Austin Shepard is always on the lookout for a good horse, and it was that keen eye that led him to buy MK Rey Girl, the mare he marked a 221 on to win the Open and $4,908 at the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Eastern Nationals. It was his second title at the 2018 event.
Shepard first noticed MK Rey Girl while in Georgia and South Carolina last year when he was making the runs that helped earn Deluxe Checks the 2017 NCHA Open World Championship. At the time, MK Rey Girl was also competing in the Open with trainer Kevin Walden. Shepard liked what saw in the show pen, so when saw the mare cataloged in the 2017 NCHA Futurity Sales, he bought her.
“I’d seen Kevin show her quite a bit before, but I got to see her a lot last year and I liked her,” Shepard said of MK Rey Girl (Dual Rey x Runnin Mate x Smart Mate), who has lifetime earnings of $73,273. “We were looking for a horse for my daughter Caylee to show. I thought she’d not just be a good horse for Caylee, but she’d be a good mare to raise babies out of and one for me to show in the Open, too.”
Back when Shepard was watching Walden show MK Rey Girl, he liked her cow smarts, her ability to stop and her strength.
“He did a really good job on her,” Shepard said of Walden. “Every time he showed her, she was real honest and just went and did her job. For a youth horse, you don’t need one that isn’t like that.”
Those attributes were on display in the Open finals at the Eastern Nationals where MK Rey Girl, like the other horses in her class, had her work cut out just to get through the run.
“I was the first horse out and had three or four cows picked. The first one was real good but after that, I couldn’t get to one I liked,” Shepard said. “It was mainly because of position. I couldn’t get where I needed to be to cut them, and I didn’t want to chase a particular cow and mess up my run, so I cut shape and position on a cow that would walk away from me after that.”
With 18 horses in the single-set finals, the herd was a big one comprised of English-type cattle that would usually be seen in Fort Worth, Texas.
“It was a really good cutting, it was just hard for anyone to get through a really clean run. The cattle settled great and they looked good, they just didn’t turn out to be what we thought they’d be, but that’s cattle,” Shepard said.
Shepard was helped by Brett Davis, Keith Deaville, Bill Pierce and Todd Gann. This is his eighth win in the Open at the Eastern Nationals since 2002. Last year, he split the win with his father, Sam, on Deluxe Checks. Other winning horses include Cat Sheree, Playin At The Mall, Smart Pistolero, Widows Intentions, Uno Dos Seventyseven and Widows Freckles.
EE Ichi Bar (Cat Ichi x Freckles Beauty Bar x Freckles Playboy), owned by Keith Waid, of Gardendale, Alabama, and shown by Zeke Entz, marked a 219 to be the Reserve Champion. He earned $3,998.
For more news and information from the Western performance horse industry, subscribe to Quarter Horse News.