The Gallop Report

Chris Cox wins 2015 Road to the Horse

March 31, 2015

This $100,000 win was for his family.

By Holly Clanahan, America’s Horse editor

Chris Cox points skyward immediately after his name was called as the Road to the Horse champion.

Chris Cox points skyward immediately after his name was called as the Road to the Horse champion. Journal photo

Three times, Chris Cox had competed in the Road to the Horse colt-starting championship. Three times, he walked away a winner.

But when he celebrated the first two wins, in 2007 and 2008, his children hadn’t been born yet.  And for the third win, in 2011, little Charley and Case Cox were too young to remember anything. So when event producer Tootie Bland invited Chris back for 2015, he accepted, hoping to win a fourth buckle and create some family memories. And that’s exactly how it worked out.

Chris’ wife, Barbara, was his “pen wrangler” during the competition, meaning that she was the one person designated to help him from outside the round pen. She helped prepare the tack, tools and obstacles that he’d need, and in the evenings, after the competition concluded, she was his sounding board. When those efforts were successful and Chris stepped on stage to accept the championship accolades, Barbara was there beside him — along with the adorable little Coxes, who mugged for the cameras and seemed to be enjoying the attention.

Chris also received the Jack Brainard Award for the top display of horsemanship, as well as AQHA’s Traveler Award, which goes dually to the trainer and breeder of the top horse.

And of course, there was the oversized check for $100,000 that Chris received, as well as a custom belt buckle and saddle.

But it wasn’t all about the receiving.

When Chris took the microphone to accept the winner’s purse, he let it be known that his two competitors — Jim Anderson and Trevor Carter — were also winners. Both of them had shown respect for their horses, as well as considerable skill in handling them, and Chris announced that he was giving them $10,000 apiece. Shortly after, Jim announced on his Facebook page that he was paying it forward by donating his share to the Canadian Ronald McDonald House and the Canadian Kids Make a Wish Foundation.

Jim was last year’s Road to the Horse champion, and Trevor was this year’s Wild Card winner.

For a detailed story, check out the June issue of America’s Horse magazine, which goes exclusively to AQHA members. But for more information now, check out our slideshow below. Click on the photos to read a description.

2015 Road to the Horse, Day 2

March 28, 2015

Clinicians adapt their techniques to fit a variety of colt-starting challenges.

By Holly Clanahan, America’s Horse editor

Competitor Chris Cox swings the tail of his lead rope while sitting bareback on Rockin History, just moments before their time ran out. Competitors have an hour and 45 minutes (with several mandated breaks) to work with their colt each day.

Competitor Chris Cox swings the tail of his lead rope while sitting bareback on Rockin History, just moments before their time ran out. Competitors have an hour and 45 minutes (with several mandated breaks) to work with their colt each day.

Road to the Horse producer Tootie Bland is famous for tweaking her event each year, adding twists and turns to keep it interesting. This year, one of the developments was that each competitor would start not one, but two colts. The thinking was that every horse presents different challenges, so this would test clinicians’ ability to adapt to different personality types and see how many tools they had in their toolboxes. There would be no getting lucky in the draw, by getting one relatively easy colt. This challenge would take a horseman.

As it turned out, each of the clinicians — Chris Cox, Jim Anderson and Trevor Carter — drew a second colt that was much more difficult than their first colt of the day. Chris’ horse, Rockin History, was not necessarily wanting to “get with” Chris on Friday;  he preferred to call for his buddies and was even watching them on the overhead jumbo screen. Trevor’s horse, First Trail Drive, was touchy about the saddle and didn’t want Trevor on his right side. And Jim’s horse, Lasting Speed, was so tight that he was reluctant to move out when saddled — and when he did, it was explosive. Each of the men worked on those issues during their second round-pen session Saturday, and all of them made considerable progress.

In an interview after the round-pen session, Trevor acknowledged that there are some training issues that simply can’t be solved in two training sessions. But what you can do, he said, is lay good groundwork so that a foundation is set for the horse to move forward.

