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Gabriel Salgado has long-wanted to start a rope-horse training business in the United States, and, when he finally took the leap in January 2021, his efforts were rewarded later the same year with an Intermediate Heeling World Championship in the American Rope Horse Futurity Association. 

Aboard the Whizkey N Diamonds son Custom Diamonds Whiz, Salgado marked a massive 682.98 on three head, worth $15,000 for the World Championship win in the Intermediate division of the ARHFA's largest event in Fort Worth this October. The horse also won sixth in the 3- and 4-year-old incentive for another $8,000. 

"My brother is a reiner—Fernando Salgado," Salgado, 35, of Gainesville, Texas, explained. "This horse came from one of his clients from Mexico. He raised the horse and owned the mama. He was in Fernando's program from his 2-year-old year and most of his 3-year-old year. I got him in December. That's when Heath Mosley bought the horse. I liked him when my brother rode him, and he didn't make the cut for the reining. We ended up buying him and roping on him at the beginning of this year."

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The reining base that the Salgado brothers put on the horse was a huge help in moving the horse into the roping space, Salgado said. 

"I have two brothers here from Brazil, and the futurity this year I showed two that came from my little brother and I'll have two next year that came from my older brother," Salgado said. "They've been through the 2 and 3-year-old reining program so they're as broke as they can get. Their head is not so low that they're pulling my head down. Being brothers, of course I rode with them. I worked for a year and a half with my older brother, too. I know exactly what they're thinking. And me being an ex-reiner allows me to know how to keep going after the reiners."

Salgado has been in the U.S. on and off since 2013, and he built his string of horses by design. He helped hand-pick the horses he's riding for his clients, who are all personal friends. 

"They knew my plan and they knew my job," Salgado said. "Slowly we found horses, and I found a few with my brothers and a few with other reiners. My brothers know everybody, so that's an easy door to open. Now with the futurities, some will go back to the owners to rope on and some we'll sell." 

Custom Diamonds Whiz made the Finals in the Junior Heeling at the 2021 AQHA World Show under Salgado, and they'll plan to show him next year in AQHA and ARHFA competition. 

"That horse is just so honest," Salgado said. "I truly believe that the horse loves his job. He got hurt right after the futurity in July in Lincoln. Between there and Fort Worth I probably ran 20 steers on him. I didn't want to rope on him because he looked upset and sad and didn't want to do it. But when the vet said to go ahead, his face changed. I know it sounds crazy. But I do believe that horse loves to be a heel horse. Even being green, he's so honest and he loves his job. He's a huge stopper and great mover and really pretty. It helps to judge to see the horse like that. He looks so good. That horse won the Limited in Tulsa, the Limited in Nebraska and fourth in the Open. He placed pretty much everywhere." 

Dakota Kirchenschlager helped Salgado throughout the 2021 regular futurity season, while two-time World Champion Clay Smith helped in Fort Worth. 

Notably, Whizkey N Diamonds, the sire of Custom Diamonds Whiz, also sired the Open Heeling World Champion WND Affair ridden by Joseph Harrison. Shay Carroll also won ninth on a Whizkey N Diamonds colt named Whizkey N Starlight. The 2006 buckskin stallion by Topsail Whiz out of Princess In Diamonds is a $1-million producer in the National Reining Horse Association. TRJ

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