Man riding a horse
PG Heavily Armed & James Payne * Photo by Molly Montag

PG Heavily Armed & James Payne Power To NCHA World Finals Show Win

Some horses are just born special. Brenda Armstrong knew that PG Heavily Armed – the 2018 National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Open World Finals Show Champion – was a standout from the very start.

“Instantly,” Armstrong, who owns the horse with her husband, Mike, recalled on Saturday (Dec. 1) during the NCHA World Finals Awards banquet. “He was one of those colts, when he came out he was picture perfect from day one: square, strong, attitude.” 

With James Payne aboard, the bay stallion by Equi-Stat Elite $9 Million Sire Playgun had the crowd buzzing all week with a string of top-notch performances – marking go-round scores of 227.5, 232, 231 and 229.5 – to earn a show-topping $27,761 and the World Finals Show Championship.

It was one of two titles determined Saturday night during the fourth and final round of the Open World Finals. As with all the World Finals classes, there were two championships up for grabs in the Open: the World Finals Show Championship and the World Championship.

The Open World Championship, which is determined by money won in a class during the entire year, was already under wraps by Hashtags, who had built up an insurmountable lead going into the NCHA World Finals. However, the Open World Finals Show Championship was still very much up for grabs on Saturday and the horses brought the firepower to the W.R. Watt Arena at Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth, Texas.

Hashtags would win the round with a 231 in what the cheering audience was told was the final performance of his career. Later in the draw, PG Heavily Armed and Payne had the crowd roaring again with their 229.5 – which they achieved while cutting the final cow with a lot of time on the clock.

Payne, of Overbrook, Oklahoma, said the grit PG Heavily Armed shows in the cutting pen is what makes the stallion bred by Dick Pieper, of Marietta, Oklahoma, a real cow horse. 

“I can go cut my third cow for 40 seconds and I know he’s going to hold it,” Payne said.

Co-owner Mike Armstrong, who was in the audience with Brenda, agreed it was a special performance. It also was the final of the horse’s career, as he was retired to stud duty after the show.

“We’ve always watched them and we’ve seen what they can do. And, they’ve come so close so many times,” Mike said. “They’ve had some big runs before, but to put four together in a row with those scores in this group of horses, that their average is 230 on four runs? That’s unbelievable.”

With $228,854 in earnings going into the finals, PG Heavily Armed is the top money-winning performer out of his dam, Not Quite An Acre. The daughter of Bob Acre Doc bred by Hall/Hambrick, of Lillian, Texas, has an Equi-Stat produce record of $442,048.

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