ACHA Member Spotlight
Father and Son ACHA World Champions
By Raena Wharton
It all started when ten-year-old Ben Johnson wanted a horse because he “watched a lot of cowboy movies.” Therefore, Mark Johnson, Ben’s dad, bought him a $750 horse which they named Flash from a classified ad. Mark later purchased a mare “that just happened to be a cutting horse” so he could ride with his son. From those humble beginnings with horses, Mark and Ben Johnson recently became father and son American Cutting Horse Association (ACHA) World Champions for 2022, Mark in the $50,000 Non Pro class and Ben in the Open.
Father and son won their dual World Championships on a single remarkable horse named Catchyalater, owned by Mark. The 2009 gelding by High Brow Cat and out of Rey Down Sally by Dual Rey managed to carry both riders to the top in entirely different ways. The durable gelding swept the Open for Ben Johnson with many points to spare. However, the $50,000 Non Pro race went right down to the last show, the American Championships.
Mark had gotten a taste for gold in 2020 when he was the Reserve World Champion, but then he stepped away from cutting in 2021 to spend some time “boating.” He came back in 2022 more motivated to cut. Even though winning it had been Mark’s goal all year, the World Championship in the $50,000 Non Pro was not determined until the final weekend. For that last pivotal show of the year, Ben suggested that his dad just “make good cuts and go show your horse.” Ben’s final bit of advice was to “go throw down.”
Mark was competing against Paul Myers to be the $50,000 Non Pro champion, and Myers had already proven to be a fierce competitor by winning the Non Pro for the year. It was the close competition that made that final show exciting and satisfying for Mark. Mark has nothing but good things to say about his competitor Paul Myers. “Paul is a fine young man and a gentleman,” says Johnson.
The unifying element for the Johnson championships is Catchyalater. As the trainer, Ben had the task of having the gelding honed for the Open yet solid enough for his dad to show in the $50,000 Non Pro later in the day. According to Ben, the horse’s main attribute is his “try” on a consistent basis. In fact, Ben says “try” is the most important trait a cutting horse can have.
Ben believes that one factor at keeping Catchyalater mentally and physically sound enough to show twice a day has been turning him out as much as possible. Ben says the gelding plays like a colt whenever he gets the chance. Ben and Mark add that Robyn Killion and loper Bridget Arnold plus the barn help at home have also been major factors in keeping the team successful.
For Ben, success began at a young age. He showed for quite a few years in the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Youth, accumulating 413 youth points, and he started showing in the ACHA in 1994 in the Youth and $500 Novice Rider classes. He eventually moved on to training and showing in open and aged events. Currently Ben has accumulated over $460,000 in combined NCHA and ACHA lifetime earnings.
As a trainer Ben credits much of what he knows to working with cutting trainer Austin Shepherd for several years. Among the things Ben learned from Shepherd are patience and that a horse must be comfortable to be successful. Ben tries to get a horse “dialed in but comfortable.” He lets each horse be an individual, and he adjusts to the horse rather than trying to make a horse fit him.
As for Catchyalater, the Johnsons plan to show him in the ACHA next year but “probably not twice a day.” According to Mark, "That horse likes to have a good time,” and his owner wants to keep him sound. Mark plans to keep his son mounted with a variety of horses because Mark says his “favorite thing to do is to watch Ben show.” The focus is mutual, as Ben says cutting is “what he does.” He especially likes that cutting allows a horse to “run fast and stop hard.”
Although Mark expects Ben may show in some of the larger NCHA aged events in 2023, their weekend focus will be in the ACHA. Mark likes “the whole aura” of the ACHA. “It is more personal, more laid back.” He says he has lots of friends in the ACHA and adds that many people in the ACHA have been very helpful, especially to Ben. As far as Ben is concerned, he also plans to stick around with ACHA. From his viewpoint, the ACHA is fun because “the people are happy.”
These two World Champions support the ACHA wholeheartedly. Mark advocates that ACHA members talk about the positives, not the negatives. He believes the association just needs to keep doing things right and its members just need to “keep having fun and keep cutting.”
ACHA Youth Program Remains a High Priority for Cat and Terry Jones
By Raena Wharton
The story of Catherine and Terry Jones is a love story: love for each other, love for their family, love for cutting, and love for the youth of the American Cutting Horse Association (ACHA). Terry and Catherine, or Cat as she prefers, were recipients of the Ben Todd Award last year in the ACHA. This award recognizes sportsmanship and support of others in the association. They currently serve on the ACHA Youth Committee along with Gena and Bucky Bonner. Cat said, “We are fortunate enough to be surrounded by such amazing people in our ACHA family.”
That family is a blended one on more than one level. Terry is an electrician, and Cat is a nurse. They met when Terry was preaching in Coldspring, Texas, where they live now. “Terry asked me on a date after a long workday at the church, and we have been together ever since,” said Cat Jones. When she met Terry, Cat had four young sons, but she claims, “Terry has always loved them like they were his own. That made me love him that much more.”
Cat and Terry agreed to raise their boys to be “kind, hard-working, and respectful.” Cutting is an important but optional family activity. Two of the boys, Morgan and Dually, have become cutters and are currently doing very well in ACHA junior and senior youth classes. Their parents believe the best way for the boys to be successful is to learn to do it themselves. Terry helps them, but according to Cat, “Terry does not ride their horses, they do! That is something I am so proud of!” Cat is also quick to credit the ACHA trainers for helping the boys as well, and she says the trainers are truly great people to help the youth as they do!”
Cat did not grow up around horses, but Terry did. His father was the cattle foreman for Valley View Ranch in southeast Oklahoma. Terry said he rode his first bucking horse when he was seven years old and continued to ride broncs through high school. He also roped calves and team roped. When he moved to Texas, he settled next door to cutting horse trainer Donnie Shore. They had been roping together for a while before Shore put Jones on his first competitive cutting horse “sometime around 1987.” The rest of Terry’s introduction to cutting is identical to that so many other cutters. Terry said as soon as that first cutting mare he rode really engaged and “fell down” in front of a cow, he was hooked.
Nevertheless, Terry did not compete much in cutting until 2000. He had lost both parents in 1999 and decided to haul in their honor in 2000. He certainly did them proud. That year he won the ACHA World in the $2500 Novice Rider and $10,000 Non-Pro on a horse named Cow Minded and the $3000 Novice Horse with SR High Handed Doc. Since then, Terry has been focused on his electrical business and on encouraging and cheering for his boys. He admits he misses the “butterflies you get when they call your name,” but says he can get that same feeling when Morgan and Dually show. Does Terry expect to show again in cutting? “Absolutely, but for the time being it is all about helping my boys show their horses.”
Cat agrees. She says she loves to ride and can see herself competing someday, “but right now it’s all about the boys. I want to see them be successful, to learn to make mistakes and learn how to fix those mistakes.” That helpful attitude extends to other ACHA youth as well. Cat said, “We have a small pen and a small flag, but we tell kids all the time to come over and bring their horses. We’ll help in any way we can.”
Terry offers accolades to his wife for her dedication to the ACHA youth. He says, “Cat’s most important contribution to the ACHA is her tireless effort to see the youth grow. She is constantly coming up with new ideas and prizes and plans to bring more youth kids in.” He claims that once Cat “gets her mind set on something, she gives 110%. That’s why I love her so much.”
Both Cat and Terry have made it a high priority to increase ACHA youth participation. Cat recognizes that, “If we are not bringing in more children and encouraging them, teaching them, and supporting them, then the youth program will never grow.”
Providing a place where youth cutters can compete plus have some fun could be essential not only to the growth of the youth program but also to the entire association. Obviously, they love supporting the youth, yet Cat and Terry Jones also recognize that the youth are the future of the ACHA.
2021 High Point Horse of the Year: Backwoodz Bad Girl
Backwoodz Bad Girl has been a very good girl. The 2014 mare owned by Gena and Bucky Bonner, was the ACHA Open Champion horse for 2021 with Trent Bell showing, and she contributed to Bell being named the top Open rider of 2021. The mare’s combined Open points with fourth place in the Non Pro for owner Gena Bonner clenched the ACHA 2021 Horse of the Year award. Yes, Backwoodz Bad Girl has been a very, very good girl.
Backwoodz Bad Girl was purchased by Gena and Bucky Bonner in January, 2021. Trainer Trent Bell said the mare just kept getting better and better as the show year continued. Her new owners were thrilled.
“I just wanted to buy a horse to make Gena happy,” Bucky said. “We never dreamed the mare would wind up as Horse of the Year.”
Her new horse exceeded expectations for Gena as well. Gena had been concerned that she could not be competitive showing in the Non Pro due to her own lack of experience at that level. It was a tight race among the Non Pro competitors, and Gena’s final position in the standings did not come easily, but she achieved her goal of making the top five in her first year showing in the Non Pro.
Backwoodz Bad Girl is by Auspicious Cat and out of Backwoodz Barbie by Zack T Wood. At the beginning of the 2022 point year, she had $18,333 in ACHA earnings and lifetime earnings of $48,628.
Bell plans to continue to show her in the Open, but the focus now will be on Gena showing more in the Non Pro and other classes. Bell says, “This is Gena’s year.”
The petite sorrel mare consistently gives her all in the show pen. For example, Backwoodz Bad Girl marked the highest score in the fall ACHA Extravaganza with a 77 in the Open. Bell says the best thing about the mare is her consistency. He added that she is not impacted by being a mare. “She acts like a gelding,” he added.
According to both Gena and Trent Bell, Backwoodz Bad Girl is easy to ride. Bell says she is simple to keep ready to show. He calls her the “station wagon” because she is so dependable. He says they turn her out at home, and she is not a problem at all.
The mare is also enjoyable to ride out in the pasture just for pleasure, and quite gentle. Thirteen-year-old daughter Josie Bell favors the mare as one to ride at home. “Josie loves her,” according to Trent.
The mare has had three owners while in Bell’s barn. She had been given the barn name of “Gena” even before Gena Bonner owned her, but Bell says he does not know why that was chosen for her barn name. Nevertheless, it seemed destined to that the two Genas become a pair, and Gena and Bucky have no plans on giving their horse another home any time soon. What they are considering, however, is breeding her, with hopes of transferring or freezing an embryo.
This gritty little mare shows no signs of slacking off. At the first ACHA show of this new point year, Gena showed her twice in the Non Pro. After several weeks off and only one preparatory work on the flag before the show, the pair marked a 72 and 74, earning points and checks both days to kick start the new year.
Even though Gena is the one who shows Backwoodz Bad Girl, there is plenty of help and support from Bucky. Bell says, “Bucky loves that mare. They take good care of her. They appreciate her, and I like that.”
Looks like the frequent trips to the pay window will continue for Gena and Bucky’s mare. After all, Backwoodz Bad Girl is not a bad girl at all.
