For Wendy Johnson, Perrin, Texas, winning the $50,000 Amateur title at the NCHA Eastern National Championships was a dream come true. Not only was it her most prestigious win, to date, but it was also a major success for her special, homebred mare Lily Shea Rey. The two worked to a 217.5 to top the 74-entry division and take home $4,080.
Reserve in the $50,000 Amateur division was claimed by Gary Reichart, Frankton, Ind., riding Boons Playin (Mr Boonsmal To You x Aristocrats Playgirl x Smart Aristocrat). The pair marked a 215.5.
Wendy Johnson and her husband, Butch, raised Lily Shea Rey (Dual Rey x Lil Shea Lena x Playdox). The Johnsons purchased her dam as a 3-year-old. Wendy showed that mare to a number of nice finishes, including a seventh place in the Amateur at the 2004 NCHA Super Stakes. In 2005, the Johnsons decided to breed Lil Shea Lena to Dual Rey.
The resulting Lily Shea Rey, a 2006 mare, was trained by Cody Hall and finished by the Phil Hanson team. Hall showed Lily, as she’s called, to the Open semi-finals at the 2009 NCHA Futurity, while Hanson finished fourth on her in the Open Classic at the 2011 Brazos Bash. Coming into the Eastern Nationals, the mare had $61,841 on her earnings record.
“She’s pretty quirky,” Wendy said about Lily Shea Rey. “She has a lot of personality and is strong-minded. Her mother is very strong-minded, too.”
The seasoned mare has a month-old Metallic Cat filly on the ground, and plans are to breed her back to Metallic Cat this season. The Johnson’s have a three-quarters brother to Lily Shea Rey, a 5-year-old TR Dual Rey gelding, that Butch shows in the limited-age events.
The win in Jackson was Wendy’s biggest, and she was pleased with her pretty mare.
“When she was born she came walking into the stall to greet us within an hour, and it’s been that way ever since,” Wendy said about her relationship with Lily Shea Rey. “Even when she was at the trainer’s, we could call her and she’d come right to us.”
The mare was friendly. But she had a fast and powerful side when it came to working a cow, and for a while that proved to be a little too challenging for Wendy.
“I didn’t start riding her until she was 6,” Wendy said. “Once I realized I had to sit real still on her and sit back – you can’t lean forward on her – we did fine together. She just does her magic out there.”
Wendy expressed thanks to those who helped her all week at the Eastern Nationals: Ben Roberson, Casey Crouch, Brent McGlothlin, Bill Pierce, and her husband, Butch.