Competing in Eastern Nationals Youth cutting events for the final time in Jackson, Miss., on Sunday, 19-year-old Cameron Thompson finally won his first title.
He picked up the victory with a 222 during the Senior Youth finals riding Cutter Jones, a horse that original owner Jo Ellard had suggested he should take to the show.
“We got this horse from [Whitesboro, Texas-based] EE Ranches and Jo Ellard, and he was supposed to be one of [the ranch’s longtime lead trainer] Guy Wood’s top Open horses, but he got hurt,” Thompson said. “Jo actually told me at the [2012 National Cutting Horse Association] Futurity, ‘You are going to have to show that horse at the Eastern Nationals sometime. That’s his favorite pen.’ ”
The horse has recovered from his prior health issues. He has been a go-to performer with him the past two years, Thompson said.
“He’s been there every time I’ve ever called on him for something big like this,” said Thompson, a cutter about 14 of his 19 years.
His sister, traveling companion and frequent rival, Jordan Thompon, 16, competed in the same finals. She appeared on her way to making a late run at her brother’s top score while competing 16th in the 18-horse set.
“I thought she had me there, but then she lost a cow,” Thompson said. Now that he’s in college, Cameron said he occasionally meets up with his sister and his parents, Julie and veterinarian Maben Thompson, Crossville, Tenn., at weekend cuttings.
Ryan Howell, 17, Preston, Ga., finished as the Senior Youth Reserve Champion with a 220 riding Little Purple Annie. His parents, Chris and Allison Howell, own the 13-year-old mare. Ryan the mare competed often and well together the past three years.
“She’s made a lot of finals with me, and we’ve finished in the year-end Top 15 the past two years,” Howell said. They are making another strong bid to earn that distinction this year. They held down a Top 5 ranking heading into early March.