By Raena Wharton
Most horse trainers talk about their “customers” or “clients” or “owners.” Paige Kincaid refers to “my people” when discussing the owners of the horses she rides. That one small detail creates a big difference. To this 2020 ACHA World Champion in both the Open and the $15,000 Novice Horse class, cutting is about more than what she can win – which is a lot. Kincaid won the ACHA Open World Championship on ZR One owned by Keith Mesker. She also won the $15,000 Novice Horse World Championship on Mecoms Choice owned by Leigh Ann Schultz. However, to Kincaid cutting is almost as much about what her “people” can win as what she can.
Although Kincaid has been highly successful in showing cutting horses, she also relishes helping the Non-Pros who ride in her barn. She does not consider her Non-Pros as just a necessity to pay the bills so she can go show. The enthusiasm in her voice confirms that she genuinely loves working with her “people.” She says she loves watching them get better at cutting.
Of course, Kincaid also loves showing herself. “I eat, sleep, and breathe going to shows,” and she has since her first cutting experiences. She began in Fort Worth at the 2001 NCHA youth scholarship cutting. Mike and Kim McCarty were the first cutters she met, and she says their daughter Ryan “drug her around to all the youth activities” where she met more cutters.
Unlike many youth cutters, Paige did not grow up in a cutting family. Far from it. Her father was from New York, and she grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, where she and her mother often fed carrots to the neighborhood horses. Paige’s introduction to riding was on trail riding horses and jumpers. She has fond memories of Tammy, the thirty-year-old mare with cancer, and of Chino, the one-eyed jumper.
Once she started cutting, Paige excelled very quickly. Eight years after that first cutting in Fort Worth, she was inducted into the NCHA Youth Hall of Fame in 2009. Paige is proud of the fact that, because she was not the daughter of a trainer, she succeeded in spite of having access to only two horses. “I didn’t borrow anything,” she stated.
Throughout high school Kincaid says horses were her life. She did not want to go to any further school because she only wanted to ride cutting horses. “I couldn’t imagine doing anything else,” she claims. After her stint as a youth, she won the World Championship in the $50,000 Non-Pro. A fellow Non-Pro competitor remembers her as someone who would “beat your butt.”
Kincaid eventually worked for Gavin Jordan in California and with Mike Wood. She also spent some time with Mark Mills, Lindy Burch, and Raymond Shumate. Kincaid became a trainer in 2015 and moved to Texas in 2017 after Raymond Shumate convinced her to come to Texas to show some horses for him.
Among Kincaid’s proudest moments are winning the Todd Drummond Memorial Award (an NCHA award for outstanding youth in scholastics, extra-curricular activities, and cutting horse involvement) and becoming a World Champion last year as a trainer. She says the key to her success is “not getting in my own way” plus trusting herself and believing that her way is the best.
Kincaid credits other trainers for supporting her as a woman in a male-dominated profession. She says Gavin Jordon gave her confidence. At first, she felt like she had to work at it a little harder to get judges to mark her, but now that she has proven her ability, she does not feel that being female is detrimental to her career as a trainer.
This young trainer currently prefers weekend shows over aged events. She likes older horses and believes her niche is in fixing horses that other people might not get along with. In her opinion, today’s cattle force horses to work differently to be competitive. “They can’t be that flat on a really tough cow.”
Kincaid predicts that there will be fewer cutting affiliates but bigger shows in the future. She believes the ACHA needs to be flexible to encourage more affiliates to organize. She thinks too many affiliate requirements could hinder expansion.
In September 2020, Kincaid married firefighterJacob Prazak, but she does not plan to change her name professionally. She says her new husband helps a lot at the barn and is just beginning to ride. Their future appears to be emersed in cutting. She clearly plans to continue working with Non-Pros as well as showing Novice and Open horses. “I love having good horses to show, but I also love seeing ‘my people’ succeed” said Kincaid. “We are one big happy family.”
ACHA Member Profile - Martha Wilson,
2020 Non Pro and Senior World Champion
By Raena Wharton
The race for ACHA Non Pro World Champion went right down to the last run of the last show of the year. Martha Wilson, Kelsey Conn, Keith Mesker, all had a shot at the coveted award. When the Championship show began, Martha Wilson was leading the class. The first day of the show resulted in Wilson earning three points and Keith Mesker adding two.
On the final day of the Championships, Martha Wilson held a slight margin over Kelsey Conn, a consistently formidable opponent. That final day that would determine the winner. Wilson worked seventh in a tough bunch of cattle and lost a cow. Conn drew last in the set and also had a rough time on those cattle. Neither Wilson nor Conn gained points on their final runs, but Keith Mesker won the class and earned six points. Combined with the two he earned on the first day, this gave him a total of eight points for the show.
As the dust settled and points were tallied for the 2020 point year, Martha Wilson was declared the ACHA Non Pro World Champion and Keith Mesker as Reserve with Kelsey Conn only one point behind him at third. Billy Light, Bobby Sue Shore, and Philip Wright followed close behind for the next three slots. In fact, the span from first to sixth place was only ten points, indicating how close the Non Pro race was for the year.
In addition, Martha was also named the 2020 World Champion in the Senior class. During the 2020 point year overall, she earned points in the Non Pro class by entering 29 times; in the Senior class, she had 21 entries.
Becoming the ACHA Non Pro World Champion had been a goal of Martha’s after being inducted into the ACHA Hall of Fame in 2017, which requires lifetime earnings of at least $50,000 for Non Pros. Martha Wilson finished the 2020 year with lifetime ACHA earnings at $72,358.39. She says she has won about forty cutting buckles, plus she has earned multiple World Championships. However, Martha claims she is most proud of being presented with the Ben Todd Award to recognize her sportsmanship and support of other cutters. She remembers the late Ellis Randolph telling her the Ben Todd Award is “the biggest award in the ACHA.”
According to Martha’s niece and fellow cutter Jana Lowe, “Martha is like the energizer bunny and not afraid of anything.” Lowe says their whole family is “ridiculously competitive.” Lowe points out that in addition to cutting, her aunt shoots extremely well, rides motorcycles, drives big equipment, and collects antique cars.
Martha and her first husband owned primates and big cats. She had tigers, lions, cougars, and monkeys, including a monkey that bit Martha so badly she had to have her thumb reattached. Martha did not ride horses during her time of raising exotics, but as a child she had ridden extensively. Not in the most traditional sense though.
Martha’s first mount was a burro that her dad ordered from the Sears and Roebuck catalogue. After about three years, Martha’s father supported a trade because he said Marth having that burro meant “she was about to lose her religion.” Susie the burro was traded for a Shetland pony named Vinegar. Martha rode the Shetland for many years, and Vinegar lived to be 32 years old. Moving on from the Shetland, Martha rodeoed a bit in high school, but after she married and had two children, she did not ride competitively again until many years later.
Widowed in 2001, Martha married David Wilson five years later. David did not cut but was involved and very supportive of Martha’s interest in horses. When Martha saw Mitch Farris riding Cat Commander, she thought the gelding was the most athletic horse she had ever seen, so she bought him to begin cutting seriously. According to ACHA records, her first checks were on Cat Commander and Typical Sneakpreview in the $500 Novice Rider and $2500 Novice Rider classes in late 2008. Once she started, she was “all in.” She does not think she missed a single ACHA cutting in 2009, and she was leading for Rookie of the Year before she “knew what that meant.” By the end of her first full year, Martha had won four saddles.
In subsequent years, Martha has been successful with other horses, particularly Cat House Charmer, Scootin N Bermuda, and Fletchtime. She continues to try new horses. “I just want to cut,” she says. Her own philosophy about showing is: “I don’t critique myself after I show. It is just history.” She adds, “If you can’t change something, you need to let it go.”
Martha cuts due to “the horse connection” and because she loves showing. She has continued to show in the ACHA because of “the people.” She says the ACHA makes you feel comfortable, and she hopes the association will be able to pull in more horse people, especially young people, to increase the number of cutters involved and the number of shows.
Recently, Martha has been riding with trainer Michael Blewitt. Blewitt believes Martha’s attitude makes her an “awesome” person. “She wants to help people. It is not all about her,” Blewitt says. “She is cool.”
Martha has also been described as “gritty.” Most people who have watched her at a cutting would agree. Even after being widowed a second time in 2018, Martha has been able to maintain a positive attitude about cutting. “All this good luck I’ve had is due to the grace of God. I’ve had great horses, great help, and great friends.”
Although Martha Wilson got started in cutting a little later in life than most, she wasted no time catching up. Luckily for the people who enjoy watching her show, she is not slowing down.
“I’m going to try to ride as long as I can,” she asserts. “I am 71 years old, and I am proud of it.” Her no-excuses, no-apology attitude is an inspiration for all. “I’ll keep showing up until one day I won’t,” she says.
Hopefully, that day will be a long time coming.
Keeping it in the family! Ron Wright, one of the Founding Directors of the American Cutting Horse Association, is presented with a commemorative plaque listing the 1985 ACHA Founding Board of Directors by current ACHA President, Mike Combs. Mike's father, George Combs, was also a founding director. Ron Wright's son, Phil Wright, has ridden with Mike Combs since he was in the Youth!
Ron Wright, ACHA Founding Director, presents the Founders Open Trophy to John L. Dublin. John won the $1000 Added Founders Open class at the American West Texas CHA Labor Day Bash in Sweetwater, TX. Pictured left to right: Alvin Turner - AWTCHA President, John L. Dublin, Ron Wright, Mike Combs - ACHA President.
Hall of Fame Trainers Offer Show Tips
Compiled By Raena Wharton
With the American Cutting Horse Association (ACHA) 2020 Championship Show just ahead on Oct. 14-17 followed by a new point year beginning soon after, what better time to brush up on pointers for showing your cutting horse? At a recent competition in Belton, seven ACHA Open Rider Hall of Fame cutters offered their tidbits of advice on how to be successful in the show pen.
In order to be inducted into the Open Rider Hall of Fame, the rider must have lifetime earnings of $75,000 in ACHA approved classes. After each name below, the year of his induction is listed in no particular order. This list does not include every Hall of Fame inductee, but a comprehensive list is available on the ACHA website.
Below are helpful quotes from the experts.
Mike Mowery (2019) -- “Drive up enough to give your horse room to do his job.
Sit square in your stops, and don’t pull your shoulders through the turns.
The real secret is getting the timing of your feet in time with the cow.”
Lonnie Morris (2008) -- “Listen to your help.
Have your horse ready even though that isn’t always easy.”
Mitch Farris (2008) -- “Don’t try to mark a big score. Just try to get everything on the credit side of the judge’s card. Don’t think about penalties because that is negative thinking. Let the score take care of itself. Consistency is the key. Five 74’s are better than two 76’s and three 60’s.
In cutting, there are three brains working at once: the brain of the rider, the horse, and the cow. Winning is 80% mental.
Apply the KISS [Keep it simple, stupid.] method.”
Donnie Shore (1999) -- “Cut up [out of the herd] and clean.
Don’t worry about beating someone else; just show your horse.
Remember that it costs no more to feed a good horse than a sorry one.”
Robert Fuentes (2016) -- “Be sure the horse and rider are prepared mentally. Think about what you can improve. There is always a lot of room to improve.
