Champions Crowned at NRCHA Hackamore Classic

Shawn and Tammy Jo Hays claim the open and non-pro titles at the 2015 National Reined Cow Horse Association limited-age event.

From the National Reined Cow Horse Association

Hays and Red River Rivalry scored a 150 in the Hackamore Classic prelim cow work and a 145 in the finals cow work. (Credit: courtesy of NRCHA)

Nocona, Texas, professional Shawn Hays celebrated the biggest National Reined Cow Horse Association limited age event win of his career when he claimed the 2015 Hackamore Classic open and intermediate open championships aboard Red River Rivalry (Soula Jule Star-Shiners Miss Lena by Shining Spark), scoring a total 582 (144 herd/143 rein/150 cow/145 finals cow). 

"I feel like the luckiest gringo on earth," Hays quipped, referring to Kentucky Derby champion jockey Victor Espinoza, who called himself as the "luckiest Mexican on earth" following his win on American Pharaoh at Churchill Downs earlier on Saturday, May 2, the day of the Hackamore Classic finals in Pueblo, Colorado.

The Hackamore Classic featured a cow-work-only finals, where competitors carried their three herd/rein/cow preliminary scores into the short go. Those preliminary scores, plus the final cow score, determined the champions. 

Hays and Red River Rivalry, a 2011 stallion owned in partnership between Hays' father-in-law, Walter Greeman, and his wife, Tammy Jo Hays, came into the finals with a 437 composite, leading the field of 11 finalists by a scant half point. Hays said his finals run was not everything he had hoped for, but it was enough to maintain that half-point margin hold on for the win.

"My horse was good. In the finals at [the NRCHA Stakes in Las Vegas], he popped out of lead in the rein work, and I was a little nervous to run him hard here in the reining. I was a little conservative and only marked a 143.  I had one miss in the cutting, so I gave up a couple of points there. I was a 144 but would have been a 146 without that miss. At these events with just one go round and the fence-only finals, it's not like everybody starts back from zero. After those first two events, I was thinking, shoot, I have quite a bit of ground to make up. I drew a real good cow in the prelims fence work and that little horse was really good. That helped us jump up and improve our score. In the finals, I was hoping to be a little bigger. You always want to finish up with a huge bang. I feel like I had a good right turn, and then my left turn was pretty good.  I lost a little bit of power steering circling to the right. I didn't get circled as well as I wanted to that direction, but then he came back and circled huge to the left. That cow was pushing on us the whole time, and the degree of difficulty was there," Hays said.

Stay apprised of the latest reined cow horse news, including show coverage and results: Sign up for the Journal e-newsletter for the show industry's weekly news.

The victory helped dissipate a cloud of tough luck that has been hanging around Hays since last fall. It started when he and Red River Rivalry missed the finals at the 2014 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity. Then, at the 2015 NRCHA Celebration of Champions and World's Greatest Horseman in Fort Worth, Texas, Hays and "Red" made the Aaron Ranch Derby Open finals but had trouble down the fence. At the same show, his World's Greatest Horseman mount, Smart Chic Aloha, made one of the highest scoring herd work runs in the prelims, but then she colicked and had to withdraw.  

Tammy Jo Hays won the 2015 NRCHA Hackamore Classic Non Pro Championship aboard SDP Got Fancy Genes.

Asked how he stayed motivated and positive through a slump, Hays immediately replied with a smile, "My wife. It's pretty much all her. Otherwise, I'd probably get mad and quit. She gets on to me and tells me to quit throwing my lollipop in the dirt."

He also thanked his herd help and NRCHA Hall of Fame horseman Don Murphy for their help and coaching.

Hays collected $10,157 for the Hackamore Classic championship and $2,645 for the intermediate open championship. He and Red River Rivalry also won the concurrent open hackamore class, which paid $2,850; the Pueblo Derby open, which paid $3,723; and the Pueblo Derby intermediate open, good for another $1,163. The five championship checks totaled more than $20,500. Hays also took home a Bob's Custom Saddle, three Gist buckles, gift certificates from Santa Cruz Animal Health, gift certificates from Farnam, and custom sheets from Classic Equine.

Open Reserve Champion
The Hackamore Classic open reserve champion was Reys Stressin Melody (Reys Dual Badger-Playguns Melody by Playgun), who finished with a 581.5 total score (141 herd/143.5 rein/152 cow/145 finals cow). The 2011 mare was shown by Matt Koch for owner AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder Wagonhound Land and Livestock. The reserve championship paid $8,126.

Koch and Reys Stressin Melody had the high score of the Hackamore Classic open fence work prelims, a 152.

Limited Open Champion
Riding Truly Screyumptious, a 2011 mare professional Wade Meador calls "by far the best horse I've ever had to show," claimed the Hackamore Classic limited open championship and earned checks in the intermediate and open divisions.

