The first go-round of the Eastern Nationals Non-Pro started at 8 a.m., with three sections of competitors dueling it out to return to the arena for the finals held later in the day in Jackson, Mississippi. When the dust settled, a single set of 17 competitors were slated to compete for a chance at the title. Watchful eyes took note of the cattle, scratching reminders on folds of paper as the top competitors in the industry warmed up their mounts.
Walking in as the fourth draw, Cade Shepard dropped the reins on the neck of Chexy Louella (Im Countin Checks x Louellas Cat x High Brow Cat), and the judges liked what they saw. A 222 flashed on the screen, and 13 horses later, their score still held strong. Shepard, of Summerdale, Alabama, brought home a check of $4,622 for Chexy Louella’s owner and his own father, Equi-Stat Elite $8 Million Rider Austin Shepard.
The 4-year-old mare, who was bred by Oxbow Ranch in Lipan, Texas, came into the Eastern Nationals with $59,881 in lifetime earnings under her cinch. The majority of that was earned just a few months ago when 17-year-old Shepard rode the mare to the coveted National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Futurity Non-Pro title in Fort Worth, Texas.
2019 is just getting started, and Shepard has already made multiple headlines. The competitor, who since collecting his first check in 2009 has earned more than $800,000, dominated the Augusta Futurity 4-Year-Old Non-Pro finals aboard Lite Headed (Light N Lena x Desire Some Time x One Time Pepto) in January, as well.
The Reserve title went to Blake Graham, of Rockledge, Georgia, who rode Legal Dream (Dual Rey x Short Candy x Shorty Lena) to a score of 217.5, earning a check for $3,781.
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