Get a feel of the cattle and bring three or four cows out. Don’t commit to one cow too early; watch for a cow that wants to drive up.
Have confidence. You first have to believe in yourself and not be intimidated. Believe in your horse like you believe in yourself. Have confidence that you can hold any cow. Confidence grows as you do it.
When you show, you own that pen. Those four guys out there work for you. You hire them.”
Rubin Pringle (2010) -- “Do what your horse and the cow will let you do. Know your horse’s limits and show around the horse’s and your strong points.
Prepare your horse at home. Don't try to win a cutting at home, but don’t ride through stuff at the show. Otherwise, when you get to a cutting, you have a horse that is not competitive in a tough cutting.
Don’t try to take a specific judge too much into consideration. All judges like a horse that stops hard and straight and moves clean. Turning around is the result of a good stop. Moving clean means not stumbling around.
Showmanship means presenting a picture to the judge: keep your hand low during cuts, cut in the middle of the pen, quit smooth, turn around and keep it smooth and quiet.
Don’t get in a hurry trying to cut a cow. If you cut in a hurry, it tends to just get faster.”
John Stewart (2016) -- “Keep your heels down, push on the horn, and kick.
Get up and center up on your cuts.
Don’t cut a AAA cow on a AA horse.
Remember the old quote: ‘It is better to cut a bad cow good than a good cow bad.’”
And John Stewart’s final bit of advice is: “Don’t moon your trainer!”
Icons of the ACHA: D’Ann and Ellis Randolph
By Raena Wharton
If you have only been cutting with the American Cutting Horse Association (ACHA) for a few years, the names D’Ann and Ellis Randolph may not be familiar to you. However, these two individuals are true icons of the association. D’Ann and Ellis both started cutting in the early years of the ACHA and served in leadership roles with the Board of Directors when the association was growing, with Ellis serving as president more than once and D’Ann focusing on the youth. They were each recognized as Hall of Fame cutters before they married on Christmas Eve, 2004.
It was a tragic loss to family and friends when Ellis suddenly passed away of heart failure on October 18, 2019, in Belton. Fittingly, he was with his beloved dog Bonnie in his tack room, just a few yards from both his horse barn and the home where he grew up. He is greatly missed by many, but Ellis would not want us to think of him with sadness. Those who knew him remember him for his sense of humor, his inviting friendliness, and his natural talent to train horses. He was a man of many layers. He was a talented artist in both oil painting and pencil caricature. While his western paintings were artistically beautiful, his pencil sketches were wickedly accurate depictions of comic scenes and people he knew.
Ellis trained and showed a variety of horses in Open competition the 1980s, 1990s, and on into the twenty-first century. Current ACHA records indicate his earnings to be $200,955. 04. Many of his winning horses were owned by Asa Bigham, including Hercules Scription, Oak N Hollywood, and Millies Senorita. Ellis also showed Red Bar Hickory, for Kay and T.C. Reeder, and Docs Tee Cee, Addies Star Trex, and Oakin Uno, all owned by Connie and B.A. Emmons. When Ellis’s father W.E. (Red) Randolph purchased Pretty Senorita, Ellis began showing that mare and helping his dad with her. Throughout this time, Ellis also helped his brother Mike Randolph and sister-in-law Rosemary Randolph with their show horses.
Mike Randolph says cutting just came naturally for his brother. Mike claims that he learned more by watching Ellis than from what he said. In Mike’s opinion, “Ellis had a gift from God, but he didn’t understand it.” Mike thinks Ellis had a difficult time understanding why it was hard for other people because “horses came easy for him.”
Ellis served as a mentor for many of his cutting friends. For example, Trent Bell says that Ellis helped him a great deal when he first began cutting. Trent remembers first cutting in the ACHA on a four year old that belonged to Mark Hollar when Ellis took him “under his wing” to help him get started in showing. Many others could say the same.
Rosemary Randolph says Ellis often helped Mike and her and others without seeking or wanting recognition for it. She said, “There were a lot of things that he did for people that nobody ever knew about.”
Friends of Ellis were many and varied both in cutting and beyond. He developed a special bond with Terri and Jamie Rounseville through their love of music. Ellis was always willing to help people and make new friends, but what he really loved was making people laugh. Ellis was not afraid to bear the brunt of his own jokes either, like the time at a San Marcos cutting when he rode in the competition with a big feather painted on his cheek to win a bet.
Ellis’s favorite way to make people laugh was by leading them on with some wild story. He could tell a lie with such a straight face that it took quite a while -- even for people who knew him -- to realize he was just jerking the reins on them. He was so good at this that just a few years ago he convinced his sister-in-law Gena Brenner Bonner that he and D’Ann were planning a trip to Paris. It was all fiction. More than a few others could attest to a time that they were duped by one of Ellis’s tales that were far from reality.
On the other hand, D’Ann comes across as totally sincere. She often served as a super accommodating hostess. During a cutting it was rare when someone would not be staying at the Randolphs’ house. In fact, there was often quite a crowd, and D’Ann had a knack for making everyone feel welcome and comfortable in her home. No matter how late people sat around the living room rehashing their cutting runs, D’Ann would be up at dawn to brew coffee and make sure the whole crowd had something for breakfast.
Once she left the house, though, it was all about winning for D’Ann, and she was extremely good at it. No doubt she still could be if she decides to show again. She has won more World Championships than any other Non-Pro and considerably more money than most riders, including the trainers. Current ACHA records indicate D’Ann Randolph’s earnings at $237,343.23. She was the first Non Pro to be inducted into the ACHA Hall of Fame in 1998.
In the 1990s and for the next twenty plus years, D’Ann cut on several horses including Made By Freckles, Majestic Wonder Too, Miss Cor Oak, Go Far Freckles, Smart Lil Freckles, Miss Son O Smart, and finally Playing the Palace through 2013. However, it was on her absolutely phenomenal gelding Tooth Acre that D’Ann swept most other competitors out of the cutting pen. From the 1990s until the time Tooth Acre was retired after the World Finals in 2009, he accumulated ACHA earnings of $229,971.46, most of which was won with D’Ann showing him. Tooth Acre also had a NCHA Certificate of Ability and $12,995.77 in NCHA earnings.
D’Ann got Tooth Acre through Corky Sokol when the gelding was only three years old. Corky brought him over for D’Ann to try while Ravis Key, her husband at the time, was out of town. Ravis did not think it was a good idea for her to get a three year old, but it obviously worked out. D’Ann and Tooth Acre made a formidable team.
D’Ann was always a fierce competitor. She credits much of what she knows about horses to her father, who roped and cut. According to ACHA trainer Lonny Morris, though, “she was just a natural at it.” Lonny remembers turning back for her when she cut for the very first time at a Quarter Horse show in south Texas. Lonny knew at the time -- and D’Ann realized later --that she was just put into the cutting to “fill the class.” With a chuckle Lonny said, “She went down there and beat their butts.” D’Ann remembers this incident as well. She said she was twelve years old, and “nobody told me I wasn’t supposed to win.”
One of D’Ann’s secrets to success is what she calls the “fifteen minute rule.” This meant she spent fifteen minutes after every run to evaluate what happened, both good and bad. She believes even a good cutting run has things that could have been better, and a bad run has a few bright spots. The point is to analyze what went right while it is fresh on your mind but not dwell on what went wrong for more than fifteen minutes.
She advises cutters to study cattle. “You should know what type of cow will work best for your horse.” She also said you need not only to watch for cattle that have been lost before your run but also for cattle that have been “put up hard.” In addition, this World Champion believes it is really important to communicate with your help before and during your cutting run. “Everyone needs to work as a team.”
D’Ann and Ellis made a great team at whatever they did. Gradually Ellis minimized training horses for the public and began venturing into other jobs. The Randolphs spent some time promoting Port Aransas at fairs and public celebrations and helping Gena and her husband Bucky Bonner with their west-Texas hunting lease.
Ellis also worked for Janice and David Little as a wrangler on several movies, including Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, where he had some time in front of the camera as evidenced by the photo above in civil-war era wardrobe. David observed that it is always hard working with friends, but he said Ellis made it easy because if you got mad at him, he would just tell a story and you would forget about being mad. David also confirmed that Ellis brought his quirky sense of humor right along to the movie set. For example, when one film producer asked Ellis his name, he replied with “Folks round here just call me Hickey Bill.”
Although Ellis is no longer with us, and D’Ann has not shown in several years, their influence on the ACHA is perpetual. A scholarship was established recently by the American Southwest Texas CHA affiliate in Ellis’s honor. Fund raising opportunities will be offered at the Belton cuttings, and information for donations is available through the affiliate. This scholarship will continue their influence and guarantee that the Randolph name will never be forgotten by members of the ACHA.
ACHA CONGRATULATES: Mike Combs
“We have to take care of our membership.” When American Cutting Horse Association (ACHA) President Mike Combs made that statement a few weeks ago, he was referring to creating the best possible circumstances for ACHA cutters. Who would have ever guessed that taking care of the membership would mean having to cancel cuttings? Nobody could have predicted the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
What is predictable, though, is that Mike Combs will continue to do what he can for the membership of the ACHA. After all, serving ACHA members is a family tradition in a variety of ways, and it has been through generations. Mike’s father George Combs was one of the original organizers of the ACHA. Mike remembers “sitting on the sidelines” in the meeting when his father and the other originators were first creating the ACHA as a place for the “working man” to show a cutting horse without having to spend too much money. Mike believes the strengths of the ACHA today are that it still gives beginners a good place to start cutting, and it is a completely family-oriented organization.
To say the entire Combs family is immersed in cutting is an understatement. “First of all, I want to thank my wife and family for the support they gave me over all the years of training and showing. It takes me away from home a lot to haul down the road.” Extending the family tradition, Mike’s son Ryan also served as ACHA President a few years ago. Mike adds that through cutting he has gained a lot of life-long friends, and “they are an extended family.”
His connection with horses began at a young age for Mike. He started training rope horses at age fourteen. At fifteen years old, he trained his first cutter. “I was hooked,” he said. He has been showing in both the ACHA and National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) ever since.
In spite of many years riding winning cutting horses, Mike claims 2018 was his most memorable year in cutting. Not only did he win the $15,000 Novice Horse World Championship on A Dog Bit My Bodee, but he says he had his best hauling partner ever with his grandson Toby. Having Toby haul with him and wind up winning the Junior Youth World Championship was obviously a huge pleasure for grandpa. Mike also says A Dog Bit My Bodee, owned by Gretchen Hawksworth, was a pleasure to haul and show.
“I want to thank all the helpers and friends for helping me win the $15,000 Novice World Championship,” Mike said. “It takes five people to win a cutting. Without good help and support, it is hard to win.”
Among his earlier accomplishments, Mike rode the ACHA Open Champion gelding Freckles Booger in 1985 and ACHA World Champion Open Stallion Docs Poco Sugar in 1987. At NCHA cuttings, Mike was a semifinalist in the first NCHA Super Stakes on Shes A Tari. He was Co-Champion in the Abilene futurity and a finalist at the Sun Belt aged event and the Memphis futurity in 1989. In 1990, he was a finalist in the NCHA Derby on Docs Sugar Cee.
