It's one horse, one rider, and one very impressive title - and the National Reined Cow Horse Association World's Greatest Horseman contest has officially begun in the west Texas town of San Angelo.
Twenty-six of the nation's top horses and riders converged on the 1st Community Credit Union Spur Arena, all vying for one of the coveted finals positions and the chance to be crowned the World's Greatest Horseman.
The preliminary competition began with the herd work, and in set two, Robbie Boyce and Mr Playinstylish wowed the judges and the crowd, taking a 3-point lead with a 222.
Boyce and Mr Playinstylish are a formidable team. Although they don't have many notable accolades together, they've each had success in the show pen. Boyce, whose lifetime NRCHA earnings exceed $560,000, is a former NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Intermediate Open Futurity Champion, and has been a finalist in the World's Greatest Horseman competition several times. He's also earned major titles in the National Reining Horse Association.
Mr Playinstylish, owned by Kit and Charlie Moncrief, is by Playin Stylish and out of Tari Chick Gay. With lifetime earnings of approximately $100,000, the 6-year-old stallion was the 2009 AQHA Junior Working Cow Horse World Champion.
For winning the preliminary herd work, Boyce received a beautifully designed Gist Silversmiths buckle sponsored by Singleton Ranch.
The World's Greatest Horseman preliminaries continue Thursday, February 3, with the rein work, and conclude Friday with the steer stopping and cow work. The top ten from the preliminary competition will advance to the clean-slate finals on Sunday, February 6. The World's Greatest Horseman Champion will receive a bevy of prizes and awards, highlighted by a check for $30,000!
The NRCHA World's Greatest Horseman is held as part of the NRCHA Celebration of Champions, which also features the Circle Y Ranch Derby and the NRCHA World Championship Show presented by John Deere. The show can be seen free of charge thanks to NRCHA Official Videographer Galloping Video. To view the live webcast, visit the NRCHA website or Galloping Video's website at www.gallopingvideo.com.
The National Reined Cow Horse Association, now in its 61st year, is the governing body of cow horse competition, responsible for promoting the sport, insuring high standards of competition and educating members and the public about the history and tradition of the cow horse. Through the support of a Corporate Partner family that includes Adequan, Bob's Custom Saddles, Cinch, Classic Equine, Gist Silversmiths, John Deere, Markel Insurance Company, Nutrena, Pfizer Animal Health, Platinum Performance, Quarter Horse News, Rios of Mercedes, Running W Designs, the Silver Legacy Hotel and Casino, and Merial products UlcerGard and EQUIOXX, the association works to keep the vaquero tradition alive in today's equine industry. For information on the National Reined Cow Horse Association, call 580-759-4949 or visit the NRCHA Official Web Site at www.nrcha.com.