Few riders have dominated any class in the last five years the way Brandon Westfall has the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Futurity Non-Pro. He’s won it three times in the past four years.
This December, he’ll be competing at the NCHA Futurity as an Open rider. And, the resident of Granbury, Texas, will be doing it as a new EquiStat Elite $1 Million Rider. Westfall has amassed more than $1,097,000 in earnings as of Aug. 31. It’s an impressive feat for anyone, but Westfall is only 23 years old. It’s a meaningful achievement, though one that Westfall admitted was hard to put into words.
“It’s pretty cool,” Westfall said.
The son of trainer and EquiStat Elite $4 Million Rider Russell Westfall and non-pro cutter Janet Westfall, herself a winner of more than $1.5 million, Westfall grew up riding cutting horses. His first moment in the show pen came at the Pacific Coast Cutting Horse Association (PCCHA) Derby.
“I was 4 years old. It was it was when the Pacific Coast Derby was in [Paso Robles, CA] in March,” Westfall said. “I showed the old turnback horse — Jasper was his name. They still have the video of it. It’s hilarious.”
It was an eventful effort.
“I missed every cut pretty much and cut 20 cows or something,” he said.
The first money-winning effort on Westfall’s official EquiStat record was with a mare named Royal Boondust in 2009 in a Brazos Valley Cutters Youth class. He was about 9 years old and, like many of the horses Westfall would ride to the pay window during his career, Royal Boondust was a daughter of the family’s stallion, CD Royal. Both of his parents rode the son of CD Olena during his show career, which included the 2000 NCHA Futurity Non-Pro Reserve Championship with Janet Westfall.
Westfall won a lot of classes, but always seemed to have a particularly hot hand in the NCHA Futurity Non-Pro. And, all of his wins came out of horses foaled from CD Royal mares.
Westfall’s streak of top placings at the NCHA Futurity Non-Pro started in 2019, when he and I Reckon So (Kit Kat Sugar x Just As Reckless x CD Royal) tied with Kristin Galyean and Coureygous for the Championship.
The following year, Westfall won the event outright with Fiddle And Steel, marking a 228.5 on the son of Metallic Cat and out of Lil Bit Reckless (by CD Royal). I Reckon So and Fiddle And Steel were both owned and bred by his parents, and also were out of full sisters.
Last year, he won NCHA Futurity Non-Pro Championship with another Westfall Ranch-owned and bred horse, Ripp Tide, a son of Metallic Rebel and out of Laguna Girl (by CD Royal).
Looking back, Westfall considers Ripp Tide, Fiddle And Steel and Smooth Lil Cowtown — a mare he rode to the 2017 NCHA Futurity Non-Pro Reserve Championship — as some of the top horses he’s ridden so far in his career.
However, the horse Westfall credits with making the biggest difference in his riding career so far was Smartest Peanut Yet, a son of Smart Little Lena. Even though he thinks a lot of people will have never heard of the 2003 gelding, Westfall won more than $63,298 aboard Smartest Peanut Yet from 2012 to 2016.
“He really taught me how to show. He was a great horse,” Westfall said. “He made me go up, just showing-wise, leaps and bounds really fast because he was that good and he just gave me confidence.”
The Open Ranks
In 2023, Westfall finds himself on a new challenge. He officially put his non-pro days behind him after the 2022 NCHA Futurity. Now, he’s competing in the Open cutting ranks alongside his father and other professional trainers.
“That was a hard decision. I’d toyed around with that idea for probably a year and a half, two years,” he said. “I thought a lot of [making the decision] was about the timing of it, too. I finally made my mind up that I was going to do it. I just felt like … I thought the timing needs to be right. I wanted to make sure I had some good enough horses so that I can be competitive right off right off the bat.”
The highlight so far in his burgeoning Open career came at the NCHA Summer Spectacular Derby Open, where he was third aboard Ripp Tide for his parents and split fourth with Chanell Westcoast for owner Dana Russell.
“I felt like that was a really good day for me and I just felt like I really needed that right at that point,” Westfall said. “Now I’m starting to get a few horses in of my own [to train for] for other people.”
Westfall trains out of the Granbury, Texas, facility his family moved to several years ago after relocating from Los Olivos, California.
“There’s so many people that have helped me — my parents first and foremost, you know, got me in the position I’m in now,” he said. “But, there’s so many people.”
The top of the list includes West Coast trainers like EquiStat Elite $4 Million Morgan Cromer and EquiStat Elite $6 Million Rider Tim Smith. But, a large number of people in the industry have helped him out over the years — or been willing to field some of Westfall’s questions.
“I asked a lot of questions just trying to trying to get better,” he explained. “I feel like everybody’s pretty welcoming and [will] help me with something. There’s so many people that have helped me and I just want to thank all them for that.”