For horses handed down from rider to rider in Stock Horse of Texas, their Legacy Horse Award honor is icing on a career of competition.

Many riders recognize a horse easier than the person sitting in the saddle. Even more so when that horse has been around the competitive arena for several years. It was this sentiment that pushed Stock Horse of Texas member Brittany Ferguson to suggest the Legacy Horse Award to the association’s board of directors.

Once the ball got rolling on the parameters of the award and how many horses might qualify, Ferguson and the SHTX board were shocked to see that 17 horses were in the inaugural class, presented at the SHTX 2023 Year-End Banquet on March 2 in Bryan, Texas.

Video by Kate Bradley Byars

“I’ve been around SHTX since 2010 and have seen horses with different riders do well,” says Ferguson, whose own stallion, SCC Royal Gentleman, qualified for the Legacy Horse Award. “I thought it would be a cool way to honor the horses that had been around awhile and been successful with riders of different levels. To have that many horses be successful with that many riders goes to show that when a horse is good and broke to the different events, no matter the skill level of the rider, they can go on and do their job. They are just good, faithful, steady kind of horses, even if they were a spitfire when they were younger. Improving your skills in all four events just makes your horse more broke to do anything for anybody.”

When the award was announced in early January, the applications poured in. It shouldn’t have surprised the association, whose motto is “helping people ride a better horse,” that there would be many horses that embody just that mission.

For horses handed down from rider to rider in Stock Horse of Texas, their Legacy Horse Award honor is icing on a career of competition.
From left, Becky Horlen, Terry Dobrovolsky and Peggy Hughes with the plaques presented to horse owners.  Photo by High Cotton Promotions

Four-Event Focus

To be competitive in SHTX, a horse-and-rider pair must compete in four events: cow horse, ranch trail, reining and stock horse pleasure. Not every horse has the temperament to succeed at all four events, but those that do become invaluable to their owners and riders.

“Stock horses that show four events are really special,” says SHTX Executive Director Jill Dunkel. “It takes a lot for a horse to have cow sense and be so agile and efficient in the reining, then to tone that down and do trail quietly, efficiently and correctly, and same with the stock horse pleasure. These Legacy horses not only do all that, but they’ve done it with three different exhibitors. Riders ride differently, and these horses have found ways to adapt and learn their riders and still perform at a very high level.”

The ability to adapt between events is a feat in and of itself, but when a horse can master the event with multiple riders, that is when its value skyrockets. Ferguson saw firsthand what a horse that was well-trained and seasoned in the show pen could accomplish when at the 2023 Western Horseman Stock Horse World Show in Abilene, Texas.

“At the World Show, [my husband] Ty hurt his back, so I rode ‘Baxter,’” Ferguson says. “I’d never shown the horse, never worked a cow on him, and we were third in the reining in the Level 1 Open, which made me feel pretty good. Then, we got a 79 in the trail. For us, it showed what a good horse he is and how well he was trained and can flow with a different rider.”

The gray stallion was accustomed to showing under multiple riders, having won with six riders in multiple STHX events. It was one of the reasons Ferguson suggested the award.

For the horses to qualify, they had to be shown in SHTX by at least three SHTX members in three different calendar years and achieve at least one of the following: SHTX Top 10 Year-End Award, Top 10 at the SHTX World Show or Top 10 at a SHTX premier event (Derby and Futurity).

Heirloom Horses

For horses handed down from rider to rider in Stock Horse of Texas, their Legacy Horse Award honor is icing on a career of competition.
Sparksgenuinearticle has carried three riders to high-level awards, earning his spot in the Legacy Horse Award’s inaugural class. Photo by High Cotton Promotions 

While Ferguson’s stallion stayed in the family as he moved from her father to her husband to her to show, there were many other horses in the SHTX arena handed down to new members or younger riders. It is the culture of giving that struck Leslie Thompson when she joined the association.

“We have a culture of bringing people along,” Thompson says. “People help each other find horses, get people into our association from the get-go at a Novice level, and if their horse isn’t as competitive at their level, it’s ready for a Novice to use. There is that mentality about sharing the sport.”

