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Youth Riders Dedden, Pigg Amateur Co-Champions as Eastern Nationals End

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Chad Gann & Smart Little Paprika
Chad Gann, brother of 2008 Eastern Nationals Open Champion rider Todd Gann, won the 2012 6666 Ranch/National Cutting Horse Association Eastern National Non-Pro title Friday in Jackson, Miss., with a final-round 223 aboard 2005 mare Smart Little Paprika.

Matthew Dedden, 14, Burlington, Ky., and Aubrey Pigg, 15, Collinsville, Ala., were also $50,000 Amateur Co-Champions with final-go 219s as the well-attended 31st annual showcase for any-age horses and riders ended at the Mississippi State Fairgrounds.

Chad and his wife Nikki Gann, Leighton, Ala., purchased Smart Little Paprika (Smart Little Lena x Peppys Playful Lena x Freckles Playboy) in December. The mare, a prior career earner of $60,655, added $5,496 and helped Gann top $300,000 in career rider earnings with a dominant performance. The duo topped the Non-Pro finals by a solid three-point margin, after also topping the first-go Friday morning with a 222 effort.

St. Nicks Pines, Gillett, Wis., bred and originally owned Smart Little Paprika. Dreamcatchers Farms, Waverly, Texas, bought the mare as a late yearling in December of 2006. It owned her as she qualified for many limited-age Open finals.

Non-Pro Reserve Champions Jessica Fields, Auburn, Ky., and her 1998 mare MK Kittylena (CD Olena x Meradas Kitty x Freckles Merada) continued a steady stream of success at the Eastern Nationals by finishing second with a 220 to earn $4,437. The pair has earned $21,636 at the event in recent years. MK Kittylena moved up to No. 5 among all-time top-earning horses in Eastern Nationals history, according to Equi-Stat records.

The $50,000 Amateur finals resulted in a Co-Championship involving young riders and experienced horses that also fared well in other divisions at the show. Dedden and 2000 Paint gelding A Cat Named Sue (High Brow Cat x Meradas Hickory Sue [PT] x Freckles Merada), earned $5,798 with Friday’s Co-Championship, after finishing as Junior Youth Champions on March 11 with a 221 score. Also on March 11, A Cat Named Sue, owned by Matthew Dedden’s 16-year-old sister, Chloe, carried Matt’s 17-year-old friend, Jackie Funk, Elk City, Okla., to final-go 220 and a Senior Youth win.

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Aubrey Pigg & Royals Magnificat
Pigg and Royals Magnificat (High Brow Cat x CD Royalty x CD Olena), a 2005 gelding owned by her parents, Terry and Catherine Pigg, Collinsville, Ala., continued a busy and successful day by finishing third in Friday’s Non-Pro finals to earn $3,378 with a 218.5. The horse and his young rider also made the March 11 Senior Youth finals.

Dave and Georgia Husby, Weatherford, Texas, bred Royals Magnificat, and owned the career earner of $150,172 through the end of his 2011 season, according to Equi-Stat records, while Weatherford, Texas, trainer Clint Allen guided him to several limited-age finals. After Aubrey Pigg’s parents purchased the horse late last year, Summerdale, Ala., trainer Austin Shepard guided him to a $10,000 Novice Open victory with a 226 at the October, 2011 All American Quarter Horse Congress in Columbus, Ohio. Aubrey Pigg and the horse also finished third in the 5/6-Year-Old Non-Pro finals at that same show.

Pigg, a 2009 NCHA Junior Youth World Champion at age 12, finished as a $2,000 Limit Rider Reserve Champion at the 2008 Eastern Nationals. Now 15, she’s earned about $60,000 so far as a cutting horse rider.

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Tim May & Exclusive Thyme
$5,000 Novice/Non Pro

Saltillo, Miss., cutter Tim May and 2007 gelding Exclusive Thyme, a horse who earned $42,289 last year, marked a 218 during Thursday’s $5,000 Novice/Non-Pro finals at the 6666 Ranch/National Cutting Horse Association Eastern Nationals in Jackson, Miss., to secure $6,236 as the horse topped $50,000 in career earnings.

