 2008 Road to the Horse competition. The American Cowgirl Chicks, the clinicians, the Extreme Mustang Makeover and the Rutherford County Sheriff's Department added a thrilling touch to opening ceremonies. One of the weekend's biggest surprises was the announcement of John Lyons as a competitor in 2009.
For more information about Road to the Horse, visit www.roadtothehorse.com. Road to the Horse is owned and produced by Tootie Bland/Ride the Remuda Productions. Horse & Rider magazine was a presenting sponsor of the 2008 event.