A little horse with a big heart helped Jim Anderson of Strathmore win the 2012 World Championship Extreme Cowboy Races in Hamilton, Texas. But how does a Canadian reining trainer and a home-grown Quarter Horse bring home such a noteworthy title? Well, the path to a World Championship doesn’t always come easily.
Anderson first competed in Cowboy Up races in 2011, mounted on CK Olena Doc, a client’s reining horse. “It was a real thrill to be Reserve Champion at the Calgary Stampede,” Anderson says. “I decided I needed to prepare one of my own horses for the sport, and quickly settled on a mare we’d raised named Picasmokinlittlelena (Patch).”
Patch had been born and bred with one sport in mind — reining. But as a three-year-old she developed a serious quarter crack. “It was a real disappointment because she was a natural little reining horse,” Anderson said. “She was a good stopper and turned nice, but with the crack we had to scratch the Oklahoma futurity.”
Then a surprise event occurred when the mare was four. “One of our young ranch hands turned a yearling stud colt out into the wrong pasture,” Anderson chuckles. “He said it was only for a few minutes, but about five months later we noticed Patch was getting big in the belly. Sure enough, she was in foal. So that stopped her training that year.”
The resulting offspring — named appropriately Shotgun Wedding — also kept Patch from competing as a five year old. But the following year Anderson started preparing her for Cowboy Up racing. “Patch had everything I needed,” Anderson says. “Cowboy Up is a timed event, and Patch is fast. More than that, she’s good minded and has a lot of confidence in me.”
Anderson and Patch, now seven, won the 2012 Calgary Stampede Cowboy Up Competition, therefore qualifying for the World Championship. But once in Texas they had to rise to another challenge.
“We went into the finals in third place,” Anderson says. “Patch was terrific, but we were competing against some big horses that were the best in the world. Their arena was huge, and we just weren’t fast enough. I knew we’d really have to put the hammer down if we wanted to succeed in the finals.”
The audience and fellow competitors gave a standing ovation when Patch and Anderson turned up the heat, ending the finals five seconds faster than their nearest competitor! They were the first Canadians to win the World Championships, and came home with a nice buckle and paycheque for all their hard work.
“I’d say our most difficult obstacle was a triple jump that followed directly after a bridge,” Anderson explains. “It was tough to go from standing still to the jumps, but Patch did her job. Now she’ll have a bit of time off, and then head to the reining pen with her non-pro owner. And hopefully next year we’ll be back at the Stampede, competing in Cowboy Up again.