Exclusive Thyme (One Time Pepto x Classy Dualin x Dualin Jewels), bred by Dave and Georgia Husby, Weatherford, Texas, carried May and Texas trainer Sean Flynn to Derby Open, Non-Pro Open, Gelding Open and Gelding Non-Pro finals at the 2011 NCHA Summer Spectacular in Fort Worth, Texas, to earn $24,476. May and the horse were also Derby Non-Pro Reserve Champions at the 2011 Arbuckle Mountain Futurity in Ardmore, Okla., with a 219 finish to earn $9,863.

Page Bowman, 14, Simpsonville, Ky., and Scoot Over Here, a 7-year-old gelding bred and owned by her parents, Mike and Libby Bowman, were Reserve Champions with a 217 to earn $4,994. Three riders and horses tied for third with 216 efforts.

Bowman and Scoot Over Here (Smart Lil Scoot x Oh Cay Shez Snazzy x Oh Cay Quixote), a horse her family calls “Preacher,” qualified for several Non-Pro, Amateur and Youth finals at limited-age cuttings last year while earning a combined $29,886. The horse did not earn much early in her career while competing with Page’s parents. They turned him over to their teen daughter late in his 5-year-old season as a project. He had then emerged as her go-to horse by the following season. “Preacher” has earned more than $40,000 during his career, including better than $30,000 with Page in the saddle.

The Eastern Nationals concludes a well-attended 12-day run today at the Mississippi State Fairgrounds with $50,000 Amateur and Non-Pro finals.

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Jason McClure
$15,000 Novice/Non-Pro

Jason McClure and Freckles Meow, a 2007 mare he bought for $1,600 at a late 2008 sale, won a $15,000 Novice/Non-Pro title at the Eastern Nationals in Jackson, Miss., Wednesday to earn $7,477 and extend the mare’s career earnings to about $35,000.

McClure, 26, Hayesville, N.C., purchased Freckles Meow (High Brow Cougar x Docs Berry Freckles x Freckles Playboy) at the 2008 NCHA Mid-Futurity Sale in Fort Worth, Texas. They same duo won a Derby Non-Pro title at October’s All American Quarter Horse Congress in Columbus, Ohio, and they’ve made a few limited-age finals.

The victory pushed McClure, a 2007 NCHA Futurity Non-Pro Reserve Champion at age 22, over the $250,000 mark in career cutting earnings.

Longtime Mississippi resident Lauren Middleton Chartier, who now lives in Weatherford, Texas, with her horse-training husband Cullen Chartier, guided 6-year-old gelding Swoopn Indian to a No. 2 finish with a 217.5 to earn $5,930. Cullen Chartier and Swoopn Indian (Hickorys Indian x Dellaware x Docs Stylish Oak) also finished as Reserve Champions in the $3,000 Novice Open at the same show last week with a 221 to earn $6,898.

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Lynn Johnson & "Swinger"

$35,000 Non-Pro

Lynn Johnson, a prior career earner of $19,896, and 2003 gelding Justa Swinging Kodo, who had earned $17,260, both picked up signature wins Monday by topping the $35,000 Non-Pro with a 218.5 and earning a $5,305 check at the 6666 Ranch/National Cutting Horse Association Eastern Nationals in Jackson, Miss.

Johnson and “Swinger” (Kodo x Janes Justa Swinging x Justa Swinging Peppy) marked their winning score as the 24th of 27 duos that competed during the two-set finals. Pam Deaville, Covington, La., the wife of Hall of Fame Open Rider and 2011/2012 NCHA President Keith Deavlle, and her 2002 gelding SDP Hicapoos CD (CD Olena x Hicapoo x Doc’s Hickory), finished as Reserve Champions with a 216 to earn $4,292. Deaville and her horse led the event with a 216, marked from the third draw in the first cattle set, until Johnson and “Swinger” completed their run.

