Sawyer Hennig & Stretchish * Photo by Seth Petit

Sawyer Hennig Takes Back-to-Back Wins at NCHA Summer Spectacular

When Sawyer Hennig exited the show pen after the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Great American Insurance Group Summer Cutting Spectacular 4-Year-Old Amateur finals with the Championship in tow, she was already on cloud nine. She and Stretchish had scored a 219 for the win, and she didn’t think it could get much better than that.

But then, in 5/6-Year-Old Amateur finals, she rode Hale Yeah to a 223, securing the title in that class, too. Hennig felt like pinching herself as she collected a second major title from the Will Rogers Coliseum only hours after her first.

“I’m still not really sure if yesterday was real,” Hennig said the next day. “The first one was surreal. It felt like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have a win in that building because that’s what we all strive for at a Triple Crown event, but then for it to happen a second time, I think that’s when I was like, ‘OK, I am in a dream right now.’”

4-Year-Old Amateur Champion

Stretchish was originally purchased by Gregory Williamson as a 2-year-old with the intention of flipping and selling the gelding. The horse started with Justin Wright, then moved to Adan Banuelos and Colt Moore’s program. He went through a bit of a transition period afterward, but by the time Stretchish got to the Summer Spectacular, he was coming on stronger.

It was good timing, as the horse had quite a few rounds to get through — Stretchish competed in the Open with Moore and the Non Pro and Amateur with Hennig. He was feeling pretty tired when the Amateur finals rolled around, but the horse never missed a beat, continuing to give his all in each round.

“I felt like each time that horse went down to the herd with me, we marked a higher score,” Hennig said. “He had a ton of runs on him at this show, and for him to still care mentally as much as he did, I think that’s what surprised me the most. Even the last run where he felt the most tired to me, he was still mentally all in, and that showed a lot of character on how much he truly cared.”

She and the gelding (Hottish x Shiny Ann Metallic x Metallic Cat) collected $9,688 for the win.

Sawyer Hennig and Hale Yeah * Photo By Seth Petit

5/6-Year-Old Amateur Champion

Williamson purchased Hale Yeah shortly before the 2021 NCHA Futurity and made the Non-Pro finals with the gelding. The horse has his own style and feel, Hennig said, and intimidated her a good bit when she first started riding him.

Once things started clicking, though, the pair started getting more consistent. Their 223 was proof of that, as it is the highest score Hennig has marked in the Coliseum.

“At that point in time on that run, I trusted him more than anything,” Hennig said of their finals run. “I could feel him wanting it, which made me feel more confident in him and able to use him. I did not care what score popped up on the board or how it landed in the results; I just knew that it was the most fun run of my life.”

Hale Yeah (Kit Kat Sugar x Summer Stays Here x High Stylish Oak) is a forever horse, Hennig added, who will never be leaving the family. The gelding added $10,349 to his record for the win.

Hennig thanked her family for supporting her during the week, along with the people who cheered for her. She had been a tad overwhelmed going into the show, she admitted, but between the people that rallied behind her and her love of the sport, it ended up being a nice escape from reality. She also thanked Banuelos’ program and her help: Jesse Lennox, Ascencion Banuelos, Banuelos and Moore.

“Without their help in the show pen, it’s simply not possible to have great runs. They are as good as it gets,” Hennig said. “Thank you too to Greg Williamson for allowing me to steal his horses and play in the sandbox!”

Reserve Champions

Michael Kemna rode Thirty Four Red (Stevie Rey Von x Stylish Spot Of Cat x Spots Hot) to a 216.5 for Reserve. The pair banked $8,903.

In the 5/6-Year-Old Amateur, Denise Bendele and Peace Be Still (Metallic Cat x CD Royal Joyful x CD Royal)’s 218.5 took home the Reserve Championship and a check worth $9,605.