“I have been a lucky guy to have good customers who let me take them and their horses down the road,” Mike stated.
Not only has Mike had a lot of experience in showing cutting horses but also in judging them. He has judged every major NCHA aged event: Futurity, Super Stakes, and Derby/ Classic, plus many cuttings all over the US and Canada. He worked for the NCHA for four years as a judges’ monitor. Yet even with his experience working with many judges through the years, he says one of his greatest challenges as ACHA President has been trying to hire good judges for the cuttings.
Mike’s other big challenge has been obtaining sponsorships, but progress is being made. He says that, at least before the Covid-19 virus struck, the ACHA was “way ahead of where we were last year” financially. The saddles are all covered and getting the buckles all covered is the next objective.
Another aim is generating more affiliates, more members, and more money for both. An incentive has been put into place to support new affiliates, and Mike would like to triple the added money at the Championship Show without raising the entry fees. This year’s ACHA Championship Show is scheduled for October 13 – 20 in Belton, Texas. Hopefully, the date change and a possibility for more added money will increase participation.
Mike says his greatest reward as ACHA President has been getting to meet new people. To help the association grow, he would like more input from the membership on how to start more affiliates and how to improve shows. The recent member survey generated a lot of positives, so another survey is planned. To improve communication, Mike always encourages questions. “No question is stupid. I am going to answer every question the best I can.”
With a father who was ACHA President and a son who was ACHA President, it was only natural to ask if the current ACHA President has thought about his grandson Toby eventually becoming a fourth-generation Combs to serve in that capacity. Mike admits that it has crossed him mind. For now, though, he is also excited that his granddaughter Brynn plans to start showing next year. Who knows? Maybe someday Brynn Combs will be the first woman president of the ACHA.
No doubt the Combs family has been and will continue to be deeply involved with the ACHA. Mike says, “I have and will always support the ACHA.” As the current association President, he says his main goal for the ACHA is to “make it bigger and better.”
As for Mike’s personal goal, he plans to continue showing cutting horses until he is eighty-five years old, even if his grandkids have to help him get on his horse.
By: Raena Wharton
ACHA CONGRATULATES: Zach Harbers
2018 Senior Youth World Champion
One of the cool things about cutting is the unique manner it brings together a wide variety of people. At the shows, we are all just “cutters” while in “real life” those cutters might be veterinarians, business owners, or students. We may be fierce competitors in the arena and fast friends in the barn. We draw inspiration from one another in so many ways. For example, a cutter like Martha Wilson motivates us by being a formidable competitor well into her 70s and not slowing down one bit. Others impress us by how quickly they master the sport.
Zach Harbers, son of David and Clancie Harbers, is one of the “newbies” who is making a name for himself faster than a hot-headed heifer can duck into the arena corner. If you do not know Zach, check the warm-up area for a tall, lanky young man with an easy grin. He is quickly becoming a familiar face to many in the ACHA. Harbers is only nineteen years old, but he is already a World Champion, winning the Senior Youth in 2018. He gives much of the credit to John Stewart, his first and only cutting trainer so far.
This year Zach is showing in the $50,000 Non Pro on many weekends, but during the week he spends his time at Texas A&M University majoring in animal science. Grades are his top priority now as he focuses on getting into vet school. However, just because Zach progressed from being a youth to being an Aggie does not mean he has quit cutting.
In fact, he is even more involved than ever. After the first six weeks of shows this year, he was leading the $50,000 Non Pro, and trainer John Stewart was second in the Open class on Zach’s mare Sweet Lil Kit. Raised by Mike and Michelle Mowery, Sweet Lil Kit, better known as “Harley,” is by Sweet Little Pepto and out of Billy the Kit. Harley’s half-sister WH Lil Glamour Girl is currently being shown by Stewart in the $3,000 Novice Horse class. “Indy,” as she is called, is five years old and owned by Zach’s father David Harbers. Zach had started the 2018 year showing a mare named Miss Dual Twist before his dad bought Sweet Lil Kit for Zach to show. Instead of the usual scenario of a father passing his horse on to his son, Miss Dual Twist has now been passed on to Zach’s dad to show.
Zach says his dad grew up riding and roping but “always wanted to cut.” Zach is thrilled that has father now has his chance to cut in the ACHA. Successful ownership of some Shipley’s Donuts franchises has allowed David Harbers to pursue his long-delayed passion. One of Zach’s goals in 2020 is for his dad to be the Rookie of the Year, and David is off to a very good start. As of this writing, David Harbers was leading both the $1,000 and $2,500 Rider classes on Miss Dual Twist.
Cutting is definitely a family activity for the Harbers family. David Harbers sees cutting as a way to keep young people “off their computers for a while.” He believes cutting has given Zach a boost in confidence. Zach’s mother Clancie does not cut, but Zach feels like the whole family supports the sport. Younger brother Steven does ride, but Zach says his brother enjoys high school sports and prefers playing baseball over riding horses.
As for Zach, his idea of “super fun” was winning the Senior Youth championship. He claims he did not get nervous showing because he had faith in his horse. Trainer John Stewart had matched rider and horse. The very first time Zach had an opportunity to try cutting, it was on Sweet Lil Kit, the mare he eventually rode to win the World Championship race.
“I actually struggled with her [Sweet Lil Kit] at first,” he says. “It wasn’t until the end of the year when I got her figured out.” He says many people in the ACHA helped him right from the beginning. “This is one big family. Everyone in cutting was open and friendly, not stuck up, not elitist, not judgmental. Not a problem at all,” according to Harbers. While showing in the Youth, Zach was home schooled but says he did much of the instruction himself because he describes himself as self-disciplined and self-motivated. He finished high school early, but “feels old” now that he is out of the Youth class.
Zach’s cutting goals for himself include finishing in the top ten in the $50,000 Non Pro class. He also thinks “it would be cool” to win something on the five-year-old mare Indy. In the meantime, he just wants to go have fun cutting. “It is a healthy outlet,” Zach says. “At the end of the day, it is just you and your horse.”
Zach looks forward to cutting for a long time. He draws his inspiration from someone who certainly sets a good example.
“I really enjoy this, and I want to keep doing it for many years to come. I want to be another Martha Wilson.”
By: Raena Wharton
ACHA CONGRATULATES: Ranessa Crawford
2018 World Champion $15,000 Novice Horse/Non Pro
Ranessa Crawford was just “learning about horses and soaking up dirt” at a training facility where a friend took riding lessons when trainer Tommy West gave Crawford her first opportunity to ride a finished cutting horse.
“I knew NOTHING about cutting and was hanging on like a monkey, but that was all it took to get me hooked,” says Crawford.
This nonprofessional is still “hooked” on cutting and has been extremely successful at it.
Crawford rode BV Hollywood Badger aka “Scat” to American Cutting Horse Association (ACHA) Reserve World Champion in the $20,000 Non Pro in 2017 and planned to continue showing him in 2018, but he was injured in January, 2018. Crawford then bought Catty Doc Legacy (Uno) from John L. Dublin in April, 2018. Riding Catty Doc Legacy, Crawford was the ACHA 2018 World Champion in the $15,000 Novice Horse/Non Pro class, and in 2019 she finished third in the $50,000 Non Pro. She completed 2019 by winning the $50,000 Non Pro class one day of the 2019 Championship Show with a combined score of 146.5 and finishing second the next day with a score of 146. For the 2020 show season, she plans to show Catty Doc Legacy in the $50,000 Non Pro.
Ranessa said she had tried the gelding as a four year old but swore she would never own him because she thought he was too erratic for her. She reflects that with time, he got more controlled and she became a better rider. Now she feels “blessed to own him.” She says that even though he is a “powerhouse” of an animal, he is “very easy to get along with.” Nevertheless, Uno’s owner says he has his quirks. “He eats anything: human, horse, or dog food.” Ranessa also claims, “He nickers when he does well to cheer for himself.”
Even after combining with Uno to become a World Champion in 2018, Crawford says another honor which meant even more to her was being the recipient of the Ben Todd Award. According to the ACHA website, “The Ben Todd Award is presented each year to an ACHA member who has gone above and beyond the realm in showing support, giving encouragement and spreading overall goodwill to all their fellow ACHA members throughout the year.”
The Ben Todd award was established in 2007 in recognition of Ben Todd, grandson to one of ACHA’s long-standing members, Steve Buster of Sulphur, Louisiana. “During the years when Steve Buster was hauling show horses to every ACHA show, Ben was by his side helping out with all the horses, tack and feed not only for Steve, but for the entire ACHA family of cutters.”
Ranessa Crawford declares, “My proudest ACHA moment to date is being honored with the Ben Todd award. I'm grateful, humble, and proud to be recognized in this way.”
Crawford is humble in other ways as well. She is very private about her profession in the medical field. She says that when she moved to Houston in 1998 to continue her education, she “felt like a country girl trapped in the city.” She had grown up on a central Texas ranch, but the family sold their horses when Ranessa was five years old. She was involved in sports and was “always competitive” but did not grow up riding. She did not buy her first horse until 2008, a half Arabian cutter that eventually helped Crawford become the 2014 National Champion Non Pro in the Arabian Cutting Horse Association. She says, “I thank God that I've been blessed to ride amazing horses and enjoy every second of this journey. What I enjoy most is the challenge the sport presents, the good times spent with good people, and the friendships made along the way.”
Crawford still rides with John L. Dublin and gives much of the credit for her success to her trainer and others who have helped her. “Like everyone in this sport I've had ups and downs along the way, but I've learned something every step of the way. I would like to say thanks to all of “Team Dublin” for taking great care of my horses, going up and down the road, and helping me on this crazy journey. I appreciate all the turn back and herd holders for saving my tail time after time! I'm grateful to all the other amateurs out there who motivate me to improve and the professionals who inspire me to try and show like you.” She advises other nonprofessionals to “buy the best horse you can and find a trainer you trust.”
Crawford has a unique perspective about the sport of cutting: “What I've learned through my short time in the cutting pen and all the good advice and experiences (good and bad) along the way is that cutting is a stupid sport! It's stupid that something that looks so easy is so hard! It's stupid how these amazing animal athletes can do what they do and want to do it over and over! It's stupid how much it costs to get to "play" for 2 1/2 minutes. It's stupid how much time, money, and effort I will spend to win a trinket. It's stupid how quickly you can go from wanting to quit to having one good ride and being totally back in love with the sport again. It's stupid how much fun it is and how quickly you can become completely addicted.”
One other thing that some might call “stupid” about cutting is the level of sportsmanship and camaraderie that is rare in competitive sports. Not everyone understands it, but Ranessa Crawford exemplifies it. Her message to other ACHA cutters is: “I will see you all down the road; wishing you good cows and clean cuts!”
