Christy Hughes & Austin Shepard • Photo by Hart Photos

Christy Hughes and Ettafied Win First Two Titles at the NCHA Eastern Nationals

Austin Shepard hopes that in 20 years time, he and his children will be riding horses that carry the bloodlines of Christy Hughes – the mare he rode to the 2018 National Cutting Horse Association Eastern National Championships $25,000 Novice title.

Shepard marked a 224 on Christy Hughes, 6, who he owns with his wife, Stacy, to win $4,127 and his 14th Eastern Nationals championship.

“She’s been one of my favorite horses all along; training, showing, everything,” Shepard said. “The cows were really tough and she was really, really smart. She never missed a cow and did everything that a horse can do without doing too much.”

By Thomas E Hughes and out of Shepard’s breeding program’s foundation mare, MH San Tules Dually (San Tule Freckles x Joses Dually x Dual Pep), Shepard feels a likeness between the dam and Christy Hughes, who has lifetime earnings of $127,897.

“I see a lot of her mother in her, but I see a lot of Thomas E Hughes in her, too,” Shepard said. “She stops like her and she just feels like her. Stacy would always say that her mother hovered. She was just real smooth to ride.

“In other ways this mare feels like her sire, ‘Tom’ – it’s the way she looks at a cow. He loved it. When a cow would look at him, his eyes would pop out of his head, and his ears looked like they were fixing to jump off the front of his head. He was really intense and had a lot of look on a cow, and I think she gets a lot of that from him. She’s the perfect combination of the two horses.”

While Austin has made made finals on Christy Hughes, this is his first win. Earlier this year, his son, Cade, earned 5/6 Year-Old Non-Pro championships at the Augusta Futurity and at The Ike. In 2017, Cade won the Mercuria Non-Pro at the All American Quarter Horse Congress.

MH San Tules Dually earned $332,387 during her cutting career. Her first foal was $351,360-earner Bamacat, by High Brow Cat, and to date she has produced offspring with earnings of more than $700,000. MH San Tules Dually died during the 2016 NCHA Futurity, and her last five foals by High Brow CD, One Time Pepto, Smooth As A Cat, Kit Kat Sugar and High Brow Cat are now yearlings, according to Shepard.

“She was probably the best mare we ever owned,” Shepard said. “We bought her at the end of her 3-year-old year, and she was a project. Stacy won the 5-year-old Millionheir on her and was second at the NCHA Derby in the 5/6-year-old, and she’s been a really good producer for us.”

He said he has sold just one filly out of MH San Tules Dually and currently has two show mares, one 2-year-old and four yearling fillies.

“I’m going to try to keep as many of them as I can,” Shepard said. “In 20 years, I hope to have granddaughters and great-granddaughters out of her. You’ve always got to look at the bottom side and with her, it goes all the way back to her granddam, Joses Sunrise.”

Shepard, of Summerdale, Alabama, hopes to breed Christy Hughes to both Im Countin Checks and Hottish this year.

He also rode the $25,000 Novice Reserve Champion, Sir Long Legs (High Brow Cat x Lil Lena Long Legs x Smart Little Lena). The stallion was the 2016 NCHA Futurity Open Reserve Champion, the 2017 NCHA Summer Spectacular Derby Open Champion and 2017 Southern Cutting Futurity Derby Open Champion. Sir Long Legs is owned by Lew Hall, of Lakeland, Florida. He marked a 219 to win $3,381.

$5,000 Novice on page 2