Cade Shepard hasn’t been to every Augusta Futurity, but the high schooler figures he’s been to every one during his lifetime.
“I love this show,” said the 16-year-old from Summerdale, Alabama. “I’ve been coming here ever since I was pretty much born.”
The show has been good to the Shepard family: Cade’s father, Austin Shepard, is a four-time Augusta Futurity Open Champion, and his grandfather, Sam Shepard, won the 2011 Classic Open Championship.
On Friday, Cade added his name to the list of family accomplishments at Augusta by riding Christy Hughes to the 5/6-Year-Old Classic Non-Pro Championship. He and the sorrel mare by Thomas E Hughes out of MH San Tules Dually (by San Tule Freckles) took the title with a 222.
“Before I went there wasn’t a huge score winning, so I just kind of wanted to go in and make every cut clean and get drove up far enough and try not to have any mistakes,” he said.
The 222 proved to be more than enough, putting him 5.5 points ahead of Reserve Champions Judy Rogers and Prette Prette Please. The win earned $8,001 for Cade’s parents, Austin and Stacy Shepard, who bred and own the 2012 mare.
“She’s really sweet and then down there she’s pretty intense,” Cade said of the mare, who he showed three years ago in the National Cutting Horse Futurity. “She’ll run and stop, but she likes the kind of cows that stay in the middle. She’s really bright and keeps her ears up. She’s really fun.”
Equi-Stat Elite $7 Million Rider Austin, who trains and also shows Christy Hughes, has said he hopes to help Cade become a trainer should son want to follow in his father and grandfather’s footsteps. Cade, who has won more than $600,000 as a non-pro, has every intention of joining the family’s chosen profession.
“I’ve just been doing it all my life and I get up and go to the barn every morning,” he said. “It’s just kind of my routine. I like it.”
Although Cade has made multiple finals at the Augusta Futurity show and come close to winning, his victory with Christy Hughes was his first at the event. Show Chairman Billy Morris III noted the milestone, telling the crowd during the awards ceremony that it had witnessed a remarkable occasion.
“His grandfather has showed in this pen and won, his father has showed in this pen and won, and now Cade, a young 16-year-old member of the Shepard family, has showed in this pen and won,” he said, to the cheers of the crowd. “What a great family sport this is.”
Morris then congratulated Cade, telling the teen it was up to him and other young cutting enthusiasts to carry the sport to the next generation.
“I have a personal friendship with this family and it’s a big coincidence, I think, that the first time I won in this pen, his grandfather was one of my helpers,” Morris said. “So, I’ve got a great friendship and a great satisfaction for this great young man for winning tonight.”
Based in the ovation that followed, the crowd agreed.
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