Stepping into the Open division is an intimidating feat, and competing from the first hole in a deep National Cutting Horse Association Futurity (NCHA) Limited Open finals only adds to the pressure.
Cade Shepard made it look easy Friday night aboard mare Crimsonnette, setting the pace with a 220 that couldn’t be topped throughout the two sets of the Limited Open finals. The pair earned $21,244 for the feat.
This was Shepard’s first show and victory in Fort Worth after turning in his Non-Pro card in August following the NCHA Summer Spectacular.
“I tried to be more excited than I was nervous. I wanted to make the finals, that’s been a goal of mine. You definitely have to bring your a-game every day,” Shepard said, “In the Non-Pro, you can have a little [bobble] here and there and keep moving forward through the go-rounds. The Open is pretty serious.”
Following in the footsteps of his father, EquiStat Elite $8 Million Rider, Austin Shepard, Shepard is the third generation in his family to train cutting horses. His grandfather, Sam Shepard, was an EquiStat Elite $2 Million Rider and his uncle, Harris Shepard, also is a trainer who won last year’s NCHA Futurity Limited Open Aboard Playful Bamacat.
Shepard’s mount, Crimsonnette, has a special familial meaning too. Bred and owned by Madalyn Colgrove Cowart of Boligee, Alabama. And, like his uncle’s winning mount from last year, Crimsonnette was sired by Bamacat.
Bamacat, a winner of more than $352,000 in the cutting pen, is by all-time leading cutting sire High Brow Cat and out of the Shepard’s late great mare, MH San Tules Dually. Crimsonnette’s win in the NCHA Futurity Limited Open left her sire less than $10,000 away from becoming an EquiStat Elite $1 Million Sire.
“It sounds crazy, because I’m not very old, but I used to show her [paternal] grandmother, MH San Tules Dually, in the Youth,” Shepard said.
Out of the mare Wood She Be Neat (by Nitas Wood), Crimsonnette is a full sibling to $344,384-winning cutter Bama Jelly, a stallion very familiar to the Shepard family. Shepard’s father, Austin, racked up earnings on both Bamacat and Bama Jelly, and let Shepard take the reins a few times throughout the years.
“I was able to show Bamacat [before he retired to stud] and earlier this year, when my dad wasn’t able to, I showed Bama Jelly a little bit,” said Shepard, who racked up more than $1 million in the Non-Pro ranks before moving to the Open. “I know the family really well. They’re all good-minded horses. Everything they do while working is related to the cow. They don’t have any buttons or anything, everything they do is natural to them. They’ve all been very good to me.”
According to Shepard, Crimsonnette has always been a cowy mare, and was started by friend Chet Simoneaux, which added to the sentimentality. He thanked his help for their support: Austin Shepard, Sean Flynn, Boyd Rice, Brett Davis, Camryn Clark, sister Caylee Shepard and owner Madalyn Cowart.
Crimsonnette and Shepard also made the cut to compete in the NCHA Futurity Open semi-finals, which take place Friday, Dec. 10.
Reserve Champions in the NCHA Limited Open Futurity were Xpialidocious (Metallic Cat x Supercalafrajalistic x Abrakadabracre) and Thomas Bray, who marked a 219. The pocketed a $16,152 payday for owners J+ Ranches LLC of Huntsville, Texas.