NCHA Executive Director Jay Winborn pours champagne into the Fort Worth Cup for NCHA Open Futurity Champion Wesley Galyean as one of Galyean's daughters watches. * Photo by Amy Olson

Wesley Galyean and Lone Woolf crowned 2023 NCHA Futurity Open Champions

Wesley Galyean and Lone Woolf bested over 500 other horses for the coveted Fort Worth Cup and a payday worth $318,649.29 plus incentives. At the NCHA World Championship Futurity Finals, Sat., Dec. 9, in Fort Worth, Texas, Galyean drew the final slot and knew he couldn’t hold anything back if they were to come out on top.

The last horse to enter the show pen, Lone Woolf (Metallic Rebel x A Little Reylena x Dual Rey), marked a 228.5 and kept the crowd on the edge of their seats. It took a score of at least 218.5 to move on from the semi final round on Friday night. The road to the finals hadn’t been all smooth, and Galyean wanted to have a good work early that morning to get his horse focused for the finals.

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Wesley Galyean and Lone Woolf are the 2023 NCHA Open Futurity Champions. * Photo by Amy Olson

“Yesterday he took a little time to settle down getting worked,” Galyean said of the semi final day. “Today he come out and we just got to work two cows and he kind of dropped in there real good and got smart. So I just left him alone.”

Then the tension had time to build. The finals didn’t begin until 7 p.m. and Galyean wouldn’t go in the last draw until nearly 10 p.m. plenty of wait time to get nervous. Luckly, Sammy Gillis, Galyean’s loper, “does an absolutely phenomenal job of getting him ready,” according to Galyean. He also had a little extra mental clarity as he prepared for the night’s ride.

“In 2019, right before COVID I started doing it about every day, I try to do it every day, about 12 minutes a day, pray and just meditate on God and all the good things,” Galyean said it allows him to focus and trust in the blessings God has already given him.

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Wesley Galyean gives his daughters a hug. * Photo by Amy Olson

With his trust in the Lord and a really good horse underneath him, Galyean entered the pen with a ‘hold nothing back’ mentality.

“Even on that third cow, I don’t know if it was 25 or 30 seconds, and the last hole draw is tough. I didn’t worry about losing it right there just meaning I’m coming and if it runs me over, it runs me over, but I’m swinging for the fences,” Galyean recalled.

He has to give his great team credit as well, including the horse’s owner Billy Wolf and especially his wife Kristen.

Lone Woolf from Billy Wolf

Renowned cutting and cow horse breeder Billy Wolf bred and raised Lone Woolf. The young roan stallion is by EquiStat Elite $8 Million Junior Sire Metallic Rebel and out of EquiStat Elite $1 Million Dam A Little Reylena. The mare, by Dual Rey, is also the dam of freshman sire Dual Reyish and has $126,058 performance earnings on her own record.

Billy Wolf drinks from the Fort Worth Cup. * Photo by Amy Olson

Wolf was prepared to sell Lone Woolf as a yearling in the Western Bloodstock sale, but Galyean went out to see the horse work in a round pen and talked the breeder out of selling him.

“He was so fast so light footed, just insane talent and I immediately went and told Billy I said, ‘Listen, this is the type of horse that you’re going to turn around in a year or two and try to buy back for a couple of million dollars,'” Galyean remembered.

Galyean’s assessment was correct, and it’s safe to say that Wolf is thankful now that he didn’t sell the horse.

Reserve Champion

Matt Gaines rode Sugarr Daddy (Kit Kat Sugar x Andreya x Dual Rey) to the Reserve Champion finish with a score of 226.5 for $259,424.71. The payday was enough to put Gaines over the $10 Million Rider mark according to EquiStat statistical service.

This show was also the final show to determine which riders will compete in The American Performance Horseman 2024.

Wesley Galyean and Lone Woolf, 2023 NCHA Futurity Champions * Video by Amy Olson