Cade McCutcheon, 12, has returned to Aubrey, Texas, $41,000 richer than when he arrived in Oklahoma City for the National Reining Horse Association Futurity on Thanksgiving Day.
In reining — a judged sport that evolved from the moves of the American cow horse — there are many divisions for riders of various ages and skills. Men, women and children compete head to head.
Pedigree makes a difference in the horses and in the riders, too.
Cade is the son of NRHA Million Dollar Rider Tom McCutcheon and the NRHA's only female Million Dollar Rider, Mandy McCutcheon, inducted last year into the NRHA Hall of Fame. She is the daughter of NRHA pioneer, Hall of Fame Member, and Three Million Dollar Rider Tim McQuay of Tioga, Texas.
Along with football and basketball, riding has been part of Cade's life since before he could walk. He's been competing in reining since he was 7. But this week, he put himself and a little red horse with a bold white blaze — named Dually With A Star — into the record books by qualifying for the championship final in the top nonprofessional division of the Futurity.
“He's just my size,” Cade said of the horse. “He's really small and he's fun to turn around. I like him.”
Cade's grandmother, Colleen McQuay — an accomplished hunter/jumper and wife of Hall of Famer Tim McQuay and mother of Mandy McCutcheon — said Cade probably ran the pattern required for the competition “on his stick horses a hundred times.”
All of the horses competing in the futurity are 3 years old, still considered colts and fillies. So it is an exceptional horse that — with only a year in training — can be trusted at a full gallop to a 25-foot sliding stop, and in a 360-degree spin with a child on board.
Cade said all the million dollar riders who helped him get ready — including his mom, who was showing the maximum three horses of her own in the final — had encouraged him to take it slowly in the final, focus on his required maneuvers and do it just the way he had done it in the preliminary round.
“They were all saying, ‘Focus and do it like the go-round,' but I was thinking, ‘Go Fast!'”
In the end he did both, thrilling his family and the crowd, placing 12th in the top division and 1st in the youth. His various placings in the other divisions garnered Cade checks totaling more than forty grand.
What will he do with all that cash?
“I doubt I'll ever see it,” Cade said. His mother laughed and said, “It'll pay for his horses!”
When the Non Pro final was over, Mandy McCutcheon ended up in a tie for first with Jesse Asmussen of Andrew, Iowa. Tom McCutcheon qualified for the Open Final for professional riders along with Cade's grandpa Tim McQuay, who ended up reserve champion.
One last note about the record Cade broke. It was set back in 1989, when a little girl from Tioga, Texas, became the youngest rider ever to qualify for the Non Pro Futurity. She was 13 and her name was Mandy McCutcheon.