And the clinicians all expected more progress to be made during Sunday’s finale, when they will be asked to walk, trot and lope their freshly started colts around the arena and then take them through a challenging obstacle course. If they were able to instill trust in their colts, it will show.

Stay tuned to the America’s Horse and AQHA social media outlets on Facebook and Twitter for updates on Sunday, including an announcement of the winner — who will take home an amazing $100,000.

And check out our slideshow to see the action from Day 2. Click on the photos to view them in a larger size and read the descriptive captions.

2015 Road to the Horse, Day 1

March 28, 2015

Wild Card Trevor Carter steps into the round pens with Chris Cox and Jim Anderson.

By Holly Clanahan, America’s Horse editor

Jim Anderson gets a halter on Stolis Stylish with the help of his saddle horse, Six Flo Buck, aka "Maverick."

Jim Anderson gets a halter on Stolis Stylish with the help of his saddle horse, Six Flo Buck, aka “Maverick.”

Have you ever been paid $50,000 to start a colt?

That’s essentially what will happen for the 2015 Road to the Horse winner — except that each competitor is starting two colts, so the winner’s paycheck will be an amazing $100,000.

Trevor Carter of Clovis, New Mexico, won the right to compete in Road to the Horse, when he won the Wild Card competition on Thursday. Six competitors had selected a colt from the remuda at last year’s Road to the Horse in Lexington, Kentucky. Then the Wild Cards took the horses home for a year’s worth of training. Trevor’s horse, Royal Wall or “Sailor,” came back as a smooth little reiner with the ability to negotiate a tough obstacle course.

Now, as Trevor works to start two colts in the main competition, Sailor was there helping him. All three competitors — Trevor, three-time Road to the Horse champion Chris Cox and reigning champion Jim Anderson — brought saddle horses into the round pens with them on Friday, to help with the first catch on their colts.

Chris’ saddle horse was a gorgeous red roan, Cee Romeo Sneak, who Chris was able to ride off just his seat and legs, leaving both hands free to work with the colts he roped. Jim’s horse was Six Flo Buck, who helped Jim win last year’s Wild Card competition (and then Jim went on to win the main competition). “Maverick” is a trained liberty horse, so when Jim’s colts didn’t initially want to move out under saddle, Jim asked the nice bay gelding to lope around the round pen so that the colts would follow. On the first colt of the day, Maverick even stood alongside the colt’s right side, holding him still so Jim could mount up for the first time.

Now, you’re probably wanting to meet the other equine stars of the show. As has been the case for the last several years, the famed Four Sixes Ranch of Guthrie, Texas, provided the well-bred remuda from which the clinicians chose their colts. Dr. Glenn Blodgett, manager of the ranch’s horse division and AQHA’s current president, was on hand to talk about each of the 3-year-old geldings and their bloodlines.

Chris’s first colt is High Plains Six, a tall dark chestnut son of Four Roan Fly, out of a daughter of Tenino Badger. Four Roan Fly is an AQHA World Championship Show qualifier in tie-down roping and heading. Tenino Badger earned $95,000 in the National Cutting Horse Association.

Chris’s second colt is the super-stout Rockin History, sired by NCHA open futurity champion Rockin W and out of a Playgun daughter. Playgun is a leading NCHA and National Reined Cow Horse Assocation sire.

Both of Jim’s colts go back to Stoli, AQHA’s champion 3-year-old racehorse in 2001. Stoli also sired Speedy Cream (aka “Smokey”), the grulla that Jim won Road to the Horse with last year. Appreciating the infusion of speed and endurance, this year Jim chose Stolis Stylish and Lasting Speed, two closely related sorrel geldings. Stolis Stylish is out of a daughter of Stoli and is sired by Mr Playinstylish, an AQHA world champion in junior working cow horse. Mr Playinstylish is sired by Playin Stylish.

Lasting Speed is sired by Stoli and is out of a daughter of Playin Stylish.