By: Raena Wharton
ACHA CONGRATULATES: Billy Bob Moore
2019 Top Hand Award, 2018 Open Derby World Champion, 2018 Open Rider Hall of Fame
Anyone who attended an American Cutting Horse Association (ACHA) cutting in the last few years probably noticed a big man in the corner holding herd. That man is Billy Bob Moore, and he is practically an icon at ACHA cuttings. In 2018 Billy Bob was inducted into the Open Rider Hall of Fame, and he was recently named as a 2019 ACHA Top Hand recipient. Just about everyone who cuts with the ACHA knows who Billy Bob is, but because he is a man of few words outside the arena, not many people really know much about the man behind the familiar face.
Billy Bob is quietly successful. He rode Chiquita Reysmooth, owned by Lee Barron, to become the Open Derby Champion for 2018. This champion mare is by Ima Smooth Blue Cat by Smooth As A Cat and out of a mare by Dual Rey that was out of Chiquita Pistol’s mother. Billy Bob got Chiquita Reysmooth to train in July of her two-year-old year, and in a little over two years, he had made an ACHA Open Derby Champion out of her.
Because the Open Derby class is for four-year-old horses only, it basically requires taking a young horse with little competition experience and turning it into a show horse very quickly. According to Billy Bob, showing a four-year-old means you need to have a winning mentality while still being forgiving of the horse when it makes a mistake. Just like people, all horses make mistakes, and they are not all cut out to be winners.
Billy Bob believes, “They either do or don’t have what it takes to be a show horse.” He says many horses can be exceptional at home, but a true show horse has to do at least some of it on his own. He says a ranch horse learns to do whatever it takes to block a cow, but most ranch horses do not transition well into show horses.
Moore says that if you have a good show horse, you should take advantage of the opportunity. “Realize what you have.” He suggests that you “be smart about who should show the horse. Every once in a while, a horse will really fit a trainer or an owner, but rarely both.”
Billy Bob’s knowledge has been gained through many hours competing in the show pen as well as working on ranches. Well-known trainer and cutting judge John Carter gave Billy Bob his first horse when Billy Bob was nine or ten years old. That first horse was a black-and-white pinto named Id Rather Walk. Billy Bob started showing just a few years later in Conroe, Texas, “in about 1972.” One of his first notable cutting horses was a gelding named Tiger Clay by Grey Badger II and out of a Blue Rock bred mare. Moore remembers cutting and winning with Tiger Clay in the early ‘80s.
Today he lives just a few miles from where he was born and raised southwest of Buffalo. He father and grandfather ran a large ranch for a Houston business man until the man decided to sell it. Billy Bob bought the house, pens, and round pen to stay close to his boyhood home. He has been married to the same Sioux woman for 32 years, and they have a daughter and two grandsons. Even though he says his wife has little in common with him because she is not involved with horses, he can “count on one hand” the number of arguments they have had as a married couple.
Billy Bob says everything he does wrong he taught himself, but he credits Ronnie Rice for teaching him 98% of what he does right, specifically how to sort and read cattle. Moore believes reading a cow is the biggest factor in making a good showman. He thinks many people rush into showing instead of learning the basics first. In the show pen, he likes cattle with a little Brahman blood to help them hook up with a horse; however, his suggestion for beginners is to use some old, gentle cattle to learn to sort and drive cattle before showing. He points out that it is harder to hold a cow and calf pair in a big pen or pasture than to hold one cow in an arena.
Billy Bob has a long history with a variety of cattle and horses. He rode bulls during his younger years, including riding several times at the Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo. Highlights from his cutting memories include winning two classes at a Sam Houston Cutting Horse Breeders Association cutting. Although he shows at some NCHA events, he shows more often in the ACHA and thinks it has a “good atmosphere of people.” He considers most ACHA cutters as friendly, middle-class working people. Moore says, “Cutting is great if you get in with the right people.”
Billy Bob thinks the worse mistake beginners make is to put too much pressure on themselves. He says, “It is not always your fault when things do not go well. The horse and cow have something to do with it.” He wants to remind people that they each have to learn how to show their own horse. “It doesn’t matter how much money that horse has won or how someone else did with it. I can put on Michael Jordon’s tennis shoes, but that does not mean I can play basketball like Michael Jordon.”
Billy Bob is proud of the facts that he started riding for the public when he was fourteen years old and that he never worked for another trainer or earned a check riding for someone else. He believes honesty and straightforwardness have been his strengths. His hope for the future is that people will avoid trying to cut each other’s throat and just be honest.
By: Raena Wharton
ACHA CONGRATULATES: Mike Randolph - 2018 Non Pro Derby World Champion riding Frostonthemesa
If you asked many dedicated non pro cutters, some might confess that they work at their jobs just so they can cut. For Mike Randolph, rider and owner of 2018 ACHA Non Pro Derby Champion Frostonthemesa, it is just the opposite. Randolph said, “I don’t preach so I can cut; I cut so I can preach.” This cowboy minister believes the best way to reach people is by becoming a part of their culture. Gathering Strays, his aptly named ministry, “is a way to take the church to the people.” In appreciation of their involvement in cutting, Mike and wife Rosemary Randolph were inducted into the ACHA Members Hall of Fame in 2016."
In the process of blending church and cutting, Randolph rode his roan mare Frostonthemesa to the 2018 Non Pro Derby Championship by competing with the people he was trying to reach in his ministry. Mike and his wife Rosemary raised the mare by Bet Hesa Cat out of their mare Rochelle by Docs Hallmark. Rochelle was purchased from Missy and Curly Tully and shown extensively by Mike, Rosemary, and Mike’s brother Ellis Randolph in the ACHA.
Frostonthemesa was a challenge. “She was wild as a March hare,” according to Randolph. Nevertheless, the mare was talented. Mike had her with trainer Chris Johnsrud as a three year old. Mike showed her at the NCHA futurity, where he barely missed the semi-finals after a review on a hot quit when the cow moved a foot. After the futurity, Randolph credits Mike Mowery and Billy Bob Moore with helping him keep the mare going during her four-year-old year. During much of the time when he was showing, Mike says he felt like he was riding one-legged because of complications of two knee surgeries. He always had his brother Ellis to “fall back on” for help with the mare. “He could fix almost anything,” Mike said. Ellis Randolph had been the “go to” person for many other ACHA cutters as well. Unfortunately, Ellis passed away a few weeks ago on October 18.
The other person who deserves a lot of credit for making Frostonthemesa a winner is Mike’s wife Rosemary. She usually fed, exercised, and warmed up the mare at cuttings because of Mike’s knee problems. When it comes to cutting, he says, “It is not me; it is me and Rosemary. I would not have been able to show without her.” In Mike’s opinion, Rosemary likes cutting even more than he does. For him, “cutting is a tool; for Rosemary, it is therapy.”
Something that has helped Randolph be successful in cutting is his attitude. “I don’t get nervous.” It did not matter if it was a jackpot or finals. “I never felt like I was competing against other people. You can’t make any difference in what they do.” He developed this attitude while competing in rodeos “before, during, and after college” at Texas A&M University. He rode bulls and saddle broncs and roped a little. He also met and married Rosemary while in college. In 1978 Mike graduated from A&M with a degree in agricultural economics, and he got into the ministry in 1984.
Pastoring took Mike and Rosemary to ranches in West Texas near Alpine and Marfa or “anywhere there was a rodeo.” He also preached in several rural churches in Iowa, Kentucky, and Missouri, or anywhere they could stop, “preferably near a river for fishing.” Preaching also took Mike to places much farther away and much more dangerous. He spent time in the Amazon jungle with various tribes of Indians and in the Soviet Union with Christians avoiding persecution. Eventually, Mike and Rosemary settled near his family in Belton, but Mike has a bucket full of entertaining stories of his experiences as a missionary.
With Mike’s World Championship buckle to add to his collection and the Gathering Strays ministry pulling in more and more people at cuttings, this story should have a happy ending. After all, every good story should have a happy ending. Unfortunately, this one does not. Mike and Rosemary’s beautiful young mare Frostonthemesa has been diagnosed with headshaking syndrome. It is a rare phenomenon that raises more questions than answers. It involves an irritated nerve in the skull that makes the horse hyper sensitive. Unfortunately, there is no known cure at this time.
Mike has done extensive research plus taken the mare to numerous veterinarians, equine dentists, and chiropractors. None have been able to help. The head shaking has only gotten worse with time. According to what vets have told Mike, they are not sure if the condition is genetic or if it will get better or continue to get worse. At this point, Frostonthemesa is a five-year-old World Champion mare that cannot be ridden and will not be bred until more is known about the condition and how it is contracted.
No doubt, Rosemary would like to have another horse, but Mike is not sure if they will have another show horse because he is still having trouble with his knees and because of the cost of a competitive horse. He says they have been blessed with good horses in the past even though “people would be shocked at how little we paid for them. Most were rejects.”
Whether or not Mike or Rosemary ever show another cutting horse, they will continue to be involved with the people of cutting. Randolph hopes the ACHA will stay focused on grass roots cutters and people who cut because they love it and not for the money. He added, “If people chase money, they get in trouble.” Instead, he encourages cutters to remember the value of people helping people.
By: Raena Wharton
ACHA CONGRATULATES: MANDY SCHOENST
When Mandy Schoenst won the American Cutting Horse Association Open Classic Champion award in 2018 riding Sneak A Smoothie, she may have raised a few eyebrows because she is a woman – and a very young one at that. Nevertheless, by the end of the year, she had accumulated more points than all the familiar trainers showing in that class.
Yet Schoenst says she did not show in the male-dominated class to make a point. Nor was it out of ego to prove she could do it. Instead, it was because Schoenst had to compete against the professional trainers since she had previously shown horses for another owner. She never really intended to become a trainer, but circumstances put her in a position of riding horses for someone else prior to the 2018 point year.
“I needed a job,” said Schoenst. Simple as that. She says she started trading and showing horses for other people just to make a living. Although she does not regret showing in an Open class, she says it was “misplaced” because she was still learning how to show at the professional level.
Most trainers agree that perfecting your showmanship on a young horse usually does not work, but in this case it did. The Open Classic class is restricted to horses that are either five or six years old. Schoenst bought Sneak A Smoothie off of Facebook as a five-year-old in December. The mare is by Smooth As A Cat out of Sneakin Cee by Maxi Lena out of Lynx Melody. Schoenst owned her throughout 2018 and still does.
Schoenst is very humble about how she won the championship. She says she simply went to more shows. Of course, the number of shows alone does not win championships. Schoenst steadily progressed in her showmanship skills as the year continued. She obviously has talent, but Schoenst suggests that she would have preferred not to be classified as a trainer if circumstances had been different.
“I was out of my league as far as knowledge and ability, but it made me grow as a rider,” she says. She credits her competitors and mentors for helping her.
When the year began, the young lady says she was going too fast and getting in her horse’s way. The struggle was not the mare’s fault according to Schoenst.
