When the National Cutting Horse Association Summer Spectacular began its three-week run on Monday, Phil Rapp, one of the most accomplished riders in the sport’s history, turned in a sizzling score of 220.
Rapp, the NCHA’s all-time leading money winner with more $8.9 million in earnings, turned in the 220 aboard an accomplished stallion named Dont Stopp Believin.
“He’s very smart and athletic,” Rapp said. “He has a good way of going about things and he handles cattle well.”
Dont Stopp Believin is owned by Rapp and his wife, Mary Ann, who are from Weatherford. At the Summer Spectacular, the stallion is competing in the 5- and 6-year-old open division, the class for second- and third-year horses.
Dont Stopp Believin is a 6-year-old, which means it’s his last major aged event at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum.
The stallion commanded respect two years ago by finishing as the co-champion in the open division at the NCHA Super Stakes, the Summer Spectacular’s sister show.
Dont Stopp Believin is among numerous prize-winning horses that Rapp has shown over the past three decades.
Rapp, 47, who grew up in California, began showing horses at 11. He was intensely focused and became a notable competitor at Fort Worth age events when he was a college student in the early 1990s.
Rapp’s first major win in an NCHA Triple Crown event in Fort Worth was the 1991 Non-Pro Super Stakes with Playboys Ruby. His first major NCHA open division title was the 1994 Super Stakes in Fort Worth with Tap O Lena.
Rapp has continually won because he’s competitive and exercises lots of patience.
“Always do what you think is right,” he said. “If you think it’s right and believe that it’s right, it might not be the thing at the time, but it will eventually come back around for you. Don’t take a short cut.”
Rapp also has been a studious competitor.
“I love the history of the sport,” he said. “I listened to the people back in the 1980s and 1990s talking about what happened back in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Today, we have so many new spectators and new people in the business who don’t know much about that. We have so many trainers who didn’t know much about what happened in the 1960s and 1970s. I didn’t have firsthand knowledge of it, but I listened to a lot of good stories.”
Though Rapp has had tremendous success, he never stops pushing to improve.
“I guess it’s a moment in time that you can get it all right,” Rapp said. “You have to continually push yourself to get better. There are always others who are trying to get better. Now, I watch what others do to try to improve and they watch what I do to try to improve. So, there’s a continual push to get better and stay competitive.”