“I really wanted to do well on her, this being her last run in here,” said Brandon Dufurrena, following his 223-point win aboard six-year-old Nievas, by Cats Merada, in the Classic Challenge Non-Pro.
“I feel like I’ve had the opportunity before and just never sealed the deal. I just had to let the chips fall where they would and she was really good.”
Kaitlyn Larsen scored 221 points to take reserve with homebred Light N Lily, by Light N Lena. Steven Feiner scored 217.5 points for third aboard Thundercat, who was also a finalist in the Classic Challenge Ltd. Non-Pro Finals, and placed fourth in the Open Finals under Wes Galyean.
“The cows were just decent,” said Dufurrena, who drew first to work in the second set; Larsen showed as the third rider in the first set. “They would start out good and then they’d stop. When they do that, a horse will kind of get to stuttering. But as soon as they would break again, it was like she was starting her run all over again. She is very, very smart.”
Dufurrena, 2012 NCHA Non-Pro World Champion credits Nievas’s experience on the road last year in weekend shows with helping her be able to “step up and not get rattled” in difficult situations.
Nievas and Dufurrena won the 2011 NCHA Derby Non-Pro Ltd and placed third in the 2012 NCHA Non-Pro Super Stakes Classic.
Kaitlyn Larsen also credits weekend “hauling” for giving her six-year-old mare Light N Lily an edge in limited age competition.
Less than $1,000 separated reserve champion Larsen and champion Dufurrena, in last year’s NCHA Non-Pro World standings.
“I credit it so much with taking her down the road last year,” said Larsen. “When you’re hauling, the horses are not as pampered, and she learned the hard way how to be a solid horse.”
Light N Lily, currently a leading contender for 2013 NCHA Non-Pro Horse of the Year, was also an Open Classic Challenge finalist under R.L .Chartier, and carried Larsen as 2013 NCHA Super Stakes Classic Non-Pro champion.
“She’s had a long week,” said Larsen. “But I don’t think it was as hard as it might have been for her last year.
“My first cow tonight was real tough and I loved it. Those are the kind you want to have in the finals, and she’s so much fun to cut tough cows on.
“I was frustrated that I didn’t get my second cow separated real pretty, but it ended up being a good cow. We cut all three cows that we talked about cutting and they were all good.
“The cows in the second herd were not as good and I felt bad for people because there were a lot of nice horses in there.
“I was hoping just to finish in the top three or four with a 221, but we hung in there for second.