After having won the 5/6-Year-Old Unlimited Amateur Championship at The Non Pro plus The Open a few weeks prior to the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Western Nationals, Regan Plendl and her fancy gelding Cats Lightning Rey continued their winning streak. The pair claimed the Non-Pro Championship with a 221 score to earn a $5,070 paycheck.
As Plendl, whose lifetime earnings now total nearly $275,000, and Cats Lightning Rey (NRR Cat King Cole x Rey Of Oak x Dual Rey), a 2014 gelding bred and owned by Plendl’s father, Rick , began their finals run, Plendl said she rode pretty deep into the herd because they had a couple cows picked they wanted to cut.
“We just wanted to make things as pretty as they could be,” she said. “I wanted to present a good picture to the judges, and I didn’t want to have any penalties or anything that was ugly and would take away from the run.”
Their first pick was a red motley cow that Plendl said “really got our run started.” Plendl’s help then wanted her to cut a black baldy cow that she’d brought up in her second cut, but, she said, it didn’t act very good, and she decided to cut a yellow baldy cow that had already been cut.
“It was in a really good spot, and I just cut [that cow],” she said. “Then, my corner help, Lindy Northcutt, helped me find a big brown cow that hadn’t been cut yet and was really good to finish off my run.”
Winning the Non-Pro Championship marked Plendl’s third Western Nationals title. In 2014, she won the $35,000 Non-Pro and the Junior Youth titles aboard Rey Nounce. Admittedly, Plendl said one of the main reasons she likes to compete at the Western Nationals is “because I’ve had good luck there before,” but she also likes that the payoffs are good and the people who compete at the shows.
Since Plendl’s family raised Cats Lightning Rey, she has had the opportunity to watch him grow up. She and her dad, Rick, started the horse as a 2-year-old.
“I’ve just fallen in love with him. I love his personality, and he just tries for me so much, like he wants to win it just as bad as I do!” she said.
Plendl’s other favorite quality she likes about the gelding is his look on a cow.
“The more I ask of him, the more he gives — like he would break a leg trying to help me,” she added.
Plendl was especially excited about winning the Non-Pro Championship because the champion’s paycheck pushed Cats Lightning Rey’s lifetime earnings to more than $100,000. Plendl noted that she also showed the gelding’s older half-brother, Mr Metallic Rey (by Metallic Cat), who has earned more than $146,000.
“This [win] is pretty special!” she said.
The 19-year-old native-born Iowan, who just aged out of the youth division this past May, said her next stop with the gelding is Fort Worth for the NCHA Summer Spectacular. Plendl, who was raised up in the cutting industry — her father has owned cutting horses for more than 20 years — attends college at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion with her twin sister, Reyly, who also cuts. They have one older brother, Michael, who does not ride, but Plendl said he is one of her and Reyly’s biggest supporters.
“He’s always cheering us on,” she said.
The Non-Pro Reserve Championship went to Gianna Pietrafeso, of Elbert, Colorado, who rode Phil and Mary Ann Rapp-bred Smokin Tap (Smokin Trona x Tap O Lena x Doc O’Lena) to a 220 score. The mare is owned by Pietrafeso’s parents, Ron and Adrienne, who collected a $3,671 paycheck.
Smooth Reyn & Natalie Rector
12M (Smooth As A Cat x Ruby Reyn x Dual Rey)
Owner: Jennifer Rector, Rogersville, MO
Breeder: Kathy Knost, Pilot Point, TX
$25,000 Novice Non-Pro
Little Jackson Cat & Dawn Chapman
10M (High Brow Cat x Rey To Play x Dual Rey)
Owner: Dawn Chapman, Chandler, Arizona
Breeder: Kenneth Jackson Trust, Ellisville, MO
Metallic Whisper & Jaira McKeown
11S (Metallic Cat x Dual Whisper x Kit Dual)
Owner: Jaira McKeown, Minden, NV
Breeder: Gerald & Theresa Gillock, Las Vegas, NV
$5,000 Novice Non-Pro
Bet On Finale & Kathy Sokol
12M (Bet Hesa Cat X Smart Little Finale x Smart Little Lena)
Owner: Kathy Sokol, Seville, Florida
Breeder: C Bar C Ranch & Cattle Company, Venus, FL
$2,000 Limit Rider
Bless Chu Mate & Joseph Boyd
07M (Smart Mate x HB Dear Chula x Chula Dual)
Owner: Gerald Dorros, Scottsdale, AZ
Breeder: Anderson Cattle Company, Victoria, TX