Kathy Strain and Sneakin Sam.
Kathy Strain and Sneakin Sam.

Kathleen Strain and Sneakin Sam won the 2009 NCHA Western Nationals Non-Pro championship with 219 points. The pair have competed in the Western National finals division 11 times between 2004 and 2010 and earned the Non-Pro reserve championship in 2008 and placed third in the Open finals in 2006.

“My horse can handle a pretty tough cow,” said Strain of 13-year-old Sneakin Sam, who was raised by Strain and her husband Don.

“He loves to cut. That’s what’s so special about him. Today in both of my runs he shook all over. He can’t wait to go.”

The Strains own a cattle and horse ranch, where Don grew up, near White River, SD, where Kathleen is postmaster.

Sneakin Sam was trained by Shannon Hall, who campaigned the Sneakin Lena son for the Strains in limited age events (he was an open finalist in the NCHA Futurity and Derby).

The Strains sold Sneakin Sam at five to Jim Vangilder and in 2006, Don purchased him back at auction as a surprise birthday gift for Kathleen.

“At the time I was doing mostly aged events,” said Kathleen. “So then I had to go weekend cut and it’s been a blast. I’ve met so many people that I didn’t know before and have had so much fun.”

Kate Banuelos, Las Vegas, NV, won the $15,000 Novice Non-Pro championship on Saturday and came back to place as reserve champion of the Non-Pro division on Sunday with 222 points. Both times she rode Bettin With Chex, trained by her husband, Cookie Banuelos.

“He’s my favorite horse in the whole world,” said Banuelos of her 7-year-old gelding sired by Bet On Me 498. “He’s great for me every time.

“He was born and raised on my mom’s ranch (Paula Gaughan who produces the South Point championship shows in Las Vegas) and she gave him to me toward the end of his 4-year-old season.”

Kate and Cookie were married in January and are expecting early next year.

“Mom texted Cookie before the finals and told him to tell the baby to hang on because she had a feeling that I was going to go fast,” she said.

$50,000 Amateur

$50K Amateur champion Roger Booth, with his son, David.
$50K Amateur champion Roger Booth, with his son, David.

Roger Booth, Acton, CA, showed Magnalight, by Grays Starlight, to a 219-point win in the $50,000 Amateur division.

“We skated through the go-round with a 213, but I found some more gears to him that worked real well in the Finals,” said Booth, a construction business owner. “He’s a blast.

“He’s an old-timer and has a ton of heart. He gives you everything he’s got every time.”

Sixteen-year-old Magnalight belongs to Booth’s son, David, but Roger rode him last year to win the NCHA world championship in the $50,000 Amateur¬† division.

This year Roger’s wife, Elizabeth, is hauling for the $50,000 Amateur world championship.

Magnalight, a 1998 NCHA Super Stakes finalist under Jimmy Don Purselley, is the earner of nearly $200,000.

Neil Shanks.
Neil Shanks.

Neil Shanks, Alberta, Canada, scored 218 points as reserve champion of the $50,000 Amateur division.

“I scored 211 points in the go-round and just made it on the bubble,” said Shanks, who rode Call Me Smurf, by Jose Boon.

“We tried to show as good as we could and it all worked out,” said Shanks. “The horse was amazing. He’s an incredible athlete.”

Guy Heinz, who trained Call Me Smurf, also showed the 6-year-old gelding as reserve champion in the $3,000 Novice division.

Shanks, who owns a chain of auto transmission shops in Canada, has been riding for four years.

“The first time I put my hand down on a natural, trained cutting horse, it was like being five years old and opening the best Christmas gift,” he said. I smiled from ear-to-ear and I still do every time I have the opportunity to show.

“This wouldn’t have happened though without good help,” he added. “I get the glory and those guys do all the work.”

$15,000 Novice/Non-Pro

Katie Banuelos.
Katie Banuelos.

Kate Banuelos and Bettin On Chex topped the $15,000 Novice/Non-Pro Finals with 222 points, while Constance Jaeggi and Explicit Lyrics claimed reserve with 218 points.

Jaeggi, a Swiss native and student at TCU in Fort Worth, was also reserve champion of the 2010 NCHA Eastern Nationals $15,000 Novice/Non-Pro on Explicit Lyrics, and Chubby Turner rode the 6-year-old CD Olena daughter as reserve champion of the Western Nationals Open and finalist in the $3,000 Novice divisions.

Constance Jaeggi.
Constance Jaeggi.

“I was sixth in the bunch and the cows were pretty tough,” said Jaeggi of her finals run. “I cut the last cow for 30 seconds (on the clock). It was exhausting. I never wanted to hear the buzzer ring so badly. It seemed to last forever.”

Jaeggi, who has been showing for four years, also scored 218 in the go-round.

“We get along well together,” said Jaeggi. “There’s a connection that you don’t have with every horse. She has this big heart and she’s great.”

Jaeggi and Explicit Lyrics were also Amateur finalists at the 2010 NCHA Super Stakes.