Kelby Phillips Is the World’s Greatest Horseman

Phillips and Hickory Holly Time emerge victorious in a hard-fought battle for the National Reined Cow Horse Association's crown event.

Kelby Phillips and Hickory Holly Time marked a 223.5 in the final event, the fence work. (Credit: Primo Morales photo courtesy of NRCHA)

A record 50 entries vied for the 2018 title of DT Horses World’s Greatest Horseman, crowned at the National Reined Cow Horse Association Celebration of Champions in Fort Worth, Texas.

The sellout crowd packed in the Will Rogers Memorial Center February 17 for the event’s finals came looking for a show. A show is indeed what they got.

Halfway through the very first event, herd work, Draw 5, Kelby Phillips riding Hickory Holly Time (One Time Pepto-Hickorys Holly Cee by Doc's Hickory), jumped up and marked the high score, a 220. Then, the very next to go, Phillip Ralls and Call Me Mitch (Metallic Cat-Miss Hickory Hill by Doc's Hickory), earned a 220.5. 

These two continued neck-and-neck at the top of the leader board after the second event, rein work. Kelby and Hickory Holly Time were first to go, earning a 222.5 from the judges. Then Draw 2 was Phillip Ralls and Call Me Mitch, just a point behind, with a 221.5

The third event, steer stopping, is notorious for being a game-changer, but the two leaders continued on a roll. Kelby gained an advantage when he scored 224.5 – but Phillip remained a huge threat with his steer-stopping score of 221.

They always say it comes down to the fence work, and this proved once again to the true. Going into the final event, Kelby and Hickory Holly Time had a four-point advantage. They were second in the draw, and earned a 223.5 from the judges. However, Phillip and Call Me Mitch were last to go down the fence and still had a shot. While this team had the high fence work score of the World’s Greatest Finals – a 225 – it was not quite enough to take over the lead. Phillip and Call Me Mitch finished as reserve, and Kelby Phillips of Bend, Oregon, celebrated his first World’s Greatest Horseman championship.

Bred by Arcese Quarter Horses USA of Weatherford, Texas, Hickory Holly Time is an 8-year-old red roan stallion owned by Dean Tuftin’s DT Horses of Bend, Oregon.