Fri Aug 7th, 2015
Special to the Drum
First added to the lineup of National High School Rodeo Association-sanctioned disciplines in 2014 and initially phased in during the fall portion of the 14-15 season, ‘Reined Cow Horse’ was first contested at the National High School Finals Rodeo between July 12 and 18, 2015.
And amongst competitors entered in the dual-aspect – basically gauging a rider’s ability to control his or her mount using bridle and reins, as well as the horse’s ability to box and circle a cow, with all actions done as fluidly, smoothly and safely as possible – attraction’s debut at the Sweetwater Events Complex in Rock Springs, Wyoming, was Oxford/Ignacio area rider Lauren Kelsey.
Having qualified for the “World’s Largest Rodeo” out of the New Mexico H.S. Rodeo Association (along with Durango’s Tyllor Ledford), Kelsey first scored a 259 in Performance No. 2 – matching Worland, Wyo.’s Bailey Gibbons for 12th out of 20 in the perf, and leaving both standing 23rd overall.
But as the second go-round commenced and Perf #7 went into the books, the 259’s had dropped to 73rd in the average. Tied for 82nd by the time she saddled up again for Performance No. 9, Kelsey put up a 245.5 to finish 15th out of 21 in the session, but bumped herself up to 66th in the average (504.5/2; Gibbons and Ledford shared 52nd with 520 points each).
The great gathering’s eleventh performance, held Friday the 17th, saw the co-ed RCH standings’ final order set, with Nipomo, California’s Wyatt Fisher finalizing his average-winning total of 885 points.
Broken Bow, Nebraska’s Jayde Atkins finished second with 873 and La Junta, Colorado’s Kelly Valdez came in third – en route to second in the NHSFR’s All-Around Cowgirl standings – with 867 after the deciding ‘short’ go pit the top twenty individuals head-to-head one last time.
In the girls’ team chase, Team Colorado finished 14th with 1,325 points (N.M. was 12th with 1,675) and the Centennial State ended up 18th (2,110; the Land of Enchantment placed 16th with 2,620) on the combined ladder.
Led by All-Around Cowgirl Kaytlyn Miller (Dammeron Valley, UT), the top girls’ crew in Rock Springs was Team Utah with 5,311.66 points. And factoring in the work of All-Around Cowboy Ladd King (Kaysville, UT) the Beehive State captured the combined with an aggregate 10,526.66 score.
Honeyville, Utah’s Briggs Madsen took second in the All-Around Rookie Cowboy standings to help bolster the champions’ efforts, while Miller was the NHSFR’s overwhelming All-Around Rookie Cowgirl. King’s Holy Moly Nic earned Boys’ AQHA Horse-of-the-Year, to boot (pun intended).
WR Cowgirl Smoke was Kelsey’s horse for the NRCHA (National Reined Cow Horse Association, based in Texas) Reined Cow Horse Clinic, held the day before the NHSFR got into full swing.