It was a true come-from-behind win. In the field of ten of the National Reined Cow Horse Association Intermediate Non Pro finals, Amanda Gardiner and Whachichi Chex were sitting in a three-way tie for fifth place going into the cow work. The first place horse had a 14.5-point lead – but Gardiner and “ChiChi” wouldn’t be deterred.
The noise in the Reno Livestock Events Center built to a crescendo as the Ashland, Kansas, Non Pro piloted the Too Busy Cashin Chex mare to a 219 – the high score of the Non Pro finals! “Holy cow! I was so excited. She was fantastic. She was tuned in and made a great fence turn. The second was fantastic, and then we went to circling.” Gardiner added, “It was thrilling. Really thrilling.”
Gardiner and ChiChi had also qualified for the Non Pro finals, and finished third. All total, the pair won $16,645. They also won a Bob’s Custom Saddle, a Gist Silvermsiths buckle sponsored by the Vangelos Family – Polymer Logistics, a 100x hat from Shorty’s Hattery, an ESP pad from Classic Equine, Platinum Performance, a Cinch vest from Bob’s Custom Saddles, and a CR Morrison trophy and commemorative medallion. For the third place Non Pro finish, they took home a Gist Silversmiths buckle sponsored by Linda and Michael Vantreight.
Gardiner and ChiChi marked a 204 in the herd work and a 209.5 in the rein work. “I drew up at the bottom of the herd. We cut three good cows but it was tough because it was at the bottom. We were actually doing really well and then had a big miss with four seconds left,” she explained. “She was exhausted today in the rein work – but I was very pleased with her.”
ChiChi spent most of the time preparing for the Futurity in the capable hands of NRCHA Million Dollar Rider Todd Crawford. “I have to say when working with this horse I give God credit first, and Todd is a close second,” Gardiner joked. “He does a fantastic job – he gives me what I can handle. He’s taught me and my husband Garth so much.”
Amanda and Garth purchased ChiChi in the NRCHA Select 2-Year-Old Sale in 2010, and paid the mare up in the 2-Year-Old Sale Incentive. The gamble paid off, as ChiChi won the Select 2-Year-Old Non Pro Sale Incentive check for $8,400 in the preliminary round. (In 2011, horses purchased in the Select 2-Year-Old Sale are automatically enrolled in the Incentive.)
When asked about plans for the future, Gardiner said, “I’m so excited for her Derby year. I can hardly wait!”
Shawn Renshaw and Gennys Prize took home the Non Pro Reserve Championship. Renshaw and Gennys Prize, by Smokums Prize and out of Genuinely Perfect, had a 630.5, good for a check for $4,576, a Gist Silversmiths buckle sponsored by Mike and Carole Stafford, Platinum Performance, a Cinch vest from Bob’s Custom Saddles, and a CR Morrison commemorative medallion. Renshaw and Gennys Prize also placed fourth in the Non Pro, good for an additional $8,740.
The NRCHA, now in its 62nd year, is the governing body of reined cow horse competition. The NRCHA is responsible for promoting the sport, insuring high standards of competition, and educating members and the public about the history and tradition of the cow horse. Through the support of a Corporate Partner family that includes Bob’s Custom Saddles, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Cinch, Classic Equine, Gist Silversmiths, John Deere, Markel Insurance, Merial products ULCERGARD and EQUIOXX, Nutrena, Pfizer Animal Health, Quarter Horse News, Rios of Mercedes, San Juan Ranch – A Division of Santa Cruz Biotechnology, and the Silver Legacy Hotel and Casino, the association works to keep the vaquero tradition alive in today’s equine industry. For information on the National Reined Cow Horse Association, call 580-759-4949 or visit the NRCHA Official Web Site at www.nrcha.com.