November 6-21, 2015, Oklahoma City


Rising Starlight rises above the rest in the 2012 Farnam Superhorse race.

When trainer Corey Cushing came barreling bridleless into the AQHA World Show arena for the awards presentation – parting the dirt in a smooth sliding stop before going into a dizzying spin – it epitomized the confidence he had in 7-year-old Rising Starlight. Owner Eric Dunn of Norwich, Kansas, felt the same way about his mare.

And as it turned out, their confidence was well-placed. Rising Starlight and Corey had turned in a world championship-earning run in senior working cow horse November 17, which propelled them to the top of the standings in the 2012 Farnam Superhorse race. 

The Farnam Superhorse Award is the top honor at the AQHA World Championship Show. It is awarded to the horse who earns the most points in three or more events in two categories during the show. This year, 45 contenders competed for the award.

How do you describe what it’s like to win such an honor? “Top of the world,” Eric said, laughing. “Do I look like Leonardo DiCaprio right now? It’s awesome, I can’t even tell you. … It’s something we’ve been wanting for so long, and we knew we had a good chance this year.”

“Star” won a world championship last year in senior working cow horse, and she was last year’s Reserve Superhorse.

“There was only one place we could go, and that was down, and coming here … that thought never crossed my mind because I knew she could do it again,” said Corey, who trains out of Scottsdale, Arizona.

In the nail-biting cow horse finals, “that mare, she couldn’t have been any better. That’s just how she is. She makes you think you could work the worst possible cow on her. She is that strong, that confident. You never feel like you’re in a bad spot with her,” Corey said.

And when a talented horse and talented rider are both feeling good about things, it all comes together nicely.

Well aware of how much was riding on the class, Eric said his nervousness quickly dissipated.

“When I saw Corey ride down there, I saw that Star had confidence, Corey had confidence. I’m like, ‘This is over.’ I felt that good about it.”

Rising Starlight is a 2005 bay mare, sired by Little Bay Starlight and out of Peppys Hot Star. She was bred by Casey Deary of Weatherford, Texas, and was also shown at the World Show by Steve Orth of Maysville, Oklahoma. The mare showed in three classes, earning a total of 34 points. Besides her win in senior working cow horse, she placed third in senior heading and was a finalist in senior heeling.

The Farnam Superhorse received $25,000, plus $2,000 worth of Farnam products, a WeatherBeeta blanket, an original Lisa Perry bronze and a rose bouquet.

Dirty Sexy Money was named the Reserve Farnam Superhorse. Dirty Sexy Money is owned by Janet and Kent Martin of Wells, Texas. The 2007 gray gelding, sired by Sheiks Big Leaguer and out of Fight Over Emmie (TB), was bred by Melissa Ann Miller of Belton, Texas. AQHA Professional Horseman Chuck Briggs of Azle, Texas, showed the gelding in two classes, while Kindel Huffman showed the gelding in junior hunter hack. The pair earned a total of 33 points, taking world championships in junior working hunter and junior hunter hack and placing third in junior pleasure driving.

The Reserve Farnam Superhorse received a price package that included $10,000, plus $1,000 in Farnam products.

Placing third was Pink Jeans, who gave the Dunn family its second Superhorse contender. Owned by Eric and Wendy Dunn of Norwich, Kansas, the 2006 red roan mare is sired by Levi Boon and out of JM Starlight Express. She was bred by the James R. McNulty Estate of Bakersfield, California. Pink Jeans was shown by AQHA Professional Horseman J.D. Yates of Pueblo, Colorado, and Corey Cushing. Pink Jeans earned a total of 28 points competing in four classes, placing third in senior heeling and fourth in senior heading. She was a finalist in senior tie-down roping and senior working cow horse.

Placing fourth was Oh Cay N Short, owned by Kevin and Sydney Knight of Weatherford, Texas. The 2004 bay stallion, sired by Oh Cay Quixote and out of Bit Of Shorty, was bred by Patricia Frerichs of Ogden, Illinois. The stallion was shown by Boyd Rice of Spearman, Texas, and J.D. Yates. Oh Cay N Short competed in four classes, placing fourth in senior working cow horse and fifth in senior tie-down roping. He was a finalist in senior heading.

Placing fifth was Smart Express, owned by Amy Lund of La Cygne, Kansas. The 2000 sorrel gelding, sired by Smart Little Lena and out of Speedee Dee Express, was bred by Edward White of Meadow Vista, California. Smart Express was shown by Brad and Amy Lund in four classes. The gelding earned a total of 21 points, earning a world championship in senior heading, a 10th place in senior working cow horse and a finalist finish in senior heeling.

The third- through fifth-place Farnam Superhorses each receive $2,500, plus $500 in Farnam products. 

2012 Farnam Superhorse Rising Starlight

Rising Starlight and her entourage celebrate the Farnam Superhorse win. (Journal photo)