Monty Buntin (2nd from left) and Brandon Westfall (2nd from right) shared 3YO Open Championship honors at the Brazos Bash * Photo by Amy Olson

Tough Brazos Bash 3-year-old Open Finals ends in Tie

Sharing a big win with another rider can be bittersweet, but EquiStat Elite $2 Million Rider Monty Buntin was more than happy to share a win with EquiStat Elite $1 Million Rider Brandon Westfall, who Buntin watched grow up around cutting.

The Brazos Bash 3-year-old open finals was thrilling to watch on October 9 at Silverado on the Brazos. To kick off the open finals day, the single set of 3-year-old Open followed the limited finals.

Buntin drew in the middle of the pack on Mr Rey Von (Stevie Rey Von x Days Zanolena x Smart Zanolena). Though the right cattle can be tough to find with a later draw, Buntin had no problem.

“I got to cut that my two favorite cows,” Buntin said with a smile. “I don’t think he [Mr Rey Von] was his best, because I really like this horse, but I was very proud of his performance.”

Small health setbacks have been the young horse’s kryptonite, but Buntin hopes that soon everyone will be able to see him at the top of his game. Nevertheless, the pair marked a 220 which held the lead by three points for three more horses.

Mere minutes later, Brandon Westfall entered the herd on Izzie Royalty (One Time Royalty x KR Isadora Dual x Smooth As A Cat).

He also left the pen with a 220, and was overjoyed when his and Buntin’s scores held for the rest of the class.

Brandon Westfall and Morgan Cromer discuss their cattle picks at Brazos Bash. * Photo by Amy Olson

“This is the first horse I’ve trained completely by myself the whole time,” Westfall said. “It’s taken a minute, like I haven’t done that well the last couple of shows but it worked out here. It felt like everything was starting to come together before this show so it means a lot.”

Westfall spent many of his younger years in California where the local trainers had a big influence on him. They still show together often. EquiStat Elite $5 Million Rider Morgan Cromer was one of Westfall’s herd help at the Brazos Bash, Monty Buntin also remember’s Westfall’s earlier years in California.

“It’s awesome to tie with Brandon, you know, I’ve known him since he was just a little bitty kid,” Buntin said. “One of my favorite stories was when I was working for Tim Smith, like 15 years ago, Brandon was maybe five years old, and we were at a pre-work and I remember Brandon got his finger stuck in the fence when he was trying to rope the goats.”

He’s outgrown his goat-roping days, and seems to be ready to blaze a trail as an open cutting horse trainer at only 23-years-old. Izzie Royalty will get a break while Westfall shows other horses at the National Cutting Horse Association Futurity, then they’ll kick off his 4-year-old career.