Swinging Little Gal claims two titles at Polo Ranch Classic

When Dean Sanders, Anderson, Texas, went to the Will Rogers Preferred Breeders Sale, held Dec. 9, 1998 in Fort Worth, Texas, he knew the two mares he wanted to purchase.When Dean Sanders, Anderson, Texas, went to the Will Rogers Preferred Breeders Sale, held Dec. 9, 1998 in Fort Worth, Texas, he knew the two mares he wanted to purchase.

Story originally posted by: Glory Ann Kurtz

When Dean Sanders, Anderson, Texas, went to the Will Rogers Preferred Breeders Sale, held Dec. 9, 1998 in Fort Worth, Texas, he knew the two mares he wanted to purchase.

With both yearlings being consigned by Larry and Ellen Reeder, Fort Sumner, N.M., Sanders was only able to purchase one of them – Justa Smart Peanut for $58,000, a mare he had sold to the Reeders only seven months earlier. But the repurchase was a great one, as the mare was the leading money-earning cutting horse by mid-year 2001, with $112,852 in earnings.

The other mare, Swinging Little Gal, took a little longer to buy and a little longer before she made the "big splash," as she went home from the sale with Ellen Reeder when she was passed out at $49,000, and Sanders purchased her privately the next year as a 2-year-old.

But Swinging Little Gal just made her "big splash." At the Polo Ranch Cutting Classic, held Aug. 17-25 at the beautiful Polo Ranch, located outside of Big Horn, Wyo., Swinging Little Gal took home the largest paycheck of $44,195, winning the Open and Non-Pro 4-Year-Old divisions.

The event, which was the largest cutting event in 2000 which was not put on by the NCHA, featured 583 entries vying for a $783,669 purse in 4-year-old and 5/6-year-old aged events, plus a $50,000 Non-Pro and $2,000 Limited Rider classes. It also offered a $20,000 incentive by the Polo Ranch for the highest-scoring horses in each of the 4-year-old and 5/6-year-old Open and Non-Pro divisions sired by one of their stallions: Grays Starlight and Gallo Del Cielo (Rooster).

Faron Hightower, who rode both mares in Open competition, scored a whopping 225 on Swinging Little Gal in the finals of the Open Division, winning $23,553, and Sanders followed by winning the Non-Pro finals with a 226, taking home an additional $20,642. Although Hightower missed the Open finals by two points on Justa Smart Peanut, Sanders also split 11th in the Non-Pro Division on the mare, taking home an additional $3,420. The Amateur title went to Keith Goett, Weatherford, Texas, riding Purple Lynx.

The Open 5/6-Year-Old Division was taken by Lloyd Cox, scoring a whopping 230 in the finals riding Smart Lookin Hi Brow, owned by Lannie Louise Mecom, Avondale, Colo. Linda Mussallem, Gilroy, Calif., captured the 5/6-Year-Old Non-Pro riding Remedy For Sweets to a 226. Colleen Holt, Weatherford, Texas, wife of announcer Tom Holt, won the 5/6-Year-Old Amateur title.

4-Year-Old Open Futurity
"Chris Benedict started her," Sanders said after Swinging Little Gal’s wins, "while Larry Reeder started her on cattle and showed her through the NCHA Super Stakes."

According to Equi-Stat, the statistical division of Quarter Horse News, Reeder rode the mare to seventh place in the 2000 NCHA Open Cutting Futurity, while Sanders finished seventh in the Non-Pro Division. In 2001, Reeder tied for third at the Augusta Open Futurity and was a semifinalist at the NCHA Super Stakes in March.

Even though Sanders had earned over $86,200 on the mare in Non-Pro competition, including third at the Abilene Cutting Spectacular, being a finalist in the Non-Pro at Augusta, tying for seventh at the Memphis Futurity and a 10th place at the NCHA Super Stakes, the mare had always been a bridesmaid instead of a bride, by never taking home a championship.

But on May 19, the pair threw the wedding bouquet, as they won the Non-Pro 4-Year-Old at the Pacific Coast Derby in Reno, Nev. At that same event, Hightower rode the mare to the finals of the Derby. In July, Sanders finished fourth in the NCHA Non-Pro Derby.

Hightower was ecstatic about his first win on the mare.

