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Metallic Rebel

Spanish Nights and Veronica Swales Sweep NRCHA Stallion Stakes Open Championship

By April 17, 2024April 26th, 2024No Comments

When Spanish Nights and Veronica Swales arrived at the Teton Ridge National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Stallion Stakes in Las Vegas, Nevada, they had no idea they’d be leaving with a new buckle for Swales’ belt. She knew Spanish Nights (Metallic Rebel x Lil Bit Reckless x CD Royal) was talented, but she couldn’t have predicted that the mare would help her earn a composite score of 659.5 to claim the Open Derby championship.

A Special Start

Spanish Nights, a 2019 mare owned by Seth and Chantel Murphy, holds a special place in Swales’ heart.

“Seth and Chantel contacted us her two-year-old year,” Swales recalled. “They wanted to buy a horse, and she was my favorite out of the NRCHA sale. We were very fortunate, and we got her bought.”

When the mare arrived at Swales’ and her husband’s facility, the then-two-year-old needed a barn name.

“Seth’s mother had recently passed away, and he though she should be named after his mother, Naomi,” Swales shared. “So, that’s her barn name.”

After Swales started the mare, her husband, NRCHA Professional Clay Volmer showed her at the futurities and for the first half of her four-year-old year.

“She always worked really good with Clay, but it seemed like she needed a woman’s touch,” Swales revealed. “We talked about it and decided that she would be a better fit with me. So, I got her in August 2023. And here we are now where we won the Stallion Stakes takes together.”

The Main Event

Spanish Nights and Veronica Swales had a strong start in the Stallion Stakes Open prelims with a solid reining run.

“She was a super relaxed,” Swales recalled. “She was really on her A-game.”

The pair took it to the next level in the herd work, earning a 221.5 to win the prelim round.

“She was electric,” Swales described. “That’s the first time I’ve won the open herd work at a major like that. It was pretty cool.”

That win was the start of a streak of other firsts to come for Swales at the Stallion Stakes—including qualifying for and ultimately winning the Open finals. But before that, Swales and her horse still had one more event to conquer: the fence work prelims.

“I was taking each event as it came,” she explained. “For the fence work, I just wanted to have a nice loop, and hopefully get a nice cow. The cow that I got was a lot more than what I was hoping for. But Naomi was awesome. She did everything I asked.”

With another consistent score added to her already-high composite, Swales and the mare were finals bound.

A Strong Finish

“It was my first Open finals to make at a major Derby,” Swales revealed. “I’ve made the Intermediate and the Limited, but never the Open. I just wanted to go for the biggest check we could get.”

With her goal set, Swales headed into the herd work aiming for good cattle and a solid mark.

“I was really low in the set,” she shared. “But [Spanish Nights] was outstanding. She was so electric and let me make good cuts.”

Those good cuts resulted in a score of 222 that placed Swales in a four-way tie for the lead heading into the rein work finals.

“I was a little bit shocked,” Swales admitted. “It gave me the feeling that maybe there was a shot to win it.”

On Saturday, Swales and Naomi came in confident. After scoring a 216 in the rein work, Swales knew she was still in the running. The plan remained the same: hope for a good cow and let her horse work.

“Naomi was so good,” Swales said of her horse’s performance in the fence work finals. “She was tight on her fence turns but let me place her where I wanted.  The cow really ran in the circles, and she just got me up there and put me exactly where I needed to be. It was perfect.”

The pair’s 221.5 score was good—but Swales didn’t know if her lead would hold.

“There were so many good horses in [the open finals],” she shared. “I marked well in the fence work, and I marked decent overall. But there were nice horses coming in that were ahead of me going into the fence work. I didn’t actually think that I was going to walk away with it until it was all said and done.”

After watching the remaining horses from a screen in the warm-up pen, Swales realized she’d won the Open title.

“I think I’m still in shock,” Swales laughed. “It’s just so surreal.”

Swales credits her team and family, including her husband, for helping her secure the win.

“Clay [Volmer] is always in my corner and always supporting me,” she said. “And my mom goes down to all the majors and takes care of the kids. She makes it so we have no worries when we’re showing. My brother, John, has always been a huge supporter of mine. It’s pretty special because he won the Stallion Stakes in 2022, and only a few years later, I get to share the same title.”

Quarter Horse News
written by Kaycie Timm
View article on QHN