Amateur riders took over the Young County Arena in Graham, Texas, on Sunday, March 13. The weather was beautiful after the rainy week, and exhibitors were thrilled to get out and show their horses.
In the Derby Unlimited Amateur, eight horse-and-rider duos competed for the Championship, but it was two exhibitors who ultimately split the title. The first was 2016 Abilene Spectacular 4-Year-Old Unlimited Amateur Champion Laura Landers, on Smartlee As A Cat, and the second was 2015 National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Super Stakes Unlimited Amateur Champion Bobby Ray Hawkins, riding MK Mickey Mouse. Each marked a 218 and received a check for $3,750.
Landers rode “Femur” in spite of her leg, which was broken last year before the NCHA Futurity by the horse.
“He didn’t mean it; he’s making up for it,” Landers said with a laugh. “It was just an accident. I had him tied on the trailer, and he was half-asleep. I walked around it [the trailer] and his head and shoulders were kind of blocked from view. He startled and reflex kicked.”
Smartlee As A Cat (Smooth As A Cat x Smart Jerri Lee x Smart Little Jerry) now boasts $11,861 in earnings. His Weatherford, Texas-based owner, who earned her first paycheck in 2007, sports $265,117 in earnings.
Co-Champion Hawkins, who now has $347,422 in cutting earnings, and “Mickey” had placed third in the 4-Year-Old Unlimited Amateur at the Bonanza Cutting about a month before making the trek to Graham.
“I took him home after the Bonanza and rode him for two or three weeks, and my wife wanted to come up here,” Hawkins, of Seguin, Texas, said. “I had called Ronnie [Rice] and asked him what he thought about Sean Flynn working him, and he thought that would be fine, so I let Sean work him a while. And here we are!”
Mickey is by Dual Rey and out of the Little Trona mare MK Little Miss Trona. He was bred by The Gene McKown Living Trust.
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