OGDEN, Utah - It was no surprise that Walla Walla's Kay Lynn Stevens Pugh and cutting horse Cat With A Hat won the $5,000 Novice/Non Pro division with 219 points after also winning the go-round with 217 points at the National Cutting Horse Association's Western National Championships here earlier this month.
"I learned from the first go-round not to get too committed and to see what would let me drive it out and wanted to stay there," said Pugh, who earned almost $5,800 for the win.
"This horse has a lot of get-back and draw, so that's part of our deal always, to really drive out, but it was especially critical in this pen."
Six-year-old Cat With A Hat was sired by High Brow Cat, the leading cutting horse sire to date. Pugh purchased Cat With A Hat from a fellow cutter last August.
"We were looking for a horse that I could step up with," Pugh said. "I've never had a good horse long enough to have a career of consistency. He's my first really great horse."
After being offered a ride on a friend's cutting horse, the former barrel racer was so impressed at the horse's cow sense that she sold her barrel horse and saddle and purchased her own cutting horse in 2003.
Pugh teaches psychology at Columbia Basin College and is married to cutting horse trainer Kenny Pugh, whom she met through a cutting lesson.
Kenny Pugh showed Don and Pat Noble's stallion Sarenas Playboy at the Western Nationals and finished in the top 10 in the $10,000 Novice horse class, and he showed Jazzy Little Melody (owned by Carolyn Edson from Anacortes, Wash.) to a top 10 finish in the Open class.
NCHA holds two National Championships each spring, one each at a location in the eastern and western United States.
The top 10 qualifiers in each of the 12 NCHA classes from each area and each affiliate are eligible to compete.
To encourage local participation, eligible contestants may compete at either or both contests.
The sport of cutting has roots in Western ranching traditions, where good horses were a necessity for everyday ranch work and cattle handling.
The NCHA was formed in 1946 by a group of cowboys and ranchers, who wanted to promote cutting competition, standardize rules and preserve the cutting horses' Western heritage.
Today, the Fort Worth-based NCHA represents more than 21,000 people and oversees more than 2,200 NCHA-approved shows with more than $43 million in total prize money awarded annually.
For more information about the NCHA, the NCHA Eastern National Championships or the sport of cutting, see website www.nchacutting.com.