Michelle Cowan, Ardmore, OK, started riding cutting horses to improve her skills in snaffle bit competition. Now she is a champion on both fronts. Cowan and fellow cutters Boyd Rice and McKenzie Merrill all claimed titles this week in the SRCHA Circle Y Derby held in Stephenville, TX.

Winner of the 2007 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Non-Pro championship on Wheres My Shine, Cowan captured the SRCHA Derby Non-Pro title with Reward Me Please sired by Chic Please. Boyd Rice, 2007 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Open Futurity winner on Oh Cay N Short, took reserve of the Open Derby on the same Oh Cay Quixote son; and McKenzie Merrill, Weatherford, TX, won the Amateur championship on 5-year-old Captain 327, by Hickorys Indian Pep.

“The herd work is just like cutting, except you have two hands,” Cowan said of snaffle bit competition. “The fence work you think is different, but it’s not really that much different. It’s all about reading and rating the cow down the fence.”

Last year, Cowan, earned five reserve championships in major limited age cutting events and was a finalist in both the NCHA Futurity Amateur and Non-Pro Limited divisions.

Rice, who rides 4-year-old Oh Cay N Short for Kevin and Sydney Knight, showed the bay stallion as reserve champion of the Abilene Cutting Spectacular 4-Year-Old $10,000 Novice division and as a finalist in the 4-Year-Old Open. Oh Cay N Short was one of an unprecedented five horses that Rice qualified for the Abilene Spectacular 4-Year-Old Open division.

The Knights, of Peoria, AZ, also own 5-year-old Soula Moolah, by Soula Jule Star, the NRCHA Derby Open champion ridden by Corey Cushing.

Although Merrill is new to NRCHA competition, she is a former NCHA Derby Non-Pro Limited champion and All American Quarter Horse Congress champion in reining. Her father, Frank Merrill, is current president of the American Quarter Horse Association.