The crowd always has its favorites during the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Futurity Open finals in Will Rogers Coliseum. It roars its approval, decibel level rising with every leap as the best 3-year-old cutting horses in the world give it everything they’ve got.
Lindy Thorn was one of the crowd favorites, and by the time she cut her final cow with Misty Greeson’s stallion, Phil N Dangerous, the stands were rocking and rolling with delight.
“When I was done, I was just like, ‘O.K., I didn’t hot quit. I didn’t fall off. I didn’t drop a rein. O.K, breathe. It’s O.K!’,” she recalled. “Then I heard the noise, and I was like, ‘Well, man, that must have been pretty good!'”
Then her score of 228 flashed across the board — taking over the lead by a point with only two horses left to cut.
“When I saw the score, I thought my heart was gonna fall out of my chest,” she said. “The emotion of everything just really got to me.”
The emotion came even before the score held and Thorn became the first woman to win the coveted NCHA Futurity Open Championship since Kathy Daughn marked a 229 aboard Royal Fletch to take the 2000 event.
The rush of feelings that hit Thorn wasn’t even about winning. She said emotion came from having a great run in a pen of elite trainers whom she’s admired for years, and who had helped her achieve her dream of becoming a cutting trainer.
She was helped in the pen by Tommy Marvin, whom she’d previously worked for, and Cara Brewer, whose 2-year-olds she still rides. EquiStat Elite $11 Million Rider Lloyd Cox — whom Thorn said has been helping her since she first started — and Sean Flynn, who always offers a pep talk as she walks into the pen, also helped her during the finals Saturday, Dec. 10 in Fort Worth, Texas.
“The cutting family is such an amazing family, and they all want us to do well and they’re all so helpful,” she said. “It was just epic.
“At that point, I just needed to catch my air. I knew there was two other horses to go — and win, lose or draw I was just grateful for the run. And then, when I won I was like, ‘Oh, gosh, I won it.’ I didn’t know what to think.”
The NCHA Futurity Open Championship winner’s check of $300,061 nearly doubled Thorn’s career earnings to more than $670,724, according to EquiStat.
Thorn is the third woman to win the NCHA Futurity: Lindy Burch was the first when she piloted Mis Royal Mahogany to victory in 1981, and Daughn won it twice — with Royal Fletch in 2000 and with The Gemnist in 1985.
Western Pleasure to Cutting
Thorn grew up in California where her mother, Winnie Rivinius, trained Western pleasure horses and hunter jumpers. She brought a Western pleasure horse with her to Kentucky when she attended Murray State University, which offered her a volleyball scholarship.
While attending Murray State, Thorn worked out of a local barn and rode a lot of different types of horses. She wanted to get into reined cow horse or cutting, though, and a woman she’d ridden a lot of horses for pointed her in the direction of NCHA Riders Hall of Fame member Allen Crouch in Mississippi.
“He taught me how to work those 2-year-olds on the flag and on cows,” she said. “And then from there I went worked for Tommy Marvin and he’s a great cow horse trainer and he taught me a lot.”
She then spent three years working as an in-house trainer in Tulsa, Oklahoma, before going out on her own several years ago. Greeson was part of her program even before Thorn went out on her own, first bringing a horse to her when she was working out of the barn in Tulsa.
Thorn thanked everyone who has been part of her cutting family over the years, especially her husband, Troy.
“He is my biggest cheerleader and my rock,” she said.
Her mother, who encouraged her to go out on her own, also has been a big support over the years. So has Karlee Williamson, whom Thorn said takes care of things at the barn when she’s away at shows.
“I want to thank my mom for always believing in me. I want to thank Dr. Eric Wallace for doing all of the vet work on this horse and keep him in tip top shape,” said Thorn. “And, my husband who also is the farrier, does all the footwork on him and he’s barefoot. He keeps his feet just right.”
It meant a lot to Thorn that her win came aboard Phil N Dangerous, a homebred for Greeson by Hottish and out of Lil Maddy Rey, a mare both Greeson and Thorn have ridden for NCHA Open World Championship titles.
In fact, mother and son were both at the NCHA Futurity show this month because Greeson showed the mare in the Unlimited Amateur at the NCHA World Finals, which were held in conjunction with the Futurity. On Dec. 1, she and the Dual Smart Rey mare clinched the NCHA World Finals Unlimited Amateur Show Championship for winning the most money in the class during the World Finals. They finished seventh in the year-end Championship Standings.
“She’s very special to my program,” Thorn said of the winner of more than $176,393. “She taught me what a true cow horse really was. She changed my program.”
There are many similarities between Lil Maddy Rey and Phil N Dangerous, she said.
“He’s super sensitive. He’s super careful,” she said. “He’s very willing, he doesn’t like to get in trouble — he’s just like his mother.”
The win by Phil N Dangerous was the first of a 1-2 punch for EquiStat Elite $10 Million Sire Hottish, who also sired Open Reserve Champion Kittenish. Phil N Dangerous is the second NCHA Futurity Open Champion sired by the late stallion, who also fathered 2017 NCHA Futurity Open Champion Dual Reyish.
Phil N Dangerous is the first money-winning performer in EquiStat for his mother.
Just a half-point behind Phil N Dangerous, Open Reserve champions Kittenish and EquiStat Elite $9 Million Rider Austin Shepard, marked a 227 to earn $242,525 for owner Billy Wolf, of Whitesboro, Texas.
Among the regally bred entrants in the NCHA Futurity Open finals, Kittenish is out of million-dollar producer Show Biz Kitty (by High Brow Cat). That makes Kittenish a half sister to 2020 NCHA Futurity Open Champion and 2021 NCHA Open Horse of the Year All Spice ($384,304, by Once In A Blu Boon); 2018 NCHA Futurity Open Reserve Champion Badboonarising ($367,101, by Once In A Blu Boon) and NCHA Hall of Fame horse Rollz Royce ($353,872, by Dual Smart Rey).
Show Biz Kitty now has progeny earnings of more than $1.68 million.