Celebration of Champions Crowns Winners and Launches NRCHA into 2022 

From day one of showing until the final Sunday where seven riders earned World Champion titles, the National Reined Cow Horse Association 2022 Kalpowar Quarter Horses Celebration of Champions provided non-stop cow horse action in Fort Worth, Texas. The 11-day show not only saw 15 riders earn World Champion titles, it was the final event that decided National Champion awards and was the host to the largest reined cow horse Derby event ever, the 2022 Tres Osos Cow Horse Derby.

This year also saw a 15-finalist field make a run for the $100,000 winner’s check in the Western Bloodstock and Hashtags World’s Greatest Horseman Finals. This was also the venue for the top eight riders in the World’s Greatest Youth Horseman, presented by MARS EQUESTRIAN™, and did those young riders ever show off! To say it was a bustling show is an understatement.

With the multiple events, the total payout for the Celebration of Champions was more than $1,000,000 over the Youth, Non Pro and Open divisions competing. In addition, collegiate and high school aged riders rode home with bragging rights and prizes in the Stock Horse of Texas Collegiate Challenge and the National High School Rodeo Association Reined Cow Horse Challenge. Both events highlighted alliances between the NRCHA and their respective associations.

“Being part of this event was a chance for the Bell family to affirm our commitment to the association and encourage others to come alongside us in supporting NRCHA and all it has to offer,” said Larry Bell of Kalpowar Quarter Horses. “It far exceeded our expectations from the way the show was managed to all of the participants and exceptional quality of the exhibitors and their horses. It is fulfilling to see what it means to these competitors that have worked all year long to qualify and have the chance to compete and win a World Championship.”

More than 200 entries ran for the Tres Osos Performance Horses-sponsored Derby titles, and in the end, the Open Derby win captured by Sarah Dawson and Selvarey (by Dual Rey), owned by Sheri Jamieson, helped propel the Perrin, Texas, trainer across the million-dollar mark. Aboard the mare she also won the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity® riding, Dawson became the newest Million Dollar Rider. The excitement from that momentous occasion seemed to flow over to the other riders and divisions, including the Western Bloodstock and Hashtags World’s Greatest Horseman.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with the success of the 2022 Celebration of Champions,” said Executive Director Anna Morrison. “Pleasant weather, huge entries, good facility partnership, and strong sponsor support made this one of our largest and smoothest-running events to date, and bodes well for the growth of our premier events in 2022. On top of this, the World’s Greatest Horseman finals brought more energy to the sold-out Will Rogers Coliseum than we’ve seen in that facility in a long time.”

The preliminary rounds of this year’s World’s Greatest Horseman saw past champion riders as well as some of the top bridle horses in competition today battle it out for a spot in the 15-rider Finals that was held Saturday, February 19. The $100,000 winner’s check was a big draw, but so was the honor of being the World’s Greatest Horseman. In the end, it was NRCHA Two Million Dollar Rider Corey Cushing and Lynne Wurzer’s stallion, Hott Rod (by Hottish), that took the win.

The horseman from Scottsdale, Arizona, gave the credit to “his best friend” Hott Rod when asked about achieving the win, which made him a three-time World’s Greatest Horseman Champion. The only other rider to do so is Russell Dilday aboard the now-deceased stallion Topsails Rien Maker.

“There was no result and relaxation to say the least, everyone going into this Finals knew that everything had to work going into it to be the winner. You have to be careful going through to make sure you have enough horse to go down the fence,” said Cushing. “I knew going into this he would never quit me. He was there for me 110-percent and I can’t thank him enough. It’s incredible to be in this position. I am blessed every day to do what I truly love.”

At last year’s World’s Greatest Horseman Finals, Jeremy Barwick, owner of Western Bloodstock LTD, pledged to match the then-purse of $50,000 from Hashtags to double it to this year’s winner’s check of $100,000. At the 2022 Finals, BDB Breeders, a partnership between Colt Ventures and Beechfork Ranch (owners of High Brow Cat and NRR Cat King Cole), pledged $50,000 in support for the 2023 Champion’s winning check that will be $150,000. The announcement brought a crescendo of cheers that shook the historic Will Rogers Coliseum and brought the intensity of the night to an entirely new level.

Riding that high, eight Youth took their shot at becoming the fourth named World’s Greatest Youth Horseman, an event presented by MARS EQUESTRIAN™, that allows the Youth to cut, rein, rope and go down the fence just like the Open riders. This year 18-year-old Emily Kent took home the coveted win, her second championship during the Kalpowar Quarter Horses Celebration of Champions event.

“The stands were full and as soon as I loped in, people started screaming,” Kent said. “I made a huge fence run and couldn’t even hear the buzzer! It was so loud! There are so many people that have helped me and I can’t thank them all enough. I wanted to be the first girl to win it and to show [people] girls can rope just as good as the guys can. To do it is surreal.”

Kent’s surreal feeling began when she earned the Non Pro Tres Osos Cow Horse Derby title on On The Reydio (by Reydioactive), the same gelding that she rode to win the National High School Rodeo Association collegiate event on the final day of competition, Sunday, February 20.

The next NRCHA premier event is March 24 through April 2 in Las Vegas, Nevada, as the competition rolls the dice on winning at the 2022 Teton Ridge Stallion Stakes, held at the South Point Hotel & Casino Arena. Offspring of sires enrolled in the NRCHA Subscribed Stallion Program are eligible to compete in the limited age 4- and 5-year-old Derby, but the horse show classes, including a bridle and two-rein spectacular for Open and Non Pro competitors, is open to all horses. The event includes the 2022 NRCHA Hall of Fame Banquet, hosted by the NRCHA Foundation. For more information, visit nrcha.com/stallion-stakes/.

About the National Reined Cow Horse Association
Based in Pilot Point, Texas, the National Reined Cow Horse Association was formed in 1949 in California, with the goal of preserving and educating the public about the rich history of this traditional horsemanship. The NRCHA is responsible for promoting the sport and ensuring high standards of competition and continuing to work to keep the Vaquero tradition alive in today’s equine industry. The NRCHA also supports numerous affiliate clubs across the United States, Europe and abroad. These groups serve as the association’s backbone, holding many NRCHA-sanctioned competitions and events each year. For more information on these events and reined cow horse, visit nrcha.com.

National Reined Cow Horse Association
Kate Byars — kate@nrcha.com