"I feel a huge obligation to do good on this mare because I know how much Larry Reeder loved her," Hightower said. "I felt like I just had to win on her."

Swinging Little Gal’s pedigree reads like a lesson in buying horses. She is sired by Justa Swinging Peppy, Larry Reeder’s good son of Peppy San Badger out of Special Medicine by Doc’s Prescription, that won over $62,270 and is an Equi-Stat leading cutting sire. Her dam is Little Hickory Gal, a 1988 daughter of Smart Little Lena, with $181,191 in lifetime earnings. Justa Smart Peanut also has an impeccable pedigree, being sired by Smart Little Lena, the second-leading sire of all time, and out of Justaswinging Peanut, a daughter of Justa Swinging Peppy out of Little Peanut Patty, that has earned in excess of $95,561.

Sanders sold Justa Smart Peanut to Larry and Ellen Reeder when she was a yearling, then repurchased her seven months later in the sale. Hightower was the trainer who later told Sanders the mare was "just what they were looking for" after he tried her.

Hightower was the 12th-leading rider of all time, with close to $2.5 million in the Lifetime Cutting Statistics published by Quarter Horse News in its June 30, 2001 issue.

Sanders, 51, retired from being vice president of Wal-Mart and president of Sam’s Clubs, has been involved in the cutting industry since 1987 and was listed 18th in the Non-Pro Division, with $572,120 in lifetime earnings.

Due mostly because of these two mares that Sanders bought in 1998, he was the second-leading non-pro rider in the Quarter Horse News 2001 Mid-Year Cutting Statistics, published Aug. 15, 2001, with $124,916 in earnings.

Reserve Champion at the Polo Classic was Pepto Taz, a DNA-registered stallion, sired by Peptoboonsmal out of Sweet Little Lena by Smart Little Lena. Owned by Don and Netha Lester, Canby, Ore., the stallion was ridden to a 221 by Randy Cherry, Whitt, Texas, who has been training cutting horses since 1988 and had $137,494 in lifetime earnings prior to the Polo Ranch Cutting.

Cherry, who won the Suncoast 4-Year-Old in Las Vegas, Nev., this year riding "Taz," is excited about the horse’s abilities, saying, "He’s one of the best horses I’ve ever shown.

"He’s cow smart, stops hard, and mesmerizes a cow, though sometimes he looks too cowy."

According to Lester, a part-owner of a forest product trading company, North Pacific, located in Portland, Ore., he will be standing the stallion for the upcoming breeding season, somewhere in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

He purchased the stallion from R.E. Mason, Mineral Wells, Texas, after the 2000 NCHA Futurity on Cherry’s advice. Mason had purchased the sorrel stud colt as a yearling at the Will Rogers Spring Sale held in April during the 1998 NCHA Super Stakes for $18,500 from Trent Jorgensen, Mount Pleasant, Utah. Jorgensen still owns a 2-year-old full sister to the stallion.

Cherry and the stallion had scored a 219 in the first go-round of the NCHA Futurity, but he had "walked off" in the second go, a stunt he also pulled at the Abilene Spectacular following Lester’s purchase.

But Cherry changed his strategy at the Suncoast, pulling him around and waking him up, and it worked, as the pair won the event, taking home the $15,500 prize money.

The AQHA-registered half sister to Taz that is the same age as Sweet Little CD, sired by CD Olena out of Sweet Little Lena, a daughter of Smart Little Lena with over $123,200 in lifetime earnings. Her dam, Sonscoot, a daughter of Son O Sugar, has produced offspring earning close to $277,000.

Cherry, 36 and single, trains cutting horses with Eddie Howard. He claims that he knew immediately that he had a winner when he started training Taz.

"When he was three-quarters of the way through his 2-year-old year, I would only work him twice a week," said Cherry, who felt the colt was trying to do too much and wanted to keep it fun for him.

Lester has been involved with cutting horses for the past 20 years. Besides his ranch in Canby, Ore., which is run by his son, Dennis, he owns the ranch in Parker County which is leased by Cherry and Howard.

The winner of the Polo Ranch Incentive money in the 4-Year-Old Open was Stella Starlight, a daughter of Grays Starlight owned by Lachlan Perks, Rockford, Ill., ridden by Bruce Morine. The pair finished 14th, earning $3,508.36, plus the $5,000 incentive check, for a total of $8,508.36.

