Oakdale resident Clayton Edsall recently participated in the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Championship in Texas and earned the title of World’s Greatest Horseman. On Feb. 20, Edsall and his gelding horse Skeets Oak Peppy went into John Justin Arena in Fort Worth, Texas and took first place in the finals of the World’s Greatest Horseman Championship.
“I’ve had Skeets since he was a yearling. He just turned nine this year,” Edsall said of his four-legged partner.
In what was his fifth time competing in the event, and over a decade of competing altogether, this was Edsall’s first championship. The competition consists of four events – herd work, rein work, steer stopping and fence work. Edsall took first place with a total combined score of 883, as he scored 221 in herd, 219 in rein, 218 for steer and 225 in fence.
“I placed seventh in 2013 and fifth in 2014, but this was the first time I have ever won the event. It took a few days to hit me that I was named champion,” Edsall said. “Once the event is over, you go to the podium, you get with the media and then we do the whole award ceremony. There is so much going on that you lose track. But once it set in, it really is an amazing feeling.”
Edsall grew up in Montana and learned to ride at a young age.
“My parents Merle and Sharon Edsall taught me to ranch, rope and ride pretty early on. They encouraged me to pursue this whole life. I remember riding colts when I eight but I think I was between four and six when I first got introduced to horses,” Edsall recalled.
Edsall describes rein as “a series of patterns with just yourself and your horse in the arena. Circles, stops, backing up and other patterns that you are judged on,” he said, then went on to add “It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to be successful. You need to keep plugging away at it. Most of all, it takes a good horse. You have to be patient. You have to be able to train your horse and understand him or her.”
Edsall has been a horse trainer for over a decade and has worked with locals who also compete in NRCHA. His season will continue when he competes at Paso Robles and Reno later this year.