At the 2017 National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Futurity, Lance Cooper rode his new horse, Zen And Tonic, to the Limited Non-Pro Co-Championship. They rolled that success over into 2018, winning the Abilene Spectacular 4-Year-Old Non-Pro Championship with a 222 – the same score they marked at the Futurity. It was a great birthday gift for the high school junior, who turned 17 in December.
“It’s awesome. She’s just a good horse,” Cooper said. “I feel like we’re more comfortable. My dad’s trained her some now since we’ve had her a little bit longer, and it’s just working out better. She feels like one of my dad’s horses now.”
Cooper’s dad, Equi-Stat Elite $3 Million Rider Michael, competed in the Open with Catarism RG, and the duo tied for the Reserve Championship. Afterward, he and Cooper went home to Weatherford, Texas, for a day and a half, then Michael decided to stay there.
“He worked her in the morning, and I drove up here,” Cooper said. “I had Beau Galyean and Casey Green help me. I also had to note cattle and everything.
“I just tried to show my horse and just go as consistent as could be,” he continued. “The cows weren’t very good [in the go-rounds], so I was just trying to make clean and slow runs.”
The strategy worked, as Zen And Tonic and Cooper topped the first go with a 219. Their 215 in the second go gave them a combined score of 434, putting them second going into the clean slate finals. Agreeable cattle in the finals helped give the duo the edge they needed to win the $10,000 paycheck, along with the Limited Non-Pro title, which came with $1,432.
“It was pretty simple, let’s just put it that way,” Cooper said of his finals run. “The cows literally cut themselves.
“I just want to thank my help – Casey Green, Sean Flynn, Beau Galyean and Tarin Rice,” he continued. “Tarin actually had to leave after the second go, so I had Clay Johnson help me. And I brought a loper – she loped her at the Futurity. [Mikayla Sabine] came and got her ready for me.”
“She’s the nicest horse to ever be around,” he said. “She’s so easy; she doesn’t take much work at all. I’m just looking this year to have her to show and just have a fun year. I’m not trying to do anything special; I’m just trying to show my horse and have fun.”
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