2016 World's Greatest Horseman

Clayton Edsall rides his own Skeets Oak Peppy to win the 2016 NRCHA World's Greatest Horseman title.

The American Quarter Horse Journal

Two big scores took Clayton Edsall to the top February 20 at the World’s Greatest Horseman competition.

Riding his own gelding Skeets Oak Peppy, Clayton scored a 221 to lead the herd work.

“We were fortunate to up earlier (in the draw), and there were still some cattle we had picked out,” he said. “Some of them got cut. Doug (Williamson), right before me, cut pretty much my whole list, so we went with some backups. Kelby (Phillips) had a good cow picked out, and it all worked out.”

The National Reined Cow Horse Association’s World’s Greatest Horseman competition requires the same horse-and-rider combo to compete in four events: herd work, similar to cutting; reined work, similar to reining; steer stopping; and fence work, similar to the cow work portion of working cow horse competition. The riders use the same bridle throughout the day.

“In the reined work, he was solid,” Clayton said of “Sly.” “He was a tick better in the prelims. He let me do all the maneuvers and run pretty honest.”

Ten teams qualified to return to the finals, a standing-room-only affair at the John Justin Arena in Fort Worth, Texas. Clayton and Sly scored a 219 to place fifth in reined work.

“(The steer stopping) is probably the most nerve-wracking event,” Clayton said. “There are so many guys who rope way better than me. Last year, I split the horns and didn’t make the finals. A handful of people did it tonight and a handful did it in the prelims. I was just wanting to get him caught.”

A solid 218 in steer stopping kept Clayton in the overall contest, but he needed a top score in fence work to win plus a little strategical thinking.

“I knew that being up second (in the draw), I was going to have to go with as much cow as I could possibly go with,” said the Oakdale, California, cowboy. “That would make (the other riders) have to go with a little more cow than they were comfortable with. Luckily, the judges didn’t make me work the first cow I drew. The second one was a little better, so we went on with it.”

Sly delivered a 225.

“For so long, a guy wants something, and then you realize you just need to do the best you can,” Clayton said. “If it’s your day, it’s your day.”

Skeets Oak Peppy is a 2007 sorrel gelding by Skeets Peppy and out of Oak Ill Be by Ill Be Smart. He was bred by Vaughn C. Zimmerman of Springfield, Missouri, and Clayton bought him as a yearling.

“I didn’t school on him in (the arena) last night,” Clayton said. “I tried to keep him as fresh as I could.”

The gelding has won $103,152 in NRCHA competition. His World’s Greatest Horseman earnings will boost the total by $25,000.

“He’s a big character at home,” Clayton said. “He unties himself. He’s funny. He’s got a big motor and likes to be ridden. He doesn’t need to be trained on a bunch, but he needs to be ridden. Grass hay and cool calories, that’s for sure.”

The future for Sly includes more work.

“I rope on him and ranch and start colts on him,” Clayton said. “He’s always got a stall at my house. (My wife) Kelsey shows his, too, in some boxing classes. He’s got quite a lot of go so maybe when he’s 16 or 17, we’ll see if my boy can start riding him.”