From the Archives: Reno Snaffle Bit Futurity Recap

By Emily Krahn

From the October 2018 Issue

Reno Snaffle Bit Futurity

The second annual Reno Snaffle Bit Futurity was just held in Reno, Nevada the week of September 10th – 16th, 2018. When it was decided the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity would move from its original location in Reno, Nevada to Ft. Worth, Texas, several NRCHA members banded together with Forrest Lucas, of Lucas Oil, and Protect The Harvest to continue the event’s tradition in Reno.

I arrived in Reno the Friday before the event began to start setting up. Because Protect The Harvest sponsors the event, we have the opportunity to promote our organization throughout the grounds.

As the week went on, trailers filed in to the Reno-Sparks Livestock Events Center daily. With over 110 entries this year, it was already set to be larger than its inaugural show in 2017. Competitors, vendors, and spectators came from all over the country to be a part of it, and beyond the classic Futurity, this year’s show also included the Wild Spayed Filly Futurity.

The Wild Spayed Filly Futurity was a unique reined cow horse competition that included 12 spayed three-year-old mustang fillies that had been auctioned off the year before during the Reno Snaffle Bit Futurity sale. These fillies were purchased by trainers of all backgrounds; from NRCHA professional trainers like Justin Wright and Lance Johnston, to mustang enthusiasts who were trying their hand at this discipline for the first time.

The Wild Spayed Filly Futurity is slated to return in 2019. A second batch of spayed fillies arrived Tuesday the 11th so that they had the chance to settle and be looked over by prospective buyers. These fillies ranged in size, stature, and color – a little something for everyone. Because they had been handled and fed prior to this, they were much more inquisitive and friendlier than the group that sold last year. A red dun filly with a forelock that falls almost to her nose is a favorite of mine. I believe Nutmeg Nelly’s conformation will lend itself as an asset in her training over the next year.

This program is something I, along with the Protect The Harvest team, had been working towards all year. Their progress was documented via social media and television episodes on RFD-TV leading up to the competition. The ability to see their progress from untouchable wild horses to performance horses in just less than a year is something I will never forget. I believe it shed new light on the cow horse industry and brought attention to the amount of hard work, finesse, and gumption it takes to train and compete in these three disciplines. The trainer must be fluent in herd work, rein work, and fence work to succeed with a horse bred for this, and even more so with a horse that isn’t.

As Friday night got closer the coliseum became more crowded. Spectators walked along our booth, and many even stopped to say that they had traveled far and wide to the Futurity for the first time just to see the wild spayed fillies compete. During the competition, the livestock center was louder than it had been in years. Lance Johnston of Johnston Performance Horses ended up winning the championship on Three Fingers Holly after scoring a 226 in the fence work. They had a composite score of 654, and even though Rebecca Sternadel and Three Fingers Blonde also ended with a 654, Lance and Holly’s stellar fence run score broke the tie, earning them first prize. In an interview with Quarter Horse News Lance said: “I’ve been second at every major event except for the World’s Greatest Horseman. Won a lot of money, but never…I was always the bridesmaid. And, finally, I come out to a big event and finally win it, and it took a mustang to do it.”  

Lance Johnston’s success didn’t end there, he went on to win the Open Bridle Championship the next day on Very Smart Choice owned by Rocking BS Ranch. Clayton Edsall took home the Open Hackamore Championship on Metallic Train, owned by Beverly Vaughn. Saturday also included the Reno Snaffle Bit Futurity sale, where the main arena was transformed in just a couple hours to an auction ring. As each horse was brought into the ring the excitement in the crowd grew. A special part of this experience is knowing that many of the prospects going through the sale that day would be back there in just a few short years competing for the ultimate prize: Open Futurity Champion. There is an air of hopefulness that surrounds those auctions; breeders, trainers and buyers convene with an aspiration that their breeding and training will be the right combination to get that horse to the top.  

Sunday’s events were what everyone there had been waiting for - the Open Futurity Finals. The top 15 horses were eligible to compete that day. Justin Wright and Metallic Flame, owned by Bill Stevenson, took home the championship. He told Molly Montag of Quarter Horse News “He’s matured a lot. I wasn’t planning on bringing the horses that we showed in Vegas here, but I thought that he could potentially have a chance here and he’s just continuing to get better. And, he showed a lot of heart this week.” It takes a lot of heart to train day in and day out in preparation for this event. It also takes a lot of heart to win it. We were shown this week that horses and trainers of all backgrounds (and breeds) can step up and show that quality. As the Reno Snaffle Bit Futurity came to a close I couldn’t help but already be excited to see what next year would bring!

For more information on the Reno Snaffle Bit Futurity, click here.

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