Contestants from around the world competed in the “Project Cowboy” equestrian event held at the WILL ROGERS AUDITORIUM/COLISEUM in Fort Worth, TX where Project Cowboy is a new pilot for a TV reality Show.
This three day event started with nearly 200 contestants with various skill levels that weeded out the novice horseman early on. Even some highly skilled equestrians having a less than great start might not have scored well enough to move forward through each elimination. Matt Zimmerman from Oregon has shown with Extreme Mustang was doing great earlier on found himself eliminated only after the TV screening and interview phase, although he had superb control of his horse.
Each day the continued focus seeking who would be the great American Horseman filtered through the riders leading into Sunday morning with just 25 contestants that remain. By noon, only the top ten remain moving into the 7th round.
Each highly skilled contestant working their skills with horses from basic knowledge levels to advance cutting and reining found great talent throughout the day. Though, the best of the best in this search can only have one grand Champion slowly eliminating horseman through each level until the final round leaving the best of THREE remaining contestants. Mozaun McKibben from Whitesboro, Texas, Mike Major of Fowler, Colorado and the youngest Ben Baldus of Electra, Texas remain.
Project Cowboy added a surprise twist to the judging of this final round selecting 7 members from the audience and 7 members from the final ten to assist in the judging. The excitement in the grandstands rose as each of Sundays contestants offered America's greatest horse talents.
Judy Gibney who works for the County Line Equestrain Center stated, “I wish I could personally shake the hands of every contestant who participated. It really takes commitment and courage to do what they all did. My husband and I stayed glued the whole time.”
Sammi Jo Stohler from Unity, Oregon who currently lives in Houston, Texas took time to relax with her horse Bo after being eliminated stated, “I learned such a great deal from nearly every contestant here. I had fun, and met a ton of great people here. Bo was great doing everything I asked of him, always my rock!”
By the end of the final round it was no surprise to see the well seasoned Cowboy from Colorado walk away with the title of 2010 Project Cowboy receiving $10,000 in cash award along with many other prizes.
“Mike Major knows a little bit about ranch horses. For the last two years, the cowboy from Fowler, Colorado, has been the world champion in versatility ranch horse. He added to his prize bucket at Battle in the Saddle with a win in the ranch remuda contest this past July” states Larri Jo Starkey.
Although, it was very close competition throughout Sunday's final events. Mike has been competing and training horses just for an event like this for over two decades. Mike Major was cheered on by his wife Holly as he received his trophy and awards.
“I’m really proud of my Daddy,” states Avery Major, one of Mike’s eight children who remained home in Colorado. Avery stayed current on the events following the Project Cowboy and her dad's status through her home computer.
Mike owns and operates a working cattle ranch that started with his grandfather, Malcomb Major in 1930. The ranch was north of Magdalena, New Mexico, and it all began with Calvary remount studs. In the 1950's Mike's dad, Buddy Major, up graded the horse herd for the nine ranches he had put together in New Mexico and Colorado. Buddy ran a lot of his horses on the track and had some of the best cow and rope horses around.
Mike was born on the working ranch. At just 7 years old, he began breaking horses. By age 9 he broke most of the family horses and assisted training several as racing horsing until he outgrew the occupation. By the early - 1970’s and still a teen Mike started all of the family colts used on the New Mexico ranch.
Mike worked for Bob Lee who was a cattleman and raised cutting horses. Although, just a few short years later, Mike found himself working another ranch for his dad while finishing high school. Still a teen, Mike began showing cutting Horses, enter Junior Rodeo and High School Youth Rodeo.
Buddy Major, Mike's father and a top professional calf roper and rancher, shared his skills with his son. Mike, who still team ropes today, roped professionally for a few years and spent 14 years riding bulls and saddle broncs. Throughout the 1990s, he competed in ranch rodeos and by 2002 had focused on working cow-horse competition, followed by ranch-horse versatility events.
In 1990, Mike purchased the old Flying A Ranch, which Gene Autry once owned. There, Mike and wife Holly who he married in 2000 operate the Major Cattle Company, which includes about 1,000 yearlings and a horse-breeding operation, as well as the mother-cow herd on their Belen, New Mexico, ranch.
Mike continues the legacy and traditions founded by his grandfather breeding superb cow-horses through bloodline and breeding program with a Leo- and Three Chicks-bred stallion, followed by a Mito Bars-bred horse and later a stallion with Beduino, Rebel Cause and Truckle Feature bloodlines.
The Major stallion line-up currently includes Smart Whiskey Doc, the 2006 American Quarter Horse Association Select World Champion Working Cow Horse and 2003 Open High-Point Ranch Horse Versatility Stallion, and Love A Little Devil and RPM Mr Stylish, who both have National Cutting Horse Association money-earnings, as well as AQHA points. Most recently, an own son of Shining Spark out of a Little Peppy mare has been added to the line-up.
Mike in addition to the TEN GRAND prize money as the “Great American Horseman,” of The Project Cowboy will also receive a Martin trophy Saddle, Gist trophy buckle, as well as an invitation to appear at the 2011 Road to the Horse Legends World Championship and 2011 Extreme Mustang Makeover Events in addition to other major equine events and expos. Congratulations to Mike for his true superb horsemanship and the many contestants who participated in the Project Cowboy event.
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