Two riders who started early and matured quickly as cutting riders, Tyner McCullar and Cade Shepard, finished as Junior Youth Co-Champions Saturday at the National Cutting Horse Association Eastern Nationals with 220 scores.
McCullar, 13, Paragold, Ark., tied for the top spot riding Pretty Blue Boon, an 8-year-old roan mare. His older sister, Gina, 17, competes with her Monday at the Jackson, Miss., show in the $35,000 Non-Pro first go.
Shepard, 11, Summerdale, Ala., has ridden Peptos Stylish Babe, often this year. His father, Austin Shepard, trains the horse, owned by Ryan and Amanda Standish, a Baton Rouge, La.
Peptos Stylish Babe’s owners raise Arabian horses. Amanda Standish will compete riding Peptos Stylish Babe during Monday’s first round of $35,000 Non-Pro competition.
Ryan and Amanda Standish have allowed Cade Shepard to compete with their top-notch mare as his main youth horse. Shepard and the horse appear on track to make mid-summer’s NCHA Youth World Finals.
Shepard has competed at the Eastern Nationals the past three years. This is his first win there. His father, Austin Shepard, has won the show’s Open finals five times, and his grandfather, Sam Shepard, won last year’s Open finals. Cade’s uncle, Harris Shepard, won January’s Augusta Futurity Non-Pro Championship, and his mother, Stacy, has won several Non-Pro titles.
“It’s really cool to have my dad and my granddad win here, and then me,” Cade Shepard said. Cade added he has enjoyed his many rides this year on Peptos Stylish Babe.
“I just like the way she stops,” Shepard said.
Brent McCullar, the father of Junior Youth Co-Champion Tyner McCullar, said his son got to ride his older sister’s horse because she had another commitment Saturday. Gina McCullar plays for the Paragold, Ark., High School Lady Rams basketball team.
“She was at the state finals in basketball Saturday night [during the first round of the Senior Youth competition],” Brent McCullar said. “They were state runner-ups for the second straight year.”
Gina McCullar has fared well with Pretty Blue Boon in Jackson, Miss., too. That duo won the Classic Amateur title in the same arena during the 2011 Southern Futurity.