“We didn’t do really wonderful at first. We were doing well to mark a 68,” Schoenst confessed. She added that she never felt she was judged unfairly for being a woman. She credits trainer Lonny Morris with helping her learn how to mark more than a 68. With Morris’s advice and more show experience, the scores began to rise. “Once I slowed down, the mare could do her job.”
Another person who receives a lot of credit from Schoenst for helping her is Donnie Shore. Schoenst remembers winning a top ten buckle in the ACHA Youth in 1997 when she was just eight years old. She said that as a child she and her sister never left their horses with a trainer, “but Donnie was always there to help us.” Not only is Donny Shore credited with helping her as an eight-year-old but also for recently pulling her back into the ACHA after her stint with other events and other associations.
Schoenst is happy to be back. She says she feels like the people in the ACHA are more “friendly and inviting” than in other horse sports and organizations. She hopes to continue cutting because she thinks it is something she can do with her five-year-old daughter as a family activity, and she is positive about the future of the ACHA.
“If we can maintain our morals as a family organization, it will grow when cutting gets bigger again. If we try to change, we will lose what we have. We just need to stay the same. Let everybody else hang themselves. Then the people who want to go to a weekend show will come here.”
Schoenst offers a bit of advice to other competitors. She recommends that you not cut corners when buying a horse. In her opinion you should “buy a good horse and enjoy it. It is money well spent.”
Article by: Raena Wharton
ACHA CONGRATULATES: TOBY COMBS
Toby Combs is a fourth-generation cutter, carrying on a family tradition that started with his great grandfather, George Combs. Toby has always been around horses and has ridden off and on since he could sit in the saddle. He started riding more with his “Papa”, Mike Combs and in the fall of 2017, he attended the 2017 ACHA Championships to help his grandpa. After that, he was hooked and ready to try showing cutting horses and has been on the road with his Papa ever since. His first time to show was in January 2018 riding Lot A Memories, a mare his Dad, Ryan Combs, trained. She gave him a great start, but he was only able to ride her for a few months because she was due to foal. Luckily, he had great supporters who kept him mounted with horses to show. He finished the year riding One Time Special K, loaned to him by Mr. Larry Fontenot. With Special K, Toby was able to really gain some confidence in the show pen. He won his first buckle in Fort Worth at the APHA’s Cowtown Cutting in July 2018 and finished the year as the 2018 Junior Youth World Champion, definitely his most memorable feat to date. Toby also won the 2018 McDonalds Junior Youth Shootout at the ACHA Championships. Toby continues to ride Special K, continues to improve, and is continually learning more with every trip to the herd. In July, he was Reserve Champion in the Junior Cutting at the Texas State 4-H Horse Show. Toby is a seventh grader at Tolar Junior High School and enjoys playing football – he currently plays both offense and defense. Toby also shows pigs, and enjoys playing video games, target shooting, and fishing. When asked what was his favorite thing about cutting, he replied that he enjoys it all – from getting ready to go to the show, to the actual showing of his horse, to the friendships he has made along the way. With role models like his dad and his grandpa, Toby is sure to be a success not only in the cutting pen but in all walks of life. The ACHA wishes continued success to Toby and cannot wait to see what the future holds for him – both inside and outside the cutting pen!
ACHA CONGRATULATES: SAM MUNROE
“Mr. Sam” has been a familiar face around ACHA cuttings for many years - as an owner, rider, spectator and sponsor. Sam was inducted into the ACHA Member Hall of Fame in 2006. He is a Lifetime Member of the ACHA and for over 20 years, has donated two saddles each year to be awarded to the McDonalds Youth Shootout Junior and Senior Youth Champions at the Championship Show. Earlier this year, Sam was presented with a custom buckle as a token of our appreciation for his generosity to the ACHA Youth.
Sam Munroe has been involved in the cutting horse industry for over 30 years and has raised many great horses - his favorite one to date is Kitty Cat Bingo, who has combined earnings in NCHA and ACHA of over $30,000. According to Sam, his greatest cutting achievement was making the finals five years in a row at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo! Sam is an accomplished horseman with cutting earnings topping $20,000.
Sam came to the United States from Jamaica in 1957 to attend high school and he eventually graduated from Pace University in New York City. He came to Texas in 1984 to pursue his career as a McDonalds franchisee. He now owns several locations in Houston and Brenham. He is a very busy man, but enjoys spending time with his family, especially his 4 teenage grandchildren. Besides riding horses, Sam enjoys travelling and fishing with his family in the Bahamas.
When asked to name his favorite thing about the sport of cutting, he was quick to say that it is the camaraderie and relationships he has been able to develop over the years and most importantly, he loves the kids! Win, lose or draw – he treasures the time spent at the shows with friends and has plans to return to the cutting pen very soon. We, the members of the ACHA salute you “Mr. Sam” and cannot thank you enough for all you have done for our association.
ACHA CONGRATULATES: JENNIFER BOWERS
Jennifer was born and raised in Houston, but being a true country girl and animal lover at heart, she vowed never to return to city life. She became infected with the horse - addiction disease at a very early age, starting with pony rides, rental horses, and lessons on Saddlebred horses at a nearby stable. She finally convinced her parents to buy her first horse, an older Missouri Foxtrotter that she pretty much lived on during after school hours. “I remember the day that the high school band director issued me an ultimatum: that it was time for me to choose between riding horses or being in the Marching Band. That clarinet got sold!”
While in high school, she worked odd jobs to earn money to buy a green broke 3 year old solid-bred Appaloosa filly (NOT recommended!), tack, and a two horse trailer. After she finally trained that bad-minded App filly herself, she borrowed the family station wagon to haul to open shows all around the Houston area, showing in halter, showmanship, English and Western pleasure, trail, horsemanship, and bareback equitation. She still has boxes of trophies and ribbons in the attic as a reminder that even the impossible is possible. By the way, none of that was a good idea, but she loved doing it!
Also while in high school, she began her dream job of working at a local vet clinic after school and weekends. She had informed her parents at the tender age of 3 that she wanted to be a veterinarian when she grew up, so upon graduation from high school, she headed to Texas A&M. She had always had a particular love of Arabian horses, so she bred her versatile but bad-minded Appaloosa mare to an Egyptian Arabian Stallion, and raised, trained, and showed the resulting Half-Arabian filly while she was in college. She began showing Half-Arabians in English and Western pleasure, park, and native costume. She was named Gulf Coast Arabian Horse Club Queen and went to Albuquerque to compete in the National Queen’s contest and was a member of the National Championship judging team. She also had the honor of carrying the American Flag aboard an Arabian stallion named Cass Ole, who later starred in the Disney movie, The Black Stallion.
After graduation from A&M, she moved to Marshall, Texas to practice veterinary medicine, where she became active in competitive trail riding and distance riding. After moving to Bellville, she continued to judge and compete in competitive trail riding until that fateful day in 1996 when she rode her first cutting horse. Uh oh, she was instantly hooked!
1997 was a turn-point year when she married Steve, who romantically bought her first cutting horse and new Roohide saddle for her first birthday after getting married. Gray Jr was a big, handsome 16 year old gray gelding that had been trained by Ronnie Rice, and was the perfect horse to teach her how to cut. Bill Ragland frequently referred to Gray Jr as “the World Champion Beginner Horse.” Together Jennifer and “Brocke” won numerous belt buckles, American Championships, ACHA Top Tens, and Houston Livestock Show 10,000 Amateur finalist (3rd place) their first year of showing, taking lessons from trainers Tony Seamons and Richard Sims. Husband Steve, who had not ridden before, became interested in cutting, so Jennifer bought him a surprise Christmas gift - a retired, sweet 13 year old Shorty Lena gelding named Short of Bucks. Buck was needing some conditioning and retraining, so while Tony worked his magic, Steve began riding Gray Jr. Jennifer began showing Short of Bucks, promptly winning Houston Livestock Show 10,000 Amateur Reserve Champion.
Jennifer also had a 1997 filly that she had purchased at the Austin County Fair in training with Tony Seamons. Rebels Jewel Bar quickly became her favorite horse and together they won many Stock Shows, American Championships, buckles, saddles, ACHA and NCHA year-end awards, and AQHA ROM.
2002 was also a special year on APHA mare Silky Velvet Bar, also trained for Jennifer by Tony, when they won the APHA World Champion Amateur Cutting. “Back then, the APHA cutting was big, there were 3 bunches, about 40 entries, with 5 NCHA judges, and it was held in the Will Rogers Coliseum. We were the unanimous first place under all 5 judges, and were lined up for winning all kinds of prizes, which was loads of fun.” Jennifer won ACHA Non Pro World Champion titles in 2014 and 2018 aboard Rebels Jewel Bar and another home grown gelding, Heavens Lil Twister, also trained by Tony Seamons. Tony has trained several good horses for Jennifer, and she describes him as having two qualities that she greatly admires. “Tony is as honest as they come, and he has a stellar work ethic. I really appreciate all his hard work and all that he has done for me and my horses.”
Jennifer loves being a part of the ACHA family with all the unique personalities and encouraging atmosphere. “I truly appreciate all the exceptional help, the constructive criticism, and tremendous encouragement from all the ACHA trainers.” She has served on the ACHA Board of Directors for many years, and still enjoys serving on the Rules Committee.
Jennifer and husband Steve have both been certified SCUBA divers since the early eighties, with thousands of dives logged all over the world. Their idea of the perfect vacation is living on a boat for a week in a remote location with nothing else to do besides “eat, sleep, and dive.”
In her professional career as a small animal veterinarian, Jennifer says “I have been blessed by God to be able to do every day what I love most. I love helping people with their pets. As for the future, I just want to keep on doing what I’m doing for as long as I am able to do so. I’m living the good life!”
ACHA CONGRATULATES: CASSIE BEHRENDS
Cassie Behrends started riding at a young age. Her parents knew she had the horse bug when she cleaned stalls in exchange for lessons at a barn full of pleasure horses at the age of 11. For her 13th birthday she received her first horse, a 16 hand Thoroughbred gelding that she competed with in Dressage and Jumping. At the age of 14 her first job was taking care of 25 horses. If she wasn't in school she was at the barn on a horse.
Cassie moved out on her own at the age of 18, started a full time job and attended college. She worked as a security officer for Bass Enterprises in Ft Worth where she met her husband Brett. They dated for several years, married and had two beautiful children, McKenzie and Alex. She has been very fortunate to be able to be a stay at home mom, while Brett is a Police Officer. They have been married for 17 years.
Cassie stayed in touch with her passion for horses since her Mom always had several horses in the barn close by. She knew it was time to start looking for a new horse several years after her first gelding passed. That's when her family met James and Liz Prater.
Cassie and the Praters quickly became like family. Her brother, (Ry Mosser) broke horses for the Praters and Cassie was always intrigued by the cutting horses. Ry also had a little mare he had ridden for Dr. Hendricks, and that is where Cassie's first cutting horse came from, Playgirl Trixie. Trixie hadn't been under saddle long but Cassie thought buying and training a cutting horse looked like a fun project. After a few ranch cuttings she was hooked.
