Black Elk Cutting

The youngest exhibitor at last weekend’s Black Elk Cutting in Ponoka, wee Colten Powell competing in the Junior youth class.

“Build it & they will come” – and come they did – from all three western provinces and from Big Fork, Montana, too. May 22 – 26 saw the return of the Black Elk Cutting Classic to the Calnash Trucking Ag Event Centre in Ponoka, Alberta. It was a family affair, as competitors ranged in age from 8 to about 75. About 400 cuts were judged over the five days by veteran judges, Joe Cameron and Todd Williamson, hailing from Alabama and Idaho, respectively.

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“This is an outstanding facility to see in a small town,” stated Cameron. Both judges have judged Canadian shows before; Williamson stated that “I think it’s the nicest facility in Canada.” Both Cameron and Williamson have been involved with the sport of cutting horses for most of their lives, either raising, training or judging cutting horses. They also found some sightseeing time between classes; Joe was most impressed with the cleanliness of the countryside. They both remarked on how friendly people were here, the good quality of the cattle used in the event, and the excellent maintenance in the building, evident throughout the event.

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Ron Andersen is a well known voice in the equine industry. He made a return trip to Ponoka to announce the 2nd annual Black Elk Cutting Classic. “I’m so impressed with the sound in the Ag Centre; I like announcing here because there’s no dead spots – people can hear me no matter where they’re sitting in the building,” Ron said with a laugh. “This year, I’ve really been impressed with the cattle handling crew, how quickly the herd changes are made; the entire staff have been accommodating, working hard to make sure the event ran smoothly. They’ve had to deal with rain for the better part of two days, but they kept their sense of humour and have really been helpful in so many ways.”

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Competitors at the Black Elk Cutting Classic can collect points in the Alberta Cutting Horse Association, the Canadian Cutting Horse Association and the National Cutting Horse Association’s points programs. Year-end awards for each of these associations are based on the competitor’s performance throughout the year. Winners of classes at this event received leather jackets, with reserve champions taking home fleece coolers for their horses. Total prizes and prize money approximated $40,000. Brett Jones and his horse Sweet Lil Gal garnered themselves a jacket in the $15,000 amateur aggregate, and Harold Radke took home a very nice cooler for his reserve aggregate win in the $2000 limit rider division.

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Scott Wardley, president of the ACHA, made the trip here from Okotoks. “This is one of ACHA’s biggest shows, and we’ve enjoyed being here this week. We know it’s a new facility, and there’s always a few kinks to work out in a new facility. We can see the team work that’s going on to ensure we have the best show possible. We’re making plans to return in September for a new show, and have started making plans for the 3rd Annual Black Elk Classic in May, 2014.”

Arizona Ridin'

Royal Cutting

The First Cold Day

Calgary Stampede Cutting Finals

Les Timmons & Sindicat Win Futurity

Les Timmons of Kamloops, B.C., and Sindicat show winning form in winning the marquee Open Futurity class Saturday night during the 32nd annual Calgary Stampede Cutting Horse Futurity. Victory was worth $16,681.37. Calgary Stampede Photo

Les Timmons was nicknamed Hollywood for his flair in the cutting arena. It seems he’s found an equine companion after his own heart.

Timmons, an icon of the Canadian cutting scene, added another chapter to his already considerable legacy Saturday night at the Stampede Corral — posting a 222 aboard Sindicat to win Open Futurity, the marquee class, at the 32nd annual Calgary Stampede Cutting Horse Futurity, presented by Wrangler.

Timmons, of Kamloops, B.C., has been training Sindicat, a three-year-old stud horse, since he was purchased by owner Janet Hotte of Hinton, Alta., at Fort Worth, Texas, last December.

“What I like about him, in the actual show pen, is his style. He’s all ear, and he just wants to go for the gusto,” said Timmons, the president of the Canadian Cutting Horse Association (CCHA), whose victory on Saturday triggered a pay day of $16,681.37. “He wants to be the man.”

