Zoetis AQHA Level 1 Championship Cattle Events

April 16-18
State Fair Park in Oklahoma City

April 18, 2014

Day of Cutting Firsts and Seconds

From a champion raised on a bucket to a rider showing for his second time, cutting exhibitors at the 2014 Zoetis AQHA Cattle Novice Championships were celebrating personal milestones.

By Larri Jo Starkey
The American Quarter Horse Journal

Libby Elliott wins Novice amateur cutting April 18 on her homegrown mare, Beauty Bars Finale, at the 2014 Zoetis AQHA Cattle Novice Championships.

Libby Elliott wins Novice amateur cutting April 18 on her homegrown mare, Beauty Bars Finale, at the 2014 Zoetis AQHA Cattle Novice Championships in Oklahoma City. Libby raised the mare on a bucket with the help of a jenny after the mare's dam died. The championship title is their first together. (Larri Jo Starkey photo) For more photos from the Zoetis Novice Championships, scroll to the slideshow below.

Novice amateur cutting was the first class at the first Zoetis AQHA Cattle Novice Championships.

But some exhibitors weren’t satisfied with that first. They added some personal firsts in Oklahoma City. Here’s a sampling from the top 10:

Beauty Bars Finale
2006 bay mare by Gotta Haida My Gun-Lenas Beauty Bar by Doc O’Lena
Owner/exhibitor: M. Elizabeth Elliott, Thackerville, Oklahoma
Breeder: Pete and Cheri Wolfe, Sulphur, Oklahoma

“Mighty Mouse” was orphaned at 1 month old when her dam – an ailing mare of 25 who was accidentally impregnated – had to be euthanized. Libby Elliott went and got a bucket and a new mama for the baby.

“So I let a jenny I had raise her and we gave ‘Mouse’ bucket milk,” Libby said. “She’s always been little. She was the size of a baby deer. We couldn’t even start her until she was 3 because she was just too little.”

After Libby carried her baby for a few months, now the mare is carrying her. On April 18, Mouse and Libby were the first champions at the Zoetis Cattle Championships.

“I took her to Merit Wilson, my trainer, (to start), and he says this mare has more grit and more try than almost anything he had ever ridden,” Libby said. “She’s 8 years old now, and she’s just now getting where I can really enjoy her because she’s fast.”

Libby wasn’t sure she could keep up with her mighty mite.

“But we’re doing really good,” Libby said. “She’s a really special one.”

Libby has ridden all her life but only began cutting about eight years ago – right about the time Mouse was a foal.

Before that, Libby was working at IBM, but after retirement, she started riding seriously.

“I won my first belt buckle when I was over 60,” Libby said. “We’re having a good time this year.”

Clarks Pleaser
1995 palomino mare by King Of Clarks-Peppys Pleaser by Mr San Peppy
Owner/exhibitor: Adam Files Pollard, Midland, Texas
Breeder: Jack Arnold, Kermit, Texas

Hickorys Pepibella
1998 bay mare by Doc’s Hickory-Peppy La Belle by Belles Peppy Boy
Owner/exhibitor: Adam Pollard
Breeder: Allison Blevins, Templeton, California

Adam Pollard is happy to be alive, happy to be riding and happy to be cutting.

Winning third and fifth at his second cutting competition was just icing on the cake. For the past two years, he has been unable to ride and competing at the Zoetis Novice Championships was a recovery goal.

“I got a lung fungus, aspergellosis,” Adam said. “And then I tore my hamstring in November 2013, so I wasn’t even sure I was going to get to come to this show.”

The infection kept the avid horseman in the house, when he was accustomed to spending hours a day in the saddle.

“My wife (Hollyn) had to dress me for six months,” Adam said. “We want to have fun and this show is a great start. I’m really excited. We’ve got lots of good things to do and lots of positives. It’s a blessing to be able to do it.”

Adam has a couple of older women in his life besides Hollyn. His third-place palomino mare, Clarks Pleaser, was his beginning teacher.

“She’s my beautiful blonde,” he said. “She’s 19 years old. A good friend of ours in West Texas, Kevin Arnold, owned her and he really wanted me to get into cutting and said ‘I’ll make you a deal on this mare, but you gotta go cut.’ So I went and got her bought and started riding.”

“Goldie” welcomes a challenge, he said.

“She really likes a tough cow – she really does,” he said. “Today she got a little bit (of the prize), and there’s a lot of fuel in that tank for a 19-year-old. She’s so strong and quick and so just right there – everything I need. She doesn’t take a lot of practice but she wants to know you’re working with her. She probably could have done better than I let her do today. I’m learning how to get out of her way and let her do what she does.”

Adam’s fifth-place mare, Hickorys Pepibella, has the same kind of old bloodlines that Adam likes, and he has been riding her in cow horse competitions.

“That’s kinda what got me cutting to begin with,” he said. “I’d shown her a couple of times in cutting – not in cutting-cutting but in cow horse cutting pen – and felt like I could get comfortable enough with her to drop my hand. And while I was working the palomino mare three days a week, I started working the bay mare the other three for practice.”

Along with his trainers Brad Barkemeyer and Buddy Swinney, Adam has had a “why not?” motto all week.

“After the last couple of years I’ve had, this was my kickoff party,” Adam said. “Everybody that came with me, they just wanted me to get my feet wet and back into it. I’ve wanted to cut for so long and have never been able to, so this was my ‘Here I come; watch out, world,’ party. Cutting is what got me up. Got me back out. Got me over it.”

Onetime Witha Geisha
2007 red roan gelding by One Time Pepto-Shortys Geisha Girl by Kit Dual
Exhibitor: C.J. Murphy, Granbury, Texas
Owner: Nelle Murphy, Gainesville, Texas
Breeder: Matthews Cutting Horses LLC, Warsaw, North Carolina

C. J. Murphy might have been the all-around amateur at the 2005 AQHA World Championship Show, but he’s pure Novice when it comes to cutting.

He borrowed his sister Nelle’s horse Onetime Witha Geisha and got ready to enter his first cutting at the Zoetis Cattle Championships.

“My plan was to go cold turkey, not practice. No goal to practice whatsoever,” he said. “Nelle didn’t think that was a good idea, so she brought her horse down for me to practice. We’re at the cutting round pen and practicing on some roping calves. Well, we get to rolling pretty fast, and she keeps telling me to push on the horn harder because I’m getting a little tipped forward. Pretty soon, we roll across there, and I thought the horn broke off. I go head-down and I’m hung up there (off the saddle). I’m pulling for all I’m worth to get the horse stopped, and Nelle’s laughing at me.”

Nelle about fell off her own horse laughing at him, she said.

“I turned around and said, ‘I thought the horn came off,’ and then she goes to laughing again,’” C.J. said. “Finally, she says ‘I’m kinda mad at my horse for not keeping going.’ I said, ‘He had about 250 pounds of butt pulling him back over to stay where I needed him to.’”

After that sobering incident, C.J. decided to devote a little more time to his new discipline.

“I had to actually practice a few times to get my courage back up to do this,” he said with a laugh.