Her gelding, Sparksgenuinearticle, was honored in the inaugural class. Thompson has shown him, as have Kyle and Ryan Birkenfield.

“He’s such a good solid horse, and he’s done such a good job for so many people, I thought it was worth recognizing him,” Thompson explains. “When they came up with the award, I thought about at least 15 horses that could qualify. I think that is because these horses are good, solid, well-trained horses and good-minded.”

Of the 17 horses honored in the inaugural class, the majority have wins with Open or Non-Pro riders and now have Novice or Youth competitors. Passing a talented horse to the next generation not only keeps the horse’s career thriving but also helps riders gain access to the association and quality stock that helps them to learn.

“We love recognizing a horse-rider combo that had success in a year, but to honor a horse that has had success through several riders and making a successful career is really special,” Dunkel explains. “Whether they are passed down to different family members or to another SHTX member, we have known there are horses that have been handed down. It’s cool to see different people get these horses and have success with them. We just didn’t know how many there were and all they had accomplished. This is going to be one of our favorite honors we can give.”

There is already a half-dozen applicants for the award’s next class, Dunkel says. And many more horses showing today that will be eligible.

“It was an honor to be able to recognize these horses,” Dunkel says. “These phenomenal horses are out there! We are so excited to recognize them.”

For horses handed down from rider to rider in Stock Horse of Texas, their Legacy Horse Award honor is icing on a career of competition.
Seventeen horses were honored in the inaugural Legacy Horse Award class. Photo by High Cotton Promotions

The inaugural Legacy Horse Award class included:
• Balanced Catalyst, owned by Jonathan Yarbrough, shown by Jay Clements, Jonathan Yarbrough, Laura Yarbrough
• Colonels Colonel, owned by William Lewis, shown by Larry King Sr., Christopher Lewis, William Lewis
• Conchos Colonel, owned by Peggy Hughes, shown by Theresa Woodard, Joe Woodard, Peggy Hughes
• Cromeplated Sidekick, owned by Oteka Gibson, shown by Binda Bousziden-Lackey, Mike Major, Oketa Gibson
• Crows TT, owned by Larry or Beverly Jacobs, shown by Amy Jacobs, Gracie Jacobs, Lydia Shivers
• Ill Be A Chic, owned by Terry Dobrovolsky, shown by Becky Horlen, Will Lewis, Terry Dobrovolsky
• MS Becaco Grayfour, owned by Savanna Alves, shown by Savanna Alves, Sonja Pfeiffer, Christopher Lewis
• Nada Pepto Taz, owned by Laura Yarbrough, shown by Laura Yarbrough, Jonathan Yarbrough, Catharine Paben
• Quigley Dun Under, owned by Stefani Wagley, shown by Stefani Wagley, Jennifer Bouse, Zinn Lindsey, Kris Wilson
• SCC Royal Gentleman, owned by Snodgrass Cattle Company, shown by Ty Ferguson, Alex Alves, Clay Hight, Brianna Wallace, Randy Snodgrass
• Scoot Over Sugar, owned by Janet Kalinowski, shown by Zachary Haydon, Janet Kalinowski, Kyla Haydon
• Sparksgenuinearticle, owned by Leslie Thompson, shown by Kyle Birkenfeld, Ryan Birkenfeld, Leslie Thompson
• TAMU Jazzy LilClancy, owned by Becky Horlen, shown by Beck Horlen, Jeff Watkins, Jennifer Bouse
• TAMU Reyette Olena, owned by Texas A&M University, shown by Anissa Cervera, Jarrett Haydon, Kayte Weeks, Tristan Bowen, Reagan Loxton
• The Magic Spark, owned by John and Leah Smith, shown by Matlock Rice, Troy Koehl, Leah Smith
• Wichita, owned by David Neason, shown by Jewels Neason, Sam Neason, Eden Pittman
• Wild Card Jackson, owned by Larry or Beverly Jacobs, shown by Amy Leonard, Amy Jacobs, Gracie Jacobs, Beverly Jacobs

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