horse and rider and cow
John Rockey & Sweet Toothe • Photo by Hart Photos

NCHA Futurity Unlimited Amateur Goes to John Rockey and Sweet Toothe

John Rockey added one more award to the illustrious non-professional cutter’s 2018 collection on Dec. 7 when he rode Sweet Toothe, a gelding owned by Rockey and his wife, Rose, to win the National Cutting Horse Association (MCHA) Futurity Unlimited Amateur Championship with a 218 finals score. He and the horse collected $23,837 for the win.

The Palmdale, California-based semi-retired contractor had not ridden Sweet Toothe, who stays with Rockey’s trainer Equi-Stat Elite $3 Million RiderWes Westfall, until he arrived at the Futurity. Rockey was still learning how to ride the gelding, he said, as they progressed through the go-rounds. The pair scored a 210 in the semi-finals, a score that “was good enough to get us through [to the finals],” according to Rockey.

Their finals run could not have gone better.

“It was absolutely perfect,” Rockey said. “I had a pretty good feeling about my horse. He felt really good, and we cut all the cows we had wanted to cut.”

The gelding, who Rockey purchased as a stallion after the 2018 Breeder’s Invitational from Clay and Kelsey Johnson, was destined to become a champion cutting horse. Sweet Toothe’s sire, Kit Kat Sugar, was the NCHA Open Horse of the Year in 2012 and has $240,166 in lifetime earnings. Dam One Sweet Sis (by One Time Pepto) was ridden by Kelsey (Weeks) Johnson to win the 2011 NCHA Futurity Amateur Championship.

“I was hoping he would be a stud [prospect], but he didn’t quite make it,” Rockey said. “So now he’s just a real good gelding!

“He is a really nice horse,” Rockey added. “He’s real easy-going and is a sweet horse — he just always wants to be in our pockets. He stops real hard and just does everything that we ask him to do. I really couldn’t have asked for a better horse!”

Future plans for Sweet Toothe call for Rockey to continue showing the gelding.

“I plan to keep him and show him through his aged events,” said Rockey, who had lifetime earnings of $288,464 coming into the 2018 NCHA Futurity.

The year 2018 was a very good year for Rockey. At the NCHA Super Stakes in April, he rode Dureyngo Kid (Reys Dual Badger x Hissy Cat x High Brow Cat) to the Amateur Reserve Championship and the Senior Amateur Championship. Then in July, the pair were the Derby Unlimited Amateur Reserve Champions and won the Derby Senior Unlimited Amateur Championship.

In October, Rockey and the gelding added more titles while competing in the Pacific Coast Cutting Horse Association Futurity, where they won the Derby Unlimited Amateur, Non-Pro Intermediate, Senior Unlimited Amateur and “Goldens” championships.

It may be a long way from home, but Rockey, who began riding cutting horses in the ‘70s then took a break from the sport for a while before returning to the cutting pen in 2011, said he loves coming to Fort Worth.

“This [Will Rogers Coliseum] is my favorite place to show a horse,” Rockey said. “I’ve had real good luck in this arena.”

Dec. 7, or Pearl Harbor Day, was a special day for Rockey for an even bigger reason. The day marked the 46th anniversary of he and Rose’s engagement.

“So, this [the championship] will be one of the ways we will always remember our engagement date!” Rockey said.