The first colt chosen by Trevor might be considered the fan favorite, as Dr. Blodgett said that lots of people had inquired about him. (These colts are for sale, with the clinicians getting first right of refusal on the horses they chose.) Stoli Moley has a memorable name, lots of chrome and an intriguing pedigree. He is sired by Stoli and is out of a daughter of Frenchmans Guy, an esteemed barrel-horse sire whose foals have earned $4.5 million.

Trevor’s second colt is First Trail Drive, a sorrel son of Mr Playinstylish, out of a daughter of Tanquery Gin. His maternal granddam, First Peg, has produced several top horses, including an NCHA Open Classic finalist.

At the end of Day 1, Chris was in the lead with a score of 726. Trevor was in second with 594, and Jim’s score was 535. But there are more rounds of competition Saturday and Sunday, with lots of points up for grabs!

Check out our slideshow below to get a look at the horses, and follow us on Twitter for real-time updates during the event!

Go Behind the Scenes of the June America’s Horse

June 4, 2014

Working on this issue, Editor Holly Clanahan meets a new four-legged friend who is also a great teacher. You can get in on some of the lessons.

AH-Cover-JuneIt’s funny the kinds of friendships that are forged at horsemanship clinics. Occasionally, you’ll find some that have a lifespan beyond the clinic – people you just have to stay in touch with. But more commonly, the bonds only last until the trailers are loaded up at the end of the last day. These are people you enjoyed spending time with due to your common interests, but everyone tends to go their separate ways. (Although Facebook does make it easier to keep up with these folks.)

And sometimes, clinic friendships are forged with the four-legged participants.

As a bit of history, I was able to introduce my equine love, Stop Drop And Roll, aka “Zen,” to AQHA Professional Horsewoman Lynn Palm at the Western Dressage Association of America World Championship Show last November. Lynn killed it there, taking home four world championships with the knockout Larks Home Run. But she also took time out to offer some words of wisdom to me, and her advice really did help me manage Zen’s show nerves, as that was her first big-show experience and she’s a very sensitive girl.

So when Lynn and I made plans for me to come to her place in Ocala, Florida, a month later to write stories about the AQHA Trail Challenge clinic and competition she was hosting, she offered to loan me a horse, so I could experience first-hand how the obstacle course – and the preparation for it – helped both horses and riders.

“I’ve got just the horse for you,” she said.

Gray. A mare. Sensitive. Rugged Lark-bred. The similarities between Lynn’s school horse and Zen were uncanny. Lynn promised that the things I’d learn in Ocala would have a lot of carryover when I went home to work with Zen.

On the first day of the clinic, I saddled Sky Blue Lark and led her to the arena, where Lynn and her husband, Cyril Pittion-Rossillon, were to coach us on rider position, the correct application of aids and other basics that are prerequisites of any successful riding. “Sky” wasn’t sure about it, and as her nerves got to her, mine got to me. After all, she was an unfamiliar horse, and I wasn’t sure how challenging she might get.

I felt myself leaning forward in the saddle (hello, fetal position!), even though my brain knew that wasn’t the correct thing to do. But then the little voice in my head that was telling me I ought to sit deep and tall in the saddle suddenly gained a French accent. It was Cyril, speaking up to tell me to use my seat. He and Lynn coached me to correct my position and then make frequent changes of direction using an opening rein, which helped Sky settle down. She quickly showed me what a sweetheart she really was. Read the rest of this entry »

Guess What’s in the May America’s Horse

April 17, 2014

It’s all about asking the right people the right question.

May 2014 Americas Horse

What one question would you love to ask your favorite horse trainer? Post your comments on Facebook!

You’ve heard of the game 20 Questions? Well, here’s a variant on that: If you could ride down the trail with some pretty special people and ask them just one question, what would it be?

In the May issue of America’s Horse, that’s essentially what we did, and you won’t want to miss the answers.

