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NCHA Crowns Five Futurity Champions

National Cutting Horse Association

The conclusion of the NCHA World Championship Futurity brought titles to five new NCHA champions. The NCHA Futurity was conducted over a 19-day stretch (November 24 through December 12) and boasts a total purse of over $2,8 million. Non-Pro rider Wesley Galyean, 21, riding his stallion Spots Hot, scored a stunning victory in the NCHA Open Futurity. The win paid Galyean $200,000.

Galyean and Spots Hot were on the money with their first two cows, but it was the third that took them to the top and helped earn 225 points. They had won the Open Semi-Finals the night before with 223 points.

“There at the end, I was working that cow for what seemed forever,” said Galyean. “It seemed like five minutes straight. But my horse kept right in there and never gave up.

“I just knew he wasn’t going to let that cow get by him. I couldn’t hear my helpers because the crowd got so loud. So I didn’t know how much time I had left. I was just trying to stay in there and keep riding until I heard the buzzer.”

Galyean, his brother Beau, and father, Jody, had been through a grueling and exciting three weeks of competition. Altogether, the Ardmore, OK trio earned more than $365,000. It was an unparalleled accomplishment in the sport’s biggest and most prestigious event. In 2001, father and son, Ronnie and Tag Rice, Buffalo, Texas, placed first and second in the Open Futurity, but never have two members of the same family garnered three NCHA Futurity championships in the same year.

In addition to the Open Championship, Wesley placed fourth, on Spots Hot, and ninth, on Classy Dualin, in the Non-Pro Finals. Jody, a professional trainer and former NCHA Open Futurity Champion, finished ninth on A Black Widow in the Open Futurity. Beau, 24, won the Limited Open Finals on Double Down Merada and placed another horse in that division; he also was Reserve Non-Pro Champion on Highlightcat.

Somewhat of a maverick in a family of accomplished horsemen - his father Jody is a former Open Futurity champion, and his grandfather Kenneth is a Hall of Fame trainer - Beau got hooked on golf at an early age. His high school golf team won two state championships and his handiwork with the irons earned him a scholarship to Arkansas State University. He was bound for PGA qualifying school, when he came home to pack his belongings.

“I hadn’t even thought about horses for so long,” he admitted. “And I hadn’t ridden for 10 years. But then I started riding with Dad in the mornings.”

Non-Pro Division

Sandy Bonelli, Petaluma, CA, the sport’s all-time leading non-pro, added a third NCHA Futurity win to her impressive roster of accomplishments in both non-pro and open competition, including the 1997 NCHA Non-Pro Futurity on Shakin Flo, the dam of her current champion, Midnight Rondeevous.

“It’s always fun to win a major event, especially on one I raised out of a mare I loved so much,” said Bonelli, whose lifetime earnings total more than $2.2 million.

Bonelli’s 218.5-point winning ride on Midnight Rondeevous came midway through the last set of cattle, after she lost a cow early in the first set on Sues Barn Cat, the horse she had pinned her hopes on.

“I figured the Cat mare was the one,” said Bonelli, who scored 201 points, despite the major penalty. “You never know what’s going to happen in the finals,” she added. “You can lose a cow on your good horse. But this mare rose to the occasion.”

In other notable Non-Pro accomplishments, Professional Football Hall of Fame cornerback, Mel Blount finished third aboard, High Brow Doll. A gelding Blount raised sired by High Brow Cat.

Amateur Division

Gary Lord, Atwater, CA, has been showing at the NCHA Futurity since 1993 and had never made the finals. However, he has done well enough as an amateur finalist in other events, that he will soon be kicked upstairs into the Non-Pro division. But, Lord had a final hurrah with a win in the Amateur Futurity.

“It’s a thrill,” said the 52-year-old building contractor. “I don’t know when I’m going to realize what I’ve done.” Lord scored 213 points for his win aboard GR High Brow, a colt he raised out of Dutchers Girl, a mare he showed when he first started cutting in the early 1990s.

Blaze Cogdell, 13, who won both Amateur go-rounds and the Semi-Finals on Shadowcatchin Cattin, the gritty colt trained by his father, Dick, became the youngest rider in history to win an NCHA Futurity championship (reserve). Blaze scored 211 points; his brother Cooper, 15, finished fourth with 210.

Another notable Amateur Finalist was Professional Football’s Hall of Fame quarterback, Joe Montana. Montana finished in 13th place aboard Lookwhatthecatdrugin, a High Brow Cat daughter he raised.

Limited Open Division

In the Limited Open Division, MH The Winning Move and Cody Hall marked 220 points to claim the championship. Wes and Elizabeth Adams of Logandale, NV own the mare.

The champions and finalists received prizes from NCHA sponsors; M.L. Leddy’s, Murray Leather Goods, Leddy’s Cowboy Tack, Panhandle Slim, and Gist Silversmiths.

The National Cutting Horse Association is made up of over 16,000 members across the United States with a wide range of backgrounds. The sport of cutting has roots in Western ranching traditions, where good horses were a necessity for every day ranch work and cattle handling. From cowgirls to CEOs, from firefighters to professional football players, the common ground is often in the cutting arena. Each year more than 1,600 NCHA-approved events are held throughout the country with more than $30 million in prize money awarded.

To learn more about the National Cutting Horse Association and the sport of cutting, call 817-244-6188 or visit