• Western Bloodstock, Ltd

Austin Shepard talks about triple futurity champion High Brow CD

February 16th, 2008

High Brow CD, who was sold by Arthur Noble to Chris and Staci Thibodeaux this past week, is undefeated, after winning the NCHA Futurity, the Augusta Futurity and the Tunica Futurity under Austin Shepard. Shepard, who is 30, claimed his first limited age event title in 2000 with a win aboard Kit Dual in the Southern Futurity. Since then, he has earned more than $2 million

Following the sale of High Brow CD, I spoke with Shepard, who will continue to show the stallion throughout 2008.

Q: When I spoke with you after the first go-round of the NCHA Futurity, you were very enthused about this horse. You’ve ridden your share of good ones, what sets him apart?
A: He’s just so smart and intelligent about a cow. He’s very mature would be the easiest way to put it.

Q: Does that mean that he’s easier to show?
A: I get along better with a horse (like him) that’s smart about a cow as opposed to one that’s really athletic, but doesn’t think about a cow. One like that just doesn’t fit my style.

Q: Has he changed since the Futurity?
A: Not really, and he’s been put in every situation, as far as different pens, different conditions, weather, locations, arenas, buildings. He’s really low maintenance to work and to be around.

Q: What has impressed you the most about him during the past two months?
A: For him to adjust to every situation is probably what has impressed me the most about him so far. The Futurity is a big pen with a big crowd and a big rounded back fence. That’s the one arena that’s different from everywhere else. Then you go to Augusta and it’s a little small, square pen with bigger cattle and a different feel. Then we take him the very next week to Tunica, and Tunica’s a big pen with a flat-back fence and the cows kind of carry you across the pen.

A: Is he different in the show pen than at home?
Q: I think this horse knows when it’s time to perform. I’ve had horses that worked and showed really well, and I’ve had horses that showed well in go-rounds, but that I never could win anything with in the finals. I think this horse feels when the stage is set. When it’s his turn to perform, he knows it. He steps up to the plate. He doesn’t let much of anything bother him. A lot of really good horses are like that.

Q: What is he like when he’s not at work?
A: He’s pretty laid back. We turn him out and spend a lot of time riding him outside. He enjoys that a lot. But once you put him in front of a cow, whether you’re working him or showing him, he’s pretty much all business, and you can feel him really pick him up to another level. He knows his purpose.

Q: Do you have any concerns about showing him during breeding season?
A: I think whether they’ve been bred or not, they know the difference when the weather warms back up. It didn’t really affect him last year. He’s like any other stud. He has days when he’s a little studdier (acting). But it doesn’t take much to get him down to business. It’s obviously going to be a factor, but when we get down to it, I think he’ll know when we mean business.

Q: What is your agenda with him for this year?
A: We’ll go to the Super Stakes and the Cotton Stakes and the Breeders Invitational. Then we’ll see how everything goes through the Derby, and after that, we’ll probably all sit down and decide what we need to do from there.

Q: Do you feel any extra pressure showing this horse now that you two are undefeated?
A: It’s definitely pressure, but I think I’m more excited than I am worried. When you get down to it, if you’re competitive, it doesn’t feel any different than the Futurity. Once you’re nervous, you’re nervous. But I don’t know that when I’m showing that horse, I’ll be thinking about it. It will be more about the job at hand.

Q: You used to show a lot on the weekend level. Is that experience helpful with limited age events?
A: To show that much has given me experience in knowing how to handle different situations. Every time you go down there it makes you better. You take something positive from it.

Q: What other experience has proven valuable to you?
A: My dad (trainer Sam Shepard) taught me a lot about how to work a cow. He learned a lot of that through Buster (Welch). It has to do with the fact that these are cow horses. It’s what they’re bred for and what gets their hearts going. It makes them have so much personality and so much extra intensity and look. It all draws off of the cow.