National High School Rodeo Association contestants work all year for the chance to win a coveted National High School Finals Rodeo (NHSFR) title. Competitors and their horses know each other like the back of their hand (or perhaps hoof?) and they share the excitement to show off their skills in front of thousands.
You can imagine the disappointment there is when your main partner in crime and four-legged pal comes up injured when that hard work pays off and your time to shine finally comes. Oregon cowboy, Clay Gorden experienced that heart-stopping feeling when his top Reined Cow Horse, Mickey, formed an abscess during his performance in Go-Round One, coming up lame.
Gorden was excited to show his horse in the Reined Cow Horse event at NHSFR, as he would like to one day train horses and ranch.
“Mickey is six-years-old and I got him last spring. We clicked really well the last couple months and did really good,” said Gorden.
Mickey was pulled from the competition. While many people would think their chances for a National title ended there, Gorden called his Uncle Flint Lee for help.
Lee, from Fallon, Nevada trains Reined Cow Horses.
“I got the call during the middle of a lesson. Once that was done I loaded up a horse for him and headed to Rock Springs,” said Lee.
Nick, Mickey’s sire, was the lucky pick for Gorden to ride. After driving all night, the trusty steed, arrived just in the “Nick” of time, about an hour before the performance.
“We unloaded Nick, got him some water and then Clay rode him around to get a feel for him,” said Lee.
Nick is owned by Sandy Friberg, a client of Lee’s. With a background in the Snaffle Bit Futurity through the National Reined Cow Horse Association, Nick was the horse for the job and handled Gorden’s second go run like a champ.
“It is very difficult to just jump on something and go out there with confidence,” said Lee. “I thought he (Gorden) did a great job of presenting himself in the arena and being aggressive and going for it.”
Gorden was impressed with how his run went having a new mount under him, riding Nick as if he had rode him plenty of times before.
“It was just kind of like: Here you go. Give it all you got and you just go with it, because it’s either that or you don’t get to show,” said Gorden. “I feel very special, very spoiled. It means a lot to me that Flint would bring him (Nick) here for me.”
Gorden and his family would like to thank Friberg for allowing them to borrow Nick.