In the mind of James Payne, the cutting horse Once In A Blu Boon is the whole package.
“He’s got both the intelligence and physical ability and that’s what sets him apart,” Payne said. “There are a lot of horses that have great physical ability, but they don’t have great intelligence to go with it. But he has both.”
Friday night at the NCHA Summer Spectacular, Once In A Blu Boon proved he had remarkable physical and mental attributes by clinching the Classic/Challenge open division title with a lofty finals score of 228 at Will Rogers Memorial Coluseum.
The National Cutting Horse Association victory earned the stallion’s owner, Charlotte Farms of Rosston, the $39,227 first prize.
Once In A Blu Boon finished first as the top horse for 5- and 6-year-olds after working three testy cows during an exhilarating 2 1/2- minute run.
“Right from the get-go, the cows fell in the right spot and each of them was enough cow to let you work your horse,” Payne said.
Throughout most of Friday’s finals, riders had difficulty producing the type of run that could earn a big score.
Jesse Lennox and The Boon, the third duo to work in the first bunch, took the lead with a 221. R.L. Chartier II and Fort Worth Pipeline, the third duo to compete in the second bunch, tied for the lead with a 221.
But about 15 minutes later, Payne and Once In A Blu Boon, the sixth duo to work in the second bunch, turned in the 228.
After the last cow was worked, The Boon (which is owned by Alice Walton of Millsap), and Fort Worth Pipeline (owned by Lisa Brown Bankston of Fort Worth), tied for second place. Each owner received $32,528.
Payne, 36, an Overbook, Okla., cowboy, said Once In A Blu Boon is the smartest and most physical horse he’s ever ridden. The stallion was sired by 1995 NCHA Futurity champion Peptoboonsmal and is out of the mare Autumn Boon.
“A cow rarely ever tricks him,” Payne said. “He can read a cow and he has a way of anticipating what it’s going to do.”
It is the second time that Payne has won the Summer Spectacular Classic/Challenge open division title. In 2012, he finished No. 1 on Sarenadual after turning in a 223.
The Cheyenne Frontier Days in Wyoming conducted the Cinch Shootout Rodeo on Friday, which was similar to the Fort Worth Stock Show’s Jan. 23 Shootout.
Like the Fort Worth Shootout invitational rodeo, each single event winner received $10,000.
In bareback riding, for example, Richmond Champion clinched the $10,000 title after turning in a finals score of 93 aboard a bronc named Storm Could, which is owned by Stace Smith. Last month, Champion helped Tarleton State finish second in the men’s team title race at the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo.
In steer wrestling, K.C. Jones, a seven-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Decatur, clinched the Shootout’s steer wrestling title.
Other $10,000 winners were Lisa Lockhart, barrel racing; Taos Muncy, saddle bronc riding; and J.W. Harris, bull riding.
The Cinch Shootout was held in conjunction with the Cheyenne Frontier Days’ traditional Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association show, which begins Saturday and runs through July 27.
Aaron Pass of Dallas will enter the Championship Bull Riding World Finals in Cheyenne, Wyo., ranked No. 3 in the 2014 title race after earning 1,080 points during the regular season.
Sage Steele Kimzey is ranked No. 1 with 1,247 and Trey Benton is ranked No. 2 with 1,170.
The CBR Finals, which are headed by four-time world champion Tuff Hedeman of Morgan Mill, is scheduled for Monday and Tuesday.