Trainer Chris Dawson rides into the National Reined Cow Horse Association record books aboard Travelin Jonez.

National Reined Cow Horse Association
June 18, 2013

Chris Dawson and Travelin Jonez win 2013 NRCHA Derby, Primo Morales photo courtesy of NRCHA

Chris Dawson and Travelin Jonez scored a phenomenal 228 in the cow work to clinch the NRCHA Derby open championship. (Primo Morales photo courtesy of NRCHA)

Chris Dawson of Jacksboro, Texas, rode into the National Reined Cow Horse Association record books when he piloted Travelin Jonez (Smart Chic Olena-Travelin With Sass by Travalena) to the NRCHA Jack and Phoebe Cooke Memorial Derby Championship Saturday, June 15, in Paso Robles, California. Dawson has won all four NRCHA premier limited-age event championships thus far in 2013; three of them aboard Travelin Jonez.
The 5-year-old stallion, who Dawson owns, claimed the Derby title by an 8-point margin, scoring a combined 670.5 (219.5 herd/223 rein/228 cow), and winning both the rein work and cow work rounds on his way to the $35,465 championship check.
Dawson also won a Bob's Custom Saddle and Gist buckle from the NRCHA; a pair of boots from Rios of Mercedes; a $50 gift certificate and cooler from Santa Cruz Biotechnologies; a fleece blanket from Back On Track; and a gift certificate from Platinum Performance.
"It's unreal. I'm in shock right now. I'm in complete shock," Dawson said.
The 31-year-old horseman struggled for words to express his feelings about achieving a dream he had hardly dared to think about, let alone speak of.
"I never talked about it, but I thought, 'Man, how cool would it be if you could win all four majors?' And that was as far as it got. I didn't' even say it out loud to anybody. And son of a gun, we got 'er done, and it's unbelievable!"

In January, Dawson and Travelin Jonez claimed the NRCHA Celebration of Champions Derby title in San Angelo, Texas. Dawson also was the reserve champion there aboard A Spoonful O Sugar (Hes A Peptospoonful-Poco Smokum Oak by Smokum Oak), owned by Cryin Coyote Ranch. At the end of March, Dawson and Travelin Jonez won the NRCHA Stakes championship in Las Vegas. A month later, in Pueblo, Colorado, Dawson and A Spoonful O Sugar captured the NRCHA Hackamore Classic championship, and Dawson took the reserve championship on Travelin Jonez.


Dawson brought three Derby horses to Paso Robles and qualified all of them for the finals. He placed 10th aboard Travelin Jonez's half-brother, Callme Mister Mister (Mister Dual Pep-Travelin With Sass by Travalena), a 4-year-old gelding owned by Stephen Roseberry, earning $5,600. A Spoonful O Sugar also made the Derby open finals, but she lost a cow in the herd work and Dawson scratched her from the remaining two events.


"She was the only horse that beat [Travelin Jonez] all year, and she had some rough luck here," Dawson said.


By contrast, fortune smiled on Travelin Jonez throughout the finals. Showing in the hackamore, "TJ" turned in a 219.5 performance in the herd work, placing him fourth on the results sheet. Then, the bay stallion won the rein work round with a 223, the same score he marked in that event during the prelims.


"He was really good in the reining; as good as he's been all year. To mark a pair of 223's in the go-round and finals – that's the highest he's ever marked in his life, and that's his weakest event," Dawson said.  


Going into the fence work, TJ was in second place behind PRF Spoonful Of Gold (Hes A Peptospoonful-Sons Miss Sprat by Sons Rushette), shown by Corey Cushing. Dawson and TJ were fourth to work in the first set. The cow tested them on the end, and then showed plenty of speed down the wall. Travelin Jonez responded with alacrity, rating in perfect position and engulfing the cow with one dirt-spraying turn in each direction.


"I never felt anything like it," Dawson said of their 228-point performance. Dawson intended to turn the cow once more on the fence before circling, but Travelin Jonez had other ideas. "I wanted to go for a third turn, and I swear, he told me, 'Partner, you just sit up there and sit still. We're gonna go circle this rascal,' and I just held on for the ride." 


