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NCHA Futurity underway in Fort Worth

By Brett Hoffman | Published Wednesday, November 29, 2017
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In the world of western riding sports, Fort Worth is well known for accommodating high-profile cutting horse shows.

The most prestigious show is the National Cutting Horse Association World Championship Futurity.

The 2017 Futurity began Nov. 15 and runs through Dec. 10 at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum. The open division winner will receive the coveted $200,000 prize on Dec. 10.

During the first round at this year’s Futurity, Ascencion Banuelos, who is an NCHA Riders Hall of Fame member with more than $2.2 million in career earnings, turned in an attention grabbing score of 219.5 aboard a stallion named Catillac Reys.

After making a two-and-a-half minute run that impressed the judges, Banuelos gave a great explanation on why it’s a major relief to perform well in the first round.

“You know you have a good horse, but you really don’t know whether or not they want to be a show horse,” he said.

The Futurity gives horse owners and riders the first indication of how well a horse is going to perform in competition. It’s the sport’s most prestigious show, and it features the industry’s most promising debuting 3-year-old horses.

When Banuelos, 60, a former Jacksboro resident who currently lives near Gainesville, turned in the 219.5, he was elated to get off to a booming start.

“The first go-round of the Futurity is the toughest because obviously you know you have a good horse, but some horses change when you put your hand down,” Banuelos said.

In cutting horse jargon, the term “put your hand down” means a rider drops the reins and allows them to hang loose after separating a lone cow from the herd. When a rider drops the reins, it’s now up to the horse to hold a feisty, darting cow at bay.

When a rider drops the reins for the first time at the Futurity and asks the horse to hold the cow, it’s a big leap of faith. The Futurity is the test to see how well a horse will respond to countless hours of training.

Banuelos said it’s an exhilarating feeling when it all works out for the first time.

“It’s really, really a thrill,” Banuelos said. “I love the Futurity. I’m getting where I don’t chase the rest of the shows. I like the Futurity because I like to work the young horses. Once they get past the Futurity and they are 4-year-olds, I don’t care whether I have any of them or not.”

After turning in the 219.5 in the first round, Banuelos and Catillac Reys didn’t fare as well in the second round. The duo turned in a 212, which meant they finished the first two rounds with a two-run aggregate score of 431.5.

The 431.5 was a half point shy of qualifying for the semifinals, which is scheduled for Dec. 9. However, the fact that Banuelos and Catillac Reys turned in a 219.5 during the Futurity’s first round could be a good indication that the stallion has a bright future.

The Futurity o second round concluded Thursday, Nov. 23. A field of 69 horses with a two-ride aggregate score of higher advanced to the Dec. 9 open semifinal.

Austin Shepard, a former Futurity open champion rider, and a stallion named Dual Reyish finished the first two rounds with the highest aggregate score en route to earning a semifinal berth. The duo turned in a two-ride score of 442.5 (222.5 in the first round and 220 in the second round).

John Sanislow and Im Quintan Checks, a stallion, turned in the second highest aggregate score after competing in the two rounds. They turned an aggregate score of 441.5 (221 and 220.5).

Boyd Rice, a former Spearman resident who lives in Weatherford, and the stallion Third Cutting Cat advanced to the semifinal after finishing the Futurity’s first two rounds with a 433 (219 and 214). Third Cutting Cat was sired by Third Cutting, which was a successful competitor who has $528,268 in NCHA lifetime earnings. Rice and Third Cutting won the 2009 NCHA Super Stakes open division title and 2009 NCHA Summer Spectacular Derby open division title.

Rice also advanced to the semifinal with a 432 (214 and 218) aboard Checking It Out, a stallion.

RANCH RODEO UPDATE

Wilson Cattle/Haystack Cattle Co. clinched the team title at the Nov. 9-12 Working Ranch Cowboys Association World Championship Ranch Rodeo in Amarillo. According to aqha.com, the team was comprised of working cowboys from two ranches that teamed up to compete in the championships. Wilson Cattle is from Canyon. Haystack Cattle Co. is from Lubbock. In the individual events, Wilson/Haystack won the wild-cow milking, finished third in team branding, fourth in ranch bronc riding and sixth in stray gathering. The 22nd annual World Championship Ranch Rodeo featured 23 ranch teams.

PRCA UPDATE

The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is just around the corner. The 2017 edition is scheduled for Dec. 7-16 at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas.

In the 2017, Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s world all-around standings, Trevor Brazile of Decatur is ranked No. 1 with $243,760. Tuf Cooper, a former Decatur resident who currently lives in the Weatherford area, is ranked second with $230,022.

Brett Hoffman, a Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame member, has reported on rodeos for more than three decades for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

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