Dom Conicelli East Coast Reined Cow Horse Classic
By Allison Armstrong Rehnborg
This year’s East Coast Reined Cow Horse Classic carried a new addition to its name in order to honor a beloved pillar of the reined cow horse community. Dominic Conicelli of Collegeville, Pennsylvania, was a lifelong horseman and former president of the Atlantic Reined Cow Horse Association. Conicelli passed away on October 20, 2018, just days after being inducted into the National Reined Cow Horse Association Hall of Merit. On July 19-21, 2019, hundreds of reined cow horse enthusiasts from across the southeast gathered at the Tennessee Miller Coliseum in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to compete at an event honoring Conicelli’s contributions to the sport.
Presented by Mars Equine, the Dom Conicelli East Coast Reined Cow Horse Classic offered two full days of NRCHA-sanctioned classes, two regional championships, and open, non pro and limited non pro derbies, bridle spectaculars, and futurities. AQHA class offerings and a selection of Youth classes rounded out an already full schedule designed to showcase the talents and abilities of reined cow horses and riders in the show pen.
“This show probably has the best competition, the nicest horses, and some of the best trainers of all our local NRCHA shows,” said green rider Summer Kelley of Burlison, Tennessee.
Summer won the $500 Limited Green Rider and Green Rider Jackpot on her mare, a 5-year-old palomino American Quarter Horse named SJR Diamond Katrina.
“This mare is bred to do it, definitely, and she’s really talented. I bought her last October, and so far, it’s been good. We’re coming together well and she’s a lot of fun,” Summer said. “Riding a reined cow horse is truly the most fun you’ll ever have on a horse. Your horse has to be able to rein and do your big beautiful stops; it’s got to be able to spin like a top; it’s got to be able to change leads and run a pretty circle; and then it’s got to be able to work a cow, too.”
For non pro limited competitor Julie Gibbons of Highlandville, Missouri, the cow work is the most exciting part of riding in reined cow horse competitions.
“I love the unpredictability of the cow,” Julie said. “It’s exciting because you never know what you’re going to get or how you’ll do. What I like about these horses is they’re triathletes. They can do the cutting, the reining, and the cow work, whether you box or go down the fence. I have a lot of respect for these horses because they’re so multi-talented.”
Julie traveled eight hours to attend the Classic and compete on her American Quarter Horses, Unos Blue Lightening and Cat Can Dew. The trip paid off in spades when Julie earned first place in the Non Pro Limited Spectacular on Unos Blue Lightening and took second place on Cat Can Dew.
“That was a good class for me,” Julie said. “What I like about the reined cow horse is one day we’ll do the herd work, which I really love, and then we’ll come back and do the reining pattern and box one cow. I’m what they call a boxer, which means I do the reining pattern and box a cow, but I don’t go down the fence. Going down the fence is a little fast for me, so I’m in my comfort zone when I’m boxing.”
As a physician with her own private practice in Springfield, Missouri, Julie leads a busy life, which means finding the time to ride her own horses and travel to compete at shows can be a challenge.
“It’s a nice way to balance my life, though, because I get to work hard and play hard,” Julie said. “I might work all day and then drive all night to get here, which I did, but you just have to make the time to do what you love.”
Judges’ cards and full results for the East Coast Reined Cow Horse Classic are available online at ECRCHC.com, or you can visit @ECRCHC on Facebook for more information.
Photos by Allison Armstrong Rehnborg
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