Captains Choice, 2008 NCHA Open Reserve World Champion and NCHA $10,000 Novice Eastern National Champion, also won the Eastern National Open championship with 223 points under Casey Crouch.
“How do you explain it?” asked Crouch following his win. “I had great help and everything just flowed.” Ten-year-old Captains Choice, by SR Instant Choice, is owned by Joe and Stacey Robinson of Corsicana, TX. Crouch has had the horse since October 2007, when he discovered that he had ridden the gelding’s mother, Miss CC Wilson. “His mother was a good mare, but she was really hot,” said Crouch. “He’s totally opposite. He’s quiet as a mouse and doesn’t scare a cow at all. And he moves real soft and easy in front of them.”
Captains Choice is the first horse owned by the Robinsons, who became avid cutters after Stacey gave Joe cutting lessons with Casey as a birthday present in November 2007. Joe’s first lesson was on Captains Choice. “It’s the most expensive birthday present I’ve ever given him, but it just keeps on giving,” said Stacey Robinson. “Now we have five cutting horses.” Joe Robinson owns an aircraft interior company based in Southlake, TX.
Crouch also placed seventh in the Open with 215 points on his own horse, Ima Mauvelus Pistol, that his wife, Chelsa, rode as a finalist in the Non-Pro division. Captains Choice tied with 218, the third highest score in the go-round.
Mike Bowman, Simpsonville, KY, won the Non-Pro championship with 222 points aboard San Tule Uno, by San Tule Freckles. “He has so much eye appeal,” said Bowman of 6-year-old San Tule Uno, which Bowman and his wife, Libby, bred out of Smart Little Thunder, 2007 Broodmare of the Year.
San Tule Uno, the earner of more than $450,000, carried Mike Bowman as reserve champion of the 2009 Augusta Futurity Classic, and won the MillionHeir Classic at four and five years of age under Austin Shepard.
Lee Garner III of Batesville, MS, carried on a family tradition with his win aboard Tex San Sierra in the $50,000 Amateur. Garner, son of NCHA Hall of Fame Non-Pro Rider and former Eastern National Non-Pro champion Lee Garner (1999 on Peponitas Acre), scored 218.5 points for his win.
“I was next-to-last, so I wasn’t expecting much,” said Garner. “In the first go-round they told me that I picked my hand up, so I was determined not to pick my hand up. Most of the time when we don’t win, it’s my fault. He’s a special gelding,” Garner added. “He does it all.”
Seven-year-old Tex San Sierra, by Horseplayin, won the 2006 Novice Non-Pro championship title under the senior Garner, whose business interests kept him at home in Batesville this year. Lee Garner III’s son, Levi, won the Eastern National Junior Youth championship in 2006 riding SS Pretty Boy. “My dad has had a lot of success here and my son won a few years ago, but this is my first here and it’s a big deal for me,” said Garner.
Victor Davis, Marshall, TX, was the winner of the $20,000 Non-Pro championship. Riding Little Ollie North, by Playin Stylish, Davis scored 222 points.
“He’s real fast across a cow and can do some pretty neat stuff in spite of me,” said Davis, who manages a natural gas pipeline system in Texas and Louisiana. Davis qualified for the show with Diamond Bud, the horse his son Drake, 13, is riding this year to currently lead the Junior Youth World standings.
Jeanelle Taveau, 31, a police officer from Lubbock, TX, scored her first win and her first championship buckle with 216.5 points aboard Smart Lil Aristocat, in the $10,000 Amateur division.
“This year I finally got weekends off,” said Taveau, who purchased 9-year-old Smart Lil Aristocat, her first cutting horse, five years ago with the help of trainer Gary Ray. “She’s been ready and waiting for me to catch up,” said Taveau, who is being coached by Dawson Burns. “The problem has been me learning how to ride her.”
Taveau, who had shown pleasure horses in the past, saw cutting for the first time at the Buckskin World Show. “I thought that looked kind of cool,” she said. “Now that’s all I do.”
$2,000 LIMIT RIDER:
Colton Price, 16, Lake Creek, TX, scored 217 for his win aboard Bobs Sundown Silver, owned by Ron Abbott, in the $2,000 Limited Rider. “I’ve been riding him since I started cutting five years ago,” said Price of his 8-year-old mount, trained by his father Rodney. Colton’s grandfather, Robert Price, is also a cutting horse trainer.
Captains Choice and Casey Crouch were at the top during Thursday’s competition with 223 points in the finals of the $10,000 Novice division.
“It was one of those things that just fit,” said Crouch, who was co-reserve champion of the 2004 Eastern National Finals on Alotta Pepper, but had never claimed a championship. Captains Choice is owned by Joe and Stacey Robinson, Corsicana, TX, who purchased the 1999 son of SR Instant Choice just over year ago. The gelding was their first cutting horse and under Crouch also earned the reserve championship title in the 2008 NCHA World $10,000 Novice division.
“He’s just a fun little horse to show,” said Crouch, who also split fifth and sixth in the $10,000 Novice riding Lenas Silver Pistol for Lori Broome, Aubrey, TX. “Probably his biggest fault is that he’ll draw a cow to him and when he does, it’s about the only time I might have a bad situation because he just keeps sucking a cow to him and it’s hard to ever get off of it.” Stacey Robinson had purchased cutting lessons for Joe as a birthday present. It only took two lessons before he wanted his own horse. Now he and Stacey own five horses and are both competing in the National Finals this week.
