America's Horse Daily - American Quarter Horse Journal
By Larri Jo Starkey
The ranch remuda competition at Battle in the Saddle, presented by RFD-TV, is for bragging rights for the ranches, proof that their breeding and training creates good ranch horses that can perform under pressure.
The competition is also for a $10,000 purse, so the stakes were high when Chance O’Neal of Guthrie, Texas, rode into the Jim Norick Arena on July 9 at State Fair Park in Oklahoma City.
Chance was first in the finals draw, representing the Four Sixes Ranch on Royalty Return. He usually doesn’t like to ride from the first position, but July 9, he was glad for the draw.
“Since I was first today, I didn’t have to sit and watch some of these other guys go out there and make runs and then mentally think I had to go beat them and end up beating myself,” Chance said. “I felt if I went out and let things happen and was real smooth, then hopefully everything would work out and put some pressure on some of those guys.”
That’s exactly what happened. Chance and Royalty Return slapped up a score of 430.5 as a challenge to the other competitors.
“(My horse) felt a lot smoother than she did yesterday, and I was pleased with her yesterday,” Chance said. “She felt a lot more relaxed today in the pen, and I felt like I could use her a bit more, and I felt like she held her stops a lot better in the reining.
“Then it was a drawing contest (for cattle) today. All the horses (in the competition) were good. It was just who drew the good cows, and luckily for me, I drew a really nice cow that held up in the box real good and went down the fence real good and let me control it. We got two good fence turns, and then the cow ran hard in the roping – had enough to finish on.”
Chance’s score held up through the rest of the finals, and the win will make the trip home to the Four Sixes, which sponsored the class, a bit easier, Chance admitted.
“I think everybody at the ranch is going to be real pleased,” he said with a big grin. “It’s a lot easier to go home a winner than it is a loser. We raise ranch horses, and we’re real proud that AQHA has an event like this that we can showcase these ranch horses.”