When Elizabeth Quirk won the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Non-Pro World Finals Championship title two years ago, she believed it was a once-in-a-lifetime achievement.
That year, it was a goal to win the year-end championship while riding her good mares, Cats Sheree and Kattlayst. Nothing was left to chance, there was a process in place to work towards achieving it.
She didn’t expect to repeat the title, especially this year with COVID interrupting the show season. But, her aged event horses stepped up in a big way, and Quirk was shocked to win the coveted Non-Pro World Championship again.
“To have my name called again, I’m still in shock,” she said of the title, which goes to the non-pro rider who earns the most eligible purse money throughout the point year. “It really should be a team award—all the glory to god and my incredible team.”
She finished out the season riding Reystylin Smooth (Smooth As A Cat x Rey N Style x Dual Smart Rey), better known as “Levi,” at the NCHA World Finals. They accumulated 863.5 points during the go-round, which earned them $14,363 during the show — and pushed Quirk’s year-end earnings in the class to $68,064.
That was about $11,200 more than Non-Pro Reserve Champion Megan Miller, who had an exceptional run at the NCHA World Finals — marking scores of 228, 228, 221 and 229.
“Levi is my husband’s aged event horse that I was blessed to throw my leg over a couple times this year,” she said. “His resume is pretty stacked. We though so highlight of him that we bought his dam to breed to our stud Badboonarising, the 2018 NCHA Futurity Reserve Champion.”
To date, Levi has Equi-Stat lifetime earnings of $277,225, of which nearly half were earned in 2020. This year, he competed successfully in both aged-event cuttings with trainer Adan Banuelos or Quirk’s husband, Todd, as well as in the weekend cutting events with Quirk.
“He makes it easy. I don’t deserve any credit; I just sit up and ride the two-and-a-half minutes,” she said humbly, of Levi. “It’s a team effort, the entire Adan Banuelos Performance Horses team spends countless hours on the road with me so that I can get check, after check, weekend after weekend on nine different horses.”
“This is the first time the Top 15 was dominated by woman,” she said. “It speaks to industry and where we are headed. Mary Jo Milner is the inspiration to everybody and why I want to win titles like this. She makes me get up and go to every single show so one day I might have as many titles on my resume as she does. Megan Miller showed the hair off her horse. Lucchese Johnson is a good friend of mine so being able to ride with all these talented ladies is such an honor.”
She gives a special thanks to herd helpers R.L. Chartier, Adan Banuelos, Tatum Rice and Clay Johnson as well as to hauling partner Ascencion Banuelos.
“It has been an incredible journey all year long,” she said. “My husband, my family, Lacey Walburger Alexa Dahl and the entire ABPH team made it possible.”