horse and rider
Desires Bo Monkey & Matt Gaines • Photo by Ted Petit Photography

Matt Gaines Finishes One, Two in El Rancho Futurity

Matt Gaines could not have asked for a better El Rancho Futurity after having won the Futurity Open Championship and Reserve Championship titles. Carrying him to top honors with a score of 222 was Desires Bo Monkey (Dual Rey x Playguns Desire x Playgun), a gelding bred by H.B. Bartlett, DVM, of Pike Road, Alabama, and owned by James Vangilder, of Weatherford, Texas. He rode CDs Kual Gun (High Brow CD x Kual Gun x Playgun), a gelding bred by Kayla Norris, of Sumrall, Mississippi, and also owned by Vangilder, to the Reserve Championship with a 219. Previous to the El Rancho Futurity, Gaines and CDs Kual Gun won the Idaho Futurity Open Championship.

Basically, Gaines said, Desires Bo Monkey won the El Rancho Futurity because he cut three good cows on the horse.

“He wanted to be a pretty good horse all along,” Gaines said. “He was good in Idaho, too, but I don’t feel that he was all the way ready. I got along with him good in the first go, but in the second go, I didn’t cut very good cows for him and we just didn’t get enough done.

“When we got to El Rancho, he just felt a little more solid, a little more in the game and I thought he got better each round,” he continued. “In the finals, my first cow was a little soft, and everything was just a little slow. The cow tried me hard one time and he kind of had to go gather it up. Then, it ‘clicked,’ and he got real serious and came back and cut a good second and third cow. After that first cow, he just stepped his game up and got a little bit more serious, and I ended up having a really good run on him.”

Gaines, an Equi-Stat Elite $8 Million Rider, said he thinks Desires Bo Monkey has more look on a slow cow, and CDs Kual Gun might be a little more physical – he can go a little faster, stop a little harder and can probably handle a tough cow a little better than Desires Bo Monkey.

“I think the Bo Monkey horse’s strengths are that he just has a good look, works real low-headed and just has a good look on a cow. He’s not as physical as the Kual Gun horse, but he probably has a little better look,” he said.

“They are both bigger geldings and I thought they were nice horses, but I didn’t feel like they were as good as the ones that we’re taking to Fort Worth,” Gaines said of why both horses were entered in the smaller futurities rather than Fort Worth’s National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Futurity. “We just decided we’d train them and go show at the small futurities. It was a decision we made early on, and we stuck with it.”

The two geldings were also entered in the Brazos Bash Futurity and from there, depending upon their physical condition and attitude following the “Bash,” Gaines may take them to the Southern Futurity.

Admittedly, Gaines said traveling to the Idaho and El Rancho futurities were a lot of miles for the 3-year-olds, and for him, too!

“We will evaluate what they all look like when the Bash show is over and then decide what we are going to do.”

Futurity Intermediate Open

horse and rider
Secreytariat & Salvador Cabral • Photo by Ted Petit Photography

It has been 10 years since trainer Salvador Cabral, of Jacksboro, Texas, has competed in the El Rancho Futurity, and his decision to return to the show this year proved to be wise. Cabral rode Secreytariat (Sigala Rey x Starsredfeather x Cats Red Feather), a gelding bred by Jose Ignacio Sigala, of Weatherford, Texas, to win the El Rancho Futurity Intermediate Open Championship with a 220 score.

The pair tied with Hott Rox and Brent Erickson to win the first go-round. In the Futurity Open finals, they also tied with Tuff Crowd and Erickson for seventh place.

Cabral, who has more than $471,000 in lifetime earnings, was excited about his performances at the El Rancho Futurity.

“It’s [winning] not easy, but I tried to do good, and that’s a good horse,” he said.

As the duo was sixth in the draw, there were a lot of good cows to choose from, Cabral said.

“It just worked out good for us,” he added. “I really like the horse; he’s very, very good. I ride a lot of horses, and he’s one of my favorites.”

Cabral has owned the horse for about six months, and the first time he showed the gelding was shortly before the West Texas Futurity in a 3-year-old class at a cutting in Graham, Texas.

The horse had been working good at home, but Cabral confessed he didn’t really know how good Secreytariat was until he marked a 75 his first time out in Graham.

“I just said, ‘Holy moly, he’s a good show horse!’ You can train them and tell they are a good horse, but sometimes it’s totally different when you go show them,” he said.

Following the show in Graham, Secreytariat and Cabral won the Futurity Limited Open at the West Texas Futurity and the Idaho Futurity Open Reserve Championship. After adding the El Rancho Futurity Intermediate Open Championship to their résumé, Cabral said he was feeling pretty confident before their next scheduled competition – the Brazos Bash Futurity in Weatherford, Texas.

Since Secreytariat is his horse, Cabral made the decision to show the gelding in the smaller futurities rather than the NCHA Futurity because he has a number of customer horses going to the Fort Worth event. Cabral, who started training and showing cutting horses in 2005, said he really likes Secreytariat, and his favorite thing about him is that “he reads quick, moves quick and he never gets in a bind.”

“He never worries about the turnback horses or other things, he just worries about doing his job,” he said.