Joanna Cat and Mark Coie won the $3,000 Novice championship with 219 points.
Mark Coie didn’t think his 212.5-point score aboard Joanna Cat in the first go-round would be enough to take them to the Finals. “I was surprised,” said Coie, who rides the 6-year-old High Brow Cat daughter for Shawn and George Franklin of Rayville, LA.
“The cattle were tough and they took a lot of good horses out. The cattle kind of dictated who won this.” Joanna Cat scored 219 points for her win. “We cut some cattle (in the Finals) that fit this horse really good,” Coie added. “She doesn’t usually do well on cattle that get real close to her. But we were able to cut some that stayed away from her a little bit and let her do her thing.
Joanna Cat, who was injured as a 3-year-old, was a 2007 NCHA Derby semi-finalist with Bubba Matlock, and a 2008 Music City Futurity 5/6 Classic finalist under Coie. “We haven’t shown her a whole bunch,” said Coie. “So we’ll just keep going to see what we can get done.”
$10,000 NOVICE NON-PRO – Co Champions:
Tim May and Toddy Pitard tied with 217 points to become co-champions of the $10,000 Novice Non-Pro. Commanda Boon and Tim May drew up midway through the first set of the $10,000 Novice Non-Pro Finals, while Double Sugar Reward and Toddy Pitard cut midway through the second set. And that’s how they ended, in an even draw with 217 points.
“The little horse made one mistake, but other than that, he covered it,” said May. “The first cow wasn’t near the cow that I needed, but the second and third were good.”
May, a two-time Eastern National Non-Pro champion, purchased the 6-year-old Peptoboonsmal son last year during the NCHA Super Stakes Sale. “I liked his stop,” said May. “That’s the first thing I look for in a horse.”
Toddy Pitard wanted the first two cows he cut, but the third one was a chip. “It wanted to go up the pen a little bit, but my horse stayed hooked,” he recalled. “She’s got a lot of guts and she did what needed to be done.”
Pitard, a jewelry store owner from El Dorado, AR, purchased the 7-year old Dual Reward daughter when she was four and has placed as a finalist with her in seven limited age events, including a third-place in last year’s Amateur Cotton Stakes.
$3,000 NOVICE NON-PRO:
Austin Pigg, 16, Collinsville, AL, had a game plan, when he rode to the herd in the $3,000 Novice Non-Pro, and it paid off with a 220-point score.
“Those cows were getting really shook up,” said Austin, who rode sixth in the second set. “So I decided to slow down and do what I could. I cut real confident and clean and my mare did her job.”
Pigg, a high school junior, has been cutting for three years. “We just took off with it and it’s been a lot of fun,” said Pigg, whose sister Aubrey, 12, split 5/6 in the Junior Youth division, and whose other sister Ashely, 17, also cuts.
Austin rode Dox Olena Lady, a 7-year-old daughter of Miss N Cash that had been Non-Pro Limited champion in the 2006 South Coast Winter and Music City 4-year-old divisions for Todd Quick. Cara Heinrich, 22, Clermont, FL, scored 215 riding Smart Smokin Flash to claim the reserve championship.
Jared Williams, 19, of Hope Hull, AL, won the Eastern National Senior Youth championship with 219 points riding Oak Olena King, his first and favorite cutting horse. “My helpers told me to go in there and be aggressive and not hold back,” said Jared, a college freshman majoring in physical therapy. “My horse was awesome. He might not have a lot of style, but he can really run and stop.” Jared, who stands 6 feet-four inches, purchased Oak Olena King five years ago.
Oak Olena King, the 14-year-old son of Doc’s Oak, who measures less than 14 hands, had been an open and amateur limited age event finalist with Todd Gann and Andrew Sleigh. Jared also showed the gelding as an Eastern National Youth finalist in 2006 and 2008, and placed with him in the 2008 NCHA Senior Youth World Championship standings.
It was Jared’s uncle, amateur and non-pro competitor Larry Gafford, who put him on his first horse six years ago. “I hadn’t even ever sat on a horse until then,” said Jared. “But my uncle trains his own horses and he helps me out and gives me advice on how to do things.”
Mikayla Riddle, 14, from Foster, OK, made the most of her next-to-last draw in the Junior Youth finals with a 218.5-points score, beating Cheyenne Johnson and Chase Yarnall (each with 218 points) for the championship.
“My mare didn’t try to help me out on some parts,” said Mikayla, “but other than that, she was good.” Mikayla also benefits from having a relative who knows his way around the cutting pen. Her grandfather is NCHA Hall of Fame rider Terry Riddle, and Mikayla often helps him lope horses. Her Youth mount, Most Stylish Mom, by Docs Stylish Oak, is owned by Chuck Drummond, who rode the 7-year-old mare as reserve champion.
The National Cutting Horse Association is made up of over 21,000 members across the United States with a wide range of backgrounds. The sport of cutting has roots in Western ranching traditions, where good horses were a necessity for everyday ranch work and cattle handling. From cowgirls to CEOs, from firefighters to professional football players, the common ground is often in the cutting arena. Each year more than 2,200 NCHA-approved events are held throughout the country with more than $43 million in prize money awarded. To learn more about the National Cutting Horse Association and the sport of cutting, call 817-244-6188 or visit http://www.nchacutting.com
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<a href="http://www.equestrianmag.com/article/cutting-horse-association-winners-ncha-03-09.html">The National Cutting Horse Association announces the winners of NCHA 2008</a> ~ EquestrianMag.com