NEAT LITTLE CAT – IN THE LEAD FOR THE 2009 NCHA OPEN WORLD TITLE
NEAT LITTLE CAT - IN THE LEAD FOR THE 2009 NCHA OPEN WORLD TITLE
By Glory Ann Kurtz
May 6, 2009
Neat Little Cat,owned by Jim and Judy Spaulding, is currently in the lead for the NCHA Open World Championship standings
He’s is the highest-earning son of High Brow Cat with the smallest stud fee and Neat Little Cat is living up to his name. The 2001 stallion sired by High Brow Cat out of Neat Little May by Smart Little Lena , is a “neat” horse to watch in the cutting arena. Even the industry’s leading judges must agree as he is currently in the lead for the NCHA Open World Championship, with Scott McClurg in the saddle. Standing the 2009 breeding season at Alpha Equine Breeding Center in Granbury, Texas, for a $1,500 breeding fee, Neat Little Cat is owned by Jim and Judy Spaulding, Millsap, Texas..
Neat Little Cat competed successfully in limited aged events through 2007, earning over $156,000. Since the beginning of his 7-year-old year, the talented stallion has won enough money to give him lifetime earnings of $225,000 – but the Spauldings were selective where they won that money. Most of their additional money was won at the NCHA Open Finals in 2008 and 2009, where he finished fourth both years. However, to qualify for those finals, Neat Little Cat and his rider Scott McClurg had to go to NCHA weekend shows to qualify for the World Show – but luckily he is in the heart of the cutting horse industry, with a good selection of shows every weekend.
Neat Little Cat, shown being ridden by Scott McClurg. The son of High Brow Cat currently has over $225,000 in lifetime earnings.
Jim Spaulding agrees that it’s a real problem to promote a stallion during the years following the Limited Aged events. “I think the only thing that made people not forget about him was that we went to the Open World Finals and made a good showing,” said Spaulding. “I think they would have darn sure forgotten about him if he wasn’t out there showing.
Unlike most leading stallion owners, the Spauldings are not an independently wealthy couple and have had an exceptional number of doctor and hospital bills over the past few years. Asked if they made up a budget, Jim Spaulding said, “We just kind of decide as we go along, but then we look at it on a yearly basis to see what it costs.”
They use Big Country Communications, an ad agency to make up their brochures and ads. They advertise in the Cutting Horse Chatter and the Quarter Horse News (they didn’t advertise in the Stallion Directory put out by Quarter Horse News, because they felt they did a poor job of communicating the year before when they were not satisfied with their ad) and their web site. They had Neat Little Cat in a stall at Stallion Alley during the NCHA Futurity and sales and passed out some slick, colored brochures, which they also sent to previous customers or customers expressing interest in the stallion.
Even though they don’t have their own web site, they advertise the stallion on www.allaboutcutting.com, which has a full-page ad on Neat Little Cat, as well as a video of him working. They also put an ad on the NCHA web cast site, which has live coverage of the various limited aged events and advertise in the Western Horse Review, a stud book listing all the stallions whose offspring are eligible for the Canadian Supreme. Asked where most of his response came from, Spaulding said, “I think we get more kick from the Quarter Horse News than anything else.”
They also subscribe Neat Little Cat to the incentive programs such as the Breeders Invitational, Augusta Stakes, Abilene Spectacular and the Canadian Supreme. “He’ll also be put in other major incentive programs as his colts become eligible,” said Spaulding.
Asked who most of his customers are – big or small breeders, Spaulding said, “Definitely small breeders. There are a lot of people who want to breed to the big-time horses but we’re not courting those kinds of people. We’ve got him priced where he is attractive to the little person. “He’s the highest-earning son of High Brow Cat, with the cheapest stud fee,” said Spaulding. “We’re trying to hit the little people because I know that there are certain people in this business that only want to breed to the name-brand horses.”
However, the Spauldings did get their share of name-brand mares, including Bob Corn that Dan Hansen rode to his World Champion. They own an NCHA Futurity finalist mare by Smart Little Rondee out of a Dual Pep mare that they purchased from Sandy Bonelli and got two embryos out of her. They also own a CD Olena mare out of Sandra McBride’s good mare Dances With Trouble by Smart And Trouble.
According to Spaulding, his first full crop of colts will be this year for mares he bred in 2008. “We bred 72 mares last year,” said Spaulding; however, the two years before that we only had a couple of foals and one of them died on me.” The Spauldings purchased the stallion as a 4-year-old in 2005 from Robert Parsons, Congerville, Ill. He was bred and raised by Jack and Linda Kenney, Millsap, Texas.
Spaulding says he didn’t advertise Neat Little Cat until 2008 because they had him on the road and didn’t want to make customers mad. “We decided not to breed him those years and just bred a couple of our own mares,” said Spaulding.
Although the Spauldings are proud of their stallion’s aged-event earnings, when asked if they would do it again, Jim said, “No, I don’t think so. It probably cost me twice that to win that amount of money. When you’re paying the trainers, all the vet bills and travel expenses, it’s not a very whipped-cream deal.”
Even though Neat Little Cat is currently leading in the 2009 NCHA Open standings, Spaulding doesn’t know if they will be able to maintain that place since they are also in the middle of breeding season. “When it gets real hot in May and June we’ll probably just have to breed mares,” said Spaulding.
“I’ve had people tell me that they wouldn’t breed to a horse that hasn’t gone up and down the road on the weekends and show under those real bad weekend cattle. In the aged-event shows, you have the best of conditions, the best herd help and supposedly the best cattle – and it isn’t always that way at the weekend shows.
Sean Flynn rode the stallion in the aged events, however, Scott McClurg, who Spaulding has known for 20 years, is hauling him to weekend shows and, according to Spaulding, “He and his wife are such good people and their training charges are very fair. He was originally from California and worked as the head trainer at the Wiens Ranch in Colorado when we lived there. He’s doing a heck of a job for us.”