The National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Futurity is the top place to find talented young cutting horses. Thanks to Trystan Crow, the same may be said about young riders, too.
Eight-year-old Trystan Crow won the hearts of spectators – and the internet, where millions watched video clips of his run on Facebook – at the 2021 NCHA Futurity. Starting with two mares, Crow advanced to the Unlimited Amateur finals on Diamonds In The Sea, where he put together a finals run to be proud of, marking a 207 to the cheers of the crowd at Will Rogers Coliseum.
“I thought my dad cheered pretty loud, but [in the finals] it got so loud you could hear it from New York to my house,” Crow said.
Hailing from Dimmit, Texas, Crow may be right about his 1,800-mile assumption. The finals were a culmination of laser-like focus Crow had shown in preparation.
“I was hoping to make it to the finals, but I was really worried about how I was going to do [in Fort Worth.] For four weeks before the Futurity it was all I could think about,” Crow said.
As he advanced through the Futurity go-rounds Crow gained confidence. By the time he reached the finals he was ready to give it his best shot. According to trainer Tarin Rice, helping Crow was more stressful than competing in the Open finals himself.
“It was so much fun [but] I was so nervous,” said Rice, who earned the NCHA Futurity Open Co-Championship in 2012 with He Bea Cat. “If any 3-year-old [horse] could take an 8-year-old [kid] it would be her.”
Diamonds In The Sea was trained by Chet Simoneaux and brought to Rice’s in the summer of 2021 to prepare for futurities. When Crow’s father, Toby, called looking for an available futurity horse, the union was created.
“She is very cowy, she is one that cuts every day,” Rice said. “You don’t have to talk her into cutting. She’s pretty good-minded, pretty gentle.
“The [first] morning he showed her, Trystan crawls on her like a 30-year-old gelding. Up the knee, foot in the cinch… it scared me to death.”
The daughter of Dont Stopp Believin and Crow proved to be a good match, walking into the herd at Will Rogers less than a month after being acquainted.
In the Blood
Children have the ability to pick up something new and become competent at it with relative ease. Crow had the added advantage of horses being in his blood.
Crow, who started out riding at pony at age 2, tried a cutting horse by chance in late 2020 when his father and mother, Mary, bought a cutting broodmare.
“Toby said ‘Trystan, do you want to know what it’s like to ride a cutting horse?’ and so Trystan got on her and tried her and you could see instantly, the spark he had in his eye,” Mary Crow said. “He was hooked.”
Toby, who has previously trained cutting horses, and Mary began showing Crow videos of the NCHA Futurity and explained how the sport worked. Before long, Crow was excited about the prospect of competing himself. A broken leg from a trampoline accident over Christmas kept Crow off cutters for a few months, but in March of 2021 he was raring to go.
“Cutting horses bring out the good in me,” Crow said.
Having experienced the Futurity magic, Crow is eager to continue his equine education. Earlier this month, he competed at the Abilene Spectacular and made several finals, including in the 4-Year-Old Amateur and 5/6-Year-Old Amateur.
He’s also started a colt with his dad Jody and looks forward to reuniting with Diamonds In The Sea at The Ike Derby and Classic. Crow thanked Sean and Eddie Flynn, Kody Porterfield, Casey Green and Tarin Rice for their help and guidance.