Women upstage men in cutting event - NCHA Super Stakes titles captured by women
NCHA Press Release
(Fort Worth, TX)-- In a sport traditionally regarded as cowboy turf, with the emphasis on the second syllable, Cara Barry and Mary Jo Milner turned the record books inside out on April 18, when they claimed the open and non-professional divisions of the National Cutting Horse Association Super Stakes in Fort Worth, TX.
At 22, Barry is the youngest trainer to win a professional cutting horse event and one of only five women, in NCHA’s 58-year history, to win an open title.
Milner has been on a mission since 1999, when she learned her grandson didn’t know she could ride. Since then, she has won the NCHA non-professional world championship four years in a row and, at 60-something, became the oldest rider to ever win the Super Stakes.
Playin Tag, Barry’s mount, beat out 291 other cutting horses to claim the coveted Super Stakes title and $100,000 in cash. Although Playin Tag was competing against four-year-old horses with similar show experience, Barry was up against seasoned veterans with millions of dollars in show earnings
“I’ve wanted to be a trainer since I was five or six,” said Barry, a college graduate who learned to ride with her parents, non-pro competitors Tim and Sue Barry , of Byron, IL. The Barrys, owners of a livestock auction barn in Rockford, 90 miles west of Chicago, tried to discourage Cara from a training career. When she would not be dissuaded, they gave her Playin Tag to train for the big NCHA events.
“This mare has given me so much confidence,” said Cara. “It helps to have good horses. I’ve been very lucky.”
Mary Jo Milner, of Southlake, TX, holds the record as six-time NCHA Non-Pro World Champion, but she had never won an NCHA “big three” event in Fort Worth. “It’s been one of my goals,” said Milner, who scored her win aboard a mare named Genuine Gold Cat.
Milner and her husband Jim owned some of the first Taco Bell franchises in the Southwest. They have been competing in cutting events since the early 1970s and their son, Joey, who is now in his forties, is also a highly regarded non-pro. Between them, Jim and Mary Jo have earned more than $3 million in cutting horse contests.
Cutting evolved as a rodeo event in the late nineteenth century. Early competitors were cowboys who rode ranch mounts they used to separate cows and calves during cattle drives and roundups. Today, NCHA awards $30 million annually in 1,400 shows in the U.S. and Canada.