Austin Shepard and Dual Reyish almost didn’t make it into the finals of the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Derby Open Cutting held at the All American Quarter Horse Congress on Oct. 17. In the first go, a rough cut on the first cow earned the pair a 144, leaving them sitting right on the bubble.
In the finals, Shepard only had time to cut two cows, but he made both count, marking a 225, which paid $6,049.
“I got a really good first cow and the second cow was good, too, but it took me a while to get him cut,” he said. “I stayed with the second cow until the buzzer, and I think that’s what got me the points even though the cow was running out of gas by the last 10 to 15 seconds.”
Shepard described “Dre” as a really physical, cowy horse who likes his job. Dre has established himself as a tough contender in any cutting event, having won both the Breeder’s Invitational Derby Open this year and the NCHA Futurity last year. His performance at the Congress was a treat for spectators, as folks in the East don’t often have a chance to watch him perform live.
“It’s the first time we’ve brought him up here, and I’m happy that people in the area got to watch him perform in person,” Shepard said.
Shepard, an Equi-Stat Elite $7 Million Rider, had a busy few days at the Congress cutting. He also finished fourth in the NCHA Classic Open Cutting aboard Christy Hughes (Thomas E Hughes x MH San Tules Dually x San Tule Freckles), a horse he and wife, Stacy, own. Their 215 earned a $3,149 paycheck. He additionally rode Sir Long Legs (High Brow Cat x Lil Lena Long Legs x Smart Little Lena) for owner Lew Hall in the Mercuria Open. The duo marked a 213 to finish fourth and earn $1,600.
A 220 in the Derby Open finals earned Hot N Playful and Charles “Bubba” Matlock the Derby Open Reserve Championship. The 2014 bay mare (Spots Hot x Shesa Lena Playgirl x Smart Little Lena) banked a $4,487 paycheck for owner Barry Tutor.