Eastern National Championships.
Hughes works in Minco, Okla. She picked up the top victory of her young cutting career during her second ride on a horse owned by her boyfriend, Tennessee cutting trainer Zeke Entz. Hughes and Hickorys Handy Cat had competed for the first time together Saturday, when they qualified for Sunday’s finals with a strong opening effort.
Entz had promised to loan Hughes a horse for the event, open to any rider who had not yet earned $2,000 as a cutter before the 2012 season. He hadn’t told her which horse she’d get. “He wouldn’t tell me until right before we were supposed to show,” Hughes said. It pleased her when she found out.
“That’s his good Open horse,” Hughes said. “He just cuts clean and he does his job. He builds a trap every time, and he’s just phenomenal.”
Virginia native Laura Jenkins, 24, who now lives and works in Armory, Miss., finished as $2,000 Limit Rider Reserve Champion with a 217 from the leadoff draw in the two-set, 24-horse finals. She competed with TJ Gin Oak, owned by cutting couple Jim Nichols and Connie Evans, Bossier City, La.
Jenkins credited the horse, its owners, and her boyfriend, Mississippi-based trainer Josh Doshier, with helping her compete so well.
“I was very excited,” Jenkins said. “That was probably the best run I’ve had all year. It was a definite confidence booster.”