The finals at the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Western National Championships in Denver was already familiar territory to Mike Wood and Little Jackson Cat when they entered the pen for Tuesday’s Open finals.
The Arizona trainer claimed two championships — the $25,000 Novice and $5,000 Novice — on two different horses, as well as two Reserve titles on two others — one of them being Little Jackson Cat in the $25,000 Novice.
Counting the go-rounds and finals performances, the Open finals marked the fourth time for the pair to compete together in four days. The old cliché, “No rest for the weary,” certainly applied to Wood, as he qualified three horses for the $5,000 Novice finals, three for the $25,000 Novice finals and two for the Open finals.
Little Jackson Cat (High Brow Cat x Rey To Play x Dual Rey), a 2010 mare bred by Kenneth Jackson, of Ellisville, Missouri, and owned by Dawn Chapman, of Chandler, Arizona, had a legitimate reason to feel a bit tired when she began her run in the Open finals, but Wood had all the confidence in the world that she’d come through for him.
“I didn’t have an early draw, and the cows were pretty tough, which was a little nerve-wracking,” Wood said. “ We were trying to just get a clean run.
“I knew I had the horse to do it — she’s a very electric and very smart horse. She’s smart on a cow, so if I could do my job properly, I knew that she could do hers — that she could hold a tough cow because she is so smart and quick,” he added.
Wood said that, as it happened, he found the cow they wanted to cut, and he thought they could handle it.
“It turned out good!” he said.
Little Jackson Cat secured a $3,530 payday for the Open win, which she earned with a 221. Wood is finally done showing at this year’s Western Nationals, but the mare is far from finished. Her owner was due to arrive in Denver soon, as she will show the mare in two classes — the $25,000 Novice Non-Pro and Non-Pro.
Wood, who won the $25,000 Novice World title and NCHA World Finals title in the same class on Little Jackson Cat in 2018, said he was excited about the mare’s success.
“She’s such a great horse and such a good show horse,” Wood said. “She’s very dependable, and she’s very eye-appealing to the crowd and to the judges.”
Winning three championships on three different horses in the same year may have set a Western Nationals record, Wood said. Either way, Wood couldn’t be more pleased or prouder of the accomplishment.
Chapman purchased Little Jackson Cat in November of 2017 from trainer Tom Lyons, a friend of Wood’s.
“Tom had qualified her for the [NCHA] World Finals in the $25,000 Novice. We took her to the World Finals about two weeks after we bought her,” Wood said. “I already had two horses qualified [in the $25,000 Novice], so I had a friend of mine catch-ride her, and he won the World Finals on her!
“I started showing her in 2018 and hauled for the World,” he continued. “I won the [$25,000 Novice] World and the World Finals show on her, as well.”
Wood, who has traveled to the Western Nationals a number of times, said he’d missed the event the last couple years when they were busy hauling for the NCHA World Finals.
“It’s a fun show; people like to go to this show,” he said. “It’s a really good, very friendly and fun show.”
Peeptos Cat & Mike Wood
11M (Cat Ichi x Little Bow Peepto x Peptoboonsmal)
Owner: Christine King, Scottsdale, AZ
Breeder: Peter & Nora Stent, Woodside, CA
Hesa Belle Cat & Mike Wood
11G (High Brow Cat x RBR Lady Belle x Shorty Lena)
Owner: Jacque Accomazzo, Tolleson, AZ
Breeder: River Bend Ranch, Bigfork, MT
$2,000 Limit Non-Pro
Bless Chu Mate & Joseph Boyd
07M (Smart Mate x HB Dear Chula x Chula Dual)
Owner: Gerald Dorros, Scottsdale, AZ
Breeder: Anderson Cattle Co., Victoria, TX
Badazz Cat & Colt Moore
13G (High Brow Cat x Sarenadual x Dual Pep)
Owner: Rick Croft, Cherokee, OK
Breeder: Kathleen Moore, Madill, OK
Dr Cuzin & Aden Bernhagen
04S (Dual Rey x Short Candy x Shorty Lena)
Owner: Tom Murrell, Elm Grove, LA
Breeder: Kelly Schaar, Goliad, TX