Johnson, 49, Gainesville, Texas, the wife of cutting trainer Teddy Johnson, said the victory ranks as her top career win. This is the third time in four years she’s made an Eastern Nationals final. Deaville’s No. 2 finish ranked as her best in three finals since 2008 at the same show.

“This is THE win,” Johnson said. She also credited her husband, Teddy, with training the horse well for her. Teddy Johnson assisted his wife and several other training clients while wearing a neck brace necessitated by a recent horseback accident.

“He got bucked off a horse about three weeks ago,” Lynn Johnson said. “I’ve been battling him because he’s not supposed to be riding. I told him that he could go to the herd and talk to me and his other customers [as they competed at the Eastern Nationals], but he still can’t ride when he goes back home.”

Lynn married Teddy Johnson seven years ago. The couple own seven horses, with a foal on the way, and she estimates they have about 60 horses at their barn in far North Texas, near the Oklahoma border.

“I owe it all to him [Teddy],” Lynn said. “He trained a pretty good horse for me.” Lynn became the fifth owner of “Swinger,” bred and originally owned by Don Bussey, Guin, Ala., in June of 2010. She wanted to compete with him at last year’s Eastern Nationals, but did not get to because the horse suffered an injury shortly before the event.

“He’s been off for a long time, but he’s came back sound now,” Johnson said, adding “Swinger” was already but now certainly ranks as one of her favorites. “He’s awesome. I love him. He’s coming back strong now and we are just getting it together.”

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Playin Witha Cat & Sam Shepard
Playin Witha Cat, Sam Shepard Win Open

Sam Shepard, the National Cutting Horse Association Eastern Nationals’ No. 3 all-time earner heading into this year’s show, came close several prior times but had never won its Open title until marking a 226 on March 11 aboard 7-year-old gelding Playin Witha Cat.

Playin Witha Cat (High Brow Cat x Playgiarism x Freckles Playboy), owned by Arthur Noble, Madison, Miss., and Shepard, 65, Verbena, Ala., had marked a 228 to win last year’s $3,000 Novice Open at the annual Jackson, Miss. event. They also made a strong bid to capture last year’s Open finals, but an unruly third cow sabotaged that effort.

This time, the horse and Shepard won the Open by a solid five-point margin when a third cow the veteran trainer wasn’t too sure about provided plenty of energy for a big finish.

“I’ve done well here. I’ve been Reserve two or three times and I’ve been in the top five I don’t know how many times, but I’d never won here,” said the veteran trainer. His son, Austin Shepard, had won five of the previous nine Open titles at the event. “I’ve always wanted to. Thank goodness it happened this time, on one of my favorite horses.”

Reserve Champion Bad Dogs and Guns (Playgun x Miss Tassa Lena x Smart Little Lena), and Gabe Reynolds, Springfield, Tenn., marked a 221 from the last draw in the second of two 11-horse sets. Lisa and Shawn Minshall, Hillsburgh, Ont., Can., own the 2006 stallion. Sweet Lil Cat 007 and Austin Shepard, Reserve Champions in last week’s $10,000 Novice Open finals, made Sunday’s Open finals, too, but were tripped up by a tricky cow. They exited the arena with a no score.

Playin Witha Cat moved over the $100,000 mark in career earnings with the win. He started his competitive career in Austin Shepard’s barn, and was also an early favorite of Austin’s, but the pair never entirely clicked. The horse has competed with more consistency since moving over to Sam Shepard’s barn late in his 5-year-old season.

This year, Sam is hoping to qualify Playin With a Cat for the year-end NCHA Open finals in Fort Worth, Texas. As of March 7, Playin Witha Cat ranked fifth in the NCHA Open standings. The elder Shepard, whose son Austin guided one horse to an Open any-age title last year and an any-age Open Reserve title in 2009, said he’s never attempted to haul a horse with a top 15 finish in mind until this season. Another horse he’s competed with at any-age shows during early 2012 also ranked No. 20 in the Open as of last week.

