The National Youth Cutting Horse Association (NYCHA) World Finals show just seems to agree with Lance Cooper.
Cooper, 18, won his second straight National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Senior Youth Scholarship Cutting on Friday (July 26) in Will Rogers Coliseum.
Minutes after his latest win, he stood in the shade under the overhang of the Coliseum and pondered the question of why he’s had so much success in the contests held during NCHA Youth Week.
“I don’t know,” he said. “It’s just … It’s good to me.”
In addition to his two scholarship wins, Cooper rode Light N Lily to first-place in all three rounds of the 2017 NCHA Senior Youth World Finals, earning that year’s event show championship. Both classes — the World Finals and the Scholarship Cutting — are held during Youth Week at the NCHA Summer Spectacular show, which this year runs through Aug. 3.
This week’s victory came with Special Nu Boon, a 2014 gelding that was one of three horses owner Rose Valley Ranch allowed young riders to show in the Senior Youth Scholarship Cutting.
Cooper had his choice of the three, but opted for the $165,913-winning son of Equi-Stat Elite $2 Million Sire Boon Too Suen and out of Special Nu Kitty (by High Brow Cat). His friend, Langston Pattillo, competed in the finals with Cattys Hope, Rose Valley Ranch’s $263,614-winning mare by Catty Hawk. Italian Sara Giudici rode Bet On Metalic in the Senior Youth go-round.
The decision to go with Special Nu Boon was a good one for Cooper, who piloted the Wrigley Ranches-bred horse to a winning 225. The Senior Youth Scholarship Cutting Reserve Championship went to William Moore and Catscratch Sister (WR This Cats Smart x Jenny Odual x Dual Pep), who marked a 220.
In spite of all his past success during NCHA Youth Week, Cooper said his goal going into this year’s class was just to get through it. This was his first show back since surgery to repair an ACL, which he tore in January while skiing with fellow Youth cutter Ryan Rapp.
“They thought I dislocated it or something,” Cooper said, of the medics at the ski area. “And, I got home and I was working horses and it was killing me and I was like, ‘I need to go to the doctor.'”
Although walking all over the sprawling barn area at Will Rogers Memorial Center was difficult, Cooper said the injury wasn’t slowing him down too much at the show.
Besides, he really enjoys the competition during Youth Week.
The NCHA Youth Scholarship Cutting is generally packed with high-caliber Open horses whose owners have allowed young cutters to borrow for the event, and this year was no different.
The Junior Youth Scholarship Cutting, which was won by Will Bushaw, featured a roster of horses that included NCHA Non-Pro Horse of the Year Reyzin.
The opportunity to ride some of the best horses in the business, and to see other youth get the same chance to swing a leg over top-flight cutters, is one of the reasons Cooper looks forward to the Scholarship Cutting each year.
He’s thankful to have ridden some great loaner horses in the Scholarship Cutting classes over the years, and believes it means a lot to his fellow riders when owners generously offer their horses for the show.
“I think it’s one of the greatest things that could happen when a trainer and owner, say, ‘Hey, I’m done with this horse, can we let this kid show?,'” Cooper said. “I think it’s the best thing to ever happen to a kid.”
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