Little Jackson Cat kept cutting her last cow of the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Open World Finals well after the buzzer blared. The electrified crowd was cheering so loudly, trainer Mike Wood didn’t know the run was over until he heard the announcer.
“It was so loud my herd help was yelling instructions to me,” he said. “You see all these guys get so excited in the [NCHA] Futurity finals, and that doesn’t usually happen with the World Title finals.
“Now I understand that excitement.”
Little Jackson Cat’s Big Year
Little Jackson Cat won consistently at weekend cuttings throughout the year, and finished in the Top 5 at the El Rancho Futurity, putting the pair in the running for the title.
Though they entered the World Finals a few thousand dollars behind the leader at the time, Pedell To The Metal, the lucrative show — which is the last place to earn money toward a World championship — offered enough prize money that it was still possible for Little Jackson Cat win the coveted World championship.
In the first go of the World Finals they marked a 225 and won $3,621. After finishing out of the money in go two, they came back to win the third go they added another $1,448 with a 220.
Heading into the last go-round, they were still sitting in second place in the World and with the buzz about having already snagged two World titles aboard other horses at this year’s show, Wood was getting asked what he would do if he won the Open too.
“I kept telling them ‘Well, I can’t think about that. I can only think about doing my best’,” he said. “I knew my mare was capable and I was determined to cut clean.”
They did just that, and ended the year with a class-high $52,464 in earnings accumulated during the point year — about $4,100 more than Reserve World Champion Pedell to the Metal, who was ridden by Ascencion Banuelos for owner Faith Mountain Ranch.
Three World Titles
Not only did Wood and Little Jackson Cat post a massive 231 to win the Open World Championship, it also gave her the World Finals Show Championship.
The Open World Finals Show title goes to the horse who wins the most money in at the show, which was held Nov. 28-Dec. 5 during the NCHA Futurity show in Fort Worth. The World Championship, which goes to the horse with the highest earnings in the division over the course of the year, was Wood’s third World championship title this year.
Earlier in the week, Wood won the $5,000 Novice Horse World Championship on Crispy Kreme for Little Jackson Cat’s owner, Dawn Chapman, and also won the $25,000 Novice Horse World Championship on Peeptos Cat for owner Christine King.
That made him the first to win three world titles in one year, according to the NCHA.
“It is unbelievable to make history. Doing something like that pretty remarkable,” Wood said. “Our goal this year wasn’t to win a world title. Our goal was to put more money on a good show mare and hopefully get her over $300,000.”
Little Jackson Cat is no stranger to the winner’s circle — especially at Will Rogers Memorial Center.
In 2017, the daughter of High Brow Cat qualified for the NCHA World Finals in the $25,000 Novice Horse with trainer Tom Lyons. However, the trainer sold her to Dawn Chapman not long before the show. Because Chapman’s trainer, Wood, already had two other horses qualified, he asked Les Bates to catch ride the mare at the show in Fort Worth.
Bates ended up winning the $25,000 Novice Horse World Finals Show Championship on the mare out of Rey To Play (by Dual Rey).
The mare followed that up in 2018 by winning the $25,000 Novice Horse World Finals and World Championships with Wood in the saddle.
Little Jackson Cat is now also a broodmare, with four weanlings on the ground and a plan to pull embryos for the 2021 breeding season. Chapman is looking forward to raising and promoting the babies, according to Wood.
Bred by Kenneth Jackson, of Ellisville, Missouri, Little Jackson Cat is the leading earner for her dam. The $17,139 she won during the NCHA World Finals pushed the 2010 sorrel mare’s lifetime earnings of more than $305,854.