Archive for November, 2011

A night to remember!

Sunday, November 27th, 2011
Buster Welch on Bet Hesa Cat

Buster Welch on Bet Hesa Cat

If you weren’t there, buy the DVD. If you were there, you’ve probably already placed your order to savor the moments in the Neiman Marcus NCHA Futurity Champions Cup, on Saturday, November 26, including:

All-time winning Futurity champion Buster Welch, 83, scoring 221 points, as the last rider to the herd on 2011 NCHA World champion Bet Hesa Cat.

Spencer Harden

Spencer Harden

Spencer Harden, 82, saddled with Parkinson’s disease, but cutting like the champion he is, with an open Futurity championship and three non-pro Futurity championships.

Dennis Funderburgh

Dennis Funderburgh

Dennis Funderburgh, 77, co-champion of the 1964 Futurity, acing the senior division with 223 points on Peppys Shorty Nino.

Jody Galyean on Auspicious Cat

Jody Galyean on Auspicious Cat.

Jody Galyean, winner of the 1986 Futurity, scoring 230 points on Auspicious Cat, backed by his father, AQHA and NCHA  champion Kenneth Galyean; his sons, Wesley and Beau, also Futurity open champions; and his daughter, Christina Cox, an NCHA non-pro limited age champion.

Austin Shepard on High Brow CD

Austin Shepard on High Brow CD

Austin Shepard, 34, and his 2007 NCHA Futurity champion mount, High Brow CD, with an unforgettable 230-point performance.

Joe Heim, 62, two-time Futurity champion, as well as Triple Crown champion, with a thrilling run on Sophisticated Cat.

Tag Rice, 37, demonstrating that 2002-2003 NCHA Triple Crown winner Chiquita Pistol still has all of her grit and glory.

Tom Holt, Bill Riddle and Red Steagall provided commentary throughout the show.

See more photos on Facebook.

A champion comes full circle

Friday, November 25th, 2011

Buster WelchIt is an unassailable record – five NCHA Futurity champions, four World championships, and three World Finals wins. Those who have witnessed his crowning achievements savor the memories.

On Saturday, November 26, in the NCHA Futurity Champions Cup at Fort Worth’s Will Rogers Coliseum, 83-year-old Buster Welch will ride to the herd once again, this time on 2011 NCHA World champion Bet Hesa Cat.

“It’s an unbelievable honor,” said Austin Shepard, 34, of the opportunity to provide Welch with a mount for the Champions Cup, a one-time event for former NCHA Futurity open champions, on the occasion of the Futurity’s 50th anniversary. “There are so many people in our business today that have never seen him cut a cow.

“When you talk about important people in cutting, Buster’s name always comes up first. He revolutionized the sport from the round pen for training to the type of saddles and bridles we use to the breeding of the horses. Everything we do today goes back to him.

“He’s still amazing. He worked Bet Hesa Cat twice. The first time was about a week ago and I was a little nervous because he is in his eighties. I was thinking that we were just going to piddle around, but the first chance he gets, he takes off after a cow that runs. He hasn’t lost a lick of feel for what that horse is doing.”

Welch won the first two NCHA Futurities, but his love of the sport is rooted in stories of revered horses passed down to him as a child growing up in West Texas, at a time when cutting horses were still necessary for handling large herds of cattle.

“I think a cutting horse comes nearest to keeping the spirit and feel of the open range of anything we do on horseback today,” says Welch.

Marion’s Girl, in 1954 and 1956, was Welch’s first NCHA World champion followed by Mr San Peppy in 1974 and again in 1976. He won the NCHA World Finals in 1967, 1971 and 1981 on Rey Jay’s Pete, Car Hop, and Peppy San Badger, respectively. His Futurity champions were Money’s Glo in 1962; Chickasha Glo in 1963; Rey Jay’s Pete in 1966; Dry Doc in 1971; and Peppy San Badger in 1977.

