National Reined Cow Horse AssociationOctober 5, 2012
AQHA Professional Horseman Doug Williamson rode High Brow Shiner, owned by Belle Mead Ranch, to fourth place in the open at the 2012 Snaffle Bit Futurity, good for a $50,000 check. (Photo courtesy of NRCHA)
So much was happening all at once at the 2012 National Reined Cow Horse Association Snaffle Bit Futurity in Reno, Nevada, on open finals night. The most visible moment came when Corey Cushing rode CD Diamond (CD Olena-Shiners Diamond Girl by Shining Spark), owned by San Juan Ranch, to a $100,000 victory.
But that wasn't the only milestone performance of October 29. AQHA Professional Horseman and NRCHA hall of fame rider Doug Williamson rode High Brow Shiner (Shining Lil Nic-High Brow Meow), owned by Belle Mead Ranch, to a fourth place finish in the futurity open division. It was a stellar performance for one of the NRCHA's most enduring champions, and the 70-year-old collected $50,000.
It may have been the most meaningful paycheck of an astonishing career that has spanned five decades. That night's accomplishment pushed him over the mark and made Doug the NRCHA's ninth million-dollar rider. His signature smile said it all as he rode into the arena at the Reno Livestock Events Center and his many friends were more than ready to share the moment with him.
Very Smart Remedy
Another open finalist had a memorable night as well. For non-pro Anne Reynolds, it was a poignant moment when the finals ended. Her third place finish in the open finals on Very Black Magic - the highest ever for a non-pro - earned $60,000 and pushed her stallion, Very Smart Remedy, over the top.
That marked the beginning of his status as a million-dollar sire. It also marked the end of the most successful non-pro career in NRCHA history as those earnings would push Anne past the $100,000 mark in open earnings and make her no longer eligible to compete as a non-pro.
Talk about going out in a blaze of glory! At the 2012 Snaffle Bit Futurity, Anne won her eighth non-pro championship on Very Black Magic, as well as fifth place on Smart Medicine Man. She also qualified the same two horses for the open finals.
It's been a great year for Corey Cushing. He fulfilled the promise of his considerable talents most visibly when he rode San Juan Ranch's CD Diamond to a $100,000 victory at the 2012 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity. He qualified four horses for the open finals and walked away from the event with over $158,000 in earnings.
That's enough excitement for anyone – but there was more to the story for Cushing. The numbers are now in, the money is counted and credited to his account, and his futurity earnings, added to winnings from previous late-season shows, have pushed him over the million-dollar milestone – making him, at 32, the youngest rider in National Reined Cow Horse Association history to ever become a million-dollar rider.
For Cushing, reaching the milestone was a goal. "I knew I was getting close; my wife Kristen and I were keeping tabs from the first of the year. I've been having a great year with the derby horses - at the (NRCHA) Stakes and NRCHA Derby. We knew when we left for Reno, we were close."
Cushing was quick to credit part of his accomplishment to the contributions of others. "Our family, friends and customers are outstanding. They've supported me and I've been blessed with good horses – the kind that everyone dreams of."
He added that he thought the most important thing – at any point in a career – is to never, ever stop learning. "I was up at Benny Guitron's before the futurity getting his opinion on some things and putting on some finishing touches. Earlier in the year, Phillip Ralls helped me with my herd work. Last year Don Murphy helped me down the fence – gave me some things to do differently – new ideas. That helps me pay more attention to the little things that can cost me points."
His best advice to other riders: "Don't be afraid to go ask for help or advice. Everyone out there has been in that position of needing help so don't hesitate to ask. Respect that older generation, too. They had horses that were harder to train than some of the horses we have these days and the different ways they approached that and trained can help us today. We might be missing something that one of them, from experience, has seen before. Try to use that knowledge."
So what will the new millionaire rider do to celebrate? "When we heard the news we kind of joked around about having a party. We probably will – but I'd rather it be a situation where I can just enjoy my friends instead of so much about me – it's more fun to hang out than to be the highlight."
And the biggest celebration for the Cushings will likely come about January 6, when Corey, Kristen and and son Caleb, will welcome their new baby to the family.
The last year has been quite landmark for Cushing, who won his first AQHA world championship at last year's World Show. The 1-2 finish in senior working cow horse with Doug Williamson, with friend and AQHA Professional Horseman Trent Pedersen in third, was certainly one for the books.
“They’re both such great friends,” Cushing said of Williamson and Pederson during his 2011 Journal Winning Run interview. “Trent and I, we’re really, really close, and Dougie, he and I have been friends since I first got involved with the cow horse 10 years ago, and we’re always fighting each other back and forth. Don’t get me wrong, I’m really excited about this moment, but no matter where any of us would’ve ended up, it just makes it so much fun just because we’re competitors against each other, but we’re such good friends.”
Cushing and Williamson will be honored at the 2013 Snaffle Bit Futurity with the signature Carol Owens bronzes.
Tips From Doug
AQHA Professional Horseman Doug Williamson has certainly been there and done that - that's why The American Quarter Horse Journal caught up with Doug and asked the horseman his secrets to reading cattle. You can catch Doug's winning tips on Page 154 of the October Journal.
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