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☛ Was it a magnificent con job or just bad attendance? 9-9-18





By Glory Ann Kurtz
Sept. 9, 2018


Are horse events getting a bad name, with some associations running short of cash and others increasing entry fees, adding little or no money, cancelling events and now – not paying the winners?


An exciting cowhorse event called the “Magnificent 7 All-Around Stock Horse Championship,” held June 8, 2018 at Cal Expo in Sacramento, Calif., seems to be attempting to solve their insolvency by not paying the winners of the competition.


The Magnificent 7 all-Around Stock Horse Championship is an exciting four-event competition based on an event originally called the World’s Championship All-Around Stock Horse contest crafted by Bobby Ingersoll in the 1970s and was actively supported by Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame members Cotton Rosser and Walt Rodman. The contest was held periodically over the years until Western States Horse Expo CEO and founder Miki Nelsen, Bill Lefty and others resurrected and revitalized the event, giving it a “forever home” at the Cal Expo.


The competition, that was invitational for the seven entries, included four events: herd work, rein work, steer stopping and fence work.


The total purse wasn’t a huge amount of cash, $29,908.35, but the seven entries paid a total of $2,060, which included a $1,500 entry fee, a $200 cattle fee, $180 stall fee for show the horse and $180 for a turn-back horse  last May to try their chances for an advertised “hefty cash prize, a great buckle and the title of Magnificent 7 all-Around Stock Horse Champion.”


When all was said and done, Call Me Mitch, owned by Estelle Roitblat and ridden by Phillip Ralls, won the event with a total score of 295, giving Roitblat a $8,372.00 paycheck (that hasn’t yet arrived).  The reserve title, Very Smart Choice, owned by Rocking BS Ranch, ridden by Lance Johnston, scored a 291 and should have pocketed $6,578.00.


Ken and Ramona Wold owned Real Smooth Cat, ridden by Ken to a 287.50 and third place, good enough for a $5,083.00 paycheck, if it would have arrived.


Fourth, taken by Very Smart Cowhorse, owned and ridden by Aaron Brookshire to a 266.50, and would have been owed a $3,588.00 paycheck; fifth was Short N Catt, owned by Sarah Davis and ridden by Phillip Ralls to a 284, for $2,691; sixth was Overabarrel, owned and ridden by Darrell Norcutt to a 214 for $2,093 and seventh was Tomcatontheprowl, owned and ridden by Justin Jones to a 201.50 and $1,503.35.


However, according to Ramona Wold, it’s now been close to four months and the winners haven’t received their checks from Miki Nelson, owner of Horse Expo and Magnificent 7. Her excuse: “The sponsors hadn’t paid her so she couldn’t pay the exhibitors.”  However, the announcer, the judge and the cattle providers have been paid.


“I called Ernie at Western Horsemanmagazine, who was advertised as one of the sponsors, and I was informed that they were not sponsors as they were advertised,” said Ramona.”


For this article, I also called Miki Nelson and asked her about the missing payout. She said, “We’ve had this event going since year 2000. We started when the NRCHA cancelled the “World’s Greatest Horseman.” It used to be well-attended event but then the economy hit a downturn. We kept it going in 2015 (with Horse Expo funds) but the people just weren’t coming to watch. This was its 20thAnniversary, so we said, ‘Let’s get on a roll and get people excited.’ But only one sponsor –  RAM Trucks. But they are taking six months to pay us. Attendance at the Expo was down 30 percent and you could count the number people in the bleachers.


“The facility holds all of our admission funds and controls all the income. They were contracted to pay us in 30 days but they paid out in 60 days. We got the money a month ago. It has put us in a cash strap but we should be out of it in 30 more days.


“I realize we are 60 days late today and we never meant not to pay anyone. We’ve been in business 21 years and we’re not going to start not paying out now.  We are as horrified as the seven contestants. We love this sport but the reined cow horse seems to be dying in California – it’s going to Texas.”


The 21stanniversary annual event will occur next year; however, it will be held at the Murieta Equestrian Center in Rancho Murieta, Calif.


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