Dick Gaines, 1943–2019

Tuesday, January 15th, 2019

Dick Gaines. Sally Harrison photo.

Dick Gaines, 75, Byers, Tex., past president of the National Cutting Horse Association, passed away after an extended illness, on Tuesday. January 15.

As a past president of the NCHA and a longtime director, Gaines’ contribution to the growth of the association was incalculable. In 2005, Gaines became, and still remains, the only person to be inducted into three of NCHA’s Halls of Fame. He was inducted into the NCHA Non-Pro Hall of Fame in 1980, the NCHA Riders Hall of Fame in 1992, and the NCHA Members Hall of Fame in 2005.

Admittance to the NCHA Non-Pro and Riders Halls of Fame is based on performance; however, cutters are nominated by their peers for the NCHA Members Hall of Fame, in consideration of their lasting contributions to the sport. Being held in such high esteem by his peers, Gaines said, was what made his Members Hall of Fame induction so special.

In addition to his tireless efforts and dedication on behalf of the National Cutting Horse Association, Gaines rode and bred some of the cutting industry’s finest horses. He won the 1978 NCHA Non-Pro World Championship in 1978 riding Sally Doc, but before that, in 1973, he was reserve champion of the NCHA Non-Pro Futurity on Doc Tari, one of the most significant horses in his life. In 1980, Gaines won the NCHA Non-Pro Derby riding Doc Tari’s daughter Barbi Tari and, in 1981, three of the NCHA Futurity Open finalists were Doc Tari offspring, including the reserve champion Chick Tari. Doc Tari would go on to become one of cutting’s all-time leading sires and grandsires.

In 1982, Dick Gaines was one of eight cutting horse stallion owners who formed the Super Syndicate, which resulted in the initiation of the NCHA Super Stakes, one of today’s famous Triple Crown cutting events.

From 1989 through 1992, Zack T Wood, a Doc Tari son bred by Dick Gaines, carried both Dick and his son Matt to win major NCHA championships; the story came full circle in 2001, when Matt, an NCHA Riders Hall of Fame Member, showed Nu I Wood, by Zack T Wood, to win the NCHA Open Derby. Nu I Wood, in turn, produced Special Nu Baby, who Matt rode to win the 2015 NCHA Open World Championship. Dick Gaines came down to watch his son’s final ride for the championship from the seat of the John Deere tractor used to groom the arena floor.

Services will be arranged by Davis Funeral Home, Henrietta, Okla.

Rich Timmons, 1976-2018

Monday, December 17th, 2018

Popular cutting horse trainer Rich Timmons of Glen Rose, Texas, passed away December 13, following an illness.

Born in Bucks County, Penn., in 1976, Timmons graduated from Plumstead Christian School in 1994.

His love for horses started early.

As a youth, he worked at Haycock Camping Ministries as a junior counselor, and at age 18 he became the camp wrangler.

In 1997 he was given his first horse and started a business as a young horse trainer. He joined the National Cutting Horse Association in 1999, and went on to be a finalist at a number of limited age events, including the All American Congress Futurity and Classic, the Southern Futurity, and the State of Missouri Futurity.

In 2006 he relocated to Tennessee where he would meet his future wife, Sheri. In 2015 they moved to Glen Rose, Texas.

He will be remembered as a man of highest integrity, who was hard-working, kind and disciplined.

He is survived by his wife, Sheri; his children Monika (22); Michaela (21); Justin (18); Nicholas (14); and Jacob (12); his mother and father, Richard and Julia; his sisters Jill (Mick) Watson; and April (Eric) Masterson.

There will be a celebration of his life at 2:00 p.m., Wednesday, December 19, 2018, Triple Cross Cowboy Church, Gathering: 1:00 p.m. until service time at the church, Wednesday, December 19, 2018.

Keith Barnett, 1942-2018

Monday, August 20th, 2018

Keith Barnett, 76, an NCHA Hall of Fame Rider who placed in the NCHA World Top Ten Open standings 17 times between 1966 and 2005, passed away on August 19, 2018.

Although he won his first saddle for a reining competition in Odessa, Tex., Keith Barnett seemed destined to cut. His father worked for Volney Hildreth, a founder of the National Cutting Horse Association, and later managed a small rodeo near Dallas that would become Neal Gay’s nationally famous Mesquite Rodeo.

