It was an emotional win, and another milestone on a long and sometimes painful comeback journey for Shawn Renshaw, Nipomo, Calif., who piloted his 5-year-old stallion, Gennys Prize (Smokums Prize x Genuinely Perfect x Genuine Doc) to the National Reined Cow Horse Association Jack and Phoebe Cooke Memorial Derby Non-Pro Championship on Saturday, June 15 in Paso Robles,Calif.
Renshawguided Gennys Prize to a total 651 score (213 herd/218.5 rein/219.5 cow), earning $7,069. The Derby Non-Pro title also came with a Bob's Custom Saddle and Gist buckle from the NRCHA; a pair of boots from Rios of Mercedes; a set of quick wraps from Back On Track; a gift certificate and cooler bag from Santa Cruz Biotechnologies; and a gift certificate from Platinum Performance.
Gennys Prize is particularly special to Renshaw; both of the stallion's parents have played a significant role in his competitive career and his personal life.
Renshaw owned Gennys Prize's sire, Smokums Prize (Smokum Oak x Tommy Tivio Tucker x Doc Tucker). In 2000, Renshaw rode Smokums Prize to the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Non-Pro Reserve Championship and had also qualified him for the Open finals, but a back injury just before the Open finals forced Renshaw to find a catch-rider. He asked top professional Ted Robinson to take Smokums Prize's reins – and Robinson rode the stallion to the Futurity Open Championship.
Gennys Prize's dam, Genuinely Perfect, belonged to Renshaw's 29-year-old daughter, Nicholle, when she was a child.
"We sold the mare to a friend, Katy Murphy of Irish Oaks Ranch. She raised several foals out of her, and the mare passed away last year. This is her last foal by my old stud horse, Smokums Prize. I won this event [the Derby] on Smokums Prize 12 years ago. [Gennys Prize] has been a blessing since the day I got on him. He's everything I want a horse to be," Renshaw said.
Renshaw, a farrier by trade, bought Gennys Prize from Murphy on some extended barter terms.
"I trimmed and shod horses for her for a year to pay for him. He was my comeback project. That's why he is so special to Kim and me," Renshaw said.
The 53-year-old horseman, a farrier by trade, sustained a skull fracture and other injuries when he fell from the rafters during a barn construction project six years ago. During the emergency treatment, doctors discovered Renshaw had a potentially deadly heart condition.
"I had to have open heart surgery, and have some of my bowels replaced. It was a long challenge to get back from that. It took away all my balance. I went through hell," Renshaw said.
The medical bills also devastated the Renshaws financially. Kim obtained a realtor's license and slowly but surely restored the family's income stream.
Little by little, Shawn regained his strength. The horsemanship skills that have helped him win more than $300,000 in his NRCHA career remained as strong as ever, as he guided Gennys Prize to approximately $20,000 in earnings at the 2011 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity – and the comeback has continued ever since. Renshaw plans to continue showing cow horses, and branch out into major National Reining Horse Association competition.
He thanked his wife for her unwavering support, and thanked his herd help. Renshaw also credited his friends, professional horsemen Randy Paul and Tracer Gilson, for their role in his success, and he thanked Murphy for agreeing to sell Gennys Prize to him in trade.
The Derby Non-Pro Reserve Champion was Laurie Ward, Kingsburg, Calif., who guided Pumped Up Kix (Smart Little Pepinic x Olivias Response x Dual Peppy) to a total 646 score (216 herd/218 rein/212 cow). The 2009 gelding is owned by Ward Ranch. The Reserve placing came wtih a $5,655 check, a set of skid boots from Classic Equine and a gift certificate and cooler bag from Santa Cruz Biotechnologies.
Jayson Fisher Wins Derby Intermediate Non-Pro Championship
Riding Little Brown Indian (Hickorys Indian Pep x No Pleasin This Chic x Chic Please), a 2008 gelding who belongs to his 15-year-old son, Wyatt, Jayson Fisher, Arroyo Grande, Calif., won the Derby Intermediate Non-Pro Championship with a 644.5 composite score (219 herd/209.5 rein/216 cow).
