Athens Review, Athens, Texas

Sports

November 30, 2012

BRETT HOFFMAN: Futurity can bring surprises aplenty

FORT WORTH — The National Cutting Horse World Champ-ionship Futurity is full of big surprises.

That’s because it’s the first time that the horses have been shown after months of training.

There's a familiar saying throughout the opening round of the Futurity: You don't know what's going to happen until you put your hand down.

Translation: Knowing that it's a debuting horse, no one really knows how well it will perform on the sport's biggest stage, under Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum's bright lights. After a rider separates the cow from the herd, he puts his hand down and drops the reins with high hopes the horse will focus intensely and keep the cow from returning to the herd.

The uncertainty of all that once again resonated with Weatherford rider Winston Hansma who has competed in the Futurity over the past quarter century and won the coveted open division title in 1994.

During the 2012 Futurity's opening day performance on Nov. 25, Hansma showed a debuting 3-year-old horse named Playin Fancy Lights. It was the first of two horses he would ride within the eighth bunch and he believed Playin Fancy Lights was the most likely to succeed.

Playin Fancy Lights was the sixth to compete within the eighth bunch of cattle, which accommodated 14 horses. That's considered a great draw because the herd is settled and usually plenty of good cattle are available.

However, the run was a wreck and Playin Fancy Lights received a zero.

But about a half hour later, Hansma competed on Brinking Lights. They were the last duo to compete in the bunch, which often is a disadvantage because the good cattle already have been worked.

However, Brinking Lights stayed in sync with three corporative cows as Hansma dropped the reins and allowed the horse to hold each one. Ironically, the third cow, the least likely, played a big role in helping Brinking Lights earn a respectable score of 216 and advanced to the second round.

“That cow probably raised my score from a 13 to a 16,” Hansma said.

After competing in the first round, Hansma said he was shocked that Brinking Lights fared well and Playin Fancy Lights did not.

“That horse (Playing Fancy Lights) has been great for the past three months,” Hansma said. “When we didn’t do good, you could have knocked me over with a feather.”

The Futurity runs through Dec. 15 and the open division winner will receive $200,000.   

NFR update

When the Dec. 6-15 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo kicks off in Las Vegas, Texas will dominate the number of contestants. According to the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, there will be 38 Texans in the field of 120 (32 percent), and that is more than the next four states (Utah 9, Oklahoma 8, Oregon 7 and Montana 7) combined.

Wyoming still holds the distinction of having the most qualifiers per capita by a sizable margin; their five qualifiers works out to about one for every 114,000 citizens. There are 22 states and one Canadian province represented in the field.

The Canadian is barrel racer Lindsay Sears, a former Texas Tech star who is from Nanton, Alberta, but also has a West Texas home at Ropesville. Bareback rider Wes Stevenson, a native of Kaufman who lives in Lubbock, is among the 38 Texans who are scheduled to compete. Team roper Colby Lovell, a native of Huntsville who lives in Madisonsville, also is on the card.

Briefly

Rodeo tickets are on sale for the Jan. 18-Feb. 9 Fort Worth Stock Show. For information, visit fwssr.com or call (817) 877-2420.

Bob Tallman of Poolville will be among a trio of announcers at the 2012 National Finals. He also is the Fort Worth Stock Show's longtime announcer.

Brett Hoffman, a Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame member, has written a rodeo column for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram during the past 25 years. Email him at brett@myrodeoinsider.com.

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