4-Year-Old Non-Pro Futurity
Reserve Champion Non-Pro Skip Queen, Allendale, S.C., has been riding cutting horses only since 1993, but this year he decided to take it serious.

"From February through June, I was at Matt Gaines’ learning about cutting," Queen said after his win. "And, it paid off!"
He probably would have stayed longer, but he and his wife, the former Elizabeth Elliott, daughter of Miles and Becky Elliott, Estill, S.C., had a son, Thomas Elliott (nicknamed Elliott), born on July 1.

Queen rode Zacks Four Wood, a 4-year-old daughter of Zack T Wood out of Playboys Chance by Freckles Playboy to a 221.5 finals score, taking home $17,600.99.

According to Queen, he purchased the mare from Gaines prior to the NCHA Futurity.

"But this is the first time that I’ve gotten her shown," Queen said. "It’s the first time I’ve gone to a finals on her. We’ve just had some hard luck and she has been a little late in maturing."

The only other check Skip has drawn on her was $2,718 for being a semifinalist in the Non-Pro Division of the 2001 NCHA Super Stakes.

Skip said he felt that his second cow was the "money cow."

"My horse got a little more dialed in (on the second cow) and things started to come together," said Queen, who now has over $200,000 in lifetime cutting earnings.

Although this is the largest paycheck Queen has received, prior to the Polo Ranch, his largest check came from the 2001 NCHA Summer Cutting Spectacular when he tied for fith in the 5/6-Year-Old Non-Pro riding Tys Twister DG, taking home a $16,398 check.

The $5,000 Polo Ranch incentive check went to Soula Jule Star, owned and ridden by Sandy Bonelli, Petaluma, Calif. The son of Grays Starlight split third place in the finals for a $13,165 paycheck. The $5,000 bonus check gave the pair a total of $18,165.

4-Year-Old Amateur
August will go down in history as one of the most exciting months in Keith Goett’s life after winning the Polo Ranch 4-Year-Old Amateur Division with a 217.5 on Purple Lynx, a gelding sired by his stallion, Smart Little Pistol, out of Rosies Last Lynx, a daughter of Doc’s Lynx.

But next month could prove to be even more exciting as he is scheduled to marry Donna Wangler on Sept. 20 on Vancouver Island, B.C., Canada, where Donna went to school.

The pair, originally from Canada, own Kedon Farms in Weatherford, Texas, where they stand Smart Little Pistol, as well as some other stallions. Smart Little Pistol is by Smart Little Lena out of the great cutting mare, Miss Silver Pistol, which Goett also owns.

It was the first championship for both the gelding and Goett. Prior to the Polo Ranch Classic, the gelding had won just over $23,000, which included an eighth-place tie in the 4-Year-Old Open Division of the NCHA Derby, ridden by trainer Craig Thompson. Goett and the gelding were finalists in the Non-Pro and Amateur divisions of the 2001 Bonanza Cutting, a semifinalist in the Non-Pro Division of the Super Stakes and a finalist in the Gelding division and Limited Non-Pro division.
"I want to give the credit to Craig Thompson," said Goett after his win. "He’s been the resident trainer at Kedon Farms for a year now, and he is the one that has made the difference."

Goett, with over $90,000 in lifetime earnings, has been cutting since 1983. The $9,715.70 paycheck is the largest of his career.

Reserve Champion Amateur was 26-year-old Clay McCullar, Baird, Texas, with a 216 on Salena Hickory, a daughter of Doc’s Hickory out of Salena Gold by Peppy San Badger.

McCullar’s $8,103 paycheck gives the mare over $19,300 in lifetime earnings and McCullar over $33,000 since he began cutting in 1996.

McCullar, son of Meredith McCullar, also of Baird, ranches on the family ranch, running yearling steers, and ropes for fun. But suddenly, cutting has become a lot of fun.

"I’ve made the finals most every time I’ve shown this mare," said Clay, who won the Amateur at the 2001 Bonanza Cutting and was a finalist in the Amateur at Memphis, the NCHA Super Stakes and the NCHA Cutting Spectacular.