On the AQHA Facebook page, we posed this question: What was the ride of your life? Some of the responses, compiled in this issue, were truly amazing. We heard from a teenage girl who knew, at the first ride, that she had found the horse of her dreams. We tell the stories of women who have been through terrible challenges to their health and emerged cherishing every single ride. There’s also the woman who carries with her memories of carefree, idyllic rides from her younger years.

Each year, a handful of dedicated riders reach the 5,000-hour milestone in the AQHA Horseback Riding Program. So to them, we asked: How on earth did you do it? (That’s a lot of hours, after all!) Here’s what one award recipient said: “I make time. If I have to get up at 5 o’clock in the morning or stay up ’til 10 o’clock at night, I make time to work around it so I can enjoy the hobby I love the most.”

Fred Whitfield won eight world championships in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. But as we all know, tie-down roping isn’t a solitary pursuit. To succeed, you’ve got to have a good horse. We asked Fred to tell us about his best one, and he was happy to oblige. After all, he says he owes a lot to the plucky bay gelding registered as Sonitas Wonder.

Now, truth be told, if you were riding down the trail with AQHA Executive Committee member Dr. Glenn Blodgett, who heads up the horse program at the famed Four Sixes Ranch, your one-and-only question to him might be more along the lines of: “Can I ride/buy/breed to one of your horses?” But for the purposes of the magazine, we asked him about the breeding principles he uses to make those great ranch horses. At Road to the Horse, two Four Sixes-bred full siblings were in the spotlight, and Dr. Blodgett gives us some insight. Read the rest of this entry »

America’s Horse Digital Extras

March 31, 2014

Have you logged in yet to look at the extra content in the March-April issue?

2014 March-April America's Horse

One recent afternoon, Editor-in-Chief Becky Newell and I stepped into a time capsule at AQHA Headquarters.

It might have looked like just an ordinary conference room, but lining the shelves were some priceless relics that allowed us to step back into the 1940s and ’50s – vintage copies of The Quarter Horse Journal that documented the history of the Association and its great horses in real time.

“Oh, check this out!” we’d say periodically, as we thumbed through the old issues and found something that was too good to keep to ourselves.

Read the rest of this entry »

2014 Road to the Horse — It’s a Wrap!

March 16, 2014

Jim Anderson and Speedy Cream are the champs.

By Holly Clanahan, America’s Horse editor

Road to the Horse champion Jim Anderson celebrates with event producer Tootie Bland.

Road to the Horse champion Jim Anderson celebrates with event producer Tootie Bland.

Event producer Tootie Bland called it a Cinderella story, and what an apt description. Canadian Jim Anderson had to fight for the right to even compete at the Road to the Horse competition, and then he showed that he was more than worthy to be there. Jim won the Wild Card competition earlier in the week, which was sort of a talent search — an effort to find “future superstars of the horse industry.” And then he stepped immediately into the Road to the Horse competition.

From the beginning, he focused on simple, solid horsemanship methods. He didn’t talk on the microphone a lot as he worked, but his actions spoke volumes. He stuck to his game plan, which was to address any issues that reared their head — such as his horse’s pushiness — and simply build each day on the foundation that had been laid.

Read the rest of this entry »

2014 Road to the Horse, Day 2

March 15, 2014

All four horses and horsemen made strides on the second day of the colt-starting competition.

By Holly Clanahan

Road to the Horse competitor Jim Anderson takes Speedy Cream over a makeshift jump in the round pen. It was the colt's second day under saddle.

Road to the Horse competitor Jim Anderson takes Speedy Cream over a makeshift jump in the round pen. It was the colt’s second day under saddle.

Each of the colts in the 2014 Road to the Horse colt-starting competition have different personalities. Two of them are brave but pushy; one is sensitive and skeptical; and the fourth tends to sull up instead of moving forward. But the good news is that there are four very talented horsemen in the round pens addressing those weaknesses and building on the horses’ strengths. And already the colts are making tremendous progress. And the audience in Lexington, Kentucky, is getting quite a varied education.

