Calgary — Clint Allen of Weatherford, Tex. rode QB Cat to the Champion title in the Open division finals of the Mercuria National Cutting Horse Association Series of Cutting at the Calgary Stampede on Wednesday, despite the nine-year-old gelding not being at the veteran rider’s radar.
“We’d been taking it easy with him, but we took him to a show just to take him and show him and we won four or five thousand on him. So we said, ‘Okay, we are going to have to get going now,’ ” Allen said of the fleet-footed horse owned by David and Stacie McDavid. “Sometimes he’ll get real compact and he’ll move before I can think about it. He will leave me hanging there every now and then. I try to make it look like I’m supposed to do that, but I really don’t know where he’s going.”
On his first visit to the Stampede, Allen’s 225-point ride narrowly took the win — and its accompanying $13,330 cheque, two belt buckles and commemorative bronze — over Tatum Rice’s effort. Rice, a fellow resident of Weatherford, Tex., is sitting second in the world standings. Rice earned the Reserve Champion title and cheque for $9,553 with his 224-point ride on Eazee E, a seven-year-old mare owned by Kevin and Sandy Knight.
The sport of cutting highlights the pure athleticism, instinct, agility and intelligence of the cutting horse and its relationship with its rider. With horse-and-rider teams attempting to cut at least three individual head out of a herd of cattle within 150 seconds, cutting has evolved into one of the most exciting equine events in North America. Once a cow has been “cut,” the rider drops the reins and the horse takes over. Using every ounce of their “cow sense,” these superbly trained animals dart and dash, swoop and sweep as they stay between the herd and the cow, breaking its desire to rejoin the group. Once that cow is “quit,” the rider can then select another animal to cut.
Each competitor starts with a base of 70 points. From there, the three judges on the panel add and subtract points based on the action in the arena. Since 2009, the Stampede’s Cutting Horse Competition has been a participating event on the Mercuria/NCHA World Series of Cutting. Thanks to the involvement of the NCHA’s World Series, the Stampede’s cutting showdown featured $25,000 in added money in each of the Open and Non-Pro divisions. The Calgary Stampede Cutting Horse Competition is the only Canadian stop in the Mercuria NCHA World Series of Cutting.
Heading into the Non Pro finals, the six riders at the top to the pack had posted scores separate by a single point. And the title came down to half a point, as Shannon Lamb of Warren, Tex. laid down a score of 220.5 on Rue Du Ichi to take the two belt buckles, NCHA bronze and cheque for $9,626. It was Lamb’s first visit to the Stampede and inaugural Mercuria Win. Her eight-year-old gelding, however, is an old hand at all things cutting.
“He goes into the Hall of Fame this year with the NCHA. We are really, really proud of him,” Lamb said. “He gets low and swoopy, but he never loses that intensity. Even when the cows get long, he always stays real sharp.”
The Reserve Champion title and $8,170 payday went to Crossfield, Alta.’s Kaila Stewart after she and Amanda Smith of Wembley, Alta. both posted a score of 220 in the second go. In case of a tie, the score from the first go is counted, so Stewart’s 220.5 just edged out Smith’s 220.
Doug Wiens of Lindell Beach, B.C. earned the Championship title in the Senior World Tour Division on This Cats Max. It wasn’t a sure bet that his horse, which Travis Rempel won the Open on at last year’s Stampede, was going to make the trip this year. The eight-year-old gelding recently had major surgery for colic. He was laid up for three months and has only been ridden for the past month.
“He’s a phenomenal horse. He deserves to be shown. This is his fourth Mercuria finals,” Wiens said. “We’ll take him to a few big shows this year.”
This year’s Bill Collins Youth Showcase saw a tie after two competitors posted a score of 215. Cheylin Patenaude of Valleyview, Alta. on her horse Gracies Cat took home $2,000 as did Tara Callaghan of Foothills, Alta. for her ride on Short N Suave, owned by Dean Ness of Keoma, Alta.
For full results from the Mercuria NCHA World Series of Cutting, please visit calgarystampede.com
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