When I heard last Tuesday morning about the death of cutting horse trainer Carlos Banuelos, 34, I was reminded of the conversation I had with him six weeks ago, at the NCHA Summer Spectacular. It was the first day of the show, where Banuelos and 6-year-old Miss Biscalena, owned by Bill Masterson, had held a horrific cow and marked 218 points.

Banuelos had started the Mister Dual Pep mare at two, but did not get a chance to show her until she was five and had missed almost two years of limited age events.

“I didn’t get along with her very good at first,” Banuelos said. “But I could tell that she was a good mare. I started showing her in the small weekend shows to get her seasoned a little bit, and she got smarter and smarter. Lately, we’ve been very successful.”

Prior to the Summer Spectacular, Banuelos and Miss Biscalena had qualified for the finals of five major events in 2009, while Masterson, an amateur, qualified for three.

When they reconnected in 2008, there were stronger ties than 2-year-old training between Banuelos and Miss Biscalena. Carlos had ridden the mare’s half-sister, Bisca Jewelena, by Lenas Jewel Bars, to tie his older brother and mentor, Ascencion, for the championship of the 2000 Abilene Spectacular Classic. Both Bisca Jewelena and Ascencion’s horse, Shake N Play, were owned by Lonnie Allsup, who rode both horses as a non-pro.

Carlos first showed Bisca Jewelena, the earner of $238,299,  to seventh-place in the 1998 NCHA Futurity, then claimed the reserve championship of the Augusta Futurity. Altogether, he qualified the mare for 10 major finals and Ascencion was aboard her for four more.

“There are a lot of similarities,” said Carlos of Bisca Jewelena and Miss Biscalena. “The other mare (Bisca Jewelena) was to me more sensitive. You had to really watch the way you worked her. But they’re both easy to get along with and have tons of cow and a lot of ability.

“This mare might be a little harder stopper,” he added. “I sure do enjoy riding her.”

Miss Biscalena and Bisca Jewelena are out of the Montana Doc daughter Bisca Lena, who earned $71,000 under trainers Gene and Joe Suiter, as well as with non-pro rider Keith Hall, the breeder of the half-sisters.

Forrest photo: Carlos with Ascencion, left, and Allsup, center, accepting the 2000 Abilene Spectacular Classic winner’s trophy.