Equi-Stat $4 Million Rider Todd Bergen had one mare trained up for the 2020 National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Futurity in Fort Worth, Texas. Wanting to make the most of his 2,025 mile trip, he was looking for an opportunity to pick up a ride.
The day before the Futurity started, Bergen ran into cutting horse trainer Ascencion Banuelos and told him he was hoping to pick up a catch ride. Banuelos and his son, fellow cutting horse trainer Adan Banuelos, both had a roster of horses headed for the big show, which runs from Nov. 19 to Dec. 13 at Will Rogers Memorial Center.
“He said, ‘I got one, come over to the ranch tomorrow morning,’” Bergen said. “He and Adan had a pile of horses they were training up and needed somebody to show them.”
Bergen was paired with Ring The Bell, owned by Elizabeth Hernandez of Laredo, Texas. The red roan Metallic Cat stallion was out of Reyling (by Dual Rey) and, given that Bergen had never ridden him before, the horse took a little getting used to.
The game plan for the first go-round of the Limited Open was to cut the right type of cow for the horse: Too much cow and the horse might be overmatched, but a weak cow wouldn’t let him show to his full potential. The goal was to be smart about showing him, Bergen said.
The strategic approach paid off—solid scores got them through the go-rounds and into the finals for the Limited Open. In the finals on Nov. 30. , the pair finished tenth with 215 to add $4,449 to the stallion’s — and Bergen’s — lifetime cutting earnings.
“He’s a beautiful horse to look at and goes into the ground soft,” he said. “He’s got a big pretty stop, so that’s what we tried to showcase on him. He is super good minded and that is probably what helped us the most.”
The rider from Eagle Point, Oregon first catch-rode at last year’s NCHA Futurity. The reined cow horse and reining superstar — he’s won the National Reined Cow Horse Association Snaffle Bit and the National Reining Horse Association futurities — has been dabbling in cutting off and on for years. Usually, by the time he got a horse ready to show, it would sell. However, he’s looking to make cutting a more consistent part of his business.
“A customer went and bought me a mare that I ride and showed for her this year,” he said. “I’ve always enjoyed cutting, but the focus was on cow horses and reiners. I have old injuries in my neck and found out those hard stops and fence turns isn’t good for it. I’m still definitely going to do the cow horse and we have reiners at the house, but I’m looking to do the cutting more consistently.”