Barnett was roping and bulldogging at the Mesquite Rodeo, when PRCA world champion Jim Shoulders asked him to manage a rodeo in Leesburg, Va. It was there, in 1963, that Barnett hooked up with North Wales Quarter Horse Farm and started riding Deuce Five. Barnett was the second-youngest rider to place in the NCHA Top Ten, when he showed Deuce Five to fifth place in the 1964 NCHA Top Ten Open standings.

In 1966, Barnett showed Bill Royal, owned by North Wales Farm, to tie Matlock Rose and J.D. Tadlock for fifth place in the NCHA Futurity; the same year he placed third in NCHA Top Ten standings aboard Mackay Alice.

Little Joe Jones, who Barnett paid $750 for and whose dam was a AAA race mare, carried him to claim the reserve championship of the 1968 NCHA Futurity. It was the first of 12 NCHA Futurity performances for Barnett, who also tied as reserve champion of the 1970 NCHA Derby riding Bill’s Highness. Other business interests kept Barnett out of the saddle during the mid-1970s, but he was back in the NCHA Top Ten standings in 1978 with Lucky Bottom 5, who also won the 1978 World Champion Gelding title.

Barnett was living in Logansport, Ind., when R.L. Waltrip of Houston sent him Colonel Flip. Barnett showed the stallion to place second in the 1983 NCHA Futurity Semi-Finals and to tie for third in the Finals. In 1985, Billy Joe Browning sent a 5-year-old stallion by Son Ofa Doc out of Chiquita Boss to Barnett for appraisal.

“Short Doc was a wild little booger when I got him,” said Barnett. “He had been turned out after he was three, but I convinced Billy Joe to geld him and after that he started making a neat pony.”

Short Doc and Barnett won two major stock show cuttings in 1986 and placed second in the TQHA National Stakes before the gelding bowed both front tendons and had to be laid off. When he came back, he placed in the 1987 NCHA World standings and went on to win the 1988 NCHA World Finals and place third in the World standings. In 1990, Barnett and Short Doc claimed the NCHA World Championship reserve title.

During nearly six decades as a successful cutting horse trainer and competitor, as well as a past NCHA Executive Committee member, an Augusta Futurity director, and an NCHA judge, Barnett touched many lives and will be remembered as an unwavering ambassador for the sport.

A Celebration of Life will be held 2:00 p.m., Tuesday, August 28, at Brenham Fireman’s Training Center, 1101 Hwy 290 West.

In lieu of flowers, a scholarship fund has been set up in honor of Keith. Contributions can be mailed to Brenham National Bank, P.O.Box 2568, Brenham, TX 77834

Services are in the care of Brenham Memorial Chapel, 2300 Stringer St., Brenham, TX. 979.836.361l Access on-line guest registration at

Bob Mayfield, 1939-2018

Thursday, July 26th, 2018

Bob MayfieldFormer NCHA President and Hall of Fame member Bob Mayfield, 79, of Wills Point, Tex., passed away July 26, following a lengthy illness. In his 35 years with the National Cutting Horse Association, he distinguished himself as a director, AAAA judge, breeder, and advocate for grassroots cutters.

He was active in his community, serving as president of the local school board and chamber of commerce, and was named Wills Point Citizen of the Year in 1995 and Van Zandt County Man of the Year in 2005.

Mayfield was born July 19, 1939 in Commerce, Tex., graduated from Wills Point High School, and joined the Navy in 1956.

He had never been on a horse before he became a ranch manager in Canton, Tex. in the late 1960s. He introduced cattle to the operation, and paid a trainer in hay to turn his unregistered buckskin mare into a useful ranch horse. That experience laid the foundation for him to later join NCHA.

He went to work for the Garland Fire Department and was also a member of the Wills Point Volunteer Fire Department. He is thought to be the only NCHA President to have delivered a baby in the back of a car.

Mayfield bought a concrete business in 1978 and grew it from four trucks and three employees to 50 trucks and 50 employees. He sold that business after 20 years and focused on breeding and raising cutting horses.

He began showing cutting horses at the age of 45 and won the Non-Pro Big Country Futurity on SR Lady Tari in 1987. In 1990, he was ranked in the Top 5 in the NCHA World Standings in the $20,000 Amateur class. He accumulated career earnings of $95,839.

“My background is strictly with the grassroots cutters who are dedicated to the association because of their love for the sport,” Mayfield said during his successful campaign for the NCHA vice presidency in 2005. “I’ve met many hundreds of members from across the country who come from a wide variety of backgrounds, but in all cases, cutting is the common denominator that unites them.”

He was a lifetime member of NCHA, AQHA and Cutters in Action. He served as NCHA president in 2007 and was inducted into the NCHA Members Hall of Fame in 2016.

