Man riding a horse
Little Jackson Cat & Mike Wood. • Photo by Molly Montag.

Two In A Row: Little Jackson Cat Wins Second NCHA World Finals Show Title

For the second year in a row, Little Jackson Cat won the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) $25,000 Novice World Finals Show Championship. This time, she and trainer Mike Wood did one better and also won the year-end World Championship.

Wood, of Scottsdale, Arizona, guided the daughter of Equi-Stat Elite $80 Million Sire High Brow Cat to a composite of 446 (223/223) and show earnings of $4,440. They won the $25,000 Novice World Championship by compiling $54,439 in the class over the course of the entire year, about $17,378 more than fellow Wood trainee and Reserve World Champion Candy Girl (U).

The $25,000 Novice Show Champion is the horse that accrues the most money in a class during the NCHA World Finals, which is held in conjunction with the NCHA Futurity. The World Championship is won by the horse that earned the most money in the class throughout the entire course of the year.

“She’s been a fantastic mare. She’s got so much look on a cow and she’s so electric,” Wood said of the mare owned by Dawn Chapman. “She’s such a good horse and she doesn’t ever want to be in trouble.”

Chapman bought Little Jackson Cat just before the 2017 NCHA World Finals. The daughter of Rey To Play (by Dual Rey)  was in the Top 15, so they brought her along to Fort Worth for the show. The only problem was that Wood already had two horses in that World Finals class, so he asked friend and fellow trainer Les Bates to catch-ride the mare. It turned out to be a good match, because Bates rode the mare to that year’s $25,000 Novice World Finals Show Championship.

The plan was for Chapman to haul the mare this year and, although she wasn’t able to compete as much as she’d planned, Chapman and the mare qualified for this year’s $25,000 Novice Non-Pro World Finals. They marked a 210 in the first go-round on Friday (Nov. 30), and were slated to make their final run on Saturday on the finale of the World Finals.

After one day of finals at the 2018 event, Wood’s barn already was having a big show. On Thursday, Wood was joined in the winner’s circle by his client, Brian Pearse, who won the $35,000 Non-Pro World Finals Show Championship.  Later that day, employees Tulsa Beck and Mary Penner won the $2,000 Limit Rider World Finals Show Championship and $2,000 Limit Rider World Championship, respectively.

Wood said hauling horses the entire year – and making sure they are in just as good of shape at the end of the year as they were at the beginning – takes careful management and attention to detail. It’s part of the barn’s philosophy: Wood’s barn doesn’t issue customers a training bill; it charges a management fee.

“That’s the way we look at it, because we manage these horses. We manage their health, their feed program, their supplements, [and] their veterinary care,” he said. “We take good care of them at the shows. These horses get the top-quality care that keeps them sound and fresh.”

Each horse is different, with some requiring more or less riding than others to remain in top condition throughout the year. All get turned out on grass when they get home. Although some people have the perception that hauling for a year-end title is extremely taxing on horses, Wood said with careful management, cutting horses can end the year just as good as they started.

“Our horses, they were just as strong at the end of the year as they were at the beginning and I think that says something,” he said.

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