Sometimes, a win is more than just a win.
When Sir Long Legs and Austin Shepard zipped to a 227-point victory in The 41 any-age cutting at the Augusta Futurity, the trainer was thrilled for owner Lew Hall of Lakeland, Florida.
While it’s true the cutting horse industry is a high-dollar business, over the years relationships often turn into something more meaningful. That’s the case with the Shepard family and Hall.
“I’m happy for myself, but I’m super-tickled for Lew, because he’s been a great customer and he’s our friend, and I know this is really special to him,” Shepard said. “So, I love it.”
Shepard’s daughter, Caylee, warmed up Hall’s son of High Brow Cat before The 41 Open. Her work does not go unappreciated by the owner, who was more than happy to let the 14-year-old ride the nicknamed “Spanky” in Youth competition this year.
Hall’s kind gesture — and a similar one by Billy Wolf, owner of National Cutting Horse Association Futurity Open Champion Dual Reyish — meant a lot to the trainer from Summerdale, Alabama.
“It’s like the biggest compliment and gift anybody can give you. Billy Wolf let Cade show Dual Reyish last year in the Scholarship Cutting and Caylee’s gotten to show this horse,” Shepard said. “And, it’s a really nice thing for them to do, because I know how much these horses are worth and how much they have invested in them as far as [standing] a stud.”
Hall, who rode Sir Long Legs 90 minutes after Shepard in The 41 Amateur finals, said he was glad for Caylee to take the reins. The teen knows everything about him, and she and her older brother are good kids, he said.
“I feel like I’ve got the best trainer in the business and the best family in the business, so we’re tickled,” Hall said. “We always watched Austin’s horses and said, well, one day if we can afford it, we’re going to Austin’s barn.”
Sir Long Legs’ win in The 41 pushed the horse’s lifetime Equi-Stat record to more than $380,000. The horse, bred by Michelle Cannon of Waxahachie, Texas, is the leading earner out of millionaire producer Lil Lena Long Legs. Her 17 money-earning foals have banked nearly $1.1 million in the show pen.
The goal for the year is for Shepard, Hall, Caylee and possibly Cade to continue to show the horse, who the trainer wants to get past the $400,000 earnings mark. He also hopes to qualify the stallion for the NCHA World Finals.
The 41 was an any-age cutting held in conjunction with the Augusta Futurity. Featuring three classes — Open, Non-Pro and Amateur — the event honored the 41st anniversary of the show. It was held the first time as The 40 during the show’s 40th edition in 2019.
For more news and information from the Western performance horse industry, subscribe to Quarter Horse News.