Cassie recalls going to her first ACHA Championship show in 2015 and sitting in the grandstands thinking, this is amazing! Then in 2016 when the ACHA did a ranch class at the finals, she entered. She will never forget walking out of that herd on her little mare she trained and Cletus Hulling saying "cool pony." Right then she knew she had found a special group to be a part of. That next year she ran and made top 10 in the 1000 on the same little mare.
2018 started out as a year in which Cassie was determined to learn a lot and have fun. She started out the year on Playgirl Trixie then James let her ride Bearcat Feathers and she really fell in love with cutting. She rode Bearcat until July when she bought Wild Mustang Molly. Molly carried her the rest of the way to the title of World Champion in the 2500 Novice Rider and the 1000 Novice Rider. Molly also carried her to the title of Rookie of the Year for 2018.
With her family rooting for her, James mentoring her, and her trainers Mike Combs and John L. Dublin in her corners, how could she fail!?! Never in a million years did Cassie think she could achieve anything like that, it was a dream come true.
2019 is all about having fun, learning, and enjoying the new family she has found.
ACHA congratulates Cassie on her well-deserved titles and can't wait to see what the future holds!
ACHA CONGRATULATES: DAKOTA WEST
Dakota West started riding when he was 3 years old. It all began at play days, where he participated in the usual events such as barrels and poles. When Dakota’s older brother started showing cutting horses, Dakota said he wanted to go cut with bubba and stop these girly events. At age 7 he started showing a cutting horse that Jim Ross, better known as “Papa”, trained. In 2017, Dakota walked away with the Reserve Jr Youth World Champion title. He was also voted Most Improved Youth by his peers. Dakota and his horse Meradas Lil Boon aka Rio qualified to compete in the Junior Youth and the McDonald’s Shootout at the 2018 ACHA Championship Show. Cletus Hulling helps with keeping the horses going and giving Dakota all the pointers he needs to succeed in the cutting pen.
In his spare time, Dakota enjoys playing little league and loves playing with his dog. Football is his favorite sport, but he isn’t old enough to play just yet. When he grows up, he wants to be a State Trooper just like his dad.
Dakota’s favorite place to show is Fort Worth and he always seem to do extremely well there. When asked what his greatest accomplishment is, he said it is any time he can beat his brother! The best score he’s ever gotten was a 73 at the ACHA Show in Brenham, Texas.
ACHA Congratulates Mike Crumpler!
In 1984, Mike Crumpler moved to East Texas and began working for Mac Alexander. He became an ACHA member at that time, and has been training cutting horses ever since. In 1991, he moved to West Texas, Panhandle, where he hung his shingle until 2005, when Mike moved his family to Burnet, Texas, where he still resides.
In 2014, Mike rode Whiskey Merada to the 2014 ACHA World Championship 10,000 Novice Horse. In addition to his World Champion title, Mike is a 4 time ACHA Reserve World Champion. He has had multiple Non Pro and Novice Riders in the Top 10, and 2 Rookies of the Year. To top off his successful career, Mike was inducted into the ACHA Member Hall of Fame in 2017. Mike says, “I have had great accomplishments, but I owe everything to my supportive wife, good clients, and the ACHA family”.
Mike has served on the ACHA Board of Directors off and on over the years, and in that capacity, he began working with Mark Watt from Australia. Mike was instrumental in bringing the first international affiliate, the Australian Cutting Horse Group, to the ACHA. In fact, this year Mike judged the first show in Australia and will be going back in November to judge the World Finals. Mike is also very involved in the Australian Youth Cutting Horse Group, and was elected as their youth ambassador. In this capacity, selected youth from Australia come to the United States and spend 2-3 weeks with his family and attend cutting horse shows and clinics in the United States.
When he is not in the saddle, Mike enjoys hunting and playing golf with his buddy Ted Olney. He and his wife, Janie, enjoy traveling and seeing new things, but when they are home, they enjoy helping their community through various community service projects. The ACHA is proud to honor Mike Crumpler in this edition of our Member Spotlight.
ACHA Congratulates Kaylee Campbell!
Kaylee has been riding horses since a very young age. Her aunt, the late Michelle Holsey, loved horses and passed that love on to her. During her freshman year of high school, her uncle, mom and dad pushed her to start cutting. She soon purchased her first cutting horse and has never looked back! She qualified for the State Finals in High School Rodeo all four years, and at those Texas High School Rodeo finals, advanced to the short go two of those four years and won a few go rounds along the way. Kaylee says, "I had the privilege of showing at the major livestock shows and did very well! Recently I won the 2017 Year End Championship for the ACHA Senior Youth which was quite an honor. While hauling for the ACHA Year End title, I learned so much about improving my confidence and consistency and made so many great friendships in the process. All of this and many other factors helped to make me the horsewoman I am proud to be today. Showing horses is a true passion of mine and I am truly thankful for all the great horses I’ve gotten to show and the opportunities I have had over the years." Kaylee is currently a student at Sam Houston State University pursing a degree in nursing! She credits her supportive family and friends and all the trainers who have helped her improve her skills and turned back for her over the years! The ACHA is very proud of Kaylee and her accomplishments in the cutting pen and wishes her the best in pursuing her dreams!
ACHA Congratulates Stephanie Britt!
Stephanie Britt has been horseback since she was 4 years old, climbing up her horses’ necks as they ate. She spent her time as a kid training her own rodeo horses, barrels and poles mostly. She qualified for Nationals in High School Rodeo all 4 years, making the Short Go her junior year and placing 7th her senior year. She has won countless all-around titles and over 30 saddles. In 2013 she met Sean Brown and shortly after, she tried her hand at cutting. Sean says, “I should have listened to her mother and not let Stephanie look at the standings, cause she will not lose no matter how hard or how much you have to haul!" In 2015, her first year cutting she rode her unicorn (Shanias Pepto aka Bubbles) to the 4yo Non Pro world title, then followed that up by winning the 2016 2500 Novice Rider World Championship. She did all of this while pulling double duty on her unicorn running barrels at the same time. In 2017 she rode his full brother Perfect Shania to the 4yo Non Pro World Championship, along with being Top 5 on Bubbles in the 5/6yo Non Pro. She has slowed down some on the showing of horses and is chasing her body building dream but still shows some and plans to show much more in the future. She is very appreciative of her help in the show pen and gives them credit for her success. Congratulations Stephanie on your successes in the show pen and on the body building stage!
ACHA Congratulates Sean Brown!
Sean Brown, Leander, Texas, grew up on horses doing everything from cutting, reining, pleasure, play-days, barrels, and starting young horses. He started to train full time in 2008, mostly starting colts and cutting training. He then expanded to reined cow-horse, reining, and barrel horses. He has been blessed with some great friends that have helped him along the way. First and foremost, Stephanie Britt, his best friend and partner in crime, Dewayne Stephens, Trent Bell and everyone that has held herd and turned back for him. Without great people he would not have been able to be the 2017 ACHA Open Derby World Champion on Perfect Shania, 2015 ACHA Open Derby Reserve World Champion, and 2016 ACHA Open Classic Top Five. He is very excited to see what the future holds for him and his great group of customers.
ACHA Congratulates Josey Sikorski!
Josey Cannon Sikorski won the ACHA World Championship title in the 1000 Novice Rider for the 2016-2017 point year. Josey started riding when she was very young, and when she was 6 years old, she walked to the herd for the first time aboard Kid Mecom Blue (owned by Mark Hollar and trained by Trent Bell). After winning the ACHA World Championship Junior Youth title for the 2015-2016 point year, she and her parents decided to take on a new set of challenges for the 2016-2017 point year, in the form of showing different horses and showing against different competitors. Throughout the hauling year, she showed many different horses owned by many wonderful friends. Josey showed her own mare - Shesa A Pistol, her mom's horse- Cow Magnet, Pipes Smart Girl- owned by Jackie Mitchell, Rockette- owned by Mike Lane, Smooth Knitty Kitty-owned by Jim Kier, Desire A Rey- owned by Jessica MacNaughton, and Yall Count On Me and Purrrfect - both owned by Gerry Gehring. Each one of these great mounts contributed to winning this year end title. All during the year, Josey had a lot of different people sit in the corner for her and be out front during her runs. She would like to thank Pat Crawford, Kyle Cox, Charlie Ashcraft, Ronnie Wartchow, Keith Barnett, Jonathan Bartok, Mike Mowery, Mike McCarty, Billy Bob Moore, Cletus Hulling, Clint Kolz, Adam Cunningham, and John L Dublin for their incredible help. Josey wants to say a special thank you to her stepdad, Trent Bell, for always being there for her and for telling her what cows not to cut! She is currently really enjoying showing Purrrfect, and she looks forward to her young horses growing up and getting to show them as well. And the ACHA looks forward to that as well and wishes her continued success.
ACHA Congratulates Leigh Ann Schultz!
Sometimes a hobby can quickly become a passion. And for Leigh Ann Schultz, that passion and hard work has resulted in a World Championship Title. Schultz was coming off an extremely busy 2017 when she finished out what amounted to a 15-month season as the ACHA 20,000 Non Pro World Champion.
She has always enjoyed riding, but admits when she became involved in cutting, she didn’t see this coming. “When I became involved in it five years ago, I was still trying to figure everything out,” she said. “But I really enjoyed it. I had started going to some events with Richard Sims (ACHA Hall of Fame Open Rider) and I learned a lot from him, and the more I was around it the more involved I became, and the more I liked it!”
Everything seemed to click in 2017. Spending most of the season riding Shortys Boy, Schultz built up a good lead in points, and even after having to miss some competitions due to medical reasons, she was able to hold on and win the title. “Everything just kind of fell into place,” she said. “But I stayed busy with it. We were somewhere just about every weekend.” In fact, Schultz piled up 152 points in the 46 shows, most with Shortys Boy. She says that towards the end of the season, she could tell that he was wearing down. “He’s been great, and he’s smarter than me, but at the end, he just really couldn’t go anymore. So I finished out with A Royal Dual aka “Lexi”, but it was Shortys Boy that got me there.”
Leigh Ann was ACHA Reserve World Champion in the 20,000 Non Pro in 2016 and in 2017 was the Affiliate Champion in the same class at the South Texas CHA in Brenham and the Southwest Texas CHA in Belton and was the Show Champion at the ACHA Championship Show in Bryan. Her earnings top $6000 in the ACHA and $5000 in NCHA, which combined, will keep her eligible for the 20,000 Non Pro in 2018. “Obviously you want to win money, “she said. “It’s expensive. But it’s also a lot of fun, we have a great time at the shows, helping each other, it’s like family.” Leigh Ann has had plenty of support along the way, not only from Sims, who introduced her to the sport, but also from Jennifer Bowers – local vet and fellow cutter who holds many titles in the American Cutting Horse Association. She also credits Dr. Bruce Buenger for keeping her mounts sound and healthy. Most of all, she credits her trainer, Adam Cunningham, and her help in the pen all year for her success!
When not at shows, Leigh Ann is a busy grandmother of 6 – 5 boys and 1 girl!! She intends to introduce them all to horseback riding and hopes to instill her love of horses to each of them.
