Born in 1926, in the Texas Panhandle town of Clarendon, L.H. Wood picked up his hand on a cutting horse for the first time in Barrington, Ill., in 1955. It was the beginning of a lifetime love for the sport and a legacy passed on through his children and grandchildren, and the horses that he raised.
When Wood joined as NCHA Lifetime Member #28, the National Cutting Horse Association was nine years old and the first Quarter Horse that he purchased to train for the sport was foundation-bred Honey Farr, sired by Honey Dodger and foaled in 1956. But it was Chickasha Gay, trained and shown by Dr. Allen Hamilton, as NCHA Futurity Non-Pro reserve champion in 1971, who afforded Wood a significant impact as a competitor and breeder.
“I bought Chickasha Gay for $12,500 in 1973 and I thought I broke the bank,” said Wood, who hauled Chickasha Gay home to Breckenridge, Tex., in a narrow “inline” trailer. “The next day I called Dr. Hamilton and told him that the mare fought the trailer and he said, ‘If you don’t like her, bring her back. That mare is good enough to buy a trailer that fits her.’ And that’s what I did.
“The next day I took her to Phillips Ranch, all skinned up from fighting the trailer, and won the non-pro and novice on the same day. And the first 75 I ever marked in my life was on her. That was quite a thrill for me.”
Wood would remember Chickasha Gay as a hard-stopping horse with a show-stopping reach. “If you thought you were fixing to lose a calf, she would just run her head out there, seemed like another two feet and draw that calf (back).”
The talented mare and Wood also shared a taste for chewing tobacco. “She’d catch you climbing through the fence and if you had tobacco in your back pocket, she’d take you pocket off to get the tobacco,” Wood remembered. “And you couldn’t catch her until she’d eaten it all.”
Wood was an original shareholder in the syndicated stallion Doc Tari and bred Chickasha Gay to him every season. Her first foal, in 1980, was Tari Chick Gay, who would earn $165,291 under Wood as a non-pro and Wood’s son Kobie in the open division.
“I was probably closer to Tari Chick Gay than any of the others,” said Wood, who trained the mare. “I won a lot of money on her, but I never could ride her right. She was too quick for me. Kobie did a whale of a job riding her though.”
Chick An Tari, foaled in 1981, was Chickasha Gay’s next foal. “I rode Chick An Tari the best of the whole bunch,” said Wood of the sorrel stallion who would earn $222,536 under L.H. and Kobie. “He was a smoother horse and wasn’t quite as quick as Tari Chick Gay.”
Although Chick An Tari was Chickasha Gay’s highest money earner, it was her gelded son Chickasha And Tari who carried Wood for his crowning performance, as co-reserve champion of the 1985 NCHA Non-Pro Futurity.
“When I was reserve champion at the Futurity, it was the highlight of everything I had done with those horses,” said Wood. “Then in the (1986) Gold and Silver (Stakes), I had to work a tie and wound up reserve on Chick An Tari.”
Another thrill for Wood came in 1992, when he won the NCHA Senior Cutting championship aboard Cash Quiote Rio, the stallion that Kobie had trained and shown as 1990 and 1992 NCHA World Champion for Heiligbrodt Interests.
“Boy, this is like driving a Mercedes,” said would following his 224-point win aboard Cash Quixote Rio. “I knew the way he was getting into that ground, and as low as he was and as hard as he was turning, that we were going to beat somebody. Matlock (Rose) asked me if I saw his run and I told him I didn’t see anything for about five minutes after my run, my head was so big.”
In addition to cutting horses, Wood bred and trained border collies which were in high demand among other cutting horse owners and breeders.
Although he gave up competition in the last decade of his life, Wood was still a dedicated fan and especially proud of his granddaughters, Lane and Marley, successful NCHA Youth competitors and daughters of Kobie and Paula. Other immediate Wood family members who have distinguished themselves in NCHA competition are L.H. (Lewie) Wood Jr., champion of the 2003 NCHA Non-Pro Super Stakes on Peppy Plays For Cash; Lewie’s wife, Janie, 1996 NCHA $50,000 Amateur World Champion; and Kobie’s wife, Paula, winner of the 2012 NCHA Non-Pro Futurity champion.
L.H. Wood, Lewie Wood and Paul Wood are all members of the NCHA Non-Pro Hall of Fame. Kobie Wood is a member of the NCHA Riders Hall of Fame and a five-time NCHA Open World Champion.