Futurity Non-Pro

horse and rider
Katie Young & Pocket Change • Photo by Ted Petit Photography

Katie Young, of Cloverdale, California, was pleasantly surprised when her husband, Brent, told her that her 2014 Valentine’s gift was a breeding for her mare, Cat Cora, to the stallion of her choice. Young chose to breed Cat Cora to Im Countin Checks, and the “gift” has turned out to be one of the best presents she’s ever received.

At the El Rancho Futurity, Young, who has more than $336,000 in lifetime earnings, and Pocket Change won the Non-Pro and Non-Pro Gelding championships and Jerry Ward Incentive. The gelding (Im Countin Checks x Cat Cora x Smooth As A Cat) made his show pen debut at the Cascades Futurity, where he and Young claimed the Futurity Non-Pro Reserve Championship. They followed that successful outing with winning the Idaho Cutting Futurity Non-Pro Championship.

“We’ve had a good couple of weeks,“ said Young, of Cloverdale, California. “Pocket Change, or ‘Brother,’ as we call him, has just kind of been a ‘Steady Eddie’ for a 3-year-old. He feels really solid and has been really easy to show. He just wants to be smart and accurate on a cow, which is really nice on a 3-year-old.”

The gelding’s first go-round wasn’t as clean as Young had wanted it to be, she said. Going into the finals, her goals were to make nice clean cuts and have a really nice run.

It meant a lot to Young to win the Jerry Ward Incentive award two years in a row. She won the 2017 El Rancho Futurity Non-Pro Championship and Jerry Ward Incentive riding Travalen Miles.

“I’m so proud that my family has bred and raised nearly all the horses that we show. Pocket Change’s grandma, Smart Smokette, was a special mare to me and a horse that I showed as a youth rider. Then her daughter, Cat Cora, carried me to quite a bit of aged event success and also took my husband to the World Finals. Brother is Cat Cora’s very first baby, so it is very exciting. And, the coolest thing about it is that my dad trained all three generations.”

Young’s father, Stan Fonsen, a National Reined Cow Horse Association Hall of Fame inductee, is 75 years old and rides nearly every day, Young said.

“He had quite a successful career and retired from training for the public in 2006. Now he trains just for me and, obviously, does an amazing job. As a horseman and trainer, I believe he is the ‘real deal.’ We work together and ride together a lot and make a pretty good team.”

Young, the CEO of the Cloverdale Citrus Fair, and her husband, who works for Jordan Valley Vineyard, have a 3-year-old daughter, Lucy Dee, who is already obsessed with horses. The youngster is the apple of her grandfather Stan’s eye, as well as her grandmother Marti’s, who Young described as “the ultimate horse show mom.”

“She’s been my cheerleader and you name it,” Young said. “And now she helps us with our daughter when we are riding, and she’s the best grandma!”

Futurity Unlimited Amateur

horse and rider
Steve Bates & Heza Cool Black Cat • Photo by Ted Petit Photography

Heza Cool Black Cat (Dual Smart Rey x Smooth Black Cat x Smooth As A Cat), a gelding also known as “Axle,” carried his breeder and owner Steve Bates, of Coarsegold, California, to victory in the El Rancho Futurity Unlimited Amateur class with a 215 score. They were also Reserve in the Futurity Non-Pro. The El Rancho Futurity was only the second show the home-raised gelding has competed in.

“We went to the Cascades Futurity and I got him showed there, but we didn’t advance,” Bates said. “I hadn’t shown for like three years, so I was really rusty.

“We had a Smooth As A Cat mare that we had bought in Wyoming and we showed her in aged events,” he added. “When she got injured, we bred her, and this is her first baby, so we are pretty excited about the horse.”

Pleased with their El Rancho run, Bates, who had earned more $135,000 before arriving at the El Rancho Futurity, said the horse was really good the whole time during the show.

“But your help at the show is everything,” he emphasized. “And, I had really good help! Monty Buntin helped at the show. I had gone to his place to ride about a month before the show, and Monty rode the horse for me for about a week. Gavin Jordan, Morgan Cromer and Brent Erickson also helped us at the show.”

Bates said his wife, Christine, came up with the nickname Axle.

“He’s a pill and was quite a handful as a youngster,” said Bates, who other than getting a little help now and then has trained the horse himself. “The name fits him!”

Among the horse’s qualities that Bates likes is how cowy he is.

“He’s also been pretty trainable,” Bates said. “I’ve just walked to the herd four times now [between the two futurities], and he’s gotten better every single time I’ve shown him.

“He’s grown up really fast, and I’ve been really happy with him,” he said. “We are pretty proud of him!”

Bates planned to show the horse at the Pacific Coast Cutting Horse Association Futurity in Las Vegas and possibility at the Utah Cutting Horse Association Futurity, depending on how they do in Las Vegas. Though he has had offers to buy Axle, Bates plans to keep the horse for now. The fact that they raised the horse and they really don’t have anything else to show makes him just want to go see what he can do.

“We also own a 2-year-old full brother to the horse that we are riding, and it appears that he’s going to be a pretty nice horse, too,” Bates said. “And, we have a Once In A Blu Boon filly out of Axle’s dam that we really like. The mare is in foal again, and we figure that’s going to be all we need.”

Bates, who is an air-conditioning contractor, said he has gone to almost all of the El Rancho Futurity events since the show started, except for the past three years.

“I had sold the show horse that we used to have, and we were just waiting on these babies,” he said.