Tara Sagniere and Spark A Sunrise Crowned NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Amateur Champions

When Tara Sagniere, of Canyon, Texas, brought her homebred mare and first futurity horse, Spark A Sunrise (Lena Spark x Kona Sunrise x SMF Lenas Award) to the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Snaffle Bit Futurity, she never dreamed she would bring home the Amateur Championship. 

"It's been amazing. I thought we'd just skirt through and get this first one out of the way. I had no idea this would be a possibility," Sagniere said, smiling from ear to ear. "We knew she was good. We knew she had it in her. Being my first futurity, and it's such a big event, I just wanted to get my feet wet and get through it."

Sagniere guided "Jenny," who is owned by Sagniere Quarter Horse Partners, to scores of 202 in the herd work, 211.5 in the rein work and 211.5 in the cow work. The 625 composite score was tied with Reserve Champion Grant Lindaman II and Truckin Miraclena, but Sagniere had the higher fence score and won the tiebreaker.

"She's a natural fence horse. That part's been easy for her. The dry work was her weakness and she really stepped it up with a 211.5 there. She got us a go-round check there. It's all just a little overwhelming – way more than I expected," Sagniere said.

The Championship paid $4,225 and came with numerous prizes. 

Sagniere trained Spark A Sunrise with help from Zeb Corvin, who stayed home from Reno awaiting the birth of his child. While competing at the Futurity, Sagniere relied on help from her childhood cow horse trainer, Lyn Anderson, who coached Sagniere from age 12 through 21. Sagniere also reconnected with some old friends – top NRCHA non-pro Tish Wilhite and her mother, Jo, who guided Sagniere's earliest riding career.

"Tish and Jo Wilhite taught me to ride when I was 5, and got me into cow horse with Lyn. It's been a special event," she said. "I want to thank my family and friends for being so supportive, and Zeb for all of his help."

The Amateur Reserve Champions, Lindaman and Truckin Miraclena (NMSU Truckin Chex x Little Miraclena x Smart Retsina), scored a 207 in the herd work, 214 in the rein work and 204 in the cow work. They took home $3,380. 

Non-Pro Limited Champion

The Futurity Non-Pro Limited, a herd work/rein work/boxing division for competitors who are not ready or able to compete in the ultimate challenge of the fence work, made its debut in Reno this year. The first NRCHA Futurity Non-Pro Limited Champion is Nicole Petty, of Roseburg, Ore., who returned to cow horse competition after a five-year hiatus.

Petty rode Tangy Chexinic (Tangys Classy Peppy x Bueno Double Oakie x Bueno Chexinic), a gelding she owns with her husband, Bubba, to scores of 207 in the herd work, 214.5 in the rein work and 210 in the boxing. The combined 631.5 score paid $1,280.

"I have a lot of health problems, and going down the fence was not an option for me any more. In order for me to show in the NRCHA, I had to get my Non-Pro Limited card back. I was very excited that the NRCHA added this 3-year-old event. You still feel included even though you can't go down the fence any more," Petty said.

The Pettys bought Tangy Chexinic at the 2011 NRCHA Classic Yearling & Broodmare sale. He was a narrow, homely, big-headed colt, but there was something about him Nicole liked. The Pettys bought him for $1,400. He developed into a solid performer, and quiet-natured enough that the Pettys' 3-year-old son rides him daily.

"He was a rough 2-year-old, but Bubba got him really broke for me. Bubba was going to show him initially, but he found a different one, so I ended up with him back. He wanted to be amazing in the herd. I was super scared, and totally screwed up my first cut, but once I got settled back down, he was great. He's really good on a cow. In the rein work, he was as good as I could have asked. In the boxing, our cow didn't want to move. It never even looked at us, but he stayed good and honest."

Petty thanked her family and friends for their support as she returned to the competitive arena.

"There is a huge group of people who made this possible. My husband, who got my horse so broke for me, and Lance Johnston – he's been our dear friend and trainer for a lot of years, and my mother-in-law. If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't be able to ride, since I have three kids [ages 7 years to 20 months]. She comes and takes care of the kids every day so I can ride my horse.”

The Futurity Non-Pro Limited Reserve Champion was Katie Wilson, riding High To You (Mr Boonsmal To You x MK Cats Little Kitty x High Brow Cat). They scored a 627 composite (205 herd/211 rein/211 cow). The Reserve Championship paid $960.