The 2021 Eastern Nationals will be held in West Monroe, LA. In 2020, winners included Missy Jean Etheridge and Cutting Commander. • Photo by Video West Productions

Cutting Commander,Missy Jean Etheridge in Control at Eastern Nationals

Cutting Commander, whose Equi-Stat lifetime cutting earnings officially surpassed the $100,000 mark last summer, added $4,896 to her show record following her Non-Pro win at the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Eastern Nationals in Jackson, Mississippi.

Missy Jean Etheridge and Cutting Commander (Third Cutting x Olena Peppy Command x Miss N Command), a 7-year-old mare bred by Etheridge’s husband, Vick, and owned by the couple’s Belle Terre Ranch in Corinth, Mississippi, scored a high 224. 

The mare, whose barn name is “Vick” and was trained and shown by Tag Rice, is one of her husband’s favorite horses, Etheridge said.

Vick’s Equi-Stat Elite $2 Million Sire Third Cutting was ridden to $544,986 in lifetime cutting earnings by Equi-Stat Elite $4 Million Rider Boyd Rice. Olena Peppy Command (Miss N Command x Olena Pep x Peppy San Badger) won $103,170 in cutting and produced seven money-earners with total earnings of $90,142 and an average of $12,877. Miss N Command (Miss N Cash x Miss Ce Lena x Cal O’Lena) has an Equi-Stat record of $85,276 and sired four money-earners with $109,435 total earnings and average earnings of $27,359.

“She [Vick] is super cow smart, so that was very beneficial in that herd of cattle,” Etheridge said. “It was very tough and I really didn’t have any expectations one way or the other. My daughter [Milly Joe Rosenberg] got her ready for me. I just showed up, got on her and showed her. She just did what she does — stayed extremely smart and got the job done.”

A proud wife and mother, Etheridge said, “I know I won the Non-Pro, but I was more enthralled with my daughter on her horse [BTR Stylish Rey]. She rode him three times, made it to the finals all three times, was in the top five in two [$50,000 Amateur and $35,000 Non-Pro] and in the top 10 in the other [$5,000 Novice/Non-Pro]. And, my husband did well on his horse [Metallic Royal Mate], too. He made it to both of his finals and was in the Top 10 in one [$50,000 Amateur].”

Etheridge likes horses that are sweet and kind, but, Vick, whose Equi-Stat record now totals $105,459, is just not that way, she said.

“She’s smart, but she’s not at all pleasurable to be around. She always pins her ears, unless I have a treat and then she’ll put them forward. She really doesn’t want you to mess with her. She just wants to do her job and for you to leave her alone.”

Etheridge, whose Equi-Stat record now totals $422,578, said she and her family always try to make the Eastern Nationals. The Non-Pro win was not her first title from the show.

In 2005, Etheridge rode Pepto Jack to win the show’s Amateur finals and the pair were the Amateur reserve champions in 2007. Etheridge rode Justa Lil Freck, who she said is her all-time favorite horse, to a Non-Pro reserve championship in 2010, and Chloes My Aunt to a tie for the $2,000 Limited Rider reserve championship in 2004.

“We really like the show,” Etheridge said. “It’s close to home and easy for us to get to and it’s family orientated. I love the youth stuff they do, they always try to do things for the kids.”

“I’ve done the show since I started cutting,” said Etheridge, who has been cutting for about 17 years.

“I was pretty young [when she started cutting] and I just enjoyed it. I’ve probably taken it pretty serious for the last seven or eight years.”

With the rapid worldwide spread of the coronavirus resulting in the postponement or cancellation of a number of this year’s cutting events, Etheridge, who had spent quite a bit of time on the road earlier this year, will spend more time at home.

One thing she said she is very much looking forward to is being able to spend time with Vick’s 2020 foal sired by Metallic Cat.