Dawson was awestruck by the caliber of horses and horsemen in the finals; of the 20 Derby open finalists, 10 of them scored a 218 or above in the fence work, demonstrating impressive control against a pen of  consistently fast and challenging cattle.


"It was a great cow work final. There were so many good horses, and so many good guys.[NRCHA Hall of Fame horseman] Ronnie Richards came up to me after I got done and gave me the  biggest compliment I've ever had. He says, 'You know, I've been around a long time, and that was as good a cow work as I've ever seen.' That's something right there. It's just incredible to be in that company, and be four-for-four," Dawson said. "The things I've learned, and the quality of horsemen in this deal – I can't stress that enough. I feel like a little kid kicking the dirt around them. It's a real honor to be in this group of guys." 


Corey Cushing of Scottsdale, Arizona, rode Cathy Corrigan Frank's 5-year-old stallion, PRF Spoonful Of Gold, to the Derby open reserve championship. They scored a total 652.5 (225 herd/221 rein/216.5 cow), earning $26,132. It was Cushing's fourth consecutive Derby reserve championship. In 2011 and 2012, he rode Docs Catty Jo (Cowboy Cattylac-Lena Jo Doc by Doc O Dynamite) to the reserve championship for owner Suzanne Clark. In 2010, Cushing was Derby reserve champion aboard Smart Boons (Peptoboonsmal-Smart Little Easter by Smart Little Lena), owned by Kevin and Sydney Knight. In 2009, Cushing and Smart Boons were the Derby champions.  
The Derby open reserve championship also came with a set of skid boots from Classic Equine; quick wraps from Back On Track; and a $50 gift certificate and cooler bag from Santa Cruz Biotechnologies.
Cushing also placed third in the Derby open aboard CD Diamond (CD Olena-Shiners Diamond Girl by Shining Spark) with a 658.5. Cushing and the 4-year-old stallion, owned by San Juan Ranch, were the 2012 NRCHA Futurity open champions. Third place came with a $21,466 check, and third through fifth place received a gift certificate and cooler bag from Santa Cruz Biotechnologies along with their paychecks.  




It was an emotional win, and another milestone on a long and sometimes painful comeback journey for Shawn Renshaw of Nipomo, California, who piloted his 5-year-old stallion, Gennys Prize (Smokums Prize-Genuinely Perfect by Genuine Doc) to the NRCHA Jack and Phoebe Cooke Memorial Derby non-pro championship on Saturday, June 15, in Paso Robles,California.
Renshaw guided Gennys Prize to a total 651 score (213 herd/218.5 rein/219.5 cow), earning $7,069. The Derby non-pro title also came with a Bob's Custom Saddle and Gist buckle from the NRCHA; a pair of boots from Rios of Mercedes; a set of quick wraps from Back On Track; a gift certificate and cooler bag from Santa Cruz Biotechnologies; and a gift certificate from Platinum Performance.

