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Cutting horse Futurity was one for the ages

With more than 1,800 overall entries at this year’s 2008 National Cutting Horse World Championship Futurity, there were more than enough story lines to go around.

But one of the most interesting things that happened at Will Rogers Memorial Center was the ultimate success of both youth and experience.

The main characters in most sports have a prime, and anybody who stays in the game too long is either considered special or a candidate for retirement. But, as this year proved, cutting horse riders can excel at any age.

Older competitors seem to have the best stories.

Chuck Drummond won the amateur title with a 215-point show on My Darlin Girl during his first Futurity after a 13-year absence from competition. The score also won him the Senior championship. Though he compared himself to a spring chicken after the win, Drummond won the titles at a healthy 65 years old.

In fact, getting into cutting might be one reason the third-generation rancher/cutting show producer is still active.

“I got into this because my doctor told me I had to have a hobby,” Drummond said. “I don’t like golf and I don’t like tennis. The only thing I’ve really ever loved is horses.”

Another veteran competitor who stood out at this year’s Futurity was Pat Earnheart. Though he didn’t end up winning a title, Earnheart’s early 215 score made the crowd erupt. Longtime fans knew Earnheart and remembered how dominant he was more than a decade ago. But health problems kept him out of the arena until recently, so his comeback was both remarkable and sentimental.

Youth was also served this year in the form of two Futurity championships.

R.L. Chartier took home a John Deere Limited Open title at 24 with one of the most impressive rides of the entire 23-day event, a 223-point show on Hay Maker. Chartier is a third-generation rider who was entered in his first Open Futurity after developing a strong reputation in the NCHA’s youth ranks.

Beau Galyean won the Open championship on Metallic Cat (222) this year at age 28 (his younger brother, Wesley, had already won it in 2004).

A big reason why both of these young riders are doing so well is their family. Galyean’s father won the Open Futurity title in 1986, while Chartier’s father, Randy, won the non-pro championship in 1978. Randy Chartier was 21 when he won that title, so winning young seems to be a Chartier family trait.

Looking back on the 23 days of the Futurity, it was apparent that cutting might be one of the only sports where a 24-year-old champion and a 65-year-old champion can be crowned during the same show.

Stock show coming up

The NCHA Futurity is over, but there is still one big show coming to town this winter.

The Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show will be held at Will Rogers Memorial Center from Jan. 16 to Feb. 8. One of the oldest rodeo traditions in the U.S., the show and rodeo is the place to see where Cowtown got its nickname.