When Andy Holcomb first swung a leg over Blue Berry Please just four months ago, the 6-year-old ex-cow-horse had never seen a roping box. But when the curtain fell on the 2019 American Rope Horse Futurity Association's World Championships October 18, "Blue Berry" was the brightest young star in the sport of team roping in Fort Worth, Texas' John Justin Arena.
[Listen: ARHFA Producer Jay Wadhams on The Score]
From high call, Holcomb and Blue Berry marked the highest score of the short round, a 232.69, to best the second place horse of Lets Roo It and Brad Lund by a full eight points. (The score is a combination of two judges' scores, with time calculated in as well.)
"I'm still speechless," Holcomb, a horse trainer from Aromas, California, said. "A horse that just makes you look good and makes your job easy is hard to find, and he darn sure did."
Running Springs Ranch raised Blue Berry, a son of Nics Black Diamond out of a mare named Ses Please, and now-owner Stephen Silva sent the horse to Holcomb to sell.
"Stephen Silva had him in cow horse training with Justin Wright down in Santa Maria, and they decided they wanted to sell him four months ago. They sent him up to me to start roping on, and he took to it really good. He was easy. He didn't want to be a cow horse. He wanted to be a rope horse... My program is pretty slow. He might have gotten five or six steers a day. I do a lot of walk-scoring, and I don't put a lot of heat on them, you know. I think maybe that's why he took good to it. It seemed to mesh. I let them figure it out, and I guess he did."
The ARHFA World Championships were Blue Berry's first trip to town, Holcomb said. But he handled the pressure of the event's hard-running steers, short set up and intense short round. Plus, he had John Chavez from Los Osos, California, for solid help on the heel side.
"I think I cared about it all way more than the horse did," Holcomb confessed. "He made up for my bad nerves I think for sure. He's got a lot of presence out in the arena. That's a big deal, especially in the show deals.
"He's a kind horse who needed a friend and needed a good home to go easy. He took everything good and he does it himself. He doesn't need picked on very much."
Holcomb said the horse can get a little quick going left, so he showed him in the heading in a long-shanked mechanical hackamore. When he showed the horse in the heeling, he showed him in a bridle.
[Read more: J.D. Yates' Mechanical Hackamore Secrets]
"I actually take more pride in him as a heel horse than a head horse, I guess until today," Holcomb, who heads in the PRCA's California Circuit, said. "He should have done a lot better in the heeling except I missed the second one, otherwise he'd have been back in the heeling too."
Holcomb's big week didn't end with Blue Berry. He also won fourth—worth another $10,000—on Trap This Cat, a 5-year-old stallion by Trapper Bar Drop by Red Eyed Cat, bred by Tyler and Jennifer Holzum and owned by Blake and Liz Hirdes.
J Lows Glo and Bobby Lewis won the Limited Open for $8,500, and JD Yates and Pass the Boonshine were first in the Dixon Flowers 4-Year-Old Incentive for $6,500. Notably, Dustin Rogers and DT Smart Sergio were the only Dean Tuftin-bred horse in the short round and took home the full $25,000 DT Horses payout. TRJ
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