Read the rest of this entry »

2014 Road to the Horse, Day 1

March 15, 2014

See who won the Wild Card competition and step into the round pens for the first day of this colt-starting competition.

By Holly Clanahan

The AQHA-Four Sixes remuda storms into the Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park on Friday, giving spectators their first real look at the 21 3-year-old geldings. Four of them were selected by Road to the Horse competitors to move immediately into round pens to be started under saddle. Seven others will be taken home by Wild Card competitors for a year's worth of training before they return for the 2015 Road to the Horse. The other Four Sixes Ranch colts are available for sale.

The AQHA-Four Sixes remuda storms into the Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park on Friday, giving spectators their first real look at the 21 3-year-old geldings. Four of them were selected by Road to the Horse competitors to move immediately into round pens to be started under saddle. Seven others will be taken home by Wild Card competitors for a year’s worth of training before they return for the 2015 Road to the Horse. The other Four Sixes Ranch colts are available for sale. See more photos in the slideshow below.

The colt-starting competition Road to the Horse is always a whirlwind of activity, but on Friday, it was especially so for Jim Anderson of Strathmore, Alberta.

Jim was competing as a Wild Card, vying for a coveted spot in the actual Road to the Horse competition. And in the Wild Card finals on Friday, he raised the bar, riding Six Flo Buck bareback and bridleless in a freestyle reining run that included tempi changes, sliding stops and spins. “Maverick” was smooth and responsive, and when Jim rode him back into the arena – still with no tack – it wasn’t a surprise to see him crowned fan favorite and Wild Card champion. (See the slideshow below for pics of the other Wild Card competitors, who also did great jobs with their colts. Remember to click on the photos to see larger versions and descriptions.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Road to the Horse Kicks Off in 2014

March 14, 2014

Wild Card competition gets pretty, well, wild.

By Holly Clanahan, America’s Horse editor

Road to the Horse producer Tootie Bland is launching the 2014 version of her event with flair. She also launched T-shirts into the crowd on Thursday, using a cannon and having fun with it.

Road to the Horse producer Tootie Bland is launching the 2014 version of her event with flair. She also launched T-shirts into the crowd on Thursday, using a cannon and having fun with it.

Emcee Matt West perhaps said it best: There’s not one of these horses he wouldn’t like to take home.

There were some nice ponies on display during the Ram Wild Card competition at the 2014 Road to the Horse. This time last  year, they were unstarted, half-wild 3-year-olds from the esteemed Four Sixes Ranch in Guthrie, Texas. Some of their bretheren were selected for the 2013 Road to the Horse competition, but these guys went home with their Wild Card competitors to undergo a year of training.

On Thursday, they reappeared in Lexington, Kentucky, having had countless hours poured into them. And it was obvious.

Jim Anderson took his Six Flo Buck, aka “Maverick,” to a reining show (the 2013 Saskatchewan Reining Horse Association Limited Open Futurity) and an Extreme Cowboy competition — both of which he won. Maverick is sired by National Reined Cow Horse Association supreme champion Playboys Buck Fever.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Ride of My Life

February 3, 2014

Living with horses creates memories both funny and poignant. Let’s trade stories.

By America’s Horse Editor Holly Clanahan

Powdie Bars Gold, aka "Tanker," was versatile back in his day. Jeff Kirkbride photo.

Powdie Bars Gold, aka “Tanker,” was versatile back in his day. Jeff Kirkbride photo.

So, America’s Horse is putting out a call for personal essays that touch on this topic: Tell us about the ride of your life.

We’re not necessarily looking for stories about show-ring victories (although those could count, too) … what we’re really hoping to get are heartfelt stories that epitomize how horses are our life, how those moments in the saddle can be life savers, how horses inspire us, how they sustain us.

It has made me reflect. If I had to pick just one, what would I consider the ride of my life?

Horses have been an important part of my life since before I could walk. I was born with a magnet that drew me to them in a way I can’t quite explain; it has always been there, and it always will be. Because of that, so many of my most-cherished memories involve horses.

