While he was growing up on the southeastern Australia coast, John Mitchell had full support to take up tennis as his livelihood.
His mother, Merle Mitchell, was a pro. Though he avidly played tennis as a boy, Mitchell also fell in love with horses.
“I was around horses a lot through my mother’s tennis partner,” Mitchell said. “It wasn’t through our family at all. It was through their family. They traded a lot of horses. I went with them everywhere.”
And the more Mitchell was around the cutting horse show scene, the better he liked it.
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“I just kept on doing it,” Mitchell said.
Today, Mitchell is a pro cutting horse rider to be reckoned with. At the National Cutting Horse Association Super Stakes, Mitchell, 41, has qualified for the 4-year-old open division semifinals on two horses.
After competing in the second round this weekend at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum, Mitchell made the cut on a first-year competitor named Junie Wood.
The duo turned in a two-ride score of 432.5. Mitchell, who lives in Weatherford, also earned a semifinals berth aboard Playin N Fancy, after finishing with 431.5 on Saturday.
Horses with a two-ride score of at least 430 advanced to the semifinals, which is scheduled for Friday. From there, riders will attempt to advance to the final round, which is scheduled for April 19.
The last ride
As he attempted to earn a semifinals berth, a horse named Boonbay Cat and Brad Mitchell were the last duo to compete in the second round Saturday.
Being last had its challenges. But it also had its advantages.
Boonbay Cat was the last horse to work in the fifth bunch of cattle. The bunch consisted of 16 competing horses.
Riders usually do not prefer to be slotted last because that usually means the good cattle already have been worked.
“You kind of get the leftovers,” Mitchell said. “You just have to make some decisions to try some of those cows that the other riders before you didn’t really like.”
However, Mitchell, who lives in Canton, cut three cows that worked well enough to help Boonbay Cat advance to the semifinals. They turned in a 215.5 on Saturday and finished with a two-ride score of 431.5.
“The only advantage of being last is you know what you have to do,” Mitchell said. “There’s no guess work.”
Into the hall
While competing at the NCHA Super Stakes on Friday, veteran rider Roy Carter and a horse named Scoots Lead Free turned in a second round of score of 215.
That helped the duo advance to the open semifinals with a two-ride tally of 432.
On Saturday, Carter, who lives in Crockett, was inducted into the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame at Cowtown Coliseum in the Fort Worth Stockyards.
Carter was a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association bull rider in the 1970s. He also is a notable bucking bull owner.