The Metallic Cat National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Summer Spectacular Classic/Challenge Open finals was 26 horses deep, but the winner was anything but a face among many. He had already made himself known during the first go, tying to top the round with a 224.
PG Heavily Armed, a son of Playgun who was bred by Dick Pieper, went on to mark a 216 in the second go, but his composite 440 still gave him a ticket to the finals. There, he carried James Payne to a whopping 229, winning the Championship by 5 points. He banked an $18,639 check for owners Michael and Brenda Armstrong, of Marietta, Oklahoma.
“We’re really excited that we had a chance to get him showed that well and just tickled that he got to show his stuff,” Brenda Armstrong said. “It’s always fun watching James show this horse because he goes hard and fast every time. He doesn’t leave any doubt that he’s got a lot of horse.”
Payne rode the stallion to victory from the 18th hole. Though a 224 had been put up on the scoreboard in the first bunch, he didn’t focus on that – rather, he tried to make up for any mistakes he had made in the first set riding Velvets Revolver.
“I didn’t care. I wanted to just get a big check,” Payne said. “And usually the times that I have done good and gotten along, it’s been when I haven’t been trying too hard.
“The most nervous time I was was in the second go because you didn’t want to screw up the 224 in the first go round,” he continued. “But not really here. I was more bummed that it didn’t work on the first horse in the first bunch and just kind of trying to figure out what I was doing wrong on my cows.”
Payne’s plan was to get as much working time as possible with PG Heavily Armed. Armstrong said prior to the NCHA Summer Spectacular, Payne showed the stallion at a weekend show where he proved he was strong and able to handle even difficult cattle.
“We had a really good feeling about him,” she said. “He’s worked well, he’s been just right on the whole time. James showed him at a weekend event about a month ago and marked a 227 on him, just sort of warming up for this. He put 82 seconds of working time on the clock on that run so we knew he was fit and fast.”
“I just wanted to go in there and cut for a really long time and show that he’s a cow horse, and have a lot of degree of difficulty,” Payne said of his finals run.
PG Heavily Armed is one great horse with two nicknames. The Armstrongs call him “Ben,” while the Paynes call him “Bay Stud.”
“We called him ‘Bay’ because we had Once In A Blu Boon. We thought a lot of Once In A Blu Boon, and we called him ‘Blue Stud,’ so we call him [PG Heavily Armed] ‘Bay Stud.’ It’s more of a superstitious kind of deal. I liked this horse all along, so we just started calling him Bay Stud.”
Bay Stud, or Ben, is out of the Bob Acre Doc mare Not Quite An Acre, a mare that won $153,356 during her own career and was the 1997 NCHA Open Horse of the Year. She also holds an NCHA Summer Spectacular Classic/Challenge Open title, won in 1997 with Curly Tully. Not Quite An Acre has produced eight money-earning offspring with total winnings of $374,139, and PG Heavily Armed is her highest-earning with nearly $180,000. Her second-highest earner is Stylabob (by Docs Stylish Oak), who has $87,644 on his Equi-Stat record and has sired one money-winning offspring: Stylabobbette ($13,578, out of Reps Easy Gal x Easy Rep).
Since PG Heavily Armed is 6 years old, Payne plans to continue showing him the rest of the year by hitting up places like the West Texas Futurity, Cotton Stakes, Brazos Bash and Southern Futurity. After he retires from the limited-age events, Armstrong said he will go “all out” breeding next year. But, he may not fully retire from the limelight, yet. She hopes to see him compete some in the NCHA World Series of Cutting events, too.
“I’ve always liked him; I’ve always thought a lot of him,” Payne said. “I’ve had a lot of really good moments, and I’ve had some disappointing moments where I didn’t get him showed. His integrity’s always been really good.
“Thanks to John Johnson for loping him; thanks to my wife, Nadine Payne; and all my help – Josh Townsend, John Mitchell, Sean Flynn and Lloyd Cox.”
Metallic Smart Cat and Matt Miller’s 224 gave them the Reserve Championship. The homebred gelding (Metallic Cat x Smart Jerri Lee x Smart Little Jerry) collected $16,806 for owner Cynthia Villa, of Chico, California.
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