So, the ride? I don’t know how you pick just one.

There were the years in junior high when my parents hauled me and my trusty buckskin gelding, Powdie Bars Gold, to a circuit of open shows around western Oklahoma. There was one every weekend, and we went in every class, from halter to English to western – and even the speed events if we were in a close race for the all-around award. When we left the arena after each class, I’d walk “Tanker” over to my dad, standing at the rail, and talk about how we’d done. But before any discussion, Tanker would push his head into my dad’s hands, needing to be told what a good boy he was.

My mom was there to help with the quick wardrobe and back number changes that had to be made, keeping my hair pulled into a neat bun and making sure that everyone in the vicinity had plenty of food, Dr Pepper and Gatorade. Read the rest of this entry »

The November America’s Horse

October 24, 2013

Meet the AQHA Publications team that put out an amazing issue.

November 2013 Americas HorseSipping coffee on a chilly morning while doing a final read-through of the digital version of the November’s America’s Horse, it struck me that this particular issue is a great representation of our publications staff, past and present. I may be one of those weird people who actually likes her co-workers, but this issue introduces many of them to you, and I think you’ll like them, too.

Jim Jennings, technically, isn’t a co-worker anymore, since his retirement as an AQHA executive director. But he still contributes to America’s Horse on lucky-for-us occasions. As he tells the tale of this year’s Zoetis AQHA Best Remuda-winning ranch, he begins by lamenting about a missed photo opportunity. Don’t let him fool you; Jim is a great photographer, and his coffee-table book, “Best Remudas,” offers plenty of proof. There’s evidence, too, inside the November America’s Horse. Many of the photos that illustrate the story are frame-worthy. It’s a profile on the famed Matador Ranch of Texas and its award-winning horse program.

Freelance writer Lindsay Keller isn’t exactly a co-worker either; she’s a former AQHA Publications intern. It’s always great to stay in touch with our interns and encourage them in their writing careers. Lindsay does a masterful job of introducing readers to three generations of women in Missouri who are sharing one talented barrel-racing mare. You can’t help but fall in love with the youngest, a tenacious 9-year-old who looks to have a bright future ahead of her.

Current co-worker Andrea Caudill, editor of the Q-Racing Journal, allows us all to share in a wonderful moment: the homecoming of a long-lost gelding whom she had trained as a teenager. In “Regarding Henry,” you’ll learn how a chance encounter reunited her with the 19-year-old who had spent his years away from Andrea teaching numerous children how to ride. But he was in need of an immediate home, and of course, Andrea said “Yes.”

Editor-in-Chief Becky Newell, Internet editor Tara Matsler and The American Quarter Horse Journal editor Christine Hamilton also contributed to the editorial mix, as did longtime freelancer Tom Moates, who offers a story on the legendary Western life lived by Nevada rancher Allie Tipton Bear.

I hate to admit it, but one of my most favorite things in the November issue isn’t even a story. It’s an advertisement from AQHA’s marketing department. Jody Reynolds, the director of online/interactive communications is pictured as a tiny toddler astride a horse led by her father, Gary Johnson, and in a current-day photo with her twin sons, petting an American Quarter Horse. “Remember what it felt like to have a 1,100-pound best friend?” the ad asks. “Some things never change.” The ad promotes AQHYA life memberships as the perfect Christmas present for the special kids in your life.

I couldn’t agree more. Because, after all, one of the benefits of AQHYA membership (as well as regular AQHA membership) is that America’s Horse shows up in your mailbox 10 times a year, offering heartwarming stories, tips to help you better enjoy horse ownership and the feeling of belonging to the larger Quarter Horse community. Go to www.aqha.com/membership to check out the other amazing benefits!

If you’re already an AQHA member, you can log in now (go to www.aqhamembers.com with your member ID number and PIN) and read the digital edition of the November America’s Horse before it gets to your mailbox!

 

Holly Clanahan

Holly Clanahan
Editor, America's Horse magazine