Shepard won the 2007 NCHA Futurity on High Brow CD, the horse he will also show in the Champion’s Cup. Immediately following the Championship Cup, Shepard will hurry across the street to Watt Arena in the Will Rogers complex, to show Bet Hesa Cat in the first go-round of the World Championship Finals. Although they still have a chance to earn as much as $30,290 during the Finals, Shepard and Bet Hesa Cat have already locked up the World championship title with $78,494 earned during the 2011 season.

Shepard is among an elite group who have won both the NCHA Futurity and the NCHA World championship. In addition to Welch and Shepard, the other NCHA Double Crown winners are Matlock Rose, Shorty Freeman, Leon Harrel, Tom Lyons, Leroy Ashcraft, Greg Welch, Mike Mowery, and Lindy Burch.

Another Riddle

Friday, November 18th, 2011

He was a high school teacher for nine years before he turned to training and won the single biggest payout in cutting history. He is also one of the sport’s all-time leaders with over $4.2 million in NCHA earnings.

In March 1987, at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Okla., Bill Riddle earned $1 million for his winning ride aboard Poco Quixote Rio in the Gold & Silver Stakes. Poco Quixote Rio wasn’t Riddle’s best horse that year, but he was his best that day, out-scoring a field that included High Brow Hickory, who had already earned over $100,000 under Bill Freeman and that same year would plant the seed that produced High Brow Cat.

Riddle’s best horse in 1987 was Aglows First Rio, who he rode to third place behind Smart Date and Miss Katie Quixote in the NCHA Futurity, and who he would show to win the 1988 Super Stakes, after claiming co-reserve titles in the Augusta and Memphis Futurities.

On April 23, 1988, Isaam Fares, owner of Poco Quixote Rio and Aglows First Rio, who had decided to concentrate on his thoroughbred racing program, held a cutting horse dispersal at Fares Ranch in Fredericksburg, Tex. Following the sale, Riddle moved to Lexington, Ky. to manage Fares Thoroughbred Farm.

Although he treasured his Kentucky experience, Riddle, who grew up in North Texas and competed in rodeos as a youth, was eventually drawn back to his roots. His brother, Terry Riddle, is also an NCHA Hall of Fame competitor.

Here’s a Riddle

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

He has owned an NCHA Futurity champion and has been an NCHA Futurity open finalist 19 times – more than any other rider who has never won the championship.

Who is he? Terry Riddle, 65, earner of over $2.5 million and two-time NCHA Futurity reserve champion, on Freckles Playboy (1976) and on Smart Play (1990).

Riddle owned 1975 Futurity champion Lenaette, shown by his father-in-law, Shorty Freeman.

“I had hardly shown any at the time and had never finished one,” said Riddle. “The second or third time I showed her a cow, she just dropped down on her belly trying to work that cow. That about scared me to death.

“I’d never been on a good horse until then and didn’t know a lot of that was natural. But I knew I had way too much horse for what experience I had and she was too good for me to waste. So I loaded her up and sent her to Shorty and let him finish and show her.”

Riddle lives in Wynnewood, Okla., but grew up in North Texas, where his father was partners with Jim Minnick, an early-day breeder of Quarter Horses. By the time he was 12, Riddle was breaking horses, and by the early 1960s was training roping horses for, among others, rancher Joe Ayres, who would partner with Riddle in breeding and showing cutting horses, including Lenaette.

By 1976, when he and his brother-in-law, Bill Freeman, tied as reserve champions of the NCHA Futurity, just one-half a point under champion Olan Hightower on Colonel Freckles, Riddle hit his stride as a Futurity finalist, placing for seven consecutive years. In 1990, he initiated a nine-year streak.

In 2006, at 60, Riddle showed his 19th Futurity finalist, Spoonful Of Cherrios, who placed third to Oh Cay Felix and Hydrive Cat, shown by Craig Thompson and Clint Allen, respectively, both more than 20 years younger than Riddle.

Big time in Cowtown

Monday, November 14th, 2011

The Western horse world will be focused on Fort Worth, Texas one week from today, when the NCHA Futurity begins its 20-day run and the 50th anniversary celebration of cutting’s crowning event.

