At the National Cutting Horse Association Eastern Nationals, two young competitors’ dreams came true when they both marked a 219 to share the $15,000 Amateur Championship. Grant Martin, 19, rode TR Reyn Dancer to the high score, and Ryleigh Ferrier, 13, matched it on Ichi City Limits. They both earned $3,828.
Ferrier, a former three-day eventer who was ranked in the top ten nationally, discovered cutting after her horse flipped over and broke her neck at a competition.
“It was a super traumatizing event for me,” Ferrier said. “That sprung the idea of me wanting to do something else. One of my friends said, ‘Hey, let’s goof off and go take a cutting lesson.’ We did, and that’s how I got into it.”
That was two years ago. Since then, Ferrier has fallen in love with cutting.
“This is definitely my sport. I feel like I belong. I’ve struggled with learning to relax and breathe. In three-day eventing, I used to get such an adrenaline rush that I got amped up and nervous. Obviously, that’s not a good combination for the cutting,” said Ferrier, who bought EE Ranches of Texas Inc.-bred Ichi City Limits (Cat Ichi x Laney Rey x Dual Rey) in December 2016. “When I do get amped up, I start to kick, and it doesn’t go well. Here [at the Eastern Nationals], I sat down, breathed and I was super-happy, super-relaxed, and I think that was the key to my success.”
Ferrier, of Aubrey, Texas, hadn’t planned on attending the Eastern Nationals, but when she learned that her friends were going, she begged her mom to take her, too.
“I didn’t think we were really prepared, but we hammered down hard this past couple of weeks,” Ferrier said. “I was just hoping to come down here for my spring break and see my friends, get more experience in the show pen, and have a good time with my horse.”
With her lack of experience showing cutters, Ferrier set making the finals as her goal for the Eastern Nationals.
“I’m so excited to make it to the finals. I didn’t really care what I marked because I’m just here to have a good time. When I saw I had a 219, I was ecstatic,” Ferrier said. “I want to say thanks to my parents, Mardi and Chip Ferrier, my amazing trainer Tom Dvorak, and all my help. Also, Jo Ellard and Guy Woods for selling me this horse, helping out at the shows and making sure it was fun.”
For Martin, winning the $15,000 Amateur was his biggest achievement in the show pen to date. Last year, he finished in the top five of the Senior Youth at the show.
“I didn’t expect it at all, but I knew I possibly had a chance. It was very exciting run,” said Martin, who was competing at the Eastern Nationals for the fourth time.
He didn’t get a lot of working time on his first cow, which stayed in the middle of the pen, but after quitting it, he quickly moved onto his second.
“It was hitting licks right there in the middle – she felt pretty awesome,” Martin said. “The last cow was one we’d picked and she was sitting right there on the top. We bumped her off the top, drove her up and I threw my hand down and got some working time on her.”
Martin is studying accounting at a college half an hour from his home in Hensley, Arkansas. He has been riding TR Reyn Dancer (TR Dual Rey x WW Speedy Chocolotta x WW Speedy Lenas Smkr), an earner of $12,977, since September 2014. While the Fred Tucker-bred mare is in his father’s name, she’s always been Martin’s horse.
“I bought her as a 4-year-old. She was pretty green, and I was pretty green, so we’ve grown together,” Martin said. “I really like her. She’s one that gets down on her front end and does a lot of quiver moves.”
Martin was helped by Ryan Moore, Zeke Entz, Bill Pierce and Sunny Martin.
“I’d like to thank my parents, Carolyn and Terry Martin, for hauling me up and down the road, keeping me horseback,” Martin said. “I’m very appreciative that they are able to do that for me.”
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