Morgan Cromer began to notice a change in Stylish Look Bella last fall. At first, she didn’t quite believe what she was seeing in the flashy sorrel mare nicknamed “Shakira.”
The Dual Smart Rey mare, who Cromer described as “as fast a horse as I’ve ever rode,” was starting to mature into the cutter the Equi-Stat Elite $2 Million Rider always thought she could be.
“It’s like, ‘Is this actually happening,” she recalled.
The change was for real. Not only has the 2012 mare out of Stylishious (by Docs Stylish Oak) continued to mature, on Saturday night she carried Cromer to the Mercuria/National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) World Series of Cutting Open Championship at The Mane Event V in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Cutting as the last of eight, they marked a big 225 to win the event. Going in, Cromer knew the draw limited her cattle options.
“The cows weren’t great, but I knew it was her type of situation where she can handle the cattle that come right at her and are close to her, and so I knew it would be a good situation for her,” Cromer said. “I didn’t feel worried about it, because, like I said, I feel like if I can cut something, she can hold it. I’ve just got to cut clean.”
She focused on not rushing her cuts.
“I cut the two cows I think everybody was a little bit afraid of – I mean, I was afraid of them early on – but the first two cows I cut were both gray cows and they were a little spooky in the settle, but you know, that’s the benefit of being last,” she said. “You don’t have that option. You’ve got to go in there and try what you’ve got. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”
Stylish Look Bella arrived in Cromer’s barn as a 3-year-old after a stint in reined cow horse. The mare actually won the National Stock Horse Association Snaffle Bit Futurity Intermediate Open Championship with fellow Californian Justin Wright, but by the end of the year Cromer was showing her in cutting.
She said the trick has been to get the mare to learn how to control her speed.
“She’s very fast across a cow. Even when you’re not thinking about it, she’ll go – and that’s kind of been the trouble all along,” recalled Cromer, who said the mare switched careers because she was too hot for reined work. “She’s been a bit of an overachiever; she’ll go too fast and then she’ll get herself worried.”
Stylish Look Bella has been doing double duty as a cutter, competing in Open aged events with Cromer, and in the Non-Pro and Amateur ranks with Tracey Woodward. She’d won more than $100,000 going into Saturday’s event with several top finishes, including a number at the El Rancho Futurity & Foothill Fiesta. Last year, Woodward and Stylish Look Bella made the finals in the Mercuria/NCHA World Series of Cutting Non-Pro finals at the show in Rancho Murieta, California.
The win in Las Vegas earned $10,568 for owners Marvin and Paulette Teixeira, of Los Alamos, California. Stylish Look Bella was bred by Bishop Ranch, of Mullin, Texas.
Cromer said the victory with the mare wouldn’t have been possible without her crew at the barn and helpers in the arena. She also credited the owners for giving the mare the time she needed to reach her full potential.
“They’ve given me plenty of opportunities when a lot of people probably wouldn’t have and they’ve been great customers and have been awesome to work with,” Cromer said. “It’s always good to win for those kind of people who have backed you all along.”
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