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June 22, 2015
Northwest Missouri State University employee Chris Redden and his horse Cisco are national champions, a title they claimed June 5-6 in the Professional Division at the EXCA Extreme Cowboy Association Cowboy Racing National Finals in Belvidere, Tenn.
The horse riding competition is a timed and judged event consisting of a series of obstacles and challenges that include jumps, moguls, narrow bridges, log crossings, tunnels, cowboy curtains, roll backs and water crossings.
The course changes from round to round, and riders may only preview it minutes before the event begins. Judges award points for each obstacle, on a scale of one to 10, based on criteria including horsemanship, cadence, control and overall execution.
While the Cowboy Up Challenge is set on an indoor course, Redden said he and Cisco enjoyed the opportunity to compete on the more natural, outdoor course at the national finals.
“It’s speed with control,” Redden said. “That is the whole thing this sport is built around. Anybody can go out there and make their horse go fast, but add those two things together and the anxiety level goes through the roof. You’ve got to have a brave horse and he’s got to trust you.”
In addition to his success with Cisco, Redden and his young stallion, Joe’s Baron Colonel, aka Drover, also competed in the national finals. The pair finished second, receiving the title of reserve national champion, in the Green Horse Division for horses who are early in their training. The contest was just Drover’s third.
“He’s going to be better than any horse I’ve rode,” Redden said, adding that horses are having to train at earlier ages as competition grows stiffer. “You better be building one to play this game, and he’s learning it from the very start.”
Redden’s national championship with Cisco, however, earned them an automatic invite to the legendary Calgary Stampede Cowboy Up Challenge in Calgary, Alberta, in 2016. It will be Redden’s sixth consecutive trip to the Cowboy Up Challenge but his first with an automatic bid. He earned trips to Calgary in 2011 and 2012 because he was ranked among the top three riders in the world and the last three years as a wild card.
Redden earned fourth place last year at Calgary – the highest finish of his four tries to that point – and he competes there for the fifth time next month. During his first trip to Calgary in 2011, Redden placed sixth with his then-12-year-old stallion, Wrangler Baron Bar, who is the father of Cisco and is now retired.
Last fall at the EXCA World Championship in Hamilton, Texas, Redden, who is employed as a hardscape and recycling supervisor in Northwest Facility Services, became the 17th person inducted into the EXCA Hall of Fame since its inception in 2008.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
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