- Created on Friday, 25 May 2012
- Written by Mark Thompson
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“It was Jon’s first ever aged-even win,” Traci Burgess said. “He’s competed on weekends [at smaller limited and any-age cuttings] and done very well there, but he’s always been half a point out of making the finals [at bigger shows]. It’s really nice. It’s a blessing.”
Tassajara Magic (Starlights Gypsy x Mia Uno Tassa x Smart Little Uno) headed to Tulsa, Okla., with a little less than $5,000 in prior career cutting earnings. In addition to the check she just earned for breeder and owner, Parker, Weatherford, Texas, she’ll compete with Burgess this Saturday for a Derby Open top prize exceeding $70,000.
Jon’s wife Traci watched her husband compete along with their teen-aged son, Justin, their daughter, Tasha, and Tasha’s seven-month-old daughter, Sage. The whole family nearly cried when a 223 flashed on the scoreboard after the horse and her husband’s run. The trainer, 45, has competed on talented horses during his cutting career, but until now, he had never quite broken into the winner’s circle at a show of this magnitude. The career earner of just under $400,000 before the BI has earned bigger checks, including one topping $70,000 as he guided stallion Chula Dual to a spot near the top of an NCHA Futurity Open finals in the late 1990s. This is still the first time he has finished first on such a big stage.
Burgess attributes the breakthrough victory to an outstanding horse, and a great horse owner. Prominent breeder and cutting owner Joann Parker hired him, and moved his family to her training base in Millsap, Texas, near Fort Worth, about 1 ½ years ago.
“I’ve known Joann for a long time. She’s had horses with multiple trainers, and she’s had resident trainers work for her,” Burgess said, adding the two ran into each other shortly after her last resident trainer left to take another job. “She saw me at a pre-work [for the 2010 NCHA Futurity] not long after he moved. I had a nice little mare. I never won very much on her, but she was cute to watch. She saw us ride and called me a couple of days after the pre-work. She said, ‘What would it take to get you to come work for me?’ She popped off a number and I took it. I was just about starving to death at the time.”
At his point, the move appears to be working well for both parties. Burgess and his son-in-law, his daughter Tasha’s husband, Chris Hanson, work together training a string that includes more than 30 cutting horses. Hanson and a horse he and Tasha bought from Parker won a Classic/Challenge Limited Open title at the BI last week.
“She’s been patient and been loyal,” Burgess said. “That’s what you need. You need somebody behind you that believes in you. I had that once before, and I lost it. I learned from that, and I enjoy this.”
After winning the $10,000 Limited Open, Burgess likes the horse’s chances of finishing near the top Saturday with more money on the line. “We’ve got some momentum,” he said. “I also found out you don’t have to run all over the pen. You can lay down there in the middle, have some style and win one of these. I’m just thankful.”
James Boond and Glynn Whitman, 44, who were also seeking their first major limited-age titles Thursday, finished as Reserve Champions with a 218 to earn $14,906. That’s the most money Whitman’s ever won with a single run on a cutting horse’s back.
Like Burgess, Whitman credits enhanced recent success to getting a better job and a better boss five years ago. His boss since then has been retired professional bullrider Spanky Browne. Whitman works form Browne’s base in Wilburton, Okla.
“It’s been awesome. I was about ready to quit when he hired me,” Whitman said. “He’s been great not just as my boss, but as my friend. He wants me to do well.”