Madison Flynn and Sniperr had a score to settle as they walked into the Will Rogers Coliseum for the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Great American Insurance Group Summer Cutting Spectacular 4-Year-Old Non-Pro finals on July 26.
Earlier in the morning during the 4-Year-Old Intermediate Non-Pro finals, the pair had a big bobble that caused them to mark a 201. As she prepared for the next finals, Flynn took a deep breath and tried to get her mind in the right place. Her pep talk with herself paid off, and she and Sniperr marked a 226 to win the 4-Year-Old Non-Pro Championship and $22,906.
“It means the world,” Flynn said. “I have been cutting ever since I was little, and that was my very first non-pro finals ever in there. It still doesn’t really feel real.”
Though Flynn doesn’t usually get anxious before her runs, she was quite nervous in the moment, she said. Some friends reminded her that she knew how to do her job, and Flynn made herself believe them. It helped that she and Sniperr had drawn second in the second set, and everything else fell into place, she added.
“Everything was set up right, so I just had to forget about it and let my nerves just chill. Then, we were good,” Flynn said.
She admitted she may have held her breath through most of the run, but her help — Matt Gaines, Austin Shepard, John Mitchell and her dad, Sean — pointed her in the right direction. Sniperr stepped up and did his job, too, even though Flynn had only ridden him consistently for two days before the finals. The stallion (High Brow Cat x Gini One Time x One Time Pepto), who was bred by Shepard and his wife, Stacy, had spent his aged event career so far competing with Sean in the Open.
“They asked if I wanted to show, so I hopped on,” Flynn said. “We tried to give it our best, and it worked. I’ve never really ridden a horse that’s so smart like he is about a cow and so athletic, it’s unreal.”
Flynn wasn’t sure what the future held for her and Sniperr as a team. After the Summer Spectacular, she was headed to Texas Tech for her first year of college, where she’ll be studying Agribusiness. She thanked her dad and her mom, Ashley, for giving her the chance to show the stallion before her next big adventure.
“My mom could have shown him, but she let me have a shot at it,” Flynn said. “I couldn’t have done it without them.”
E.J. Huntley and Dirrty Shirley (Hashtags x San Tule San Doc x San Tule Freckles)’s 224 score took Reserve in the 4-Year-Old Non-Pro. The pair banked $19,800.