"DELTA": NCHA HALL OF FAME"
Another in a prestigious line of firsts has been accorded to the Paint Horse phenomenon, Delta.
She was the first Paint to finish the year in the Top Ten of the National Cutting Horse Association; the first to be named World Champion Cutting Mare; the first Paint to win the exclusive prominence of the NCHA Hall Of Fame.
The National Cutting Horse Association was organized in 1946, and in its 30-year history had recorded only 35 horses in its Hall of Fame. Delta will be number 36, and she joins cutting horse luminaries such as Poco Lena, (dam of Doc O Lena & Dry Doc), Poco Stampede, Marion's Girl, Hoppen, Chickasha Dan, Peppy San and Mr. Holey Sox in this honor based strictly on ability.
intention of being a bloodline registry, NCHA focuses its entire attention on the
ability of a horse to perform well in this disciplined technique of cattle
handling. Cutting originated in the cattle ranches of the western ranges
where it was necessary to separate individual animals from a herd without the
assistance of fences, gates or chutes. Early-day ranchers noted that certain
horses seemed to have an affinity for this kind of work, and could keep a dogie
from returning to the herd even without the guidance of the rider. Horses
with this special "cow sense" were particularly prized, as horsemen are
occasionally disposed to brag, the "my horse is better than your horse"
syndrome resulted in contests between cutting horses.
As the organization grew, its need to honor outstanding individuals resulted in an ascending level of awards based on the cumulative money earned in NCHA open competition. A "Certificate of Ability (COA), is awarded to eligible horses winning $500 in NCHA open competition. (In 2001, an NCHA "COA" requires showing in 11 NCHA classes / win minimum of $1,500).
A "Certificate of Merit" is awarded to the World Champion each year. The Bronze Award is designated for horses which earn of over $10,000 in NCHA Open Cuttings, The Silver Award for earning over $20,000;($30,000 in 2000). The Gold Award and elevation to Hall Of Fame, to horses earning $35,000.
This is the bench mark which Delta surpassed on April 10 when she earned $777.17 at Spring Creek, Nev. Her winnings for 1977 totaled $5,403.61 to that point, which with earnings from previous years put her over the $35,000 mark.
In the saddle for much of her 1977 campaign was Kenny Patterson, Tecumseh, Okla., son of a long-time associate of George Price, Pat Patterson. It was George Price-Pat Patterson combination which resulted in one of the first AQHA Supreme Champions, Goodbye Sam.
Delta began her 1977 push for the Hall of Fame with a contest at Odessa, Texas, January 4-8. From there, she traveled to Maricopa, Ariz., January 20 and back to Maricopa January 23. From there she went to Baton Rouge, La. for competition on January 29. A Texas circuit which saw her in Denton on February 5, in Kingsville, February 17-19, and Pattison on February 23, brought her 1977 earnings above the $2,800 mark. March 5-6 found her in Stillwater, Okla., then a long haul to Tucson, Ariz. for contests on March 17, 18, 19. On April 3 she was back in Stillwater, Okla. for a productive effort, and four days later she was 1400 miles west in Carlin, Nev., where she earned $333.37. The next day, April 8, she earned $519 at Wells, Nev., then on to Spring Creek, Nev. on April 10 for the contest which opened the doors to the Hall of Fame.
George Price owned the good Paint mare since 1972, and had wanted to buy her several years before. A foal of 1963, she was bred by W.S. McKowen of Jackson, La., and was owned for several years by A.L. McMurray, also of Jackson. Her training was started as a three-year-old under the guidance of Punk Tompley. She was first campaigned in 1970, and after ending the year as NCHA High Point Paint Horse, she was purchased by Dr. W. C. Barrow of Baton Rouge, La. Lester Bloomensteil, also of Baton Rouge, bought her from Dr. Barrow, and started her 1971 campaign. In the spring of that year she was repurchased by Dr. Barrow, who owned her through most of the 1972 NCHA cutting season, when she regained the High Point Paint Horse title from Edith's Dolly, the 1971 winner.
After George Price acquired Delta, he immediately arranged for Bobby Brown, Collierville, Tenn. to take over as trainer and rider. Brown recalls that the mare had been accustomed to working in a narrow pen, without turnback riders, and while she did an outstanding job in working a calf straight ahead, she had a little trouble side to side. He solved that by giving the mare a lot of work in open pasture working range cattle, and sharpened her ability to move with them from side to side.
Within a few weeks, Bobby felt that the mare was ready for serious competition, and when she marked a 76 in an open cutting in Memphis, his judgment was vindicated. From then on, hitting the major livestock shows, it was a succession of good performances and top placements. "After we got going so good at the stock shows," said Price, "we decided to try for the Top Ten. Then when Delta came out third in the published standings, we decided to try for World Champion Mare."
Bobby Brown's full time job was managing a cattle operation with a thousand mother cows, so much of the actual hauling from show to show was left to his wife Ann, with Brown flying to the show site to ride the mare, then back home to the cattle. The Browns, including their six-yea-old daughter, Staci, logged approximately 38,000 miles with pickup and horse trailer that year, some trips as far away as Amarillo, Texas and Tucson, Arizona. At the end of the season, they reached a goal never before attained: they had a Paint Horse in the Top Ten of the NCHA, and Delta was named the 1973 World Champion Cutting Mare.
In 1974, the team of Price, Brown, and Delta slowed their pace, attending only 14 of the better shows. The high point of the season in NCHA open cutting is the NCHA World Championship Cutting Horse Finals, which in recent years has been contested at Amarillo, Texas. And it was here, at the October 30 - November 1 summit meeting of the cutting horse toughs, that Delta turned in one of her finest performances.
Eight of the nine living Top Ten Cutting Horses of 1974 worked in the open competition. In the first go-round Delta had a total of 219 1/2 points, and was tied for eighth and ninth place. Coming on strong in the second go-round, the Paint Horse standard bearer racked up the top score of 220 points. Only the top 12 horses from the original 51 starters competed in the final go-round. Delta was only two points behind leader, "Mr. San Peppy", who had a total of 441.
In the final go, Delta performed with the style, quickness and ability that had earned her the World Champion Mare title the year before. It was by far the most outstanding performance of the day and earned her 220 points to win the round and bring her aggregate score to 659 1/2 points and sole ownership of the NCHA OPEN FINALS CHAMPION TROPHY.
Delta and owner George Price have been honored by the NCHA with a trophy which goes to the high-point Paint Horse every year since 1972. She was in competition in only eleven NCHA open cutting contests in 1975, but managed to win over $3,800. With Pat Patterson as her principal rider in 1976, she went to 25 shows, earning $5,212. With the Hall of Fame firmly in sights, the pace quickened in 1977, with the durable mare working in 17 cuttings in the first 4 1/2 months.
Delta's future accomplishments will be centered around her potential as a broodmare. She will be retired from the cutting arena and long trailer trips, and will be the queen of the pastures in George Price's Pear Tree Farms at Kingston Springs, Tenn. She has been mated to AQHA Supreme Champion, Goodbye Sam, a dun stallion by Fairfax Joe and out of Maudie Leo. Goodbye Sam was the first AQHA Supreme Champion to get his required cattle event points in cutting, so if the resulting foal inherits the cutting ability from both parents, the NCHA Hall of Fame may some day include an inductee produced by the 1977 addition, Delta.
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