The veteran superstars of the reined cow horse world, the bridle horses, took center stage Friday, June 19 at the National Reined Cow Horse Association Jack and Phoebe Cooke Memorial Derby in Paso Robles, California, for the $50,000-added CD Survivor Memorial Bridle Spectacular, sponsored by Holy Cow Performance Horses.
It was a night of jaw-dropping scores across all three phases of competition as the formidable field of 19 horses gave it their all in herd work, rein work and cow work. Million Dollar Riders, World's Greatest Horseman Champions and NRCHA Hall of Fame Horsemen all were represented, and brought the crowd to their feet more than once throughout the evening.
In the final reckoning, CD Dee Vee Dee (CD Lights x Shiney Tari x Shining Spark), a 2005 gelding shown by Jay McLaughlin and owned by Jay and his wife, Wendy, claimed the $25,500 Championship check.
It was the third consecutive NRCHA Premier Event Open Bridle Spectacular Championship this year for McLaughlin and CD Dee Vee Dee. They won the same titles at the NRCHA Stakes and the NRCHA Hackamore Classic.
"He paid for himself in three horse shows," McLaughlin said.
Although CD Dee Vee Dee is one of the best Open Bridle horses in the business, he is technically a kid's horse; the McLaughlins purchased him for their son, Cutter, to show. McLaughlin borrows his son's ride for the Open classes, hoping to earn enough to cover Cutter's show expenses – something he's certainly done this season.
"The only reason I show him at these shows is to have an excuse for Cutter to bring him. We've had some luck. We're not trying to win every one of them, but we get here, ride him around, he feels good, so – okay, let's go! I'm just tickled pink. Cutter's won two world titles on him and that's fine by me. When we haul him around, it's for him to show, not for me to show. He loves this horse," McLaughlin said.
"The herd work was the same as he is everywhere. He has been a 73 in the herd every time we've shown this year. He's not like your typical cuter, but you can't kick him by a cow, so you'r pretty safe that way. I always try to think about Cutter showing him next. He has the AQHA Youth World coming up, and so I didn't mash the gas in the reining. I was trying to be a little conservative. I didn't want to get the motor running too much, because we only have a month to fix it. In the fence work, I blew my left stirrup on the first turn. The second turn was way off the fence, so I told him I'd look for my stirrup if he'd turn it," McLaughlin said, smiling.
It took a staggering 666.5 composite (219 herd/220.5 rein/227 cow) for CD Dee Vee Dee to win the CD Survivor Memorial Bridle Spectacular – with just a half-point separating him from the Reserve Champion, PRF Spoonful Of Gold (Hes A Peptospoonful x Sons Miss Sprat x Sons Rushette), shown by NRCHA Million Dollar Rider Corey Cushing for owner Cathy Corrigan Frank. Besides the hefty paycheck, CD Dee Vee Dee and McLaughlin will have their names inscribed on the CD Survivor Memorial Trophy, which resides at Holy Cow Performance Horses. McLaughlin also won a CR Morrison Trophy, a Gist buckle and a gift certificate from San Juan Ranch.
McLaughlin thanked Holy Cow Performance Horses for establishing the memorial class, which paid a rich $85,000 total purse.
"If it wasn't for Nancy Crawford-Hall and her husband, Phil, we wouldn't have a bridle spectacular like this. Everyone wants to build a great bridle horse. It's what we all strive for," he said.
CD Survivor Memorial
The NRCHA Derby Bridle Spectacular is named in memory of CD Survivor (CD Olena x Have A Lil Lena x Peppy San Badger), who was euthanized after an accidental stifle injury in May, 2009. An orphaned foal, he earned the "survivor" name for his tenacious efforts to nurse from grumpy foster mares that repeatedly rejected him.
Admired by many for his talent, heart and honesty, he was best loved by his owner, Nancy Crawford-Hall, of Holy Cow Performance Horses. Nicknamed "Clark," because he had Clark Kent's Superman-like super-versatility and Clark Gable's good looks and class, CD Survivor earned $152,703 and the elite title of NRCHA Supreme Reined Cow Horse before his life was cut short.
National Reined Cow Horse Association Hall of Fame trainer Sandy Collier guided CD Survivor to his first show earnings with an 8th place NRCHA Futurity Open finish in 2004. Idaho Million-Dollar Rider Jake Telford took his reins in 2005, winning the NRCHA Derby Open Reserve Championship that year.
In the bridle classes, the stallion continued to shine. He demonstrated his prowess as an all-around horse by placing 3rdin the World's Greatest Horseman in 2008 and 4th in 2009, with Telford riding.
In her stallion's memory, Crawford-Hall, already a NRCHA Breeder Sponsor, puts up $50,000 in added money for NRCHA bridle horse events.