"Shannon (Hall) picked my first cow," said Clay, "and that’s what won the cutting for me. Shannon told me about that cow before I rode in the herd. At first, I had a miss, but once that happened, it (the cow) let me play and show my mare off. I was early in the bunch, so it was easy to cut. It was our day – everything fell into place."

5/6 Year-Old Open
Even though Lloyd Cox, Fort Morgan, Colo., has earned close to $1.4 million in his lifetime of cutting, his score of 230 on Smart Lookin Hi Brow in the finals of the 5/6-Year-Old Open at the Polo Ranch Classic was the highest of his career.
Asked if it felt like a 230 score, Cox responded, "I didn’t know if it would be that high of a score. I thought it was a good run, but you never know what it really looks like – you just go by what it feels like. It felt good – it was kind of non-stop and a lot of fun. I was out of breath by the time it was over."

Cox, who had shaved off his familiar mustache just before the NCHA Derby in Fort Worth, was looking much younger than his age of 36.

"People walk right by me that I’ve known all my life," Cox said, "and they don’t even know me."

Asked why the mustache disappeared, he said, "It was just for a change. I wanted to try something different."

But Cox wasn’t doing anything different on the 6-year-old daughter of High Brow Hickory out of The Smart Look by Smart Little Lena. With $186,154 in lifetime earnings, she won all of it with Cox in the saddle.

"I don’t know what I’ve done with my part of that money," Cox said with a smile.

The pair were champions of the 1999 Abilene 4-Year-Old Open Cutting spectacular and the 4-Year-Old Open Derby, winning over $82,513 during the mare’s 4-year-old year.

The following year, they took the Open 5/6-Year-Old Championship of the Augusta Futurity/Classic, as well as the 5/6-Year-Old Open at the Polo Ranch Classic.

So far this year, they captured the 5/6-Year-Old Open at the Memphis Futurity/Classic, tied for sixth in Augusta and finished fourth at the NCHA Super Stakes.

Even though the pair picked up $23,060.51 from their win at this year’s Polo Ranch Cutting Classic, their largest paycheck came in 1999 from Abilene Spectacular, where they earned $33,489.

A new father and with a new career as a professional cutting horse trainer, Phil Rapp, Weatherford, Texas, took the Reserve in the 5/6-Year-Old Open, riding Cats Full Measure, a 5-year-old daughter of High Brow Cat out of Playgirl Peppy by Freckles Playboy, owned by Phil and his wife Mary Ann. The pair scored a 223.5 in the finals.

"It was Lloyd Cox’s day," Rapp said following the finals. "All the rest of us were just ïalso-rans.’ "

Rapp added $19,513 to the $198,531 already earned by the great little mare, which he took to the Championship of the 1999 NCHA Non-Pro Futurity and also tied for sixth in the Open Division for a total of $90,976.

Although the mare started out with a breathing problem, they doctored her back to health enough that the following year Rapp rode her to the championship of the Augusta Non-Pro Futurity.

Changing his status to an open trainer, the pair made the finals of the 2000 NCHA Open Super Stakes, the Steamboat Springs Open Derby and the Brazos Bash. Mary Ann was a finalist at the 2000 Polo Ranch Non-Pro Classic and finished fourth at the Gold Coast Non-Pro Futurity.

So far this year, Phil and the mare were Open Reserve Champions at Augusta, split the Reserve title at the Suncoast and were finalists at the Abilene Spectacular, Bonanza Cutting and NCHA Cutting Spectacular Open 5/6-Year-Old division.

According to Equi-Stat, in the June 30, 2001 "Lifetime Cutting Statistics," Rapp, is the fifth leading rider of all time, with over $2.6 million in earnings, even though he has spent almost all his life as a non-pro. He is the leading non-professional on the top 100 riders list, with Sandy Bonelli next with $2.4 million in lifetime earnings. Rapp proudly carried his new son, Ryan, to the awards ceremony.
5/6-Year-Old Non-Pro
"Linda is winning all my money," Joe Schuchert said following her win the 5/6-Year-Old Non-Pro division.
Linda Mussallem, who had just scored a 226 in the finals on Remedy For Sweets, a 6-year-old daughter of Grays Starlight out of Sweet Remedy by Doc’s Remedy, and had not only taken home the $21,923 for winning the Non-Pro Division, but also collected an additional $10,000 from Schuchert, owner of the Polo Ranch, for the Polo Ranch incentive. Schuchert awarded $5,000 each to the highest-placing horse in the Open and Non-Pro horse in the 4 and 5/6-Year-old divisions.

