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November 7-22, 2014, Oklahoma City

Junior Working Cow Horse

Shawn Hays and Thecrowdlovesme leave no doubt that they’re world champion material.

Thecrowdlovesme and Shawn Hayes

After a 221 in the rein work, Thecrowdlovesme and Shawn Hays' 221 down the fence secured them the 2013 AQHA junior working cow horse world championship. (Journal photo)

To win a world championship on a family owned mare, that’s special. But to win a world title three years down the road on one of her babies, now we’re talking something magical.

Back in 2010, Shawn Hays piloted Shine Smartly to a 218.5 in the rein work, 225 down the fence and the senior working cow horse world title at the AQHA World Championship Show. A 1999 sorrel mare by Shining Spark and out of Smartly Dressed by Smart Little Lena, Shine Smartly is owned by Shawn’s wife, Tammy, and her father, Walter Greeman.

That 2010 win put the cap on Shine Smartly’s highly decorated show career. But where one chapter ends, the next one begins.

Enter Thecrowdlovesme. The 5-year-old stallion is the product of Shine Smartly’s cross with Smart Chic Olena.

With a 217 rein work score and a 228.5 down the fence in the junior working cow horse prelims at the 2013 AQHA World Show, Shawn and Thecrowdlovesme didn’t let the fact that they had the high mark in the event’s prelims go to their heads.

“We were happy winning the prelims, but I knew everybody had to start back from zero,” Shawn told the Journal. “Sometimes, I get a little nervous winning the prelims, because there’s only one way to go.”

So to stay on top, Shawn and Thecrowdlovesme entered the junior working cow horse finals, second in the draw, with a definite game plan.

Surprisingly, where his dam was a firecracker to show and needed quite a bit of warm-up time, Shawn recalled, Thecrowdlovesme is much more laid back and only required 30 minutes of prep time before his run in the finals.

“I went in there and he was really good in my circles,” the Nocona, Texas, trainer said. “I didn’t want to run him too hard because he had to do two more circles than we did in the prelims – we had three circles in each direction instead of two circles. I ran him with speed, but I didn’t want to overrun him and run him out of gas for the cow work.”

As it turns out, Shawn had the right idea, marking a 221 in the rein work.

“I felt like we had more of a degree-of-difficulty cow in the finals,” Shawn said. “I felt like I was playing catch-up the whole time (in the finals cow work), but he stuck right with the cow. He stayed with me and did everything I could have asked of him in the cow work.”

Thecrowdlovesme is owned by Yellow Creek Ranch of Franklin, Tennessee. Greg and Rexanne Brown and their son Raiford and his wife, Sareece, make up the Yellow Creek Ranch contingent.

“Clinton Anderson actually had the horse as a 2- and 3-year-old, and I showed him at the (National Reined Cow Horse Association) Snaffle Bit Futurity as a 3-year-old,” Shawn explained. “Then Yellow Creek Ranch bought him after the Snaffle Bit Futurity his 3-year-old year and they’ve had him for the last two years.”

Between the Browns, the Hayses and the Greemans, Thecrowdlovesme has quite the extended family tree. And the sorrel stallion boasts quite the extended list of accomplishments, too.

“We ended up fourth in the Intermediate open out there at the Snaffle Bit Futurity. He’s won about $40,000, as far as all the derby events,” Shawn said. “We’ve made the finals in every major event in the NRCHA events and derbies.”

Up next for the duo will be the NRCHA Celebration of Champions in February in Fort Worth, Texas, where they will take on the field of open hackamore contenders, vying for a world title.

But before then, Shawn’s got another Fort Worth trip on his plate: He’ll be competing for the first time this Friday at the National Cutting Horse Association Futurity.

In spite of a foray with the cutting pen, Shawn is still a premier reined cow horse trainer. Next year, Shawn will move Thecrowdlovesme up to the bridle, with the eventual goal of showing the stallion in the NRCHA World’s Greatest Horseman competition – where each horse-and-rider team must compete in herd work, rein work, steer stopping and herd work.

If this year’s World Show performance is any indicator, Thecrowdloves me is on track to following in his dam’s footsteps. Aside from her multiple AQHA and NRCHA world championships, Shine Smartly earned the 2007 World’s Greatest Horseman reserve championship with Shawn in the saddle.

“It’s pretty exciting to come back and win the world on a colt that she raised,” Shawn said. “Especially with the competition that I’m up against; there’s Doug Williamson, Corey Cushing, all those guys were in there.

“I’m getting tears in my eyes,” Shawn admitted with a laugh. “It was great.”

It's your moment; make it last forever! Videos of individual runs and class finals from the AQHA World Championship Show are available for purchase at www.aqha.com/mymoment. Plus, you can watch AQHA World Show video footage 24/7. This new service is optimized for Internet Explorer 10, Safari and most mobile Web browsers.