Clint Allen and DMAC Open Carry at the NCHA Open World Finals in 2023. * Photo by Seth Petit

After Trailer Crash, Cutting Horse Makes Fairytale Run

One minute, DMAC Open Carry and seven other horses were standing in a trailer as it rolled down the highway on the way to a show, just like they’d done countless times before. The next, an out-of-control semitrailer smashed into the side of the horse trailer, ripping a hole in the side and blowing the 6-year-old son of Dual Smart Rey out the back of the trailer.

Kade Moore, who was driving the trailer for trainer Clint Allen, says he will never forget what he saw when he glanced out the back of the truck during the crash. DMAC Open Carry, called “Jerry” around the barn, was flying through the air down the highway.

“He did a whole front flip out of the trailer,” Moore recalled. “I seen him flying out [the back of the trailer] and the first thing that goes through my mind I was like, that horse is dead. It [really] smacked the ground.”

Most would agree with Moore’s assessment. DMAC Open Carry, however, had other ideas.

The Crash

The violent crash happened on Sept. 19 just outside the city of Chillicothe, Texas — roughly halfway between the city of Amarillo and the concentration of cutting horse farms in Weatherford, Texas. It was one of multiple crashes involving semitrailers county officials responded to on the same stretch of roads during a rain and hailstorm.

Moore and and his coworker, Gilbert Gomez, were taking a load of horses for Allen and owners David and Stacie McDavid to the Pacific Coast Cutting Horse Association (PCCHA) Futurity show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Allen was flying that day to the show, where he would meet the horses at the show venue, the South Point Equestrian Center.

The rain was coming down hard. Moore remembers remarking to Gomez about the way the strong wind was blowing the rain off the top of high-profile vehicles in front of their truck as they drove west along Highway 287. That’s when authorities say an eastbound semitrailer from the opposing lanes lost control, went into the center median and then continued into the westbound lanes.

“I seen a red 18-wheeler and it looked like it was coming at me,” Moore said. “I looked over and I seen it kind of jackknife and head towards us. I got over as far as I possibly could.”

Though Moore pulled over to the far side of the road, the out-of-control semitrailer veered into his lane and slammed into the left rear quarter panel of the truck. It then crashed into the side of the horse trailer, ripped open a huge hole and shredded the exterior like a can opener.

The wreckage from trainer Clint Allen’s trailer, which was struck by an out-of-control semitrailer during a storm on Sept. 19 near Chillicothe, Texas. Two horses were killed. • Photo courtesy of Clint Allen.

Investigators say the incident happened when the driver of the eastbound Freightliner semitrailer suffered a medical episode and lost control of his rig, according to a Texas Public Safety crash report.

After the tractor-trailer rig hit the horse trailer, that’s when Moore looked back and saw DMAC Open Carry flying through the air to what he thought was the horse’s certain death. He was in for a surprise.

“As soon as he smacked the ground, he literally like popped right back on his feet,” Moore said.

After pulling the trailer over to the median, Moore got out and started running to where the horse was standing. By then, he estimates the sorrel gelding was about 200 yards behind the trailer—looking shell shocked and ready to bolt.

“Luckily, I just kind of made like a leap out and grabbed the halter,” Moore said, “Because anytime you’d get close to him, he would just like kind of booger and run away from you.”

The trailer was a mess. Horses had been thrown around inside.

Allen, who was still about an hour from his plane landing in Las Vegas, started getting messages on his cell phone. Details were scarce, but it was clear that a tractor-trailer rig had hit the horse trailer.

The horses and tack were picked up in a joint effort by trainer Tyler Lewis and his son, whose ranch was not far from the crash scene. Trainers John Mitchell and Phil Hanson, who Allen said were both in the vicinity at the time of the incident, also helped in the aftermath of the crash.

Their assistance meant a lot to Allen.

“That’s what cowboys and horse people do,” he said. “They look out for each other.”

All horses survived in the initial crash, but two of the eight later died from their injuries. Somehow, Moore and Gomez were not hurt. In addition to small nicks and cuts, DMAC Open Carry had road rash on his withers and hip. He also had a gash on his lip.

Back to Health

At first, it wasn’t clear if any of the horses would ever show again. Archee, a promising Spots Hot 3-year-old by from the female family of millionaire producer Stylish And Foxie, was among those killed in the crash. The McDavids’ good show mare, $85,607 winner DMAC Katzalou (by Cattalou), initially appeared to recover, only to suddenly suffer neurological symptoms and die.

Some of the horse emerged relatively unscathed, but many of the survivors were in rough shape. Horse owner Stacie McDavid heeded advice to wait a few days to go see them, but even then the condition of some of the survivors was disturbing.