While quite proud of his son’s accomplishments in recent years, the NCHA Hall of Fame rider and career earner of more than $2 million does enjoy showing he can still win, too.

Soon after his 226 ride aboard Playin Witha Cat ended, a woman yelled loudly from the stands, “The old man’s still got it!”

“I heard that,” Shepard said with a smile. “It doesn’t make you feel good that you’re old, but it does make you feel good that you did well.”

The 6666 Ranch/NCHA Eastern Nationals continues through Friday with Non-Pro and Amateur events, including today’s $35,000 Non-Pro first round and finals.

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A Cat Named Sue, Jackie Funk & Matthew Dedden
A Cat Named Sue Helps Two Young Champs

When 2011 Junior Youth World Champion Matthew Dedden, found out his friend Jackie Funk had qualified for the Senior Youth event at the Eastern Nationals but didn’t have a horse to ride because hers was recovering from recent surgery, he decided he’d share his.

Pulling his double duty quite well, 12-year-old Paint gelding A Cat Named Sue (High Brow Cat x Meradas Hickory Sue [PT] x Freckles Merada) carried Matthew, 14, Burlington, Ky., to a 221 and a victory during the March 11 Junior Youth finals early that morning.

A couple hours later, he carried Jackie, 17, Elk City, Okla., to a 220 and a win in the Senior Youth finals. Each rider earned $1,000 scholarships, thanks to the same horse. Dedden’s 16-year-old sister, Chloe, actually owns “Sue,” but Matthew has ridden her four years. He told his sister, and his parents, he’d like to let his friend compete with the horse, too. The family agreed, and the plan worked out well for everyone.

Matthew Frasier Dedden’s father, Boone County Commissioner and businessman Matthew Joseph Dedden, described his son as a strong student, a great rider, and a good-hearted person.

“Of course, there was a concern [about putting two young riders on the same horse at the same show]. It’s his horse, well, his sister’s horse, but he’s been riding it. He was the one that put it together,” the elder Dedden said. “He’s just got that big heart and wants to help. It was a good decision on his part.”

Funk had never ridden A Cat Named Sue until climbing on him for one two-minute practice session and two rounds in Jackson, Miss. She marked as 214.5 with “Sue” in the first round to make the finals. She then teamed up with him for a winning 220 on Sunday.

“It was just a matter of getting the cows out, getting them cut clean and letting him do his job,” Funk said. “Matthew and his family, they are just great. I can’t thank them enough for letting me show that horse. It was such a blessing.”

Kolby Don Moore, 15, Morrison, Fla.,son of cutting trainer Casey Moore and his wife Sheri Moore, earned the Junior Youth Reserve Championship with a 220.5 effort on Smart Little Cranbar, owned by Bill Wilkins, McAlpin, Fla.

Chisholm Clark, 16, Fountain Inn, S.C., Swingin Til Five, last year's Senior Youth Champions, finished as Reserve Champions this time with a 219 finish. Chisholm's parents, Roger and Stephanie Clark, own the 12-year-old gelding.

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Arlan Kannas
$2,000 Limit Rider

After bull and trick rider Arlan Kannas, 31, Tuscaloosa, Ala., secured a victory in the $2,000 Limit Rider finals on March 11 with a 219.5 aboard 2006 mare Dual Catolena to earn $7,312, it didn’t take him long to reply when asked where the win ranked among his list.

“It is the greatest,” Kannas said, thanking his herd helpers, his horse, the horse’s owner Judy Livingston and Lee Ann Livingston, Eutaw, Ala., and a higher authority for putting him in the saddle. “If it wasn’t for the grace of God, I wouldn’t be here. That’s for sure.”

Dual Catolena (High Brow Cat x DPS Lenas Lucinda x Dual Pep) and Kannas also won the first round of the $2,000 Limit Rider two days earlier on Friday with a 220.5 effort. Two horses and riders finished a half-point off their winning 219.5 pace in the finals to tie for Reserve Champion honors.