After scoring a 217 in Wednesday’s first go-round and a 210 in Thursday’s second preliminary round, Timmons and Sindicat stepped it up when it counted during Saturday’s 17-team final. That 222 was the highest score of the week in the Open Futurity class, and was enough to edge Timmons’ former pupil Brad Pedersen of Lacombe, Alta., and his mount Catlynn, owned by Calgary’s Ron Mathison, by three points. Pedersen’s 219 aboard Catlynn was worth a reserve champion, or runner-up, cheque for $12,511.03.

“When we bought (Sindicat), he was working cows pretty good. He was a pretty nice colt, and he sort of stood out in the crowd down there, as far as I was concerned,” said Timmons. “He’s solid. Probably the best three-year-old I’ve ever had.”

With 267 entries from both sides of the 49th parallel and $318,000 in prize money this year, the Stampede Futurity is the premier cutting event in Canada. Saturday night, the professional riders and trainers of the Open classes took centre stage at the Stampede Corral, with finals in three equine age classes — Futurity, for three-year-olds; Derby, for four-year-olds; and Classic Challenge, for five- and six-year-olds.

In addition to prize payouts topped up with $100,000 in added money, this year’s Stampede Futurity is also dangling extra incentive — with the final Centennial Trophy Saddles going up for grabs as part of the Stampede’s 100-year birthday bash. Those saddles are being awarded to the Open and Non-Pro champions in each of the Futurity, Derby, and Classic/Challenge classes, as well as the winner of the Non-Pro 7-Up class.

Meanwhile, Pete Branch of Farwell, Texas got what he came for — on top of a fat winner’s cheque for $9,720 and a trophy saddle, that is. By marking a 219 aboard Kit Kat Sugar, he earned the Stampede Futurity’s Open Derby crown — and enough points to clinch the National Cutting Horse Association’s (NCHA) Open Horse of the Year award for the four-year-old stallion owned by Lonnie and Barb Allsup of Clovis, N.M.

Branch and Kit Kat Sugar arrived in Calgary, alongside Lloyd Cox of Fort Morgan, Colo., and four-year-old stallion Hottish, waging a furious two-team battle for the NCHA’s Horse of the Year title. By winning Saturday’s class, Branch and Kit Kat Sugar ensured that their rivals couldn’t overtake them in the overall point standings; Cox and Hottish, owned by Dustin and Deena Adams of Dublin, Texas, posted a 217.5 in Saturday’s final and earned a reserve champion, or runner-up, cheque for $7,405.71.

Like Cox and Hottish, Branch and Kit Kat Sugar have been crisscrossing the continent all year collecting points in the Horse of the Year chase. They have just one show left — the Southern Futurity in Jackson, Miss.

“My first cow wasn’t as good tonight, and I was a little worried it could cost me, but as it turned out, Lloyd’s third cow wasn’t very good either,” said Branch. “These are just two great horses, and they’ve been going at it all year. I had several people come up to me and say they hated to see it end.

“But,” he added with a laugh, “I don’t. I wasn’t one of those people.”

Branch becomes the first trainer in history to have two NHCA Open Horse of the Year winners in his stable, after riding Little Badger Dulce, Kit Kat Sugar’s grandmother, to the same title back in 1994.

“Little Badger Dulce was the very first NCHA Horse of the Year. When I won the first one, it wasn’t a points deal — the (NCHA’s) executive board decided by a vote,” added Branch. “That mare had won everything that year, so it really was no contest. This points deal, it’s actually a race. It’s a lot more exciting, you know?”

In Saturday’s Open Classic/Challenge final, Cameron Verstegen of Eagle Point, Ore., proved triumphant in his first Stampede Futurity appearance — scoring an eye-popping 226 aboard Pounce, owned by Clarke Butte Ranch of Bend, Ore., and stuffing $8,955.46 in his Wranglers.

