By: Brittany Bevis
Within a span of three seconds, horse trainer Mozaun McKibben and his horse Autumn Play escaped a near-disastrous wreck and made an astonishing recovery to finish their run in the Junior Working Cowhorse class at the 2014 Fort Worth Stock Show.
When looking at images of the ordeal, which were artfully captured by Larry Williams Photography, it’s almost impossible to believe that rider, horse, and calf all escaped unscathed. Meanwhile, taping the run from the stands was McKibben’s friend, Ken Patton, who later posted his video clip on Facebook. It received a whopping 4,020 shares in one day alone.
We had the opportunity to speak with McKibben to find out exactly what happened during that split-second when his cowboy instincts and horsemanship skills were put to the test.
“It was going into the second turn,” he says. “We made our turn towards the cow when it stumbled and fell in front of him. There was nowhere for him to go but over the cow. He couldn’t get his front feet out from under him when we went down. My feet went backwards and, where your feet get behind you, there’s no way to step off.”
“I didn’t realize how he got his front feet back up under his head and neck until I watched the video. He kept pushing with his hind legs until he finally got himself up. That kind of threw me back in the saddle. My hat fell off, so I got it caught and finished the ride.”
Perhaps the best part of the video clip, which was met with an outstanding cheer of applause from the crowd, happened when McKibben managed to right himself in the saddle just as he caught his cowboy hat in midair.
“I was lucky I didn’t fall off,” he says. “My feet must have hung on the sides of my saddle because, when I came back up, I was still behind the saddle [horn] and right back in my seat. I saw my hat going through the air, and they cost too much money to be rolling around in the dirt!”
After McKibben recovered his lucky lid, he barely missed a beat before turning his horse around to continue the run. The pair had already turned the cow on the fence twice, so he headed into the center of the pen to circle the cow both directions. Interestingly enough, McKibben’s run did receive a score, albeit not a very high one given the circumstances. However, he seemed pleased that he wasn’t disqualified.
“They went ahead and scored the run, because neither of us fell plumb down,” he says. “I didn’t get a very good score because it wasn’t real pretty with the wreck and all. We got 69s and 70s, but no disqualification. I’ve had a lot of horses go down, but I’ve never had one go down that far, that fast and recover.”
Autumn Play is a four-year-old Quarter Horse by Autumn Acre and out of a great-producing Playboy mare. Autumn Play is special to McKibben because he owns the horse himself. The team had recent success at the Stock Horse Futurity in Texas this past fall with a big win.
“I won the Stock Horse Futurity on him in Texas this fall,” McKibben says. “They have four events: reining, cowhorse, trail, and pleasure. I won that on him this fall and just showed him in some other stock horse things.”
“He’s going to be a really good one when I get him finished. I showed him in Ranch Pleasure this weekend, and one judge gave him a 77. He’s a really nice horse. He’s young and he needs to be seasoned.”
Although Autumn Play is still relatively green in the showpen, McKibben is certainly not. This talented trainer and competitor has won the Ranch Horse Pleasure at the AQHA World Championship Show for the past two years in a row, the first time the class has been held. McKibben also holds titles in Versatility competition.
Looking forward to the 2014 AQHA World Show, McKibben will be back to defend his Ranch Pleasure title, and he will have the extremely acrobatic Autumn Play in tow.
“I got him qualified this weekend for the World Show,” he says. “I don’t know if he is going to be quite seasoned enough to be really competitive this year, but by next year I’m sure he will be. It’s going to be a really good class. At the World Show last year, there was some 120 entries.”
As we left McKibben to finish up his barn chores for the day, he couldn’t help but remark on the surprising speed of social media to deliver videos, photos, and information to the masses.
“I haven’t been able to get a lot done today, because I’ve been getting so many phone calls,” he says. “People I haven’t heard from for years have been calling. I’m not on Facebook, but I guess a lot of people are. I still use the old-time flip phone.”
Given McKibben and Autumn Play’s new-found stardom it might be time to consider making a Facebook page for Salt Creek Performance Horses, LLC. In the meantime, you can find out more about his training operation by visiting Mozaun.com
Click here to watch the incredible video clip on Facebook.
Click here to watch a longer video clip on YouTube.
Just for fun, Ken Patton has provided us with small stills from his video clip that have been strung together to create a time lapse image.
Our hats are off to this incredible horseman and his talented horse!