The champagne spraying through the air glittered like gold as the champions were crowned at the 2024 The American Performance Horseman.

The American Performance Horseman is the ultimate display of horsemanship and athleticism. This event brought the top 15 horses and riders from the National Reining Horse Association, National Cutting Horse Association and National Reined Cow Horse Association together to compete for their share of $1 million.

The champagne spraying through the air glittered like gold as the 2024 TAPH Champions were crowned in Globe Life Field.
Adan Banuelos, Clayton Edsall and Casey Deary celebrated their victory. Photo by Jenna Evans

One rider from each discipline is paired together to create five different teams. As the individual riders compete in their events, their scores are tallied to create a team score.

Thousands of people in the stands watched as Team Royal Blue walked away victorious Friday night. Teammates Adan Banuelos, Casey Deary and Clayton Edsall had a combined score of 662.5, earning each of them $25,000.

See all the teams that competed here.

Team Results:

  1. Royal Blue
  2. Regal Red
  3. Burnt Orange
  4. Racing Green
  5. Imperial Purple

Meet the Individual Champions:

Cutting

Adan Banuelos made his way into TAPH cutting arena as a returning champion hoping to hold on to that title, and he certainly did not disappoint. With an impressive score of 230, Banuelos quickly rose to the top aboard StoryTeler (Smooth Talkin Style x Show Biz Kitty), a 2019 stallion owned by Double Dove Ranch.

“Last year was an eye-opening experience for me,” Banuelos says, reflecting upon the 2023 TAPH. “It was something that none of us had ever experienced before, and to be fortunate enough to be back here this year, I don’t have the words to say how grateful I am and how blessed I am to be here.”

“TAPH means that there’s still room for cowboys in today’s world, and it shines a spotlight on America’s original athlete and is a reminder of what a rare combination of camaraderie, competitiveness and how unique the equine sports are.” — Adan Banuelos

No stranger to the TAPH show pen, last year Banuelos rode All Spice (Once In A Blu Boon x Show Biz Kitty) to both the cutting and team win. Banuelos found lots of similarities between half-siblings All Spice and StoryTeler.

The champagne spraying through the air glittered like gold as the 2024 TAPH Champions were crowned in Globe Life Field.
Photo by Kailey Sullins

“Last year, I competed here on All Spice, and I think that they have a lot of this similar cow sense and similarities when it comes to reading a cow and this and that, but I have a lot of confidence in this horse. I enjoy his energy every day,” Banuelos says of StoryTeler’s passion for his job. “He comes to work every day, enjoying what he does, and he thinks it’s a game. I want to keep it that way for as long as I can. I can’t tell you how proud of this horse that I am because his charisma — he loves what he does, and so do I. So, me trying to control my nerves and him trying to control his nerves and doing it at the same time today was great.”

Photo by Kailey Sullins

This win at TAPH nearly doubled StoryTeler’s career earnings. In addition to the $25,000 as a team winner, he also won $100,000 from the cutting win.

“I’m just lucky to keep doing it,” Banuelos says. “There’s a lot of horse that has to do with us today, and so we’re just lucky to be along for the ride.”

StoryTeler was also named the American Quarter Horse Association’s Horse of the Day.

“I owe everything to the horse today, and without AQHA, there are no cowboys, and with no cowboys, there’s no AQHA, so it’s a beautiful team and I appreciate it very much,” Adan says.

Cutting Results:

  1. Adan Banuelos — StoryTeler, 230
  2. James Payne — Summer Time Fun, 226
  3. Austin Shepard — Kittennish, 223
  4. Morgan Cromer — Cool Guitar, 219
  5. Wesley Galyean — Nineteen 42, 208

Reining

Also, a reigning reining TAPH champion, Casey Deary and Down Right Amazing (Colonels Smoking Gun x Shesouttayourleague) showed they weren’t willing to let their title slip away easily. Achieving a score of 226.5, Deary and “Amazing” secured their lead in the reining and the win for Team Blue.

