Friendly Competition At NCHA World Finals

ee-ichi-barJaycee Lowery and EE Ichi Bar • Hart PhotosFor EE Ichi Bar, owned by Keith Waid of Alabama, spending a few days at Carol Ward’s ranch in Weatherford, Texas, was a nice respite. Waid’s trainer, Jack Dozier, brought him, along with a couple other horses, for a four-day rest before the 2014 National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) World Finals.

“We hit it off from the first time we met,” Ward said, describing the friendship she had developed with Waid, his wife, Cheryl, and their granddaughter, Jaycee Lowery, while hauling for the World Finals. The twist is that Lowery, who recently turned 12, is Ward’s biggest competition in the show pen.

“I expected going down to the wire,” Ward said with a laugh, adding,, “but I thought it would be some sweet lady my age, not a 12 year old! The dynamics this year have been amazing.”

Before the year began, Lowery decided she wanted to show in more than youth cuttings and approached her grandfather with her goal.

“She was only 11 when she asked if I’d haul with her,” Waid recalled. “She’d hauled in the Youth, but showing in the $15,000 Non-Pro and $50,000 Amateur is a world of difference. We talked about how she’d have to be dedicated, how there would be a lot of early mornings and late nights. She’s done great with it.”

That proof is in the pudding. Lowery will enter the World Finals sitting second in the $50,000 Amateur, second in the Youth and first in the $15,000 Novice Non-Pro with EE Ich Bar (Cat Ichi x Freckles Beauty Bar x Freckles Playboy). That’s the class in which she and Ward, the same lady who welcomed her horse for a four-day break, are major competitors.

Lowery took the lead from Ward earlier in the year when Ward, a member of the NCHA and Pacific Coast Cutting Horse Association Non-Pro Hall of Fames, came off the campaign trail to host the annual El Rancho Futurity. Switching places however, never dampened the camaraderie of either camp. Jason Taylor, Ward’s trainer, turns back for Lowery, and Dozier turns back for Ward. Recently, they even juggled people and horses so everyone could make both the Kansas City Mercuria/NCHA World Series of Cutting nighttime finals and still compete the next morning in Geneva, Alabama, approximately 20 hours away.

Constance Jaeggi, who clinched the Non-Pro World Championship after the second round at the World Finals, hauls with trainer Chubby Turner. Turner had made the Mercuria finals, as had Ward. Jaeggi, though, needed to show in Geneva; so did Lowery and Ward.

That’s when Nancy Clayton, a friend to all, developed a plan and called Waid. He loaded up the horses that needed to go to Geneva – Ward’s Nurse Connie (Smart Mate x Ima Nurse x High Brow Hickory), Jaeggi’s Saguaro Ichi (Cat Ichi x Playboys Heidi x Freckles Playboy) and Lowery’s EE Ichi Bar – as well as Lowery and Jaeggi, and by 3:00 p.m., they were on the road.

“I was pretty honored they put their trust in us,” said Waid, who drove through the night to arrive at the cutting by 7:30 the next morning. “There’s a bed in the Peterbilt, so the girls slept on the way.  As soon as we got there, Constance got her horse out, road off to show and marked a 76!”

Ward, in the meantime, caught a ride to Geneva with competitor Lee Garner in his private plane. “I was there in time to meet the horse when they came in. It really made it fun.”

And that, according to Ward, is what it should be about – fun. “When it comes down to it, hauling shouldn’t be about who beat who, but about trying your hardest, doing your best and making lifelong friends.”

As the World Finals go-rounds start in Fort Worth, Lowery leads the $15,00 Novice Non-Pro by $1,707.62. That’s a slim margin, and you can bet Ward will be doing her best to beat her.

The first two go’s of the Open and Non-Pro World Finals took place on Nov. 29-30; the third and fourth rounds take place Thursday, Dec. 4 and Saturday, Dec. 6. The $15,000 Novice, $35,000 Non-Pro, $5,000 Novice Non-Pro and $2,000 Limit Rider go-rounds take place Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 3-4. The $5,000 Novice, $50,000 Amateur, $15,000 Novice Non-Pro and $15,000 Amateur go-rounds are scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Dec. 5-6.

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