In 1988, leading National Reined Cow Horse Association professional Zane Davis won a National High School Rodeo Championship at the Colorado State Fairgrounds in Pueblo. Twenty five years later, he returned to the same venue to win the National Reined Cow Horse Association Hackamore Classic Open Championship aboard Rubys Radar (One Time Pepto x Ruby Bagonia x Peppy San Badger), owned by Billie Filippini.
Saturday morning, May 3, the day of the Hackamore Classic finals, Davis visited the fairgrounds outdoor rodeo arena, spending a quiet moment in the exact spot where he made his winning National High School Rodeo bronc ride.
“I stood on the same bucking chute that I got in when I won the national championship. I could remember everything that happened that day, 25 years ago. I thought, ‘You know, I might lose any other day, but not today,'” he said. “Nobody was over there. I’ve been wanting to go over there for years. I haven’t been back in so long. That was the biggest thing that ever happened in my life, even to this day.”
Davis and Rubys Radar held the high preliminary score coming into the fence work-only finals. They were last to work, a draw position that suits the 2009 Snaffle Bit Futurity Open Champion horseman just fine.
“I’ve had real good luck being last. When I won the Futurity I was last. I like last,” Davis said.
Rubys Radar, a 2010 stallion, scored a 145 in the finals cow work. Added to his preliminary score of 440.5 (146 herd/146.5 rein/148 cow), the 585.5 composite was enough to win the Hackamore Classic title by a four-point margin. The Championship came with a $10,708 check; a Bob’s Custom Saddle and Gist buckle from the NRCHA; a gift certificate from San Juan Ranch, a division of Santa Cruz Biotechnologies; and a custom sheet from Classic Equine.
Davis has had Rubys Radar in his training program since the 2010 stallion was a long yearling. He initially bought Rubys Radar for longtime customer John Semanik. When Semanik decided he wanted to sell the horse, Davis knew exactly who to call.
“Billie Filippini wanted a roan stud prospect, and she bought him,” Davis said. As a 3-year-old, Rubys Radar finished 5th at the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity, and then last month in Las Vegas, Nev., he claimed the NRCHA Stakes Reserve Championship.
Filippini, who usually comes to the shows to watch her horse compete, decided not to make the trip to Pueblo.
“She’s in her 70s and couldn’t find a traveling partner. Her exact words were, ‘I’ve had horses in training for 30 years and I ain’t never won nothin’.’ And now she’s winning everything, so she’s pretty excited,” Davis said.
The Blackfoot, Idaho, horseman, whose NRCHA earnings now exceed $822,000, was initially unimpressed with Rubys Radar as a hackamore horse.
“I usually start putting them in the hackamore in November or December of their 3-year-old year after they’re done showing, and he was terrible. He’s a really soft horse, but he was a terrible hackamore horse. I rode him for two or three months and never got anywhere with him. This last month, he got a little bit better, but he wasn’t good, until we got here. I knew he’d do everything, but he just didn’t feel good. Then, all of a sudden, we got here and he felt good. He’s always been a show horse. At home, he’s a terrible cutter. At the show, he cuts every time. Usually you have the opposite problem; they’re good at home and terrible to show. He’s been good to show and not as good at home,” Davis said.
He thanked his herd help, particularly fellow trainers Brandon Buttars and Zeph Schulz, and appreciated his wife, Holly, for “putting up with the life that a horse trainer’s wife has to.”
The next stop for Rubys Radar will be the NRCHA Derby in Paso Robles, Calif., in June.
Davis had a second horse in the finals, Brother Jackson (Peptoboonsmal x Shes Icing Onthe Cat x High Brow Cat), owned by John Semanik. Brother Jackson finished in 8th place, earning $2,677.
The Hackamore Classic Open Reserve Champion was CD Pepto (CD Lights x Peptowood x Zack T Wood), shown by Luke Jones for owner Kenneth Schueller. He scored a combined 581.5 (145 herd/142.5 rein/147.5 cow/146.5 finals cow), earning $8,567.
“This is the first time for me to have a horse in the Open finals for these customers and have a major limited age event win. It’s pretty exciting for me,” Lawrence said. “We got through the reining decent. She was outstanding in the herd. She was good in the preliminary fence work, and it wasn’t quite the run I hoped for in the finals. We kind of left the door open for Kenny [Wold] to come get us, which was an interesting story because his horse, Real Smooth Cat, was right behind us in the prelims, and it was one I trained and sold to Kenny as a 2-year-old. It was fun to have two horses that we had in the hunt for it.”Lawrence’s show horses do double duty as ranch mounts on the cattle outfit he and his wife, Kelcie, operate. He frequently reaches for a hackamore when tacking up his horses for outside riding.
“I’m a real big fan of the hackamore and this mare has been trained primarily the last four months in a hackamore. Riding her on the ranch, that’s what we use and it seems to make a better horse out of them,” he said.Limited Open Champion Jojo Tari and owner/rider Lavert Avent. Primo Morales photo.
Based on her preliminary scores, Tara Matsler, Canyon, Texas, claimed the Hackamore Classic Amateur Championship aboard her homebred mare, Soula Boon (Soula Jule Star x Blues Nu Boon x Peptoboonsmal), and advanced to the Non Pro, Intermediate Non Pro and Novice Non Pro finals, where she swept the Championships in all three divisions.
“Everybody always dreams of doing stuff like that, but in reality, it doesn’t work out. It’s still surreal. She’s such a special horse to me. After we got done, I asked my dad, ‘Will you finally re-breed the broodmare? Because I’d really like another one like her,” Matsler said.
In the fence work-only finals, Matsler was first in the draw. Her 144 score placed her in the lead, and she had to wait and watch the remaining competitors to see whether she would hold on for the win.