March 10, 2011
By Larri Jo StarkeyThe American Quarter Horse Journal
Mozaun McKibben and Lil Ruf Catalyst
AQHA After two days of close competition, Mozaun McKibben and Lil Ruf Catalyst were crowned the open world champions at the 2011 Pfizer AQHA Versatility Ranch Horse World Championship Show. Lil Ruf Catalyst is a 2006 stallion by Lil Ruf Peppy and out of Foxy Catalyst by Taris Catalyst. Mozaun, who hails from Whitesboro, Texas, shares ownership of the new world champion with fiance Hilary Zimmerman, also of Whitesboro. They saw something in the black horse when he was a yearling. As a 3-year-old, Lil Ruf Catalyst began competing in working cow horse events, and it was his skill in that event that made him a champion.
The open world championship came down to a tie at the end of the ranch horse conformation placings – Mozaun placed fourth and AQHA Professional Horseman Mike Major and Black Hope Stik won the class. But the tie had already been broken in the working ranch horse earlier in the day, which Mozaun and Lil Ruf Catalyst won. The versatility competition includes five classes total: ranch trail, ranch cutting, ranch horse conformation, working ranch horse and ranch riding.
“It’s a little nerve-wracking,” Mozaun told The American Quarter Horse Journal after the win. “You’ve got a lot of different events to do with the same horse, and started out a little rough for me. We started putting it together, and it turned out all right. He’s just a real nice horse. He’d probably be better if he had a better jockey.” Mike and Black Hope Stik ended up with the reserve; the two also won the inaugural Battle in the Saddle ranch remuda contest in 2010; the two were also the first Project Cowboy competition winners.
Third place went to Josephs Catchum All, shown by AQHA Professional Horseman Fielding “Bozo” Rogers, who also picked up fourth place on Blue Savanah Holli.
“It’s unbelievable,” Mozaun said. “I feel really privileged just to be among (these competitors). This is the biggest thing that’s ever happened to me in the horse business.”
Mozaun also ended up 11th on SLJ Smart Like Hen and says he was only able to show two horses because Hilary kept them warmed up for him between events.
After thanking the city of Houston for its hospitality – the Pfizer Versatility World takes place during the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo – Mozaun talked about the importance of the event to him as a rancher and a breeder.
“Right now, the horse industry is focused on one event for one horse, and this is one of the only places you can come and have this many events on the same horses. It’s tough to do and it’s not done much,” he said. “I want a horse that I can take out of the pasture and go do something. If I take my rope down and rope something, I can do that, or if I have to cut a cow – whatever I want to do, I can do. I think the halter (portion) is important, too. If you breed and raise horses – everyone likes to ride a pretty horse, but sometimes our prettiest ones aren’t our best ones. If you throw the halter in the competition, it really stirs up the pot.”
Besides competing in versatility ranch horse events, Mozaun competes in roping and cowboy mounted shooting. He says that he and Lil Ruf Catalyst will be back next year, and he has some young horses that will be in the mix next year. Pretty ones, he says, for the halter part of the competition.
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