The Stock Horse of Texas (SHTX) Western Horseman Stock Horse World Show goes down as the largest event entered in the history of the organization. October 25 through 27, more entries than ever before vied for $64,000 in cash and prizes, as well as bragging rights as an all-around world champion. 

SHTX Executive Director Jill Dunkel said the show had 271 more entries than 2018, and 450 more than 2017. The event, held at the Taylor County Expo in Abilene, Texas, hosts two full days of SHTX classes—ranch cow work, reining, trail and pleasure—as well as a day of American  Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) Ranching Heritage Challenge classes and the Stock Horse Derby. 

“We implemented tablets to have live scoring in four of our five arenas this year,” Dunkel said.  “We also added four new divisions in 2019: novice youth; collegiate novice, collegiate limited and collegiate non pro. We pulled collegiate riders into their own divisions in 2019. We are enjoying the growth we have now and are looking to capitalize on that while also keeping the friendly atmosphere we have at our shows.”

The event crowned world champions in nine divisions, named division 1 and division 2 collegiate champions, and crowned individual collegiate world champions. (Full list below). 

Ben Baldus piloting Seven S Woodrow at the 2019 Stock Horse of Texas World Championships
Ben Baldus piloting Seven S Woodrow. Photo by Chris Hamilton.

Taking home two world champion titles was Bowie, Texas, horseman Ben Baldus. Baldus and his long-time show partner Seven S Woodrow, aka “Woodrow,” took home the open division title. He rode 3-year-old Mr Solano Cat to the junior title. Baldus credits Woodrow’s show savvy with their in-arena presence that catches not only the judge’s eye but also the spectators. 

“He knows when he is showing and he is bright, expressive and likes to do that job. That makes him fun to show and watch,” said Baldus. “He rarely ever is dull, lazy or sluggish feeling. He’s also such a well-trained horse that I don’t have to work him hard at the house; it is a matter of exercising him to keep him happy, healthy and sound. We use him to do other jobs like ponying and starting other horses, which breaks up the training.”

The 6-year-old gelding by Woody Be Tuff and out of Bo Spoon, by Mr Sorrel Bo, has had quite a show career. The gelding is an earner of more than $46,000 and the 2018 AQHA Zoetis Versatility Ranch Horse open world champion and the 2019 National Ranch & Stock Horse Alliance open national champion. At the SHTX show, Baldus competed in the typical reined cow horse two-rein head gear, marking Woodrow’s transition from a hackamore to a bridle horse. 

“We can show in the two-rein to guide them,” Baldus explained. “Woodrow has so much feel and is so light that I can almost ride him off that pencil-thin [bosalito] quite a bit. The two-rein is another stage in the training that helps a horse get that confidence and helps you in the show pen.”

Though it didn’t seem like Woodrow and Baldus needed much extra assistance. The pair had excellent runs in cow and trail day one, then on the second day of the show won the reining to clinch their world championship. 

Baldus credits the horse’s owner, Jerry Ward, for allowing the trainer to pick and choose where to show the horse. 

“Jerry has been understanding, trusting, kind and realistic as a customer,” Baldus said. “He lets me go show the horse where our schedule fits and where the horse will do the best. Jerry comes out to ride, but he’s had shoulder surgeries that slowed down his showing. Next year, it may be his turn to take the reins. Jerry calls Woodrow his Cadillac since [the horse] is so smooth and broke.”

While Woodrow added another title to his resume, a newcomer to the show pen notched his first win, 3-year-old Mr Solano Cruze (Cruze Mode x Our Eighty Six x Poco Tuck Zero). The junior division world champion joined Baldus’ program as a 2-year-old. 

Mr Solano Cruze carried trainer Ben Baldus to the Junior World Champion title.
Mr Solano Cruze carried trainer Ben Baldus to the junior world champion title.
Photo courtesy of Matt Collier.

“We felt like Mr Solano Cruze was a horse that we could really compete in the junior SHTX classes,” Baldus said. “He’s been a really nice horse that is a pleasure to train—kind, smart with a lot of turn. He is great in the trail and pleasure. We are always looking at where the horse can go win and look good with the time and investment that the customers put in training. This show is where the horse fit. He is not quite ready to go down the fence, so the box-drive-box-drive in the junior cow work fits him. It is a great stepping-stone to the rest of the classes.”

This was the first time Baldus entered the junior division at the SHTX World Championship Show. The trainer competes in National Reined Cow Horse Association and National Reining Horse Association events and AQHA shows. The ability to show a horse in a division suited for it is one of the reasons Baldus appreciates SHTX. 

“Ultimately, I enjoy the association. There are such nice, hard-working, grassroots, self-educating people in SHTX, and I enjoy helping the SHTX people,” he said. “One of the first clinics I did was when Jill Dunkel hired me for a show and clinic in Vernon, Texas, many moons ago. They have been great to support and help me. A handful of my customers, both reining and reined cow horse, started with SHTX. They branched out to wanting a futurity or derby horse. The versatility has been good to me and that is where we can go shine right now with our horses.”

For more information about the event or Stock Horse of Texas, visit stockhorsetexas.org

2019 SHTX World Champions 

Open World Champion – Seven S Woodrow & Ben Baldus 
Open Reserve – Cattasan & Matlock Rice 

Level 1 Open World Champion – Bourbon N Branch & Leanne E Jetton 
Level 1 Open Reserve – Come And Get Them & Kari Wolter 

Non Pro World Champion – Josh Briggs & SV Whiskey Whiz 
Non Pro Reserve – Stefani Wagley & Precious Metalz 

Limited Non Pro World Champion – Larry Walker & Boots Be Tuff
Limited Non Pro Reserve – Robert Muir & Mr Kings Fault 

Intermediate World Champion – Jonathan Yarbrough & Balanced Catalyst 
Intermediate Reserve – Lynne Faust & Smart Lil Brooksinic 

Novice World Champion – Michelle Eiland & Hickorys Kitty Cat 
Novice Reserve – Alaina Williams & Call Me Risky 

Junior World Champion – Mr Solano Cruze & Ben Baldus
 Junior Reserve – CRC Twice The Luck & Allen Walton 

Youth World Champion – Catelyn Walker & Do It Classy
 Youth Reserve – Catelyn Walker & Playin Motown 

Novice Youth World Champion – Lainey Grewing  & O Lena Skeets
Novice Youth Reserve – Ashley Wortham & Shiners Whiz Cat

COLLEGIATE TEAM CHAMPIONS

Division 1 Champion – Texas Tech Red Team 
Division 1 Reserve – Texas Tech Black Team 

Division 2 – WTAMU Maroon Team 
Division 2 Reserve – Clarendon college 

COLLEGIATE INDIVIDUAL CHAMPIONS

Collegiate Novice All Around– Alaina Williams and Call Me Risky (TAMU)

Collegiate Non Pro All Around – Sidney Dunkely and Bobbie Can Do (TTU Red) 

Collegiate Limited All Around – Gracie Paul and Peptos CD Badger (Clarendon College)

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