Rice family earns split of NCHA Futurity's open title

The National Cutting Horse Association World Championship Futurity ended in a family feud.

When the open division title was at stake Saturday night at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum, Tarin Rice took an early lead, turning in a score of 222.5 aboard a stallion named He Bea Cat. But late in the show, his uncle, Ronnie Rice, countered with a 222.5 on CR Tuff Hearted Cat.

The two men ended up as co-champions and the owners of the horses each received $201,971. Jim Crawford of Lexington, Neb., is the owner of He Bea Cat. The Center Ranch of Centerville owns CR Tuff Hearted Cat.

Ronnie Rice also won the Futurity in 2001 on San Tule Freckles and in 1998 aboard Dainty Playgirl. It was Tarin Rice's first time to win the sport's most prestigious show.

Tarin Rice, who lives in Jacksboro, and He Bea Cat worked three cows during the 2 1/2-minute run. But they impressed the judges when they fended off their third cow, which was very trying.

"This horse was unbelievable on that cow," Tarin Rice said. "At the end of that run, it was like I wasn't even riding him. He was just doing it."

Tarin Rice said He Bea Cat has a reputation of putting out lots of effort on a difficult cow.

"When a cow tries him, he tries harder," Tarin Rice said. "He gets bored when he's working a slower cow. But when a cow tries him, he gives it all that he has."

Tarin Rice was the 12th of 15 riders who competed in the first bunch of cattle, and his 222.5 held up almost until the end of the performance. But Ronnie Rice and CR Tuff Hearted Cat, who were the next-to-last duo to work in the second bunch of cattle, also turned in a 222.5.

Ronnie Rice praised CR Tuff Hearted Cat for an outstanding effort.

"She's just an outstanding young horse with all of the heart in the world," he said.

The Futurity is the sport's most promising, debuting, 3-year-old horses. The open division is the first jewel of the sport's Triple Crown Series for the 2012-13 season. The other two jewels are the April Super Stakes and the July Summer Spectacular. All three jewels are in Fort Worth.