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Rice, who won the 2003 NCHA Senior Youth Scholarship Cutting on Montanas Musical Sox and was 2005 NCHA Senior Youth reserve champion, has seen his NCHA lifetime earnings jump from $34,500 to more than $200,000 in just two months thanks to MH Willing To Cut. A fourth generation horseman, Rice’s cutting lineage is solid “black type.” His father, Boyd Rice, was 2005 NCHA Open World Champion on Bobs Hickory Rio and is the earner of $1.6 million; his brother Tatum has earned more than $100,000 and his grandfather, Sonny Rice, is a former NCHA Open World Champion. His great-uncle, Ronnie Rice, ranks among NCHA’s Top Ten all-time leading money earners with more than $3.7 million, and his second cousin, Tag Rice, is one of only three riders to have won the NCHA Futurity, Super Stakes and Derby on one horse (Chiquita Pistol 2002-2003) and has earnings of over $2.5 million.
At the moment, MH Willing To Cut is Tarin’s only limited age event horse. But Tarin plans to shop around for an NCHA Futurity mount and has the budget, not to mention the pedigree, to be a threat this December, when the Futurity comes to Fort Worth.
Lenas Star War's trainer Tarin Rice headed into Wednesday's Brazos Bash Derby Open finals just hoping for a solid run and he got it with a 220 that proved solid enough for the horse and his 22-year-old rider to earn $22,000 and their first limited-age Open wins.
Owner Brenda Michael, Amarillo, Texas, sent the smooth moving gelding (Lenas Busy Bee x Lena Leo War Lady x Short Lena) to Rice as a 2-year-old. He's the first horse Rice trained for Michael, but she liked how he handled this one and has sent him several more.
The son of standout cutting and cow horse trainer Boyd Rice and his wife, Halee, has trained horses at his dad's Spearman, Texas, facility. He plans to move near the end of the year. Winning was the last thing on his mind heading into Wednesday's finals.
`It's a big-time surprise,` said Rice, a prior career earner of $327,745 as a cutter. `There were so many good horses and so many good hands`I look up to that it wasn't even a thought. A clean run was all I was thinking about and to get a good check. That worked.`
Boyd Rice led the preliminary Open rounds at the National Reined Cow Horse Association Snaffle Bit Futurity in Reno, Nev., early this week, and his wife's there, too, so Tarin's parents weren't on had to witness his first Open limited-age cutting win. The Rice family didn't leave him home alone, though. His brother, Tatum Rice, and his cousin, Tag Rice, helped in the herd, while accomplished cutters Lloyd Cox and Bubba Matlock turned back for him.
Katie Rice, Tarin's wife nearly three years, helped prepare Lenas Star War for an event he won thanks to a smooth and clean 220 effort from a No. 5 draw in the first of two 12-horse sets. Reserve Champions Reycy Moon and Matt Gaines, Weatherford, Texas, marked a 219 from a No. 5 draw in the second cattle set. Gary and Shannon Barker, Madill, Okla., who both compete as Non-Pro cutting horse riders, own the 2007 mare (Cats Moonshine x Twice As Reycy x Dual Rey). Reycy Moon and Gaines won a Derby Open title at the Graham, Texas, Cattlemen's Derby back in March.
Lenas Star War and Rice won a Gelding Open title with a 223.5 finish at July's National Cutting Horse Association Summer Spectacular in Fort Worth, but the horse's total earnings before the Brazos Bash Derby Open finals, $23,816, lagged far behind many of the finalists.
`He's got a lot of good qualities,` Rice said. `He's a pretty mover and that's probably his best attribute.`
The young rider also said he and the horse simply benefited from a little good fortune.
`We had good luck,` Rice said. `I think we cut the only three decent cows in the whole cutting tonight. We had some cows we liked the whole time. We wrote down just enough to have three fresh ones we liked. They came to the top and we got them cut clean.`
Lenas Star War probably won't compete again until early 2012, Rice said, adding he's likely to bring him back again at January's Abilene Spectacular limited-age cutting.
`We did alright. I think he won just under $50,000 [during the horse's 4-year-old season],` Rice said. `That's not too bad.`