From November 21 through December 10, in addition to the Futurity, NCHA will also host a special Champions Cup for past Futurity champions; the 65th NCHA World Finals competition; and the 5-day NCHA Futurity Sale, presented, along with Super Stallion Saturday, by Western Bloodstock.

All NCHA Futurity events take place at the Will Rogers Equestrian Center complex, but on December 7, just next door, the Cattle Raisers Museum, located in the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, will honor stockmen and the artists who portray them with the opening of a special exhibition.

We Pointed Them North 2011 features the art of 12 prominent, contemporary Western artists, most of whom have roots in ranching and riding. Buckeye Blake and Teal Blake, for instance, are descendants of C.S. “Coke” Blake, a founding father of the Quarter Horse breed.

Award-winning photographer Bob Moorhouse worked for the famous Pitchfork Ranch of Texas for 35 years, including 20 years as manager and vice president.

Other artists featured in the We Pointed Them North exhibition include Mike Capron; Bruce Green; T.D. Kelsey; Mark Kohler; Kim Mackey; Dave Powell; J.W. Selger; Robert Shufelt; and Chessney Sevier.

Together again at the NCHA Champions’ Cup

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

Tag Rice, left, and Tooter Dorman

On Saturday, November 26, the National Cutting Horse Association will celebrate its 50th Futurity with a once-in-a-lifetime Champions’ Cup competition featuring all the living Futurity champion open riders invited, including Tag Rice who will be aboard Chiquita Pistol, the mare he showed to win the 2002 NCHA Futurity and the only living horse that has been an NCHA Triple Crown Champion.

In addition to her Triple Crown trophy, Chiquita Pistol shares a close connection to thoroughbred Triple Crown winner Assault. Helen Groves, the breeder of Chiquita Pistol’s dam, Miss Chiquita Tari, is the daughter of the late Robert Kleberg Jr., who bred Assault.

Chiquita Pistol, bred by Tooter Dorman and owned by his daughter, Debra Dorman Moore, was sired by Smart Little Pistol and out of Miss Chiquita Tari, a 1982 foal who traces her lineage to Old Sorrel through her King Ranch-bred sire Pay Twentyone. Robert Kleberg was the grandson of King Ranch founder, Richard King, and it was Kleberg who developed the Old Sorrel line.

Helen Groves, Sally Harrison photo

“Consistency – that’s what he was bred for,” said Helen Groves of Pay Twentyone. “Daddy did not like a horse that gave you more than you needed to get the job done. He wanted a cool head on a horse.”

Pay Twentyone, by El Pachuco Wimpy, was trained for Groves’ Silverbrook Ranch by Red Stephenson, who rode him to place ninth in the 1973 NCHA Futurity. Among Futurity spectators that year was Bob Kleberg, who came to watch his daughter’s horse. Although he had been to several of the early-day cutting events in Fort Worth, it was the first time Kleberg had attended the Futurity.

“He was so impressed with the roster of horses in the Finals,” Groves remembered. “Most of the horses went back to King Ranch breeding.” As a result Kleberg was inspired to focus King Ranch’s Quarter Horse breeding program on cutting competition and to hire Buster Welch as trainer and breeding consultant.

When Welch went to work for King Ranch, he was leading the NCHA World standings on Mr San Peppy, a stallion he owned in partnership with Jay Agnew, and a horse that was especially attractive to Kleberg because of Old Sorrel in his pedigree. Mr San Peppy and his son Peppy San Badger were purchased by Kleberg within a year of each other and launched King Ranch and the cutting industry into a new era.

Pay Twentyone was one hundred percent King Ranch breeding, with seven out of eight lines in three generations tracing to Old Sorrel. Old Sorrel sons in his pedigree include Solis, Tino, and Tomate Laureles. Wimpy, his paternal grandsire, sired by Solis, was awarded AQHA registration #1. Wimpy’s dam, Panda, is also an Old Sorrel daughter.

The “Peppy” in the pedigree of Mr San Peppy, and thus Peppy San Badger, also derived from Old Sorrel, although not from the same lines as Pay Twentyone. Mr San Peppy’s dam, Peppy Belle, is by Pep-Up, by Peppy. Peppy was sired by Little Richard, by Old Sorrel, and out of an Old Sorrel daughter.