“I haven’t had the opportunity to show her very much. I showed her one other time, at a weekend show, before we came here, just to get to know her,” said Verstegen. “Here in Calgary this week, she proved she’s a really, really good show horse. She’s the kind who can go cut any cow in the pen, and hold it.”

Branch and Reymember That Cat, also owned by the Allsups, marked a 222 for the Open Classic/Challenge reserve title, worth $6,975.83.

Saturday’s Open Futurity final was a 17-team affair, after 51 teams started the competition on Wednesday. The Open Derby final saw 14 teams square off for glory and prize money, after 37 teams had originally thrown their hat in the ring. The Open Classic/Challenge final, meanwhile, featured the best 16 teams from an original field of 47.

On Sunday, Oct. 14, the Stampede Futurity’s focus will shift to the Non-Pro riders, as the four Non-Pro finals — Futurity, Derby, Classic Challenge, and 7-Up for horses aged seven or older — begin at approximately 1 p.m. at the Corral. Non-Pro riders make no part of their income by training horses, and can only enter horses owned by themselves or immediate family members. A $50,000 Limit Amateur Class, for those with NCHA earnings of less than $50,000 as of Jan. 1, 2012, is also offered within Non-Pro’s Derby and Classic Challenge classes.

For more information on the 32nd annual Calgary Stampede Cutting Horse Futurity, including round-by-round results, please visit calgarystampede.com/ag

To watch the Stampede Futurity live on the web, please visit ag.calgarystampede.com/futurity-live-stream.html

 

Race for the World

Waxing ecstatic about this battle in the saddle, Pete Branch invokes the lingo of the sweet science. You know, the squared circle.

“It’s two really good horses, and as I told somebody the other day, they kind of remind me of two heavyweight or middleweight boxers just standing in the ring, trading punches,” says Branch, the veteran cutting horse trainer from Farwell, Texas. “That’s kind of the way it’s been, all year long . . . they’ve just gone back and forth. It really is a lot of fun.”

Pete Branch of Farwell, Texas, and Kit Kat Sugar, owned by Lonnie and Barbara Allsup of Clovis, N.M., have arrived at the Calgary Stampede Cutting Horse Futurity, presented by Wrangler, with a 13-point lead in the NCHA’s Open Horse of the Year race. Calgary Stampede Photo

The Calgary Stampede Cutting Horse Futurity, presented by Wrangler, kicked off its 32nd annual edition on Wednesday in the Stampede Corral, and will wind up on Saturday, Oct. 13 and Sunday, Oct. 14 with weekend championship finals. And this year’s Stampede Futurity comes with a bonus championship cutting chronicle — as a pair of teams from the United States go right down to the wire, with the National Cutting Horse Association’s (NCHA) Open Horse of the Year award at stake.

Branch and Kit Kat Sugar, a four-year-old stallion owned by Lonnie and Barbara Allsup of Clovis, N.M., lead the NCHA Open Horse of the Year chase with 84 points, while Lloyd Cox of Fort Morgan, Colo., and Hottish, a four-year-old stallion owned by Dustin and Deena Adams of Dublin, Texas, are hot on their heels with 71 points. Branch and Kit Kat Sugar are fresh off victory at the Brazos Bash Derby Open at Weatherford, Texas, on Oct. 2, with that win allowing them to open up a bit of breathing room on Cox and Hottish entering Calgary.

Lloyd Cox of Fort Morgan, Colo., and Hottish, owned by Dustin and Deena Adams of Dublin, Texas, are running a close second for the NCHA’s Open Horse of the Year award as they participate at this week’s Calgary Stampede Cutting Horse Futurity, presented by Wrangler. Calgary Stampede Photo

The two horse-and-rider teams are going head-to-head at the Stampede Futurity this week in the Open Derby class.