Remedy For Sweets, which had placed at the Polo Ranch Classic for the past three years, picked up the $5,000 check in the Non-Pro Division, as well as the Open Division, where she finished seventh, ridden by Chubby Turner.

"It’s the first time that Chubby has ever showed her," Mussallem said. "He rode her the day before, just to get the feel of her, and then jumped on and went for it. Chubby is such a master."

Mussallem also received a special Jim Reno trophy for owning the highest money-earning offspring of the Polo Ranch stallions.

"Just last week, I decided that Chubby would ride her," Mussallem said. "There was some confusion as to whether you could ride any four horses, or just two 5-year-olds and two 6-year-olds. But when we found out that it had to be two of each, I called Chubby and he said he had an opening and could ride her, so I said, ïCome on baby.’ "

Ironically, Turner, had also trained and shown the mare’s dam.

Remedy For Sweets, with $182,800 in lifetime earnings, was Reserve Champion in the Open 4-Year-Old at the 1999 Polo Ranch Classic, with Matt Gaines in the saddle and tied for third in the Non-Pro, ridden by Mussallem. In 2000, she was fourth in the Non-Pro with Linda riding her.

"She loves this show," Mussallem said.

Remedy For Sweets was initially Mussallem’s husband, Neil’s, NCHA Futurity horse.

"Mine got crippled," said Mussallem, who was listed in the Quarter Horse News Lifetime Cutting Statistics issue as the 15th leading Non-Pro with over $640,500 in lifetime earnings. "So, he told me to try that mare and I just never got off."

Asked what’s ahead for the 6-year-old mare, Mussallem said, "I just don’t know. Neil says he’s retired from cutting, but that won’t last. He tried to retire from business, too."

Jay Hall, Granbury, Texas, riding CD Date, and Hope Justice, Canton, Texas, riding Bambi, split the Reserve title in the 5/6-Year-Old Non-Pro Division, with both scoring a 223.

Justice, 26, and the 1993 NCHA Youth World Champion, has won over $360,000 since her first win in 1988.

Even though she owns and rode the stallion Acres of Red, which was ridden by Neil Roger to the 1999 NCHA World Champion Stallion title, one of her best mounts has been Bambi, a DNA-registered daughter of Freckles Playboy out of Smarter Than Gay by Smart Little Lena that she purchased last year from Greg Williamson of Loma Blanca Ranch on the suggestion of Slate River Ranch trainer John Mitchell, Weatherford, Texas. She then put the mare in training with Roger.

That’s all history now that the pair have won over $80,000 in lifetime earnings, including the recent 5/6-Year-Old Non-Pro Championship of the NCHA Summer Cutting Spectacular, where they took home the largest check of their career, $20,522.

The daughter of Arlis Justice, a cattle stocker and feeder from Camden, Ark., Hope has been riding horses since she was 9. She won the 1994 NCHA Chevy Nationals Youth Championship in Jackson, Miss., and in 1997, she won the 5/6-Year-Old Non-Pro on Acres Of Red at The Non-Pro in Oklahoma City. At the 2000 NCHA World Finals in Houston, she was fourth in the Non-Pro average riding Playboy Hickory and ended the 1999 year in 11th place.

CD Date is a 5-year-old daughter of CD Olena out of Doc’s Steady Date by Doc Bar, owned by Hall and his wife, Shelly.
Hall, 30, is the son of the now-deceased Larry Hall and his wife, Elaine, of Weatherford, Texas. Elaine owns the great stallion, Peptoboonsmal.

He has now won over $90,000 on the mare that he purchased in January 1998 from her breeders, Tom and Sue Ryan, Millsap, Texas.

He started cutting in 1987, riding Curlano, and now has lifetime earnings topping $170,000. The $17,000 he earned for the Reserve title, rated right up there with his other big paychecks, however, his largest paycheck of $21,342 came when he finished fifth in the 2000 NCHA Super Stakes 4-Year-Old Non-Pro riding CD Date.

