Nevada horseman Nick Dowers claims World Championship of Colt Starting.
Nick Dowers may have been a rookie going against two former Road to the Horse champions, but the Nevada cowboy performed like a seasoned competitor, winning the World Championship of Colt Starting handily. The annual competition was held in Lexington, Kentucky, March 18–20.
Dowers completed the final of three rounds with six minutes to spare, performing all the necessary maneuvers and negotiating 10 of eleven obstacles (his horse refused to walk across a white tarp). Combined with scores from the first two rounds, Dowers claimed the title with 1,217 points and earned $60,000 for the win.
“I was going against two former champions, and I’ve never even done a colt starting competition,” Dowers says. “So it was just an honor to go out there and do my thing.”
Richard Winters of Reno, Nevada, who won the event in 2009, finished with 1,095 points. Clinton Anderson of Stephenville, Texas, who claimed the title in 2003 and 2005, scored 883.
RTTH competitors have three days to start a 3-year-old gelding under saddle, working in a roundpen for two 105-minute sessions, and then performing in an open, obstacle-filled arena in the final round. Five judges award points for each day, giving credit for training methods, application, approach, progress and overall horsemanship.
Each competitor selects a horse from a group of 3-year-olds supplied by the Four Sixes Ranch of Guthrie, Texas. Dowers chose Seven Attraction, a sorrel gelding by Playin Attraction. In the final, 45-minute round, the pair completed required maneuvers such as walking, trotting and loping both directions, leading, stopping and turning 180 degrees. They also had to negotiate a trail course, which included various colorful poles to weave through and to jump, a log to drag, a gate to open, and a surprise appearance by someone dressed as Darth Vader. The wacky obstacles are a trademark of Tootie Bland, RTTH producer and founder.
Dowers is the first person to win both a world championship colt starting event and a world championship futurity. In 2013, he won the National Reined Cow Horse Association’s Snaffle Bit Futurity on Time For The Diamond.
“This is different, but it’s every bit as challenging [as the Futurity],” Dowers says. “It’s a tough competition—there are a lot of variables. I’m really proud to take my horsemanship and win the Futurity, and now to win this, and to be able to tie the two together. That’s huge. Like I’ve said, nothing changes at the higher level. It’s the same horsemanship, just a little different application.”
Dowers added that he will work with Seven Attraction for at least a year. Fred Lenertz of St. Paul, Minnesota, purchased the gelding and asked Dowers to continue training.
“I’m excited about that,” Dowers says. “He’s a really intelligent horse and he tries really hard.”