“Once we won the Breeder’s Invitational (at Tulsa, Okla., in May), that put us close enough to give it a shot. We started hauling quite a bit at that point,” says Cox, who, at one point this year, had opened up a 10-point lead in the NCHA’s Open Horse of the Year competition with wins at the South Point Futurity in Las Vegas and the Idaho Futurity in Nampa, Ida. “I never have tried to win (the Horse of the Year nod), and it’s been a lot of fun. Two really good horses. They’ve both done really well. Either one can win at any time, given the right cattle and the right situation.”

The Calgary Stampede Cutting Horse Futurity, presented by Wrangler, is the premier annual cutting event in Canada, with more than 100 riders and 200 horses regularly arriving from as far afield as Texas and Ontario, and an annual prize purse of more than $300,000 — including $100,000 in added money this year.

The 2012 edition — with 267 total entries, and $318,500 in prize money — offers extra incentive, with the final seven Centennial Trophy Saddles going up for grabs as part of the Stampede’s 100-year birthday bash. Those saddles will be awarded to the Open and Non-Pro champions in each of the Futurity, Derby, and Classic/Challenge classes, as well as the winner of the Non-Pro 7-Up class.

The Stampede’s Cutting Horse Futurity features Open and Non-Pro rider categories — Open for horse trainers and pros, and Non-Pro for those who make no part of their income by training horses.

Non-Pro entries can only ride horses owned by themselves or immediate family members. Equine age classes are headlined by the Futurity category for three-year-olds, and also include Derby (four-year-olds) and Classic Challenge (five- and six-year-olds). On the Non-Pro side, there’s also the 7 Up class for horses aged seven years or older. A $50,000 Limit Amateur Class, for those with NCHA earnings of less than $50,000 as of Jan. 1, 2012, is also offered within Non-Pro’s Derby and Classic Challenge classes.

The Open finals for trainers and pros — Open Derby, Open Futurity, and Open Classic/Challenge — are slated for Saturday evening at the Stampede Corral, starting at 5 p.m. And while Branch and Cox have hauled their Open Horse of the Year contenders up to Calgary together, they’ll go their separate ways following the Stampede Futurity, as they head to their final points shows of the season — Branch and Kit Kat Sugar to the Southern Futurity in Jackson, Miss., Cox and Hottish to the Pacific Coast Cutting Horse Association Futurity at Paso Robles, Calif.

Kit Kat Sugar, a High Brow Cat son out of Sugar N Dulce that was raised and started by Branch, “is a real smart horse, and pretty easy for a stud. And other than being really, really smart, which is so important on today’s cows, he’s super-quick,” says Branch. “Even if he gets tricked, he’s so quick he can get back in front of one . . . he covers it up well.”

Hottish, a Spots Hot son out of Stylish Play Lena, was broken and started by Adams, and entered Cox’s stable at the start of his three-year-old season. “He’s got a little bit of everything. He stops and moves pretty good, and he’s got a real pretty way on a cow,” says Cox, who ranks third among cutting’s all-time leading trainers with more than $5.5 million in career earnings, trailing only Phil Rapp ($7.6M) and Matt Gaines ($6.2M). “He does a lot of things really nice.”

To no one’s surprise, the two teams were top of the heap during Wednesday’s first go-round in Open Derby — Branch and Kit Kat Sugar scoring a round-best 221, good for $1,208.57; and Cox and Hottish just a couple of points back with a 218.5, worth $848.57.

The second go-round for Open Derby will be staged today at the Stampede Corral. The class will follow the second rounds for Open Classic/Challenge and Non-Pro Futurity, as today’s action gets under way at 8 a.m. Sunday’s finals for Non-Pro riders — Futurity, Derby, Classic Challenge, and 7 Up — will begin at 1 p.m. at the Stampede Corral.

Following with Stampede Futurity tradition, a silent auction to benefit the annual Bill Collins Youth Excellence Awards will be held on Saturday night. Items can be viewed, and silent auction bids made, starting at 5 p.m. in the concourse of the Stampede Corral.

