horse and rider and cow
Smart Sugar Kitty & Wes Ashlock • Photo by Dawn Baxstrom

Smart Sugar Kitty and Ashlock Ride to Abilene Spectacular 4-Year-Old Open Championship

2019 is in full swing, and cutters at the Abilene Spectacular have already hit the ground running going into the new show season. The event, held at the Taylor County Expo Center in Abilene, Texas, kicked off on Jan. 4, and the 4-Year-Old Open finals were held Jan. 8.

Twenty-five horses walked to the herd, and it was Smart Sugar Kitty and Wes Ashlock who came out on top with their score of 221.5. The duo banked $17,000, plus a $10,000 stallion bonus, for owners Rusty and Shelley Simpson of Buck Creek Quarter Horses.

“I cut three black cows, we liked all of them in the settling,” Ashlock said of his run. “The colored cows seemed like they were a little spicier to deal with, so that’s kind of what we leaned toward were those black cows.

“Jesse Lennox and Hayden Upton helped me out in the corner and did an amazing job helping me find those cows,” he continued. “I had Lloyd [Cox] and Casey Green turning me around. They are always great help. It was a great run. My mare is an extremely smart horse. Even though those cows were tough, she did a great job of drawing them to her.”

The mare has been under Ashlock’s guidance since early 2018. She went through Hunter Meinzer’s 2-year-old program and spent some time with Beau Galyean at the beginning of 2018 before arriving in Ashlock’s barn. He showed her at the National Cutting Horse Association Futurity and advanced to the Open semifinals but missed the finals by 1.5 points.

“Kat” is by Kit Kat Sugar and is one of two money-earners out of Dual Smart Kitty (by Dual Smart Rey). Her full brother Dualin Kit Kat was shown by Russ Westfall last year at the small futurities.

“She’s amazing. She is one of the smartest horses I’ve ever ridden,” Ashlock said. “She just has such a way of drawing a cow to her. You can be working horses all day and the cows not be very good and get on her, and it just seems like they feel good because she just has a way of drawing that cow to her.

“We ride a lot of horses and it’s hard to have a real strong, personable relationship with one, but I definitely have a special bond with her just because she’s such a sweet horse to be around,” he added.

Kat is the first horse for Ashlock to ride for the Simpsons, but he has three of their younger prospects waiting in the wings. One is a full sister to Kat, one is a half-sister by Metallic Cat, and the third is an unrelated stallion by Hottish.

“I definitely think their mother, Dual Smart Kitty, is going to be a broodmare because all of these colts I’ve had anything to do with feel like really good horses,” Ashlock said. “I can see a lot of resemblance in this mare from her mother and her dad. Kit Kat Sugar was really gritty and really cowy, so I can see a lot of both in her.

“Rusty and Shelley both are just amazing to do business with,” he added. “They don’t apply any pressure, so they’re great customers to have.”

Rose Valley Ranch’s The Red Mamba, a gelding by High Brow Cat and out of the Playgun mare BR Tommy Girl, took home the Reserve Championship with Michael Cooper. The duo scored a 221 and banked $15,000. They also won the 4-Year-Old Open Gelding and Novice titles for an additional $4,984.


horse and rider
Copperish and Lloyd Cox, pictured at the 2018 Abilene Spectacular • Photo by Dawn Baxstrom

5/6-Year-Old Open

Copperish & Lloyd Cox
13M (Metallic Cat x Stylish Play Lena x Docs Stylish Oak)
Owner: Jimmie Miller Smith, Geary, OK
Breeder: Double Dove Ranch, Fort Worth, TX
Score: 225
Payout: $14,000