High school rodeo and the reined cow horse competition is leading to college scholarships for Josh Briggs of Pilot Point, TX, and Brie Wells of Le Mars, IA, thanks to a partnership benefiting competitors at the National High School Finals Rodeo (NHSFR).
For the third consecutive year, the Reining Horse Foundation has joined with the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) to provide a scholarship to the student athlete marking the highest score in the reining during the NHSFR, held July 15-21 in Rock Springs, Wyo. Following a tie, both Briggs and Wells were awarded $1,250 scholarships and Morrison bronzes courtesy of the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA).
In his final year of high school competition, Briggs scored a 149 in the rein work during the second go-round to mark his high score. He was riding Ricochet Shine (Ricochet San x Shiney Tea Pot Doc), a 2010 chestnut American Quarter Horse gelding. In a field of 101 reined cow horse contestants, Briggs was the event champion finishing first overall with a total score of 877. Ricochet Shine is owned by Steve and Carol Metcalf of Pilot Point, Texas, who are prominent in the reining and cow horse disciplines. After completing his final year of high school competition, Briggs is now attending North Central Texas College (NCTC) in Gainesville, Texas, where he is competing on both the equestrian and ranch horse teams.
Wells, a junior in high school, scored a 149 in the rein work during the short go to capture her scholarship and bronze. She was riding BFR Igniting Sparks (Shining Spark x Sliden Wright By), a 2009 palomino American Quarter Horse stallion. Wells was able to finish seventh overall, as well as finishing sixth in the all-around cowgirl title hunt. The versatile BFR Igniting Sparks is owned by Wells and is also her head horse for team roping as well as her tie-down roping horse. His sire is NRHA Hall of Fame stallion Shining Spark. In 2017, BFR Igniting Sparks won the American Quarter Horse Association Lucas Oil Superhorse Award.
In late 2014, the National High School Rodeo Association (NHSRA) began offering reined cow horse as an event. It joined a lineup of bareback riding, bull riding, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, team roping, and cutting for boys; and breakaway roping, barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying, cutting, team roping, and the queen contest for girls.
While reined cow horse might not be a traditional rodeo event, NHSRA, NRCHA and NRHA acknowledge that reined cow horse can elevate the riding ability of NHSRA members. As part of the reined cow horse competition, contestants must complete a reining pattern, commonly referred to as dry work.
“Providing youth scholarships is a core program of the Reining Horse Foundation,” said Mandy McCutcheon, a $2 million NRHA rider and Foundation Board member. “It is our hope that by reaching out to the youth contestants of high school rodeo, more students will be introduced to reining and reined cow horse and ensure these sports grow and succeed for generations to come.”
Based in Oklahoma City, OK, the Reining Horse Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the National Reining Horse Association. Core programs for the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization include youth scholarships, the Dale Wilkinson Memorial Crisis Fund and the NRHA Hall of Fame.