Other than a couple of open checks earned by Mike Mowery, and a third-place tie in the 5/6-Year-Old Amateur Division of the 2001 NCHA Summer Cutting Spectacular won by his wife, Hall has earned most of the money on the beautiful palomino mare.

The couple have three children: a daughter Kasey, 12; a son Bodee, 6, and a daughter Jaylee, 3.

5/6-Year-Old Amateur & $50,000 Non-Pro division
Colleen Holt,45, managed a double at the Polo Ranch Classic, winning the 5/6-Year-Old Amateur Division and the $50,000 Non-Pro class with scores of 220 and 221.5 on Powder Pepalena.

The 6-year-old daughter of Powder River Playboy, out of Nita Pepalena by Doc O’Lena, was purchased by Holt from Florian Guski of Illinois as a 4-year-old, thus she was soon nicknamed "Gus."

Although the pair now have won over $12,300, Powder Pepalena had only $294 in earnings on her when Holt bought her. Although she stays overly busy with her job of conditioning horses for sales and boarding and foaling out broodmares, Holt has managed to place at several major shows, but her $8,911 paycheck in the Amateur was by far the largest.

"My husband wants to sell her," she said, "but I want to keep her the rest of my life. I’d like to show at Silverado, Amarillo (West Texas Cutting Futurity), and at Vegas, but we’ll see."

Holt was a dance teacher for 24 years, teaching tap, jazz and ballet. She has been married to Tom for 20 years. They moved to Texas in 1997. While living in California, she rode pleasure, equitation and stock horses with Bobby Ingersoll. She started cutting in 1995 when she won the $2,000 at the PCCHA Futurity riding Nu Stormymorn, a horse she placed on at many events.

In 1997, she purchased Badger Trapper and won the Gold Coast 5/6-Year-Old Amateur Division. She now has lifetime earnings of close to $40,000.

For Reserve Champion of the 5/6-Year-Old Amateur class, Suzy Watson, Miles, Texas, it was a sweet victory.

Last year, she won the first go-round, then hurt her back and couldn’t go back to the second go at the Polo Classic. In fact, it took until January until she could ride again.

But this year, riding Sancie Mac, the pair scored a 216.5 and took home over $7,900, more money than Suzy had ever won at a single show since she started cutting.

Watson, the daughter of the now-deceased, but legendary cutter, Gene Newman, and wife of Jimmy Watson, was riding the 1996 gelding, a son of Quixote Mac out of Sancie Sugar by Fannin Sugar. The gelding was experiencing his first championship, and more money than he had previously won in two years of cutting. It was the first time for Watson to take home a check on the gelding.

Ridden by Mike Mowery, the gelding had been Reserve Champion in a novice class at a weekend show, and Jimmy Watson had picked up a check at another weekend show before placing 10th in the 5/6-Year-Old Non-Pro Division of the 2001 Abilene Spectacular.

This year, Suzy also won the 5/6-Year-Old Classic Amateur and the Smart little Pistol Amateur work-off in Abilene, riding Classic Acre.

The Watsons are part-owners of Coats Saddlery and precondition horses for sales at their ranch.

While Holt had captured the Championship of the $50,000 Non-Pro class, Julie McCloud, Weatherford, Texas, was the Reserve Champion, scoring a 220 for a $1,430 paycheck.

McCloud, 29, was born and raised in Taupo, New Zealand, located four hours south of Auckland. Her mount, Movin Oak, is a 6-year-old daughter of Doc’s Oak out of Josie O’Lena by Doc O’Lena.

"I’ve had a hard time getting with her," said McCLoud, who is six months pregnant with a boy that is due the day or night of the 2001 NCHA Futurity finals. "She’s a big mover and gives me whiplash."

McCloud, who has been in the United States for 11 years, is married to cutting horse trainer Tim McCloud. She was introduced to Tim about 10 years ago, while she was working for Danny Motes. The couple have now been married 5 1/2 years. Julie has been cutting since 1996 and has lifetime earnings of $62,000, according to Equi-Stat. Tim, originally from Illinois, previously worked for Winston Hansma for nine years, but now trains outside horses out of Motes’ facilities.

Julie originally came to America to compete for three weeks in the Canadian Quarter Horse Youth World Cup, but she never went home. She is the daughter of Bryce and Heather Coleman, with her father training reining and cutting horses, and her mother working in a veterinarian’s office.