Kannas’ wife, Stephanie, and his 2½-year-old son, Wyatt, were there to ongratulate him. The couple has another child due in September. Kannas has trained and ridden many types of horses for years. He started riding cutters about 1½ years ago. He said he’d love to eventually develop into a cutting horse trainer. At this point, he trains all types. He formerly assisted working cow horse trainers in California, and Augusta, Kansas, cutting trainer has served as a recent mentor, helping him learn a new sport.

“I grew up loving horses,” Kannas said. “The cutting is always something I wanted to get into. It just fell into play. I would love to be a cutting horse trainer. I’d love to start 2-year-olds and on up and eventually go to limited-age events.”

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Susan Dunne & KG Imyahuckleberry

$15,000 Amateur

Susan Dunne, 47, Clinton, N.C., celebrated her birthday on March 8 by guiding 2005 gelding KG Imyahuckleberry to the $15,000 Amateur finals at the Eastern Nationals, then on March 9, the Clinton, N.C., rider, 47, and “Huck” won with a 222 to earn $5,186 for the top cutting finish by the third-year rider and her star horse.

KG Imyahuckleberry (Smooth As A Cat x Miss Blue Wood x Doctor Wood), named after a classic Western movie line by his breeder and original owner, Kirkland Gruber, Saint George, S.C., is scheduled to compete with Dunne three more times next week.

Karen Cole, Batesville, Miss., and her 8-year-old gelding Bless This Deal (Blessed Twice x Vanna Oak x Doc’s Oak), bred and originally owned by Frank and Ora Diehl, Ruskin, Fla., finished as $15,000 Amateur Reserve Champions with a 219 to earn $4,203. The second-place finish pushed Bless This Deal’s career earnings past the $45,000 mark.

Dunne competed in six events with “Huck” and another horse, 2003 gelding Oh Cay Starlight (Grays Starlight x Meradas Oh Cay x Freckles Merada) and made five finals at the 6666 Ranch/National Cutting Horse Association Eastern Nationals for the first time last year. She and “Huck,” now a career earner of more than $46,000, also made three limited-age Amateur finals and finished No. 13 in the NCHA any-age $5,000 Novice Non-Pro division last year.

Earning her first high-profile cutting victory certainly excited Dunne, a longtime horsewoman. She had ridden in several other disciplines before competing as a cutter for the first time in fall of 2009. She bought “Huck” in January, 2011 and has competed with him more than ever in early 2012. The pair ranked No. 6 in the NCHA $15,000 Novice Non-Pro standings through early March.

Verdena, Ala., trainer Sam Shepard has helped Dunne at the Eastern Nationals and other eastern states cuttings, and Texas-based trainers Steve Oehlhof and Kyle Cox help her when she travels west. Dunne and “Huck” also seem to be getting better and better the more they compete.

“I look forward to our future,” Dunne said, adding she plans to continue competing with the horse quite a bit. “It [their $15,000 Amateur win] was a great evening. I was pretty excited about it. I got my horse showed and he was very good for me. I’m proud of him.”

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KTZ Rey Of Cash & Dean Domann
$3,000 Novice Open

After tying for the top spot in the first-go with a 220, 2006 stallion KTZ Rey Of Cash and Gainesville, Texas, trainer Dean Domann marked a dominant 225 during the March 8 final to secure the $3,000 Novice Open title and Domann’s his first Eastern Nationals check.

KTZ Rey Of Cash (Dual Rey x Clays Little Cash x Cash Quixote Rio), owned by Rodney Wrinkle Cutting Horses, Lebanon, Mo., and Domann earned $8,741 with that performance. Domann, a career earner of $308,294 as a rider, also topped several much better known trainers who have earned much more during the two-set, 26-horse finals.