For more information on the 32nd annual Calgary Stampede Cutting Horse Futurity, please visit calgarystampede.com/ag , and to watch the Stampede Futurity live on the web, please visit ag.calgarystampede.com/futurity-live-stream.html

Snapshots from the Supreme

Cutting Futurity Season

Canada’s cutting, cow horse and reining pinnacle event – the Canadian Supreme – is well underway at the Westerner grounds in Red Deer, Alberta. The highlight of course are the aged horse events.

This show represents the second final futurity event in Canada, just two weeks prior to the Calgary Stampede Cutting Horse Futurity.

We began our coverage of the cutting horse Canadian aged events with the Saskatchewan Limited Aged Event in Moose Jaw, August 2-5.

Three weeks later the Olds Agricultural Society held their annual Cutters Classic Cutting featuring the first Alberta aged event, with both a Futurity and a Derby, running for two goes.

Jesse Crandall of Ponoka, AB, riding C Marks the Cat, owned by Vaughn Hanson, Jeff Schwitzer of Valleyview, AB, on SDP Overdrive, owned by Richard Hollingworth and Schwitzer on his own Shesa Swingin shared the Futurity first go accolades, each marking a 144. The second go of the Futurity was captured by Doug Reinhardt of Irricana, AB, riding Ken Chrisensen’s Freckles Lil Light.

Dun Drivin and Bruce McMeekin – Non-Pro Futurity champions in both Olds and at Silver Slate. Photo by Sandy Hansma.

The effervescent Mike Santangelo, proprietor of the Silver Slate arena. Mike and his family and crew managed an efficiently-run show for all the cutters at the Silver Slate Arena. Photo by Sandy Hansma.

 

Riding Dun Drivin (Hydrive Cat/DFL Golden Freckles), Bruce McMeekin of Alhambra, AB, captured both the first and second go of the Non-Pro Futurity. The pair repeated this win three weeks later at the Silver Slate arena, near Stavely, Alberta, where the Santangelo family hosted their cutting horse aged event.

At the Silver Slate Futurity Finals, it was This Cats Max, ridden by Dustin Gonnet, who wowed us all, scoring a deserving 149. This WR This Cats Smart stallion is owned Doug Wiens, whom we featured in our July/August issue as our Leaderboard subject. The 3-year-old is Canadian-bred out of Doug’s good mare, PF Docs Med.

Futurity champ behind the scenes help, Bonnie Anderson. Photo by Sandy Hansma.

There was some talk that this gal may have played a critical role in the win – and judging by the smile on her face, she was just as happy with the results as the trainer and owner. We often don’t give enough credit to the work the riders behind the scenes do in preparing a 3-year-old, or any horse for that matter, for their moment in the ring. Let’s give it up for the lopers once in a while!

 

This Cats Max, ridden by Dustin Gonnet. Photo by Sandy Hansma.

Watch for this stallion and 16 other 3-year-olds in the Open Cutting Futurity Finals on Saturday. The Canadian Supreme Open Cutting Futurity Finals runs tomorrow morning.

Gerry Hansma on Genuine Catch, owned by Welland Muri, Silver Slate Open Derby First Go Champion. Photo by Sandy Hansma.

Meanwhile in the Derby, two goes gave us all an indication of what could be expected at the Supreme. Gerry Hansma aboard the Canadian-bred Genuine Catch, owned by Welland Muri of Calgary, marked a thrilling 149 to capture the first go, and Doug Reinhardt on Ray Too Smart caught the second go championship with a 148.5.

A special thanks to Sandy Hansma for sharing these gorgeous shots she snapped at the Silver Slate Arena.

Hope we see you at the show this weekend, please drop by the Western Horse Review booth and say hello. We have a fantastic subscription offer available there and a draw to enter as well.

If you can’t possibly make it to Red Deer this weekend, you can catch a live feed of the events here.