Catching Up with the 2014 Farnam Superhorse: A Visit with "Tigger" and CR Bradley
Make no mistake, qualifying for the AQHA World Championship Show is no easy task. But winning the prestigious Farnam Superhorse Award takes the word “challenge” to a whole new level.
At the 2014 AQHA World Show, it came down to 49 horses competing for the show’s top honor. When the dust settled in the Jim Norick Arena at State Fair Park in Oklahoma City last November 22, it was Twisters Enola Rey (barn name “Tigger”) and AQHA Professional Horseman CR Bradley, also a Team Wrangler member, who took home the title of Farnam Superhorse.
To achieve such an honor, a horse must earn the most points in three or more events in two categories at the show. Tigger and Bradley earned 33 points to secure the victory, taking home the winner’s check of $25,000, $2,000 worth of Farnam products, a WeatherBeeta blanket, and an original Lisa Perry bronze and, yes, even a bouquet of roses.
In the months since the duo’s remarkable accomplishment, Bradley has given numerous interviews about what it took to win. We caught up with him between shows and training sessions to find out what he and Tigger have been doing lately.
The short answer to Tigger’s side of that question is: “not much.”
The now six-year-old sorrel gelding has been on a well-deserved break since winning the Farnam Superhorse Award. He’s had the luxury of relaxing in his stall at night and being turned out during the day. Because of the winter weather, Bradley has kept the gelding blanketed during his “vacation.”
“This is the longest he’s been off work since we started him as a two-year-old,” remarks Bradley, who just began riding Tigger again the first week of February. “I was going to show this winter, but it’s been cold and I’ve been busy riding clients’ horses.”
Once Tigger is back in the routine of regular work, Bradley won’t necessarily have to introduce anything new to the horse. Their schedule will be more about perfecting what Tigger already knows.
At the World Show, Bradley and Tigger won the junior tie-down world championship and took reserve in junior heeling. They also showed in junior heading and ranch horse pleasure. (Bradley notes that Tigger was the first horse he’s ever shown in ranch horse pleasure.)
Back at home, Tigger doesn’t usually spend an entire day saddled up and working. Bradley considers him more of a show/rodeo horse than a cowboy’s “work” horse. An average week will see Bradley riding him five days out of seven. Most of this time is spent in the arena where Bradley typically ropes on the horse three days, either calf roping or team roping. To keep the horse focused, he’ll only do one or the other event per day.
The best part of having a horse like Tigger is enjoying the ride.
“Tigger seems to like all the events we do, but he’s probably the best at calf roping. It’s the toughest event on the horse, but he’s pretty tough,” says Bradley.
“He’s doing everything well, so we just need to get him more solid. He’s got a really light mouth and we spent a lot of time riding him so he’s really broke. He’s good at everything, but he’ll keep learning and getting better at the same things he’s doing. We started heeling on him when he was three and a half, but it takes years to get horses to where they can really handle the rodeos. It’s harder on them and they have to be more solid to be a rodeo horse than a show horse. Rodeos are louder and the horse really has to do everything himself.
“Most rodeo horses are older,” adds Bradley. “Tigger just turned six this year, so he’s young. He’s only been to one rodeo and competed in the heeling, which is easier than the calf roping.”
It’s in the Genes
Tigger’s skill in the arena isn’t a big surprise. He’s by Dual Rey, a top cutting sire who has also sired champions in multiple disciplines. Both Tigger’s dam and granddam had what it took to win when it counted.
His granddam, Berry Enola Gay, had success as a reining horse before discovering her real talent as a rope horse. Bradley began riding the mare when he was still a teenager and won his first world championship on her. When a broken leg put an end to her competition career, she became a broodmare and her success continued, albeit in a different avenue.
Out of 14 AQHA-registered foals, her most accomplished get was her first foal, a red roan filly by Smooth Talkin Man named Twisters Enola Gay. Bradley and the mare he nicknamed “Roanie” captured the 1997 AQHA reserve world championship in junior heeling. That was CR’s first year of competing at the open World Show. In 1998, Bradley won his first open world championship in senior calf roping riding Roanie. Bradley also took the mare on the road and made it to the National Finals Rodeo (NFR).
A hardworking moneymaker, Roanie qualified for the NFR four times. She also won four AQHA world championships and four All American Quarter Horse Congress championships.
“She’s 23 this year,” says Bradley, adding that they have a recipient mare carrying one of Roanie’s embryos who’s due to foal in the 2015 season.
“Tigger has a lot of the same personality as her. He tries hard and he’s very athletic and super smart like her. He’s also an extremely strong horse,” Bradley adds. “He can be a little ‘goosey’ when he’s first introduced to something, but once he understands it, he’s pretty quiet. He doesn’t like walking into the wash rack, but you can get him into it.”
Tigger was broken as a two-year-old just like any other young horse at CR Bradley Performance Horses, Bradley’s training facility located in Collinsville, Texas, north of Dallas/Fort Worth. The operation is home to about 15 head of horses.
Life for the Bradley family—CR, Rosie and their five-year-old son Cooper—totally revolves around horses. Cooper, by the way, is the one who came up with Tigger’s nickname. In addition to Tigger and Roanie, they have a barrel horse Rosie competes on.
For the record, Cooper is already riding Roanie, learning from the best at a young age. Once he’s older, he’ll likely end up riding Tigger, but his dad says that won’t happen anytime soon. “Tigger’s super sweet and really likes people, but he’s not a kid’s horse. By the time Cooper’s riding him, he won’t be a kid anymore,” predicts Bradley with a laugh.
Bradley and Tigger plan to compete at the 2015 AQHA World Championship Show in hopes of repeating the horse’s remarkable Farnam Superhorse win. If they pull it off, they’ll join an even more elite group, as only three horses have managed to win the prestigious Superhorse title more than once since its inception in 1978. Rugged Lark took home the award in 1985 and 1987; Itchin Easy won it in 1992 and 1993; while Acadamosby Award earned the title an impressive three times, in 1998, 2000 and 2001.
“I think he’s a good enough horse to win it again, but everything has to happen just right,” says Bradley. “You don’t expect to win the Superhorse title because things have to go right and it’s really tough to win. The cows make a big difference (when roping and working cows), and the cows have to be good for the horse to do well.”
No matter how that turns out, Bradley plans to keep Tigger and Roanie. “They’re not for sale,” he says simply.
Roanie’s already earned her keep—and then some. With his Farnam Superhorse win, Tigger has accomplished a great deal at an early age. Bradley is hopeful the gelding has many years ahead in both the show ring and rodeo arena.
After all, the best part of having a horse like Tigger is enjoying the ride, and Bradley wants that to go on for a long, long time.
Weatherbeeta is a registered trademark of Weatherbeeta Party Ltd. Farnam is a registered trademark of Farnam Companies, Inc.
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