Murfreesboro, Tenn., March 7, 2007 -- Chris Cox of Mineral Wells, Texas, was named champion of the 2007 Road to the Horse colt-starting challenge March 4, besting clinicians Clinton Anderson and Stacy Westfall. Horse & Rider magazine was a sponsor of the event.
With Cox's win, $15,000 will be donated to the national chapter of the Future Farmers of America--The Wahl Charity Challenge money--and Cox headed home with a memorial saddle, buckle and model of his winning horse, Commander Otoe King, a 2004 American Quarter Horse Association sorrel by Paseo Pronto and out of Otoe Windy Commander.
Cox started the 2007 Road to the Horse with a goal to win, but also to educate the crowds.
"It's a great event and I'm privileged to be here," Cox said. "The crowd was into it. It feels good. When I picked the horse and went in there, I was the last person to catch my horse. It's constant work. I had to stick with it. I came here with the same plan I always use to work with a horse, and I stuck with it.
At the end of the event that horse locked onto Chris and followed him around in circles then out of the wide-open arena.
"I'm patient and I'm going wait on it," Cox said. "He came around. There has to be a trust built there for that to happen."
Fans and judges seemed to agree on the winner--but the competition was fierce. At the end of day one, any of the clinicians had a chance to win.
"I was absolutely thrilled with the entire competition," said judge Mike Kevil. "Chris did a great job. I've never seen Chris work before and I enjoyed watching him. Chris made a lot of good decisions. He was smooth in applying his methods. He didn't get hurried. He let his horse relax before he went to work again. It's the demeanor of his horse we were watching most. He had a great, willing attitude. When Chris asked that horse to lope off, he loped off and loped until Chris asked him to slow down. When he did walk, he walked with his head down and was relaxed--he wasn't still excited from running."
Alternate judge Lindy Burch attended Road to the Horse for the first time this year. In the arena, she was in charge of tracking the clinicians' break time (all were required to exit the pens for a break and could decide when to take those pauses). The award-winning cutting trainer was pleased with the event and the results.
"I came here to see what all the hoopla was about," she said. "I had heard a lot about it, but wanted to see. This event is a great education. It really fills a niche that people need--teaching them about what can be done with horses...As a professional horse trainer and competitor--my horses aren't pasture pets--they can do a job. I appreciate a horse that can do a job, a horse that you can saddle up and go out for the day. I saw that take shape in the round pen."
For more information on Road to the Horse, visit www.roadtothehorse.com.