The Championship paid $4,418, and Fisher collected another $4,948 for third place in the Derby Non-Pro. The Intermediate Championship came with a Gist buckle, a gift certificate from Platinum Performance, and quick wraps from Back On Track.
Fisher won the finals herd work round aboard "Tomahawk," and although the horse incurred some penalty points for falling out of lead in one set of circles, Fisher wasn't complaining much. his borrowed ride had only been doing reining maneuvers for a couple of months.
"In the herd work, he was great on all three cows, and I had really awesome herd help. The rein work; he swapped leads going into the small slow in the second set of circles, but he's only got about 60 days of training in the reining. This is his first major show," Fisher said.
He also was pleased with Tomahawk's 216 score in the cow work.
"The cow was good, but I got a little excited like I usually do. We probably left the end a little too soon, but he had good turns on the fence," he said, smiling.
Fisher bought "Tomahawk" from his friend and fellow non-pro competitor, Eric Freitas, as a high school cutting horse for Wyatt.
"My son got so busy in school, that I started riding him, and he just started picking things up so well that I decided to enter him," Fisher said. "Wyatt gets him back after this. I'm done. I have two Futurity horses, and I wasn't really supposed to ride him. He's a great horse. He's kind of low-energy so I have to keep him up on supplements and keep him fed, and he ended up making it, but he was sleeping between every run. He's that kind of horse."
Fisher owns a construction business and loves the mental release that comes from training his own cow horses.
I want to train my own. I go to trainers to get help, but I'm the one riding them. That's the part I like. It's the only time I don't have to think about work," he said.
Fisher, who celebrated his birthday during Derby week, thanked his herd help – Ted Robinson, Corey Cushing, Jake Gorrell and Russel Dilday. He also credited Roger Bias and Phillip Ralls for coaching him, and especially appreciated his family. Teresa Fisher has shown cow horses for several years, and the bug recently bit Wyatt, too.
"It's nice that we all show. If my wife and son weren't here, I probably wouldn't do it," he said.
Elizabeth Kania Wins Novice Non-Pro Championship
Elizabeth Kania, Hillsboro, Ore., claimed the Derby Novice Non-Pro Championship on her 5-year-old mare, Tuckin Smart (WR This Cats Smart x Tucks A Lil Better x Doc Tom Tucker), scoring a total 643.5 (209 herd/214 rein/220 cow).
The performance meant a triple payday for Kania, who qualified for the finals in all three Non-Pro divisions. Besides the $1,650 Novice Championship check, she claimed $3,535 for the Intermediate Reserve Championship and another $3,535 for her fourth-place tie in the Non-Pro.
Her prizes included a Gist buckle, Platinum Performance gift certificates, and two sets of skid boots from Classic Equine.
Kania's trip to Paso Robles was highlighted by two of the best fence work scores in the preliminaries and the finals. She won the preliminary fence work with a 224, and was the second-high scoring fence run in the finals with a 220.
"The fence work was fun," the 21-year-old horsewoman said. "I felt like I finally showed my horse."
Kania, who recently graduated from Pacific University with a biology degree, rides with Yamhill, Ore., professional Jim Spence. She also has received help from NRCHA Hall of Fame horseman Don Murphy. Spence has hosted several clinics with Murphy at his facility in Oregon.
"His clinics are really helpful. I enjoy it when he comes up. It's hard to say just one thing he helped me improve; I think it's overall. During the last clinic we had in May, we always run through the dry work first, and I remember him telling me, 'You're getting ready for the Derby, so you have to ride more aggressively.' That's what I was thinking about when I was showing here – be aggressive, which is not in my nature," she said, smiling.
Kania thanked her herd help – Spence, Dan Roeser, Corey Cushing and Todd Bergen. She also thanked her parents for funding her show career.
The Novice Non-Pro Reserve Champion was Kathy Wilson, who rode Chex Out My Tomcat (Tomcat Chex x Freckles Award x SMF Lenas Award) to a 640.5 score (212 herd/209 rein/219.5 cow). The placing paid $1,269 and came with a set of Classic Equine skid boots.