Truly Screyumptious (Dual Smart Rey-Meleena Olena by Smart Chic Olena) came into the finals riding high in the composite with a 435.5, which included a huge 151 preliminary cow work score.

"She's so quick footed and cowy – you just put her on that cow and wait, and she takes care of the rest of it. It's easy for her, and she's smart," Meador said.

His triple payday totaled $5,500. The limited open championship also came with a CowTrac system, sponsored by CowTrac; a Gist buckle; and a custom sheet from Classic Equine.

Meador has high hopes for the future with Truly Screyumptious, who is owned by Scottsbluff, Nebraska-based Flag Ranch. He picked the fancy sorrel mare out as a yearling from the National Cutting Horse Association Futurity Sales in Fort Worth, Texas.

"She's been a project. because she's super feely and sensitive. It took a long time to get her trust. The more I show her, the more solid she gets. She's always been real cow smart and athletic, but she's also like my nemesis because if one little thing goes wrong, it takes away from the big picture. There's so much hope there for her, that it just keeps getting better each time," Meador said.

The limited open reserve champion was Bugs Boony (Peptoboonsmal-Shiney Tari by hining Spark), owned and shown by Richard Winters. Their 566 composite score netted paychecks in all three open divisions, totaling $4,075.

Level 1 Limited Open Champion
Richard Winters rode Bugs Boony (Peptoboonsmal-Shiney Tari by Shining Spark), a gelding he owns, to a pair of Level 1 limited open championships in both the Hackamore Classic and Pueblo Derby. Winters and Bugs Boony scored a 426.5 composite (141 herd/140.5 rein/145 cow) for the wins. The Hackamore Classic title paid $1,410 and came with a Gist buckle and a custom sheet from Classic Equine. Winters collected another $776 for the Pueblo Derby championship.

Open Novice Horse Champion
After Hal O Matic carried owner Claire Armstrong to a pair of non-pro limited Championships, it was time to do it again in the open novice horse. The 2010 mare, with NRCHA professional Tom Neel of Millsap, Texas, in the saddle, won the open novice horse championship with a total 426 (143 herd/140 rein/143 cow). The win paid $2,093 and came with a custom sheet from Classic Equine.

Intermediate Non-Pro and Novice Non-Pro Champion
A homebred horse with a very special history carried Bill Tointon to the top in the Hackamore Classic intermediate non-pro and novice non-pro divisions, and to the reserve championship position in the non-pro.

Shinee Hot Wheels (Shining Lil Nic-Paymethemoney by Lena My Way) and Tointon were tied for the lead in the preliminaries with a 422 (138 herd/141.5 rein/144.5 cow), and then scored a 138 in the finals fence work for a 562 composite.

Tointon also swept all three non-pro divisions of the concurrent Pueblo Derby, along with the non-pro hackamore class. All told, he collected seven paychecks worth more than $7,100. His prizes included Gist buckles, sheets from Classic Equine and gift certificates from Farnam and Santa Cruz Animal Health.

"I can't stress enough how grateful I am to my wife, Janiejill. She is the one who has made all of this possible. She introduced me to the sport, and she encourages me and supports me. None of this would be possible without her," Tointon said.

Shinee Hot Wheels was raised at Diamond Double T Ranch, the Tointons' Longmont, Colorado, performance horse facility. He is sired by the couple's stallion, Shining Lil Nic, and out of the first cow horse mare Bill ever showed.

"Paymethemoney was a gift to me from Janiejill. She bought her for me and gave her to me as a surprise. I had no idea. She had the mare delivered and put a big ribbon on her stall and that was how I got started with reined cow horses," he said.

The Lena My Way daughter is also the dam of another horse Bill has showed very successfully, Chex Viva Las Vegas (by NMSU Truckin Chex).

Besides his wife, Tointon also thanked Don Murphy and Alzada, Montana, professional Justin Lawrence, who trained Shinee Hot Wheels.

Amateur Champion
Besides leading the non-pro, intermediate non-pro and novice non-pro divisions going into Saturday's finals, Greg Lafitte and Shes Playin Rey also collected the 2015 NRCHA Hackamore Classic amateur championship. The win paid $1,013 and came with a Gist buckle, a custom sheet from Classic Equine, and gift certificates from Santa Cruz Animal Health and Farnam.

Non-Pro Limited Champion
Claire Armstrong guided Hal O Matic (Halreycious-Miss Hickory Hil) to dual championships in the Hackamore Classic and Pueblo Derby non-pro limited divisions, scoring a total 422.5 (141.5 herd/138 rein/143 cow). Her Hackamore Classic title paid $1,395 and came with a Gist buckle and a sheet from Classic Equine. The Pueblo Derby non-pro limited win added another $543 to her earnings.