Going Down in History

Nevada horseman Nick Dowers wins the 2016 Road to the Horse championship.

AQHA Media

So many of Nick Dowers’ mentors have shared their wisdom in the pages of America’s Horse magazine: former training columnists and great horsemen Bill Van Norman and Joe Wolter, as well as Bryan Neubert. Now he’ll soon join them, being featured in the May issue as the 2016 winner of Road to the Horse.

Nick, an AQHA life member, says he’s especially gratified to add a colt-starting world championship to his list of laurels, because giving horses a solid foundation is something he emphasizes heavily in his training program.

“It’s a great honor,” he said before accepting his championship belt buckle and trophy saddle.

In addition to Nick’s solid horsemanship background, he also has a performance-horse base, having worked under Andrea Fappani and Annie Reynolds. He was the 2013 National Reined Cow Horse Association Snaffle Bit Futurity Open world champion with his stallion, Time For The Diamond.

The next talented horse to be heading to Nick’s training barn in Dyer, Nevada, will be Seven Attraction, the Four Sixes Ranch colt with whom he claimed the Road to the Horse championship.

“A client of mine bought him, and he’s going to send him home with me,” Nick says. “We’re going to ride him for at least a year and see how it goes. I’m excited about that, because like I’ve said all week, he’s a really intelligent horse, and he tries really hard, and now that we get him home, I think we’ll see some good things.”

Actually, on Sunday, the chromed-up sorrel gelding already showed the RTTH audience some good things, as he sailed smoothly through all of the final round’s required rail work and obstacle course – including a Star Wars spaceship that, as the colt approached it, opened up so a person in a Darth Vader costume (complete with heavy breathing sounds) could step out. Host Matt West joked that Seven Attraction was more willing to approach the strange-looking and -sounding thing than he was.

Nick and his colt were the only competitors to complete that final obstacle in the course, although impressive showings were also made by Richard Winters and Boons Pay, and Clinton Anderson and Four Roan Papa.

And as commentator Craig Cameron told us earlier, there’s lots to be learned for those who pay close attention to the Road to the Horse action.

In Nick’s Sunday performance, of particular interest was the way he handled his horse’s “barn sour” issues.  For the duration of the event, the colts had been housed in pens just outside one end of the arena. So Seven Attraction knew his buddies were outside that gate, and it’s where his comfort zone was.  Predictably, that’s where he wanted to stay, and venturing to the far end of the arena wasn’t really on his agenda. But Nick handled it in such a way that it never became a real problem. He asked the colt to first go just about halfway down one long side of the arena. Then, he explained, he was going to quit asking for more before the horse decided he couldn’t go any farther. They reversed course, circled around the familiar end of the arena and went halfway down the other long side. Again, they turned around before the horse became upset.

“I’m letting his idea be my idea,” Nick said. He promised audience members that they’d soon see the colt gain confidence. Sure enough, it wasn’t long at all before Seven Attraction decided that Nick’s idea to go around the full arena was OK.

All weekend long, Nick has had high praise for the colt’s willingness to try. A few times, the colt thought Nick was asking for something other than what was intended. But Nick knew the efforts were made in good faith.

“He wasn’t doing anything wrong,” Nick said. “He was just doing what he thought I was asking.” The two never took very long to sort things out.

Seven Attraction is sired by Playin Attraction, who is an NRCHA Intermediate Open Futurity champion and an Open Futurity reserve champion. His dam, Lizzie Seven, is sired by AQHA world champion senior cutting horse Seven From Heaven.

The Four Sixes Ranch, which bred all of the remuda colts, is an AQHA Best Remuda Award winner, as well as an AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder. Dr. Glenn Blodgett, the Four Sixes horse division manager and AQHA’s immediate past president, represented the ranch in accepting AQHA’s Traveler Award for the breeder of the winning colt. Nick, as the winning trainer, also received a Traveler Award.

Additionally, Nick also received the Jack Brainard Award, given by the legendary horseman to the competitor he thought practiced the best horsemanship during the event.