At the Cactus Reining Classic, held March 20-24 in Scottsdale, Arizona, Mandy McCutcheon felt blessed to win the Derby Level 4 Non-Pro Championship on Me And Julio (PT), a 5-year-old Paint gelding owned by McCutcheon and her husband, Tom. It was the second Cactus Reining Classic Derby title McCutcheon had won at the event. In 2013, she won the championship riding Customized Gunner, who she had ridden to the 2012 National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Futurity Level 4 Non-Pro Co-Championship.
With her 2019 win, which came after the duo marked a big 227, McCutcheon said she was both happy and sad at the same time because the show was her first and final time to show “Julio” (Gunners Special Nite x Darlins Not Painted [PT] x Smokin Chic Olena [PT]).
The McCutcheons purchased Julio, whose dam, Darlins Not Painted (PT), has lifetime reining earnings of $195,366 and has produced 10 money-earners that have won a total of more than $231,000, following the 2018 National Reining Breeders Classic. The gelding, who was bred and raised by Turnabout Farms Inc., of Aubrey, Texas, was shown by Martin Larcombe, who worked for the McCutcheons at the time, to a fifth-place tie in the 2017 NRHA Futurity Level 3 Open finals.
Last year, McCutcheon’s son, Cade, showed Julio to win the Tulsa Reining Classic Derby Level 4 Non-Pro Championship and the 4/5/6-Year-Old Level 4 Non-Pro Reining Challenge Championship at the American Paint Horse Association World Championship Show in Fort Worth.
McCutcheon proudly noted, “So, he [Julio] has won a championship the last three times he has been shown.”
The week prior to the Cactus Reining Classic, McCutcheon was in Florida with her daughter, Carlee, at a jumping show.
“By the time I got home from Florida, Cade had already left with the horses for Scottsdale, so he [Cade] rode him and got him ready for me,” McCutcheon said. “He also rode him that morning [of the show] a little bit to get him ready [for her to show].
“Cade did a very good job of getting him ready for me,” added McCutcheon, who is working toward a $3 million rider status with lifetime earnings of more than $2.8 million and banked $4,043 for her latest title.
McCutcheon was really happy with the horse’s run.
“He was good in every maneuver, and I gained points on each maneuver,” she said. “Our right turn was really good, and the right lead, run down and stop felt really, really good. I felt like he plus-halved [his maneuvers] all the way through. He was just really good for me!”
McCutcheon said Julio, who has $47,652 in lifetime earnings, is strong in all of the reining maneuvers.
“But,” she added, “the best part, to me, is that he walks in there [show pen] and just wants to get along.”
Several people attending the Cactus Reining Classic expressed interest in buying Julio, McCutcheon said. But, before considering any of the offers, McCutcheon asked her husband to contact the Colston family, who keeps their horses at the McCutcheon’s facility, before she told anyone that the horse could be bought. She knew the Colstons had been interested in buying Julio for their teenage son, Lane, to show.
“Before Tom could even check with them [the Colstons], they had texted him and said they wanted to buy him,” McCutcheon added.
Although McCutcheon won’t be showing Julio again, she is happy she will still see him on a daily basis as the Colstons, from Kentucky, will keep the gelding at the McCutcheons’ facility.
“It’s hard to give up one who is that consistent and that wants to be a show horse,” McCutcheon said. “I have a couple others [to show], but it’s still hard to give up one that nice.”
But, reflecting on the sale as a business transaction, McCutcheon added, “It is also what we do [raise, buy and sell horses].
“It does make it better, though, when I know he [Julio] is going to a good family that likes him and to people who are really hooked on reining and enjoy the sport as much as we do.”
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