With his wife, LaJuan, Bob Mayfield had two sons, Steve and Chris, and a stepdaughter, Jennifer.


Lonnie Allsup, 1933-2018

Monday, January 29th, 2018

Lonnie Allsup with Little Badger Dulce, an all-time leading money earner.  Photo by Sally Harrison


Former NCHA President Lonnie Allsup, 84, of Clovis, New Mexico, passed away January 28 from complications following surgery. Allsup, who was NCHA Non-Pro World Champion in 1996 with his great mare Little Badger Dulce, was inducted into the NCHA Non-Pro Hall of Fame in 2001.

Lonnie Allsup was born in Morton, Texas, about 50 miles west of Lubbock, in 1933. He was active in sports in high school, where he met his future wife, Barbara, a majorette in the school’s band.

He joined the Air Force in 1952 and worked as a radar instructor in Japan and the Far East, as well as in the States. Thirty days before completing his service  in 1956, he signed a contract to buy one of the two convenience stores in Roswell, New Mexico. He and Barbara started working in Lonnie’s Drive-In three days after his discharge. Along with the usual goods, that first store even sold watermelons from a horse trough in the parking lot.

He grew his enterprise to include a dozen stores in Roswell, Ruidoso and Alamagordo, New Mexico, before selling them to Southland Corporation, which operates the 7-Eleven chain. But within a year, he built a new store in Clovis, and he was back in business. Today, the Allsup’s chain has more than 300 stores in 160 towns and cities. One of the company’s innovations in the 1960s was to introduce self-serve gasoline to the region.

He also owned ranches, several radio stations, and was active in community life.

Allsup’s father had been a horse and mule trader, a mechanic and a blacksmith before eventually becoming a Chevrolet dealer.

“He really taught me to work,” Allsup recalled, “but he had me handling greasy parts, so I told him, ‘I’m going to get a cleaner job.’ He said, ‘As long as you work, I don’t care.’

“My father loved cutting horses, and I knew what they were back in the late ’40s or early ’50s,” Lonnie told me in 1995. “He used to show a little bit around the rodeo cutting shows, and I had ridden some just to practice on his farm.

“When I got my ranches and needed horses to work cattle with, I remembered those better bred horses. Back in those days, he had King-bred horses and some Leo blood. They’d just started using the Three Bars blood, and he crossed some King and Three Bars, but Doc Bar had not shown up at that time.”

In the 1980s, the Allsups had an AQHA World Champion Cow Horse named Tasmanian Tari, along with some reiners and roping horses.

“But I liked cutting a lot better,” Allsup said, “and besides, I could participate, so I started showing them in the early ’80s.”

He credited Gary Ray with getting him started in cutting. Hall of Fame Riders Ascension Banuelos and John Tolbert trained for him in the early days, and then he hooked up with Pete Branch in a relationship that has spanned three decades.

Allsup took over hosting the Adrian Berryhill Futurity and as the El Cid Futurity, on the Texas-New Mexico border, it became a featured event on the limited age circuit. He drummed up local support, and called on his business associates to pitch in.

“We feel that the more you can get the town involved with your cutting, the better off both you and the town are,” he said. “It’s been estimated that each year we put about $1 million worth of direct funds through the El Cid into the community in the 10 days people are there.”

The straight-shooting Allsup was elected President of NCHA for its 50th anniversary year. “I don’t know how to politic,” he said. “My only motive is to help NCHA. I’ll do everything I can and use my business expertise and all of my energies to try to help NCHA do a better job and serve the membership.

“This (the presidency) doesn’t pay very good!”

Lonnie and Barbara Allsup owned many great horses over the years. Little Badger Dulce ($657,276), shown by Pete Branch, was NCHA’s first Horse of the Year, and she carried Lonnie to the 1996 NCHA Non-Pro World Championship. She is also the granddam of Kit Kat Sugar, the Allsups’ 2012 Horse of the Year, also shown by Branch.

Branch also showed their mare Ms Peppy Cat to two Open World Championships. Robert Rust showed Glo Little Lena to a World Championship for them.

The Allsup breeding program produced many other stars including Reyann Hickory ($313,000), Rey Jay Play ($215,000), Mississippi Cat ($207,000) and million-dollar sire Dulces Smart Lena, out of Little Badger Dulce.

Details are pending for a public memorial service for Lonnie Allsup.

Mel Shearin, 1930-2017

Friday, December 15th, 2017

Mel Shearin.

