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John Ward and Black Pearl win World Championship at Snaffle Bit Futurity

TULARE, CA: It was John Ward's turn to slide into the spotlight while Foreigner sang "We Are the Champions" and the crowds cheered at the 2008 National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Snaffle Bit Futurity as he and his mare, Black Pearl, were crowned the World Champions.

The 2008 event was held Sept. 21 Oct. 5 at the Reno Livestock Events Center in Reno, Nev. Ward, from Kingsburg, Calif., and Black Pearl conquered the Open division, winning the most prestigious title in the reined cow horse industry, and a check for $100,000.

The win came exactly 10 years after his father, the late Greg Ward, won the 1998 World Championship title riding Ward Ranch stallion, Reminics Pep. Greg, also known as "The Master" of the horse world, passed away two months following his win.

"My mom [Laura Ward] thought it was fantastic that I pulled it off 10 years after Dad won," shared Ward.

The Ward Ranch-owned champion mare, Black Pearl, is by Smart Little Pepinic and out of Sugar Babe Taffy, who Ward rode to a sixth place finish in the Open of the 1998 Snaffle Bit Futurity.

"It felt great to win the futurity," shared Ward, who won the event in 1994 on Masteroani (Master Remedy x Just Doc Socks). "In the reined cow horse deal, there is nothing higher than winning the futurity."

In addition to the world championship title, Ward placed sixth on Ima Smoking Mister, owned by John Pascoe. Ima Smoking Mister is out of a Master Remedy mare, Miss Smoking Remedy, who Ward rode to a fifth place finish at the 1999 futurity. Ima Smoking Mister and Ward added another $40,000 to his 2008 Snaffle Bit Futurity winnings.

Ward started the Open Finals day, Oct. 5, knowing he had six runs to make.

"Both horses had drawn up well," said Ward. "The day was so intense because everything was going so smooth."

Ward and his mare scored a 218 in the herd work portion of the finals, a 216 in the rein work, and a 214 in the cow work, for a total of 648.

"After the herd work and the rein work, I was in the lead, and the cattle for the fence work were treacherous," explained Ward. "Most of them would shut down in the first turn, and then run through you on the second turn."

"My cow was decent, and I knew what I had to mark to stay in the lead," he continued. "The trouble was to get through it with no bobbles so I could mark that score I needed. And, my mare really excels in the cow work event."

The world championship title was the second win by Black Pearl in 2008. Laurie Ward rode the mare to a Non-Pro Championship title win at the National Stock Horse Association's (NSHA) Snaffle Bit Futurity, held in Paso Robles, Calif. in August.

"Black Pearl is a great mare," said Ward. "She is tough and strong in all three events, and she's got a lot of heart. We are going to let her rest, and then Laurie said she has dibs on showing her!"

Photo Caption: John Ward and Black Pearl compete in the herd work portion of the 2008 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity competition in Reno, Nev.

Photo by Primo Morales.


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