Kandace Stone has competed at the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Eastern Nationals four or five times and had placed at the show, but this year marked her first time to win a championship.
The Dublin, Texas, resident rode Laneys Gotta Player (Lizzys Gotta Player x Catalaney x High Brow Cat), a 7-year-old gelding bred by EE Ranches Inc. of Whitesboro, Texas, to win the $50,000 Amateur finals with a 222 score.
As the finals first draw, Stone of Dublin, Texas, and Laneys Gotta Player, who is also called “Spike,” set the pace with their 222 run.
“For once in my life, I just went in there and I cut what my trainer, Ben [Roberson], told me to cut, and it all worked out,” Stone said.
Similar to a marathon, Spike, who was originally trained by Guy Woods, had a real workout at the Eastern Nationals and was rewarded with show earnings just shy of $10,000 ($9,782).
“We entered him in five classes and he made the finals in all five,” Stone said of the Open and $5,000 Novice with Roberson and the $50,000 Amateur, $25,000 Novice Non-Pro and $5,000 Novice Non-Pro with Stone.
“The $50,000 Amateur was our last finals,” Stone said. “In our first finals, the $25,000 Novice Non-Pro, we marked a 18 and placed third — I just messed up my second cut. The cows were kind of crazy in our other finals.”
“In the $50,000 Amateur finals, I was just trying to go in there and cut him three good cows because if I do my job, that’s all he needs — he will just take over from there. He just did what he is good at and everything worked out. It was super fun.”
Spike may have inherited his cutting skills from his sire, Lizzys Gotta Player, who won $107,605 and has sired 97 money-earners with total earnings of $3,267,678 for an average of $33,687. Lizzys Gotta Player’s No. 1 money-earner is Moms Stylish Play ($423,611) followed by Dizzy Lizzy Girl ($271,270) and Sir Stylish Lizzy ($239,871). Spike’s dam (Catalaney) has an Equi-Stat record totaling $11,126 and she produced seven money-earners with total earnings of $90,142 for average earnings of $12,877.
Stone said Spike, whose lifetime earnings following the Jackson show totals $39,518, is a very laid-back horse and probably the most consistent horse she’s ever shown.
“He’s just very honest and gives me 100% no matter what, whether they are hard cows or they are soft cows. He’s just a freak and really amazing. He just does what he is suppose to do.”
Stone said she purchased Spike from the EE Ranches right after last year’s Eastern Nationals.
“They were kind enough to sell him to us,” Stone said.
When it comes to personality, Stone said Spike is kind of a goof ball.
“He has a good personality, but he’s like that kid in the barn that has to be into everything.
“It’s funny, though, because he doesn’t get excited about most things. The only time he gets really excited is like when we came out of that [$50,000 Amateur] run. He can tell when he’s had a good run and he like shakes his head and almost prances out of the arena. That’s really the only time he gets excited about anything — is when he knows he’s done good.”
Stone, whose lifetime earnings after Jackson total $45,623, has been cutting for about 10 years. Before getting into cutting, she said she rodeoed (barrel racing and roping) and rode some jumping horses.
“When I very first got into it, I had gone to the Fort Worth [NCHA] Futurity with some friends and it just looked like so much fun.”
Stone’s friends had [cutting] horses, so when she got on one of their horses, she said, “That was it. I sold all the horses I had [then], got a cutter and never looked back. This [cutting] is way more fun.”
Stone, who is a human resources specialist at the Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, said her husband, Greg, who is retired, doesn’t cut.
“He supports me and ‘Super Spike,’ as we call Spike,” in their cutting endeavors, Stone said. “He’s always caring for us.”
Stone said she also is especially grateful to Woods, Miss Ellard and Roberson.
“I couldn’t do any of this stuff without any of them. And all the glory goes to God — I’ve been incredibly blessed with this horse. For sure, he’s a gift from God.”