Mel Shearin, of Saint Clair, Missouri, a horseman’s horseman and a giant among Midwestern cutters, has passed away at age 87. Shearin, who was inducted into the NCHA Hall of Fame in 2009, began working with horses when he was 13 and was an NCHA member from the 1950s.

Born in Farmington, Missouri on June 21, 1930, Shearin began working for local farmers as a 12-year-old, earning fifty cents a day, as well as setting pins at the local bowling alley for a nickel a game.

But by the time he was 13, he got a job driving a team of horses, and at 15, he spent summers working in Texas.

He served in the Korean War, receiving a Purple Heart and the United Nations Service Medal. After the war, he worked for Adams Milk, driving a six-pony hitch in local events. He married Irma Smith in 1956 and they had four children, Lisa, Louis, Larry and Linda.

In the early 1960s, Shearin went to work for August Busch at Grant’s Farm, caring for their world-famous Clydesdales. He also began making a name for himself in the cutting world with horses like Gold Tender, with whom he won the American Royal, one of the biggest cuttings in the country at the time. He also won championships  at Congress, the Denver National Show, and the Kansas and Missouri Maturity.

A full page photo of Shearin on Gold Tender appeared in Sports Illustrated, along with a caption that described them as “apparently defying gravity.”

Shearin mentored many amateur and non-pro riders over the years, and had a special influence with youth cutters. His trainees included NCHA Youth World Champions Larry Shearin and Debbie Shaw, and future NCHA president Ernie Beutenmiller Jr.

Besides cutting, he trained halter and pleasure horses for many years. One of his stars, Van Decka, set an AQHA record for youth points.

When a reporter noted that Shearin had been called the ‘Stan Musial of the cutting horse industry,’ Shearin replied,  ”I’m a little uncomfortable with that comparison. I’ve met Stan Musial. He was quite a baseball player and is a great person.”

He preferred to say that he was a simple man who had been fortunate to live his dream of being a cowboy.

Services for Mel Shearin are pending.

Bobby Pidgeon, 1933-2017

Sunday, July 16th, 2017

Bobby Pidgeon, photo by Sally Harrison@

George Robert “Bobby” Pidgeon Sr., Moscow, Tenn., passed away on Friday, July 14, after an extended illness. As an NCHA competitor, breeder, show producer, raconteur and enthusiast, Bobby Pidgeon had few equals.

As a non-pro competitor, Pidgeon, an NCHA Non-Pro Hall of Fame member, who had not shown for more than a decade before his death, ranks 22nd  among all-time leading non-pro money earners with $1.1 million. His career highlights include the 1990 and 1991 non-pro championships of the NCHA Classic Challenge on Dual Pep, who under Pidgeon’s promotion developed into one of cutting’s all-time leading sires and broodmare sires.

In 1991, Pidgeon established Bar H Ranche in Weatherford, Tex., where he stood Dual Pep and CD Olena, the 1994 NCHA Futurity Open champion and 1995 NCHA Horse of the Year, who also became a leading sire and broodmare sire. Dual Pep and CD Olena have sired offspring with combined earnings of over $45 million and are maternal and/or paternal grandsires of earners of $93 million.

In addition to showing, breeding and promoting his own horses, Pidgeon produced the popular Western Cutting Series of limited age events from 1988 through 2000, and as an advocate and example, he attracted and encouraged many high profile new-comers to the sport.

Pidgeon bred CD Olena out of CD Chica San Badger, who he purchased from non-pro rider Sheila Welch. “I bought her for a broodmare, but she just happened to be the age where I could show her a little,” said Pidgeon of the Peppy San Badger daughter. “I never thought I’d own a stud. Then I bought Dual Pep. It was the luck of the draw.”

Pidgeon’s  purchase of CD Chica San Badger and establishment of the Bar H Ranche dovetailed with an arrangement with the young Canadian rider Winston Hansma to manage his breeding and show operation.

“When I bought (CD Chica San Badger) and hired Winston to take over the place, I named it after the Hansma family,” Pidgeon told me. “I didn’t want people to think it was just mine.” At the same time Paul Hansma, Winston’s brother, who went on to win the NCHA Futurity on Playboy McCrae, joined the staff.

“You can’t have a successful program without some really good people like Winston and Paul,” said Pidgeon. “Winston is the one that said to breed CD (Chica San Badger) to Doc O’Lena. I let him pick all the mares. I really didn’t have anything to do with it.

“When you don’t know a lot about something, you’d better listen. I learned that in business. You are no better than the people under you. I run my business the same way. Whether they were the janitor or who, I always hired the best people I could find.”