Youth Champions Crowned at NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity

When Kelly Valdez schooled Smart Tic Tack (Smart Mate x Tic Tackatoo x Freckles Playboy) the night before the Youth Bridle class, things didn't go according to plan.

"We just weren't in sync. I wasn't with her at all," the 15-year-old Swink, Colo., ninth-grader said.

But when it came time to enter the show pen, horse and rider had the teamwork figured out. Smart Tic Tack, owned by Kelly's parents, Robert and Betty Lou Valdez, carried Kelly to scores of 143 in the rein work and 146 in the cow work to win the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Youth Bridle Championship. 

"I went in there and showed her like I always do, and she was perfect," Valdez said. "I drew the perfect cow. He boxed real good, and when it was time to go down the fence, he went with me and stayed on the fence."

The Youth Bridle Championship came with a pile of great prizes: a Bob's Custom Saddle sponsored by Aaron Ranch; a saddle rack donated by Sunmoon Ranch; a C.R. Morrison Trophy from the NRCHA; a Gist Buckle sponsored by Primo Morales Photography; a 10 pound bucket of UltraCruz Sand Clear plus a $50 gift certificate and a coffee tumbler in a cooler tote bag, sponsored by San Juan Ranch, a division of Santa Cruz Animal Health; Platinum Performance from Doug Herthel; Back On Track Equine Therapeutic Products sponsored by Back On Track; and a monogrammed Cinch jacket from Bob's Custom Saddles/The New West.

Valdez won the NRCHA Youth Bridle World Championship aboard Smart Tic Tack early this year in San Angelo, Texas. Kelly's mom, Betty Lou, piloted the mare to a top 5 finish in working cow horse at the American Quarter Horse Association Select World Show in August.

When she's not riding cow horses,  Valdez  is practicing aboard her high school rodeo horses. She competes in barrel racing, breakaway roping, pole bending and cutting. She thanked her parents for all their support, and also thanked NRCHA Hall of Fame horseman Don Murphy and his daughter, Nelle, for their coaching and friendship.

The Youth Bridle Reserve Championship was Jorge Cid, riding Peppy Nicolena (Nic It In The Bud x Chelsea Lena x Smart Peppy Doc). They scored a 140.5 in the rein work and 143 in the cow work, earning $1,050. The placing also came with Back On Track product sponsored by Back On Track; Platinum Performance sponsored by Doug Herthel; and a monogrammed Cinch jacket from Bob's Custom Saddles and The New West.

Youth Limited Champion & Reserve Champion

Rene Ferini, Santa Maria, Calif., had two horses in the Youth Limited class, and finished in the top two places, winning the Championship on Soula Boom Star (Soula Jule Star x Savannah Lee 2000 x Boomernic) and taking the Reserve Championship on Pennys From Prize (Smokums Prize x Pennys Starlight x Grays Starlight). 

"It was surprising – but very exciting for me!" the 17-year-old high school senior said.

She was concerned about Soula Boom Star; the night before her class, the 7-year-old gelding had a mishap in his stall and lacerated his lip. The fairly serious cut required sutures, but "Rusty" performed well despite his sore and swollen face. 

"It didn't seem to bother him. It was more worrisome for me," Ferini said. "We've been working really hard on our lead changes and we got both of them, and we've been working on our cow work, and it was good."

The Youth Championship came with a $780 check; a Bob's Custom Saddle sponsored by Carol Rose; ahe saddle rack are donated by Sunmoon Ranch; a C.R. Morrison Trophy from the NRCHA; a Gist Buckle sponsored by Jay Holmes/Triple J Ranch; Platinum Performance from Doug Herthel; Back On Track Equine Therapeutic Products sponsored by Back On Track; and a monogrammed Cinch jacket from Bob's Custom Saddles/the New West.

Ferini's other horse, Pennys From Prize, scored a 142 in the rein work and a 143 in the cow work for the Reserve Championship. She collected more prizes for the placing:  a  monogrammed Cinch jacket from Bob's Custom Saddles/The New West; Platinum Performance from Doug Herthel; Back On Track Equine Therapeutic Products sponsored by Back On Track; and a 10 pound bucket of UltraCruz Sand Clear plus a $50 gift certificate and a coffee tumbler in a cooler tote bag, sponsored by San Juan Ranch, a division of Santa Cruz Animal Health. 

For complete results from the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity, click here