ACHA Congratulates J.T. West!
JT has been around horses since he can remember. His first horse was a retired cutting horse given to him by Bill Ragland. As JT progressed in his riding his family started the search to find a horse so JT could start competing in youth rodeos/playdays. With no luck in finding a good horse, his Papa handed him the reins to MareMare (aka Miss Laredo Pie). With MareMare’s training and JT’s natural talent, the two became the team to watch. JT and MareMare won their first All Around Title in 2013, competing in barrels, poles, straights, and goat tying. The duo continued competing the following two years, bringing home more titles, awards and arena records. In 2015, JT said he was done with the “girl” events and wanted to start cutting and he knew just who to go to, his Papa. Together, they enlisted the help of Trent Bell to get MareMare back to her roots of cutting and to teach JT the discipline. It wasn’t long until the duo had their debut in the ACHA. In JT and MareMare’s first year of cutting they won the Reserve World Title and JT received the Most Improved Youth award. In 2017, JT’s goal was to win the World Title and he did just that! Not only did he earn the top title, he also received the Red Randolph Youth Scholarship, the Harold Armstrong Inspirational Award and Scholarship., and a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition signed by Michael T. McCaul. As for 2018, JT has endured some changes, he graciously switched horses with his brother, Dakota; and JT is excited that Cletus Hulling has stepped in to continue the training and instructing for them and their horses. JT said he is ready to earn more titles and awards and wants to make a name for himself in the cutting world! Outside the horse world, JT participates in school sports, he was a tailback for the 7th grade football team, and he runs the 800m and 3200m in track. JT is an honor roll student and was recently inducted into the National Junior Honor Society. JT’s future plan is to attend Texas A&M University and obtain a law degree. ACHA wishes J. T. the very best and there is no doubt he will succeed in whatever he chooses to do in life.
ACHA Congratulates Jessica MacNaughton!
Jessica has ridden horses since before she could walk, they have been her passion her entire life. The summer of 2011, she stepped on her first cutting horse and immediately caught the cutting bug - Smartie was an older mare that started it all. She bought her out of the Havard’s Sale bred, that hadn’t seen a cow in 13 years. After losing her baby they legged her up at the ripe age of 19 and she showed her for two years in the THSRA high school cuttings and placed 3rd and 4th overall both years. Her junior year she was blessed to be riding with Mr. Bob Kahla, who had a huge impact on her life, and taught her more about life and horses than she could ever have imagined. Mr. Bob let her show his stud, Cuatro Rojo, on whom she claimed the ACHA Senior Youth Reserve World Champion title. Her senior year he mounted her on another stud he had, Cuatros Coal Train, who his step son, Luke Clement, had trained. Jessica says, “He and Luke put in some hard hours with me, and I will forever be thankful for all that sweet family has done for me.” In 2016, she had the great privilege of purchasing her stud, Desire A Rey, from Mr. Lee and Judy Barron. “That horse has by far been my biggest blessing. He has made my dreams come true, opened so many doors for me, and showed me how to be humble at the top. Showing has brought me to so many people, and those people have become like family.” She credits Trent Bell and Laney Sikorski as having a huge part in her success, from Trent being there for every trip to the herd, helping her keep Lee tuned, and Laney being there for her to vent, and cheering her on and videoing every run. “They have had my back and stuck with me through hot quits, missed cuts and also winning my first world championship in the $15,000 NHNP last year! She thanks her other help, for also sticking with her through tough moments, and giving words of wisdom and encouragement, and also cheering her on through the greats runs. She also thanks her family and credits them with being a big part of her success. Last, but certainly not least, she thanks her boyfriend Peyton for all the things he does, including tagging along to every single show and being there no matter what. Aside from showing Lee, Jessica works for Stoneridge Veterinary as a technician, and is focusing on Equine Reproduction. She is currently still in college at Sam Houston State University, nearing the end of attaining her Bachelor’s degree, and will then apply to vet school. The ACHA wishes her the best of luck and looks forward to watching Jessica achieve her dreams!
ACHA Congratulates Annie Hightower!
Recalling her beginnings in the cutting horse world, Annie just laughs and says, “It’s all my husband’s fault!” She truly had no attraction to those “stinky cows” before meeting John. She was a western dressage rider, having studied dressage since the age of 5. She had always been a rider at heart, though, and loved being astride any horse who was doing what it was born to do!
Her first experience in cutting was on one of her first “dates” with John. He took her to meet Trent Bell and she got to cut on John’s mare, High Brow Dreamin. She was in awe watching Laney, Trent & Josey “going back and forth” with the cow. John asked if she wanted to give it a try. That’s all it took. Fast forward a couple of years, to when she was introduced to “Royalreytraildust.” He was originally purchased as a 4 year old for John, but during his 5 year old year, John thought maybe she was ready for him, even though she hadn’t ridden a cutter since that first experience with Dream. Robert Fuentes, Doc’s trainer at the time, was also a bit leery since she was so green and this was a particularly sensitive and fancy little horse. However, after many flag works, she had her first live cattle work. John and Robert were nodding their heads in agreement that the pair could ‘get along pretty good.’ Shortly afterward, she and Doc entered their first show, which was the beginning of a successful haul for two 2017 ACHA World Championship titles: 50,000 Non Pro World Champion, and Non Pro Classic World Champion.
Since the shift from a full time shoeing business to full time cattle work at Old River Ranch, Annie has found a special place in her heart for those “stinky cows.” She never imagined a life so deeply involved with cattle and cutting horses. She treasures the camaraderie of the folks involved, friends and competitors, trainers and associates, folks she has had the great fortune to meet and share the ups and downs of life with. She shares that “I have been incredibly blessed to have the love and support of my husband, John, with our late-night herd work lessons fueling my desire to succeed. I also credit incredible trainers who push me and Doc to be the best we can be. Whether it’s nailing a 75 ride or the cherry on top, I give thanks to our good Lord for being astride with me and having a hand in it all!”
ACHA Congratulates John L. Dublin!
John L. Dublin has a family history that is steeped in cutting horse involvement. His grandfather John Dublin, was one of the “pioneers” in cutting. His uncle, Chris Dublin, has been a major influence in cutting as well. Both men have had a huge impact on the success that John L has had. John L currently serves as Vice President of the ACHA and had a very successful year in 2017. He garnered many titles including: Open Reserve World Champion on Smooth Knitty Kitty, Open Classic World Champion on Catty Doc Legacy, Open Derby Reserve World Champion on Candi Eyed Jack, Open Top Ten on Busy Being Little and 15,000 Novice Horse Top Ten on BV Hollywood Badger. He was also voted 2017 Top Hand by his peers. He thanks his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ each and every day for the opportunities he has been given in life. John L. wants to thank his wife Anita for being his biggest supporter, and for being with him through thick and thin. He believes that the Amateurs and Non Pros are what “drive” any organization and feels very blessed to be a part of his customers’ journey to their success. Although he has been very fortunate to be able to win on the horses that “he” shows, he admits it’s a bigger thrill to see his customers do well in the show pen. John L. is aware that in order to have success, you must have good people on your side. Over the years he has made a lot of friends in and out of the show pen, and for that he is truly grateful. Thanks to you all, and GOD BLESS YOU.
ACHA Congratulates Bobbie Sue Shore!
Bobbie Sue won her first cutting buckle in 1978, and several top ten NCHA Youth buckles in the 80's. She took a break from cutting when her daughter, Chelsey, was born and it wasn't until she met her "angel" Donnie, who convinced her to start showing again. She credits her husband with giving her back her dream - a wildly successful dream! Some of her achievements include: Top 15 NCHA 3000 Novice/NP, ACHA 25,000 Non Pro Reserve World Champion, and Top Ten 50,000 Non Pro. After acquiring the love of her life "Little Man" she won the 2013 Non Pro Classic World Champion, 2014 50,000 Non Pro World Champion and World Show Champion and on to become the 2017 Non Pro World Champion. She remembers her greatest moment in cutting, the morning of the 2014 Finals, when Donnie took her by the hand and said "Today is all about you baby, forget the world and go show your horse like you can.." She did and scored a 148 for the win. She gives all the credit to her husband, ACHA Open Hall of Fame Rider, Donnie Shore, who devoted his life to "Driving Miss Daisy" and helping her achieve this title and also to her help at the shows, saying she never could have won without them. Cutting is not just a hobby for Bobbie Sue, it is her life. She is passionate about her love for her cutting family and treasures every memory along the way.
ACHA Congratulates Trent Bell!
Trent Bell and his barn had another successful year in 2017! Trent was the ACHA High Point Rider for the year for the second year in a row. He was the Open World Champion on family-owned Cow Magnet and also rode the World Champion 15,000 Novice Horse - Gerry Gehring's Purrrfect. He made the top ten in the 3000 Novice Horse on family owned Kid Mecom Pink. Customers in Trent's barn captured World Champion titles including the 15,000 Novice Horse Non Pro, the Junior Youth, and the 1000 Novice Rider as well as Reserve World Champion in the Junior Youth. At the 2017 ACHA Championship Show, Trent was the Circuit Champion in the Open on Cow Magnet, and Reserve Circuit Champion in the 15,000 Novice Horse and the 3,000 Novice Horse on Purrrfect. He also received the Top Hand Award which was voted on by his peers. Trent attributes his success to having good horses to ride, excellent customers who pitch in, wonderful help in the pen, terrific help at home so he doesn't have to worry, and a loper who makes sure the horses are ready each time they step in the arena. He loves to say that cutting is a team sport, and every great run in the pen comes partly from having great help.
ACHA Congratulates Mary Bauer!
2017 was a sensational year for Mary Bauer - ACHA Rookie of the Year, 2500 Novice Rider Champion and her horse, Shake Your Budha, won ACHA Horse of the Year! A former national barrel racing champion, Mary runs Painted Ridge Farm in Lorena, TX and is following a lifelong passion of caring for horses and helping riders develop bonds with them. Her husband, Jeff, has a dental practice in Waco, and their 2 sons, Jeremy and Colton, are both college students and fine horsemen.
Southwest Texas CHA - Belton
ACHA Produced Show - Lorena
South Texas CHA Brenham, TX
Please read the important rule changes for 2022
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Thank You Sponsors
Ronney and Alana Coleman
De Cillo Equine Clinic
Pete and Brenda Rosales
Martin Chrysler Dodge Jeep
RJB Insurance Group
Trademarks Promotional Products
LNK Plastics, LLC
2022 SADDLE SPONSORS:
Citizens State Bank / Martha Wilson
Sam Munroe / McDonald's (2 locations)
MA Partners / Wunsch Family
Turner West Performance Horses
Quick Be A Cat
Mitchell Pipe & Supply LLC
The Original Rowdy Bunch
Bill Fick Ford
Customers of Trent Bell
RJB Insurance Group, LLC
Martin Chrysler Dodge Jeep
Trademarks Promotional Products
Pete & Brenda Rosales