Tarin Rice can boast of walking into the winner’s circle at two jewels of the National Cutting Horse Association’s Triple Crown Series.
In 2012, Rice tied for first at the NCHA Futurity, which is the series’ first jewel. And on Saturday night, Rice won the NCHA Summer Spectacular Derby Open Division, which is the third jewel.
When the title was at stake at the Summer Spectacular, Rice, 25, who lives in Centerville, and a mare named Miss Callie Cat clinched the title after turning in a finals score of 224 at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum.
The victory earned the horse’s owner, Jim Crawford, the $35,457 prize.
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Junie Wood and John Mitchell of Weatherford finished second with a 220. The mare’s owner, the Slate River Ranch of Weatherford, pocketed $32,065. In April, Wood and Mitchell won the NCHA Super Stakes, which was the second jewel of the Triple Crown.
In the non-pro finals at the Summer Spectacular on Saturday, Armando Costa Neto and MS Regret tied for first with a 218. Page Bowman and Big Daddys CD also turned in a 218. They each earned $17,431.
Kelle Earnheart and CTR Smart Jazzy Boon finished third with a 215.5. She earned $16,703.
In the open division finals, Rice and Miss Callie Cat were the last duo to work in the first bunch of cattle. In most cases, riders do not prefer to be last in a bunch because most of the good cattle already have been worked. However, Rice managed to select three great cows that helped Miss Callie Cat earn a lofty score.
“It was luck,” Rice said. “But with every great run that I’ve ever had, it seems like everything works out. We just go down there and the cows are in the right spot and they cut good.”
Rice said Miss Callie Cat thrives on exceptional athletic ability.
“She’s so fast,” he said. “Her speed in unbelievable. She has so much eye appeal and her ears are always up. She also stops really well.”
During the final round, Rice and Miss Callie Cat worked three cattle during the 2 1/2 minutes.
“All of the cattle were good,” Rice said. “The second cow took off and left the center of the pen a little more than what you world hope. But every time I asked the mare, she went, got down and stopped the cow and stayed right in its face. Even though the cow left, she gave it her all and tried to trap it again.”
Rice praised Miss Callie Cat for holding off some challenging cattle during the semifinals and final rounds.
”She can hold a really tough cow,” Rice said. “The cows over the last two days have been bigger and pushier. But it just worked out.”
Rice, who was raised in the Panhandle community of Spearman, is part of a family dynasty in the cutting horse business. His father, Boyd, is a former champion rider at the NCHA Super Stakes and the Summer Spectacular, the second and third jewels of the sport’s Triple Crown series.
His great uncle Ronnie is a three-time champion at the NCHA Futurity, the first jewel of the Triple Crown. His second cousin, Tag Rice, is one of only three riders to have won the Triple Crown (on Chiquita Pistol 2002-2003).
Rice said he began competing in cutting horse shows when he was about 8 or 9. He said he decided to make the sport his livelihood by the time he was 17. He became a pro trainer at 20.
At 18, Rice commanded respect when he earned $150,000 by winning the 2007 MillionHeir Non-Pro Derby in Las Vegas with a score of 221 aboard MH Willing To Cut.
In 2012, Rice shared the Futurity title with Ronnie, who is 37 years older. Tarin Rice rode a gelding named He Bea Cat, and Ronnie Rice competed on CR Tuff Hearted Cat. Each horse turned in a finals score of 222.5 and each earned $210,971 for their owners.