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Cutting horse veteran Clint Allen advances two to Futurity semifinals

Clint Allen on Wood I Never during the Cutting Horse Summer Spectacular Open Finals in 2007.
Clint Allen on Wood I Never during the Cutting Horse Summer Spectacular Open Finals in 2007. File photo

When Clint Allen saddles up to compete in a cutting horse show, he mentally pictures himself snaring the trophy saddle.

“Every show I go to, I go in thinking I can win it,” Allen said. “Whether I can or not, or whether I do it or not, I still go in thinking I can win every cutting I go to. If you doubt yourself, there’s no point in going. You have to be positive.”

That way of looking at it has worked well for the Weatherford cowboy who has won some of the National Cutting Horse Association’s most prestigious aged event shows including the NCHA Super Stakes and the NCHA Derby (on a horse named Wood I Never). The Super Stakes and the Derby are the second and third jewels of the sport’s Triple Crown Series.

Allen also finished as the reserve champion rider at the 2006 NCHA World Championship Futurity (aboard Hydrive Cat). The NCHA Futurity traditionally is the sport’s premier show and is the first jewel of the sport’s Triple Crown Series.

Allen has advanced two horses to the open division semifinal round at the 2018 Futurity, which began Nov. 15 and runs through Dec. 9 at Fort Worth’s Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum.

Allen moved onto the Dec. 8 semifinal aboard a horse named DMAC Doggfather after turning in a two-ride score of 434.5. He also made the cut on DMAC Kodiak with a 433.5. Both horses are owned by David and Stacie McDavid of Fort Worth who made a fortune in the automobile business and are former co-owners of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks.

One big reason Allen consistently trains successful cutting horses is because he pays attention to detail. Allen said that discipline was instilled in him early on in his equine management career.

“I worked for a guy a long time ago at a thoroughbred farm — if we walked through the barn, we had to look at every horse,” Allen said. “It was drilled in and instilled in me. When I walk through the barn now, I look at every horse on both isles. I don’t just look at them, I look at their condition. It’s a 24-hour, 7-day a week job.”

David McDavid said his family’s cutting horses are more physically sound under Allen’s supervision.

“Clint is phenomenal,” McDavid said. “It took Clint awhile to get our horses all tuned up. We have less injuries on the horses. Personally, he doesn’t work a horse that long. He’ll work a horse for a short while and then he’s done with it. Granted, he might come back and work it again that day. But I’ve seen some trainers who will work them to until they are about to drop.”

Allen is a star competitor on the NCHA’s aged event circuit, which features horses ages three through six. The Futurity features the sport’s most promising debuting 3-year-old horses. With that in mind, any successful trainer realizes it’s imperative to handle a younger horse carefully in order to keep it physically and mentally sound and gaining confidence.

“It’s just management and being aware of the horse, being aware of how much you’ve worked it and the horse’s ability,” Allen said. “Some horses you can work more than others. It’s spending time with those horses and getting to know them.”

Allen, 44, a New Zealand native, also said a great work ethic is a must. Asked what would be his advice for a young cutting horse trainer, he said: “Work hard. Keep your mouth shut. There’s no other way to be successful in this business than work hard. That’s true of any equine industry or any sport.”

Allen’s hard work has paid off. He was inducted into the NCHA Open Division Hall of Fame in 2007. According to nchacutting.com, Allen’s career earnings at NCHA shows is $4,745,701.

Stacie McDavid said one big reason Allen is successful is because he can detect a horse’s style of working a cow and bring out the best in the horse. She said her family’s two horses that Allen is riding at the Futurity are prime examples of two horses that have different styles of successfully holding a cow at bay during a run.

“What I love about Clint is he not only recognizes talent, but he doesn’t do a cookie cutter kind of training with his horses,” she said. “He allows them to be their own athletic individual. Our horses have different working styles and I think that’s the mark of a really seasoned trainer. As long as they run and go over there and stop and mirror image that cow, and think on their own, he allows them to think on their own.”

The 2018 NCHA Futurity second round of the open division, which primarily consists of pro riders, concluded Thursday. A field of 65 horses with two-ride scores of at least 432.5 advanced to the Dec. 8 semifinal.

A stallion named Franker Brown, which was ridden by Christian Johnsrud, advanced to the semifinal with a two-ride score of 440, which was the highest aggregate score of all semifinalists.

Johnsrud and Fracker Brown won the first round with a 223, which is the highest score thus far at the NCHA Futurity. The duo posted a 217 during the second round to secure the semifinal berth.

Tatum Rice of Weatherford and a filly named Crey Zee advanced to the semifinal with a 439.0, the second highest aggregate score during the first two rounds. Lloyd Cox and Ms Baby Cakes advanced to the semis with a 437.5, the third highest aggregate score on two runs.

During the both the Dec. 8 semifinal and the Dec. 9 final, no previous scores will count.