“They were begging me not to come to the ranch, because these horses had road rash and disfigurement because of swelling. Horses have no place for swelling to go, so they look a freak when they get swelling to head and neck,” she said. “I mean, they look like completely different animals.”

DMAC Open Carry, however, didn’t let the trauma hold him back. In a remarkable show of resilience, the horse not only recovered and made it back to the show pen. But, he showed incredible determination to earn his way into the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Open World Finals.

A healthy and happy DMAC Open Carry, aka “Jerry,” enjoys a bit of grass. • Photo courtesy of Clint Allen Cutting Horses.

Originally, Allen thought showing in the World Finals would be a distraction. The event is held in conjunction with the NCHA Futurity, and showing in both events adds to the workload. But, one of the top horses Allen had planned to show in the Futurity, Archee, died as a result of the trailer crash.

He was able to show another 3-year-old that was in the trailer at the time of the crash, DMAC Joan of Arc. He and the McDavid homebred daughter of Metallic Rebel made the Futurity’s Open semifinals.

Fan Club

Beyond his involvement in the crash, there’s something you should know about DMAC Open Carry. Even though he’s never won a major Open championship, a lot of people in the cutting industry like him.

The gelding bred by Jerry Durant, of Weatherford, Texas, had been a consistent performer over the years for Allen in the Open and McDavid in the Amateur. The horse had amassed $176,030 in total lifetime earnings at the time of the crash.

Before the crash, McDavid said people regularly called to try and buy DMAC Open Carry. As soon as word got around he was one of the horses involved in the crash, the gelding out of Prime Time Kat (by High Brow Cat) was the first horse they asked about.

One of those fans is Allen’s daughter, Kate. She’s always liked the horse and showed him in the Senior Youth Scholarship Cutting at Will Rogers Coliseum. Also, according to multiple reports, Kate is the person who discovered DMAC Open Carry’s ability to eat granola bars by slurping them right out of the wrapper. Judging by the photos and videos on her cell phone shared by her father with Quarter Horse News, Kate keeps him well supplied with his favorite snack.

Video courtesy of Kate Allen.

Allen also thought highly of the horse, believing the horse had a legitimate shot at qualifying at the Brazos Bash for the first-ever cutting at The Run For A Million horse show in Las Vegas. The crash and his injuries made that impossible, but there was an outside chance he could still make the NCHA World Finals at the end of the year.

Held in December in conjunction with the NCHA Futurity, the NCHA World Finals is only open to the top 15 money-earning horses in each class. DMAC Open Carry was a few spots below the cutoff line after the crash, but Allen thought he had a shot at making the top 15.

With the horse’s number one fan, Allen’s daughter, Kate, helping get him ready, DMAC Open Carry went on a tear in the last few months before the World Finals. He banked $14,382 at the Outback Cutting events by winning four Open classes and finishing second in two more in October and November.

“Going into the [World] Finals, I didn’t have any expectations,” Allen said. “I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. So, I just wanted to go out and have fun and just throw caution to the wind and be as aggressive as I could — and I did that.”

They put in a good show, earning enough money in the NCHA World Finals to move up the standings. They finished the year ninth in the Open World Championship standings, earning $40,367 in Open weekend cutting events.

The full magnitude of the crash hadn’t been shared widely in the industry, so McDavid did not expect the response when the announcer mentioned the crash when Allen and DMAC Open Carry took to the pen during the World Finals.

“I did not know anyone really knew except our close cowboy friends, but when they announced, it was just unbelievable,” she said of the crowd’s robust response. “It brought people to their feet — [and then] my phone blew up.”

Counting Blessings

As sad as it was to lose two horses and to see the suffering the survivors went through during their recovery, McDavid sees DMAC Open Carry’s story as one of hope. He not only survived the wreck, but he thrived. It’s an inspirational tale that helped her and her husband, David, through several personal challenges last year, and she suspects there are others out there that could use a feel-good story as well.

She shared some details of the inside story in a post on Facebook, wanting others to know the story not only of the tragedy, but also of the blessings. One of the biggest blessings, she said, was the two people inside the truck were not hurt.

“I need to elaborate on the story, because people are hungry right now for hope and for feel-good stories,” she said. “We did have a lot of trials going on at that time. But yet, we were blessed in the end that our crew was spared [and] that six horses didn’t die and should have.”

She said the situation also highlighted the value of perseverance when it comes to enduring difficulties or hardships.

“Wait it out [and] you may be astonished at all the blessings that surround you or that are headed your way,” she wrote when summarizing the story on Facebook. “This too will pass.”