“I tried making money in the non-pro and I did fine, but if you’re going to make a living in this business, you’ve got to be in the open,” said Tatum Rice, following his 216-point first go-round performance on Saturday, in the NCHA Futurity at Will Rogers Equestrian Center in Fort Worth.
It was Rice’s first time to show as a professional, as well as his first time to ride in open competition. But the 24-year-old rider comes from a family as rich in “cutting genes” as the finest show horse.
Tatum works for his cousin, Tag Rice, who won the NCHA Triple Crown on Chiquita Pistol. Tatum’s father, Boyd Rice, was last year’s NCHA Super Stakes and Derby champion on Third Cutting; his uncle, Ronnie Rice, is a two-time NCHA Futurity champion; his grandfather, Sonny Rice, is a former NCHA world champion; and his brother, Tarin, 20, won the 2007 Non-Pro MillionHeir Classic, on MH Willing To Cut.
“I really felt less stress this year,” admitted Rice. “I paid two non-pro entry fees and two non-pro limited entry fees and had about $6,000 in it last year. At this show I have zero dollars in it and I can relax and just show the horses.
“I didn’t have the funding to be able to get enough horses to show in the non-pro,” he added. “I could have a couple, but never enough to have three-year-olds to choose from or four- and five-year-olds.”
Rice was catch-riding Shes Twice As Smooth, on Saturday, for his cousin, Tag, who scored 217 points on Sunday aboard his own horse, Chiquita Cat, out of Chiquita Pistol.
Ronnie Rice, Tag Rice and Boyd Rice are all members of the NCHA Riders Hall of Fame and have each earned more than $4 million, $3 million and $2.6 million, respectively.
The $4.5 million NCHA Futurity continues through Sunday, December 13.