NCHA Hall of Fame rider Stanley Bush, 81, who died on February 26, joined the National Cutting Horse Association in 1950 and finished in the Top 10 standings more than a dozen times. He rode such great horses as Joe’s Last, Royal King, Snipper W, Silver Light, Alice Star, Royal Chess and Dry N Freckled.
In 1996, he marked 227 on Dry N Freckled to win the Legends Cutting at the NCHA 50th Anniversary Cutting and Reunion in Stephenville, Texas, beating Buster Welch, Matlock Rose, Jim Reno and others. “When you can beat those old guys like that, you think you might have done something,” Bush said.
But Stanley Bush was riding for high stakes before NCHA kept records of their ridersâ€™ earnings. As a jockey for J.D. Lundsford of Dallas, Bush piloted blue-blooded Thoroughbreds from Hot Springs to New Orleans and ran in a $10,000 match race at Del Rio, Texas, in the late 1940â€™s.
His brother-in-law, Matlock Rose, put him on his first cutting horse, Tiny’s Star, owned by Bodell Whitehead (now Funderburgh).
He later went to work for Bob Burton who got Bush the mount on Earl Albin’s Royal King. Bushâ€™s first show with Royal King was at Denverâ€™s prestigious Livestock Show and Rodeo. Although he had attended indoor rodeos, Bush had never ridden in one. He made it through the go-round without a hitch, but froze when confronted with the noisy crowd of spectators on finals night.
“I donâ€™t think 1 can handle this,” Bush told Albin. “Iâ€™ve never seen so many people.” Albin assured Bush that once he rode Royal King into the herd, everything would be all right.
â€œThat old horse just carried me through it,â€ said Bush, who won second overall. â€He had a lot of that pretty play in the front end. And he was the best stud in the world.â€
Besides winning the NCHA 50th Anniversary Legends Cutting, Bush also won a Legends event at Belton, Texas, in 1993.
“That was the first time in my life that I ever signed autographs,” he said. “Winning that meant almost as much to me as being Reserve World Champion. Going in there with all your old friends, thatâ€™s what itâ€™s all about. Weâ€™re all friends, but we all go in there and try to win.”
Bush was inducted into the NCHA Riders Hall Of Fame in 1989, and the Members Hall of Fame in 2003.
Services are tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, February 29 at Mason Funeral Home, Mason, Texas.