Aden Bernhagen headed the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Junior Youth World Finals with a comfortable lead. His goal for the week was to make three clean cuts each go-round and maintain the advantage.
The World Finals, held during the NCHA Summer Spectacular at Will Rogers Memorial Center, is the final show in the year-long race for the World Championship. Bernhagen’s composite of 643 at the show added 8 championship points to his year-end total 147 points and the title of World Champion – 12 more than Reserve Champion Taylor Allen, who had 135 points.
“It is always exciting to win another one. I am thankful I had a chance to win another and hopefully will win another one down the road,” said Bernhagen, who has more than $52,148 in lifetime earnings. “I haul with Casey (Crouch) every weekend. I plan to keep on showing this year. After the World Finals in December, my goal is to show in the $50,000 next year.”
Known by the nickname “The Bern,” Bernhagen rode multiple horses during the year, but Shes My Cherry Pie finished the job. Owned by Cindy Snyder, “Cherry” is a 2013 chestnut mare by Auspicious Cat and out of TR Dualin Chex (by TR Dual Rey). The mare has EquiStat lifetime earnings totaling $134,789.
“She is a great mare,” he said. “She is always fun to ride and tries her hardest every time. She is great all around.”
This isn’t the only title race the mare is competing in this year. Cherry is currently sitting second in the NCHA Open World Standings with Casey Crouch in the saddle.
Bernhagen is no stranger to the championship spotlight. In 2019, at just 11 years old, Bernhagen won the $2,000 Limit Rider World Championship and the World Finals Show Championship. In 2020, he finished as the $35,000 Non-Pro Reserve World Champion.
However, it was winning the Shynia Randles Memorial Scholarship in May 2022 that Bernhagen considers one of his most meaningful accomplishments, he said.
Bernhagen inherited a passion for cutting from his parents, Mike and Kim Bernhagen, who also have competed at the NCHA World Finals. However, they’ve paused their competitive efforts to support Aden’s show career. His younger sister, Sophie, is also following in their parent’s footsteps and entered her first cutting competitions this year.
World Finals Show Champion
The NCHA Junior Youth World Finals Show Championship went to Jack Bell, of Duluth, Minnesota.
He earned the show championship, which goes to the competitor who earns the most points during the World Finals show, with a total of 10 points.
He did so aboard Apollo Creed, roan son of Metallic Cat and out of Tanganilla (by Tangys Classy Peppy). Apollo Creed is owned by Leigh Gall, of Hayward, Wisconsin.