Ray Baldwin and Kaitlyn Larsen finished the Augusta Futurity Non-Pro finals tied at 215.5, and though they could’ve worked off for the title it didn’t take long for the two Texans to decide sharing was the right answer.
Baldwin’s mount, Dontt Say A Word, had already been put away after cutting in the fifth draw and Larsen, who rode her family’s gelding, Lite Switch, had just tied Baldwin for the 215.5-point lead deep in the draw Saturday night at James Brown Arena in Augusta, Georgia.
“I was next to last and these cattle are pretty rough, and with these babies, man, when they do good you just like to give them cookies and put them away,” said Larsen, of Millsap. “It’s really hard to expect them to turn right back around and go down there on those bad cows.”
Baldwin agreed a Co-Championship was the best route. Sharing the title earned each rider $5,500.
“My horse had already gone out and Kaitlyn had just gone and 14 horses had just gone through those cows,” he said. “And, when you go back in it’s just going to be reruns, it’s going to be ugly, your horse is tired [and there’s] the chance of your horse getting hurt.”
For Baldwin, the win was special because Dontt Say A Word, aka “Shhhhh,” is a daughter of National Cutting Horse Association Open Horse of the Year and Open World Champion Dont Look Twice.
“Our dream has always been to breed and raise our own horses. It hasn’t always worked out very well. This is a tough business,” said Baldwin, whose family’s Waco Bend Ranch Ltd owns mother and daughter. “But, for us to do it [out of] her, a mare that we love so much that has so much meaning to us, I mean, it makes me want to tear up a little bit. It’s really special.”
Shhhhh, who Baldwin calls a “Phil Rapp line-breeding experiment,” has an unusual parentage in that her sire, High Brow Cat, is also the sire of her famous mother (High Brow Cat x Tapt Twice x Dual Pep).
In the case of Dontt Say A Word, the close-up breeding to the Equi-Stat Elite $77 Million Sire seems to have worked, Baldwin said.
“Phil [Rapp] showed her in the small futurities and made some finals and really got her seasoned for me and she really improved dramatically,” Baldwin said of the hard-stopping mare. “She’s a ‘Cat mare so she’s real sticky, she’s real tight, but that makes her so cowy that if I get her extended and ride her across that cow, I mean, she stops on a dime.”
Baldwin didn’t expect the 215.5 score to hold, thinking he’d just get a good check, but he was still atop the leaderboard when Larsen rode Lite Switch (Light N Lena x Duals Play Kitten x High Brow Cat) into the pen eight draws later.
“This horse is pretty green, as they all are this time of year, so I really wasn’t sure what to expect and I drew really deep,” Larsen said. “Usually I’m really comfortable watching cows and I have someone to get on my horse, but tonight I didn’t have anybody so I stayed on him and I trusted my help to get my cows, which is kind of uncomfortable for me.”
She said it worked out though, because Gaylon Wells and her boyfriend, trainer Cody Turner, picked her good cows.
“They showed me where to go and I just put my hand down and used my horse and he was good,” she said.
The gelding owned by Larsen’s father, Billy Martin, is fast becoming one of her favorites.
“He’s just really physical and he’s got a great personality and he has a few negatives, but the positives, I think, are going to definitely overcome and I’m really excited to see where he take us,” she said. “I think he’s got a really good chance of becoming a new favorite.”
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