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John Ward Wins 2008 Snaffle Bit Futurity on Black Pearl/Jon Roeser and Shiney Lil Miss Earn Reserve Title

It’s always more than just a horse show. It can make careers, and break hearts, and the 2008 National Reined Cow Horse Association Snaffle Bit Futurity lived up to its legacy.

Going into the cow work of the triathlon event, the top six horses were within four points of each other. One-by-one, the cow work made or broke the chance for a Championship.

Coming in at draw seventeen was John Ward and Black Pearl. Having tied for the lead of the herd work, and kept the lead through the rein work, the former Snaffle Bit Futurity Champion was feeling the pressure. “It’s the biggest thing that any reined cow horse person can ever wish for – I was blessed to win this once before. It was intense. When you get the lead you don’t want to lose it.”

In the herd work, Ward marked a 218, then followed up with a 216 in the rein work. “In the herd work she was really good, and my help had all the cattle spotted. Then in the rein work, she was great. She can run and stop like her sire, so I was really pleased, and it all came down to the cow work.”

The talented black mare had an intense week, having also made the Non Pro finals with John’s wife, Laurie. “We drew a good cow, and the cattle had been tough. We boxed for a while, and left in really great shape. She was kind of giving out because we had both shown her, but she gave me all she had.”

The flashy 3-year-old was bred on the Ward Ranch, and has a special place in the family’s heart. Her sire, Smart Little Pepinic, has become a staple of their prestigious breeding program, and has also had an exemplary show career. In 1998, when his father, the late Greg Ward, won his last Futurity Championship, John earned a sixth place with Sugar Baby Taffy, Black Pearls’ dam. He noted, “It’s really cool that all of this mare’s relatives have been a part of our family.”

Black Pearl will be getting a well-deserved break after the Futurity. “She’s been doing so much, we probably won’t show her again until the Derby in June.” He laughed, adding, “That’s if Laurie lets me keep riding her. I think she’s planning on stealing her from me.”

Along with the check for $100,000, the Wards took home a Bob’s Custom Saddle, sponsored by Lyle Lovett; another Bob’s Custom Saddle from the Reno Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority; an original CR Morrison NRCHA Cow Horse Bronze from Cable Creek Ranches; a Gist Silversmiths buckle from Hooker Creek Ranch; an additional Gist Silversmiths Buckle from Lone Oak Veterinary Clinic; two Cinch monogrammed vests from Wayne Hodges 4-Star Trailers/Outlaw Conversions; an ESP wool top pad from Classic Equine; custom designed cowboy boots from Rios of Mercedes Boot Company; a custom handmade hat from Shorty’s Caboy Hattery; and Platinum Performance.

The Reserve Championship went to another former Snaffle Bit Futurity Champion, Jon Roeser, on Shiney Lil Miss, owned by Craig Casner. For Roeser, the Finals started off well. “For starters, I really liked my draws I got at the draw party – they were really good. In the cow work, we cut good cattle. I like to cut ones that take her across the pen, and I got to do that on the second cow. We marked a 216, and I was really happy with that score.”

They followed that up with a 214.5 in the reining, and were tied for third going into the cow work. “We were all sitting there, grouped together – there were so many that could win it. I watched the first set, and it seemed like some of the riders were taking the cows too early. I know this mare doesn’t have a lot of run, so I boxed for a long time.”

Then it was time for Shiney Lil Miss, by Shining Spark out of Lil Miss Smarty Chex, to take the cow down the fence, which had been the kiss of death for many Finalists. “I turned the cow once, then twice, and it didn’t feel right to circle. So I turned it a third time, and then a fourth. I felt I had to do that, or I wouldn’t have been able to get the cow to circle. It cost me a little, because we didn’t quite have enough gas. We came close, though.”

In the end, the pair marked a 217 – and ended up a half-point behind Ward. Regardless, the Reserve Champion was happy. “I’m usually tickled if I’m in the top five. You always want to win, but I wasn’t disappointed.”

A lucrative check for $85,000 was only the beginning of the awards. The Reserve Championship also came with a Bob’s Custom Saddle, sponsored by Tucalota Creek Ranch; a Gist Silversmiths buckle sponsored by Tom and Karen Walters; another Gist Silversmiths buckle from Adeline Forrest, a custom designed bit from Randy Paul; two Cinch monogrammed vests from Wayne Hodges 4-Star Trailers/Outlaw Conversions; and Platinum Performance.

The Roeser clan had a successful Futurity, as Jon’s son, Clay, earned the Amateur Reserve Championship on Dualyawanna, earlier in the week.

The Snaffle Bit Futurity was held September 21-October 5 at the Reno Livestock Events Center, in Reno, Nevada.

The National Reined Cow Horse Association, the governing body of cow horse competition, is responsible for promoting the sport, insuring high standards of competition and educating members and the public about the history and tradition of the cow horse. Through the support of a Corporate Partner family that includes John Deere, Adequan®, Wayne Hodges 4-Star Trailers and Outlaw Conversions, Bob's Custom Saddles, Cinch, Inc., Classic Equine, Gist Silversmiths, MD Barns, Platinum Performance, Inc., Nutrena, Quarter Horse News & Performance Horse magazine, the Peppermill Hotel/Resort, Fort Dodge West Nile Innovator, Rios of Mercedes, Merial products ULCERGARD and EQUIOXX, Great American Insurance Company and the Silver Legacy Hotel, the association works to keep the vaquero tradition alive in today’s equine industry. For information on the National Reined Cow Horse Association, call 580-759-4949 or visit the NRCHA Official Web Site at http://www.nrcha.com.


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