Two years ago, Julie and Tim returned to New Zealand for a belated honeymoon and her parents are planning a trip to the USA after the baby is born next year.

The McClouds purchased Movin Oak as a 5-year-old for $20,000 from Lauri Mills at the 2000 Western Bloodstock No. 1 Sale held during the NCHA Futurity. The mare had earned less than $4,000 at the time. Until the Polo Ranch Classic, the only check Julie had earned on the mare was $5,014 for the Reserve Championship of 2001 The Non-Pro 5/6-Year-Old Non-Pro Division.

$2,000 Limited Rider Class
Even though the other classes held the most money, the $2,000 Limited Rider Class was probably the most popular class of the show. Some of the top cutting horses in the country were shown by young riders, usually offspring of cutting horse trainers.

Bernie Kirkland, a well-known horse dealer from Weatherford, Texas, who was helping with the awards ceremony at Polo Ranch, was mounted on Montana Musical Sox, owned by Boyd Rice, Spearman, Texas. The gelding had originally been entered with Tarin Rice as the rider, however, at the beginning of the show, Tarin was involved in a four-wheeler accident and broke his foot. Kirkland was chosen to take his place.

As the pair headed to the herd, a group of trainers lined up in front of the judges’ stands to help, while the audience chanted "Bernie, Bernie, Bernie."

Since almost no one had ever seen Bernie cut before, everyone was surprised when he did an admirable job, scoring a 215, good enough for seventh place, but just one point out of the money.

The winner of the class, scoring a 224, was 27-year-old Melissa Matherne, riding Starlights Gypsy, a 6-year-old Grays Starlight stallion that she had never showed before.

"I work for JoAnn Parker in Weatherford, and I’ve ridden Gypsy to get him ready for Rodie (Whitman, who trains the horse)," said Matherne, "but I’ve never ridden him in competition before. In fact, I had never worked him on cattle until this morning when I found out I was going to be able to show him.

"I was entered on a client’s mare, then this morning, Rodie asked me if I was interested in showing Gypsy and I said, ïYou bet.’ "

Matherne is originally from Houma, La., and has worked for Parker for a year, loping horses and serving as the breeding manager. Although she has ridden horses all her life, including pleasure, reining and working cow horses, she moved to Weatherford originally to work for Calvin Allen Saddlery, which she did for nine months.

"Rodie helped me a whole lot," Matherne said "I just do what he tells me. I think he has more confidence in me than I do."
Starlights Gypsy is out of Dickery Chexx by Mr Tony Chex. He was shown most of his cutting career by Scott Martin and has over $72,000 in lifetime earnings.

The Reserve Champion $2,000 Limited Rider was someone who has been in the horse industry for years – but just never has shown much.

Beau Bellenfant, 20, son of trainer Gary Bellenfant and his wife Alycia, DeLeon, Texas, scored a 222 on Miss Martini Play.
The 1996 daughter of Freckles Playboy out of Martinis Miss Peppy by Peppy San Badger, is owned by 2-L Contractors Inc., Abbeville, La., customers of Gary’s.

The mare was solid, with over $86,000 in lifetime earnings and a championship of the 2000 PCCHA 4-Year-Old Futurity under her belt.

"I was working in Cody, Wyo., on a guest ranch, exercising horses and working on irrigation lines," said Bellenfant, a student at Princeton University in Princeton, N.J. "I came here from Cody to meet my parents, so I decided to show if they brought me a horse."

Bellenfant was raised around horses and says he loves competing, but "horses were always work for me," so he didn’t compete much. He did win the 1997 Texas State High School Rodeo Finals in cutting, as well as the Scholarship Youth Cutting at the NCHA Derby.

At Princeton, Beau is majoring in philosophy, but says he would like to take Chinese and even go to China. Eventually, he would like to be a lawyer.

In the meantime, the $1,600 paycheck he won was one of the largest checks of his short cutting career, which started in 1992 and stalled in 1999. His largest check of $2,583 came at the 1997 Bonanza Cutting when he tied for the Reserve title of the Non-Pro Division.

Judges for the event included Randy Chartier, Bill Martin, Dell Bell, Randy Coleman and Joe Cameron.