All of the horses bred by King Ranch during Kleberg’s life were ridden on the ranch and evaluated before they were bred. “There were a lot of criteria,” explained Groves. “They wanted to see if they had any cow and whether they were smooth and whether they would behave themselves. They also wanted to see if they would keep their condition on the range or if they would have to be fed.

“My father never bred a mare that wouldn’t keep her condition under the same circumstances as the other horses. He wanted horses that were all-around horses.”

Groves noted that King Ranch mounts descended from Old Sorrel could “jump like deer,” and she often rode to the hounds near Silverbrook Farms in Virginia on a ranch horse descended from Peppy.

Her mother had ridden hunters, as well, but it was Groves’s father who taught her the art of working cattle. She watched her father and uncles ride the Old Sorrel and his progeny on roundups.

“I remember Wimpy and Solis and all those great horses,” said Groves, who rode Old Sorrel at the tender age of four.

“Daddy rode Wimpy’s mother, Panda. He loved her. He roped off of her and cut on her, and once he took me with him when he went deer hunting with her. He shot a deer that he’d rattled up, but when he tried to load it on Panda, he didn’t get that done. That was one thing she did not do.”

In 1972, the year that Groves showed in her first cutting horse competition, she hired Tooter Dorman to manage a ranch she owned near Oakwood, Texas, and remembered Debra Dorman, who was about 12 at the time. “She loved to ride and she was as cute as could be,” said Groves. “She’s been a capable hand for a long time.”

It was for Debra that Dorman purchased Miss Chiquita Tari. “She was wonderful,” said Groves. “She could get down and handle it because she was strong and quick. A lot of horses, if they get down like that, can only handle one or two moves.”

Tag Rice saw a lot of Miss Chiquita Tari’s best qualities in her daughter, Chiquita Pistol. “I love that mare,” he said. “When a cow’s trying her, that’s when she looks her best. It doesn’t seem to matter what you put in front of her, she can handle it.”

Cutting fans will have the chance to see Tag Rice and Chiquita Pistol together again on November 26, along with Buster Welch, who showed Peppy San Badger to the 1977 Futurity win, and a host of other Futurity champions.

Mike Smith takes revenge with Drosselmeyer in $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic

Saturday, November 5th, 2011

Mike Smith and the great mare Zenyatta lost by a nod in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. But Smith made it to the Churchill Downs winners’ circle today on 14-1 Drosselmeyer, longshot winner of the 2010 Belmont Stakes.

Front runner Game On Dude, with Smith’s former girlfriend Chantal Sutherland aboard, was overtaken on the outside to finish second. Ruler On Ice was third; Havre de Grace was fourth.

“Last year hurt and still hurts,” said Smith, who is now tied with Jerry Bailey with 15 Breeders’ Cup wins, more than any other rider. “But to come back and win on him – this is just the second time I’ve ever ridden him.”

It was Smith who rode Drosselmeyer to his 14-1 Belmont Stakes win.

“We knew he’d get the distance,” said Bill Mott, who conditions the Distorted Humor son for WinStar Farms. Mott, the all-time winning trainer at Churchill Downs, also won the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic on Friday with Royal Delta.

Breeders’ Cup Classic order of finish:


Bill Mott/Mike Smith

Game On Dude

Bob Baffert/Chantal Sutherland

Ruler On Ice
Kelly Breen/Garrett Gomez

Havre de Grace

Larry Jones/Ramon Dominquez

Flat Out
Scooter Dickey/Alex Solis

So You Think
Aiden O’Brien/Ryan Moore

To Honor And Serve
Bill Mott/Jose Lezcano

Ice Box

Nick Zito/Corey Nakatani

Rattlesnake Bridge
Kiaran McLaughlin/Calvin Borel

Uncle Mo

Todd Pletcher/John Velazquez

Stay Thirsty

Todd Pletcher/Javier Castellano


Michael Maker/Paco Lopez