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Reber, Bullet ride to world championship
For the Reporter
Kent's Meryl Reber made a dream come true when she won a National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) World Championship with her 10-year-old American Quarter Horse, Ima Chic Please, at the Will Rogers Equestrian Center in Fort Worth, Texas on Feb. 21.
Reber and her buckskin gelding, nicknamed Bullet, were judged in two events en route to the title. They performed a rein work pattern, the horseback equivalent of figure skating, and then controlled a single cow at high speed in a large arena. Horses are judged on their willingness, finesse, courage and cow sense.
"It's sit down, shut up and hold on," said Reber, describing the adrenalin-fueled cow work.
Reber and Bullet bested more than 30 NRCHA World Championship Show qualifiers from the United States and Canada in the preliminary round and the finals.
"I can't believe it. This is like a dream come true. I never imagined in a million years this would happen," Reber said.
She won a $3,857 paycheck, a saddle, buckle and bronze trophy, and other prizes.
Meryl and her husband, Randy, along with the Reber family, own Reber Ranch, a full-service pet, feed, veterinary, grooming and supply store in Kent.
Reber had shown jumping horses for 25 years, but when she watched her first reined cow horse show in Nampa, Idaho, in October 2010, she knew she had found a new horseback sport. She purchased Bullet less than two months later.
"I had him that whole winter, and just rode him. I started taking lessons in March (2011) and started going up the ladder. The horse is phenomenal. He had to teach me, because I knew zero," she said. "I rode jumpers, which is very thrilling, but you add a cow on top of that exhilaration and I think it's more challenging and more fun. And all the people in the cow horse are so nice and so supportive."
The NRCHA preserves and promotes the tradition of vaquero training and horsemanship, developed by the mid-17th century California cowboy. A reined cow horse of that time was a valuable partner, able to assist its rider in the daily chores of sorting and doctoring cattle. The best cow horses were able to cut a rank animal out of the herd, spin on a dime, and work the end of a rope.
The traditional training methods of the California vaquero have carried forward into the modern show arena, where horses like Bullet display their superior ability. The gelding has achieved the NRCHA's highest merit award of Supreme Reined Cow Horse, and also won a NRCHA National Championship with Reber in 2013.
Bullet received a hero's welcome upon his return to Reber Ranch, complete with a victory party and plenty of carrots, his favorite treat.
But he won't enjoy full retirement any time soon. Reber plans to continue showing him throughout the 2014 season, and isn't ruling out a return to Texas for a second NRCHA World Championship title.