The champagne spraying through the air glittered like gold as The American Performance Horseman Champions were crowned in Globe Life Field.
Photo by Kailey Sullins

Known to be an outstanding pair, Deary and Down Right Amazing are a force to be reckoned with in the reining world. The team was the 2023 NRHA Derby L4 Open champions and the 2023 National Reining Breeders Classic L4 Open Classic champions, in addition to being the 2023 TAPH Reining champion.

“It’s always special for me to get to showcase that horse. He deserves it. So, for me to go in and not fall off is a proud moment.” — Casey Deary

Despite having a difficult start to the pattern, the team emerged on top. Deary credits Amazing with being a great stopper who can “have those little deviations and still get paid.”

“My goal was to get all four stops nailed,” Deary says, walking through his run. “There are four opportunities, and that horse is a gifted stopper. I did not get that done.”

Deary is a $4 million rider and Down Right Amazing now, with the $100,000 in winnings from TAPH, has lifetime earnings of more than $707,000, according to EquiStat.

“He certainly doesn’t owe us anything,” Deary says of the future of the 2017 stallion owned by DAG Ventures LLC. “But he’s happy and sound, and he likes his job. For him to be able to perform in that environment is pretty amazing.”

Photo by Kailey Sullins

Reining results:

  1. Casey Deary — Down Right Amazing, 226.5
  2. Andrea Fappani — All Bettss Are Off, 225
  3. Cade McCutcheon — Finals Bound, 223
  4. Brian Bell — Vintage Couture, 216
  5. Jason Vanlandingham — GunnaBeBigTime, 0

Reined Cow Horse

In addition to being a multiple-time Snaffle Bit Futurity winner and World’s Greatest Horseman winner, Corey Cushing can now add the title of TAPH Reined Cow Horse champion to his long resume as the highest-earning NRCHA rider.

The champagne spraying through the air glittered like gold as The American Performance Horseman Champions were crowned in Globe Life Field.
Photo by Kailey Sullins

“To be competing here at Globe Life Field, I feel that the American Performance Horseman is nothing but a celebration.” — Corey Cushing

In one night, SJR Talkin Diamonds (Smooth Talkin Style x Shiners Diamond Girl) doubled his earnings, adding $100,000 to his lifetime earnings. Cushing has been working with the 2017 stallion owned by the San Juan Ranch since he was a 2-year-old.

“He’s got so much class,” Cushing says of SJR Talkin Diamonds. “He’s got so much presence. He was just a horse that I felt was a true fit for this stage, for this moment and for the day.”

The champagne spraying through the air glittered like gold as The American Performance Horseman Champions were crowned in Globe Life Field.
Photo by Kailey Sullins

When talking about what he looks for in a horse, Cushing thinks it’s important that a horse is very trainable, versatile and can “take a joke very seriously.” Navigating through all three events that make up the reined cow horse discipline, it is important that the horse at your side be willing and able to bounce from reining to cutting to cow work without missing a stride.

“We worked so hard, not just in the past year but in all of the years we’ve put in to get to where we’re at,” Cushing says. “And to come here, to this stage in front of thousands of people, riding horses we truly believe in and hoping everything goes right is just a small fraction of the celebration but such an honor to be in an arena filled with so much energy and excitement which we all strive for.”

The reined cow horse portion of the event began early in the day with all five riders working through the reining section. This part of the event was not in front of a live audience or televised. Justin Wright secured the win in that event with a score of 221.5, with Cushing earning a score of 220.5. Riders then returned to the arena in front of a crowd after the cutting and reining individual events for the exciting down the fence portion.

Reined cow horse results:

  1. Corey Cushing — SJR Talkin Diamonds, 439
  2. Justin Wright — Scooter Kat, 438.5
  3. Sarah Dawson — Smart Chic An Tari, 429.5
  4. Matt Koch — Smart Ladies Sparkle, 425
  5. Clayton Edsall — Bet He Sparks, 417.5
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