Gennys Prize is particularly special to Renshaw; both of the stallion's parents have played a significant role in his competitive career and his personal life.
Renshaw owned Gennys Prize's sire, Smokums Prize (Smokum Oak-Tommy Tivio Tucker by Doc Tucker). In 2000, Renshaw rode Smokums Prize to the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity non-pro reserve championship and had also qualified him for the open finals, but a back injury just before the Open finals forced Renshaw to find a catch-rider. He asked top professional Ted Robinson to take Smokums Prize's reins – and Robinson rode the stallion to the Futurity open championship.
Gennys Prize's dam, Genuinely Perfect, belonged to Renshaw's 29-year-old daughter, Nicholle, when she was a child.
"We sold the mare to a friend, Katy Murphy of Irish Oaks Ranch. She raised several foals out of her, and the mare passed away last year. This is her last foal by my old stud horse, Smokums Prize. I won this event [the Derby] on Smokums Prize 12 years ago. [Gennys Prize] has been a blessing since the day I got on him. He's everything I want a horse to be," Renshaw said.
Renshaw, a farrier by trade, bought Gennys Prize from Murphy on some extended barter terms.
"I trimmed and shod horses for her for a year to pay for him. He was my comeback project. That's why he is so special to Kim and me," Renshaw said.
The 53-year-old horseman, a farrier by trade, sustained a skull fracture and other injuries when he fell from the rafters during a barn construction project six years ago. During the emergency treatment, doctors discovered Renshaw had a potentially deadly heart condition.
"I had to have open heart surgery, and have some of my bowels replaced. It was a long challenge to get back from that. It took away all my balance. I went through hell," Renshaw said.
The medical bills also devastated the Renshaws financially. Kim obtained a realtor's license and slowly but surely restored the family's income stream.
Little by little, Shawn regained his strength. The horsemanship skills that have helped him win more than $300,000 in his NRCHA career remained as strong as ever, as he guided Gennys Prize to approximately $20,000 in earnings at the 2011 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity – and the comeback has continued ever since. Renshaw plans to continue showing cow horses, and branch out into major National Reining Horse Association competition.
He thanked his wife for her unwavering support, and thanked his herd help. Renshaw also credited his friends, professional horsemen Randy Paul and Tracer Gilson, for their role in his success, and he thanked Murphy for agreeing to sell Gennys Prize to him in trade.
The Derby non-pro reserve champion was Laurie Ward of Kingsburg, California, who guided Pumped Up Kix (Smart Little Pepinic-Olivias Response by Dual Peppy) to a total 646 score (216 herd/218 rein/212 cow). The 2009 gelding is owned by Ward Ranch. The reserve placing came wtih a $5,655 check, a set of skid boots from Classic Equine and a gift certificate and cooler bag from Santa Cruz Biotechnologies.


2013 NRCHA Derby Results

  • Open – Chris Dawson riding Travelin Jonez (2008 bay stallion by Smart Chic Olena-Travelin With Sass by Travalena, owned by Chris Dawson of Jacksboro, Texas)
  • Intermediate open – Mark Luis riding Cats Smart Oak (2008 chestnut gelding by WR This Cats Smart-Cookie Q Lena by Quanah O Lena; bred by Kathy Reiser Foote of Livingston, Montana; owned by Paula Potocar of Thousand Oaks, California)
  • Limited open – Kelby Phillips riding Fancy Boons N All (2008 red roan mare by Peptoboonsmal-Smart Fancy Zan by Smart Little Lena; bred by Jackson Land & Cattle of Lipan, Texas; owned by Garth and Amanda Gardiner of Ashland, Kansas)
  • Level 1 limited open – Luke Neubert riidng This Cats Crackin (2008 sorrel stallion by WR This Cats Smart-Stressin by Dual Pep; bred by Wagonhound Land & Livestock of Douglas, Wyoming; owned by Luke Neubert of Paso Robles, California)
  • Non-pro – Shawn Renshaw riding Gennys Prize (2008 sorrel stallion by Smokums Prize-Genuinely Perfect by Genuine Doc; bred by Kathryn Murphy of Arroyo Grande, California; owned by Shawn and Kimberly Renshaw of Nipomo, California)
  • Intermediate non-pro – Jayson Fisher riding Little Brown Indian (2008 bay gelding by Hickorys Indian Pep-No Pleasin This Chic by Chic Please; bred by Eric Freitas of Santa Maria, California; owned by Wyatt Fisher of Arroyo Grande, California)
  • Novice non-pro – Elizabeth Kania riding Tuckin Smart (2008 sorrel mare by WR This Cats Smart-Tucks A Lil Better by Doc Tom Tucker; bred by Dan and Linda Simao/Jenny Sherbo of Acampo, California; owned by Elizabeth Kania of Hillsboro, Oregon)
  • Non-pro limited – Kristy Johnson riding Lenas Gun A Smokum (2008 chestnut mare by Smokums Prize-Shortys Scat Cat by Shorty Lena; bred by Winston and Ginger Moore of Lincoln, New Mexico; owned by Kristy Johnson of Porterville, California)