“Everything worked. It felt pretty good,” Domann said. He and the same horse had recently posted back-to-back strong opening-round efforts during limited-age Classic Open events at the Bonanza Cutting in Texas and the Arbuckle Mountain Futurity in Ardmore, Okla., only to miss both finals due to sub-par second-round showings.

“It was good to have two good goes in a row,” said Domann, 37, a former Kansas-based trainer. He hopes the horse’s recent progress continues as the same duo competes again at the National Cutting Horses Association Super Stakes in Fort Worth.

Domann relocated to Texas and started riding horses at Wrinkle’s training facility two years ago. A cutting horse trainer since his mid-20s, Domann once worked for two years in Weatherford, Texas, with cutting trainers and brothers Paul and Winston Hansma.

Swoopn Indian (Hickorys Indian Pep x Dellaware x Docs Stylish Oak), a 6-year-old gelding co-owned by Weatherford, Texas, trainer Cullen Chartier and his wire, Lauren Middleton Chartier, finished as Reserve Champions with a strong 221 finish.

Cullen, 26, is the younger brother of Weatherford-based trainer R.L. Chartier and the son of longtime Michigan husband and wife cutters Randy and Kelle Chartier. He headed into 2012 with about $30,000 in career earnings. His wife, Lauren, grew up in Mississippi and qualified for the year-end 2011 NCHA Non-Pro finals in Fort Worth, Texas, last year.

Robert Cunningham, Bethalo, Ill., bred Swoopn Indian. The horse improved his show earnings consistently as a 3- through 5-year-old and he’s trying to continue that trend.

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Great Chief & Austin Shepard
$10,000 Novice Open

Great Chief, a 2007 gelding, and Sweet Lil Cat 007, a 2007 mare, both ridden by Summerdale, Ala., cutting trainer Austin Shepard, took the top two spots with 221.5 and 220 scores and earned $6,468 and $5,157 checks during the March 7 $10,000 Novice Open finals at the Eastern Nationals.

Joel Cosgrove, Sr., Boligee, Ala., owns Great Chief, bred by Jack Waggoner and Susan Ferguson, Bridgeport, Texas. The gelding launched his career by earning $10,000 as he carried Shepard to the Open semifinals at the 2010 NCHA Futurity in Fort Worth, Texas.

Shepard bought Big Chief as a 2-year-old and trained him as a 3-year-old prior to the 2010 NCHA Futurity. He eventually sold the horse to Cosgrove. The horse spent time with another trainer and got hurt before eventually ending up in Shepard's barn again.

"He's a nice horse. He's a really good horse," Shepard said. "He really hasn't been shown near as much as these other 5-year-olds. I thought bringing him here [where Big Chief also competed in the Open, but did not make its finals] would be a good way to get him ready for the [NCHA] Super Stakes."

At January’s Augusta Futurity in Augusta, Ga., Great Chief (High Brow Cat x Sweet Lil CD x CD Olena), a prior career earner of $14,935, and Shepard marked a 223 during the first go of the 5/6-Year-Old Open to make its finals. They placed seventh in the Open at the Southern Futurity in Jackson, Miss., last fall. This is the horse’s first high-profile win.

Sweet Lil Cat 007 (High Brow Cat x Sweet Lil CD x CD Olena) is a full sister to High Brow CD, the 2004 stallion who won the 2007 NCHA Futurity Open with Shepard and went on to earn more than $500,000 during his standout cutting career. John and Nancy McCoy, Houston, Texas, own “Wendel’s” 5-year-old full sister. Wendel Ranches, Bastrop, Texas, bred both Sweet Lil Cat 007 and her famous full brother.

The prior earner of $24,416, according to Equi-Stat records, picked up about $14,000 of that total during the first two months of her 4-year-old season. Sweet Lil Cat 007 started out fast last year by placing fourth at the 2011 Augusta Futurity and then tying for sixth in the Tunica Futurity Open finals with Shepard. This is the mare’s top finish since then.

Four horses and riders tied for third through sixth place.