Skip to main content

NCHA 2023 Open Horse of the Year Kittennish and EquiStat Elite $10 Million rider Austin Shepard showed up again at the Arbuckle Mountain Futurity in Ardmore, Oklahoma. They drew last in the first round and Shepard had to be more strategic than usual in picking cattle to show the mare, but Kittennish’s athletic ability allowed her to show off in spite of challenging cattle.

The dynamic duo scored a 222 for the first round of the Open 5/6 year-old class inside the Hardy Murphy Coliseum to tie for first in the prelims and qualify for the finals. The top 26 riders and horses came back to the finals, and Shepard prepared Kittennish (Hottish x Show Biz Kitty x High Brow Cat) as usual. But Kittennish’s “usual” is not like other horses.

“When she has that big of a motor, you really don’t need to encourage her too much,” Shepard said. “Most horses, you need to make sure they’re real serious. You don’t need to get her too serious because she takes it all to heart.”

The pair won the finals with a score of 226.5 — two points more than anyone else in the round. They were closer to the end of the round again, and had the opportunity to watch the cattle. Shepard and his herd help were pleased with the cattle they picked, and Shepard knew he could rely on Kittennish to be as consistent and as impressive as always.

“She can do a lot of things that a lot of horses can’t,” Shepard said. “There were some times she stopped in there and covered a cow when she just really should not have been able to, and she did it easy. Every time when a cow would get her in a bind — it’s not a very big arena — and she would get across and it felt like she would just jump from one side to the other.”

Shepard continued to be in awe of the mare’s raw athletic ability and talent for her larger size.

“It’s pretty incredible. You would think maybe she’s a little late to get somewhere and then she just covers a cow and just leaps over there and stops so hard and so low for a big horse. I haven’t ever had a horse that could do what she could do physically for her size. It amazes me every time she does it.”

Quarter Horse News
by Josie Fladager
View article on QHN