The Next Contestant

After four events, Matt Budge wins the World’s Greatest Horseman Shootout at the 2011 Battle in the Saddle.

After four events, Matt Budge wins the World’s Greatest Horseman Shootout at the 2011 Battle in the Saddle.


Matt Budge and Mr Playinstylish. (Tara Christiansen photo). For more photos from the World's Greatest Horseman Shootout, scroll to the slide show below.

By Larri Jo Starkey

Matt Budge came back for a second helping.

At the inaugural Battle in the Saddle, Matt competed in the World’s Greatest Horseman Shootout but didn’t win. That just made the fierce competitor buckle down.

“My job is winning, so I want to win in everything I do – a footrace, anything,” Matt said. “That’s just how I am.”

This year, at the 2011 Battle in the Saddle, presented by RFD-TV, Matt conquered four events to come out on top in the shootout while riding Mr Playinstylish, a 2005 sorrel stallion owned by Kit and Charlie Moncrief of Fort Worth, Texas.

World’s Greatest contestants compete in four events: herd work, similar to cutting; steer stopping, similar to heading in team roping; reined work, similar to reining; and cow work, similar to working cow horse.

Matt is a professional cutter, who represented the National Cutting Horse Association in the Shootout. He was thrilled to ride Mr Playinstylish, by Playinstylish and out of Tari Chick Gay by Doc Tari. The horse was bred by R.E. Merritt of Dime Box, Texas.

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“The horse is better than I am,” Matt joked before the competition began. “The Moncriefs own him, and I just feel real fortunate that they let me ride him. Boyd Rice, a good friend of mine, trains the horse, and he got him for me to ride. I rode him here last year, and he was excellent. He feels just as good or better this year.”

Matt practiced roping all year, in part to prepare for the contest. He felt confident enough in his skills to compete in the roping events at Battle in the Saddle in Oklahoma City.

“We built an arena at the house, and I’ve been roping almost every day,” he said. “Clay Logan had a horse in training for me and I showed him here and then I showed some others here just – I used to show rope horses a long time ago, but it’s been 14 or 15 years since I showed one, and we had a blast. We didn’t do as good as we wanted to, but I guess it would be like those ropers coming to the (NCHA) Futurity – it would be a little different.”

Matt hasn’t had time to make a plan for his winnings — a paid entry to the National Reined Horse Association’s World’s Greatest Horseman competition in February 2012 in San Angelo, Texas. He was clutching his other prize, a voucher for a hat from Shorty’s Caboy Hatter, closely, though.

“I wanted to win this thing so bad, but no, I haven’t had time to make a plan,” he said. “I had so much help. Clay Logan, J.D. Yates, and Jay Wadhams got me roping like I needed to. And everybody here has really helped me. It’s a great bunch of people. It’s just been really fun.”

The other competitors in the Shootout were:

Clay Logan
: American Rope Horse Futurity Association
: Peptos Pepperernie
2005 bay roan stallion by Peptos Holy Ghost-Cassidy O Lena by Freckles Meterman
Janet Boyce, Winthrop, Washington

Gary Wells
: American Rope Horse Futurity Association
: Just A Sparknshine
2003 palomino mare by Shining Spark-Just Kitty by Lil Wildcat
Owner/breeder: Don Murphy, Burneyville, Oklahoma

Chris Benedict
: National Cutting Horse Association
: Nemollena
2004 bay roan stallion by Peptoboonsmal-Marcellena by Doc O’Lena
: Chris and Vickie Benedict, Weatherford, Texas

Morgan Cromer
: National Reined Cow Horse Association
: Talkin Prize
2004 bay gelding by Smokums Prize-Talkin Peppy Merada by Meradas Money Talks
: Walter and Sharon Wright of San Juan Bautista, California
: by Stephen Silva of Atascadero, California

Dustin Rogers
Representing: National Reined Cow Horse Association
: Cookin Merada
2004 sorrel stallion by Meradas Money Talks-Cookies Cookin by Doc’s Hickory
: Gary and Kathy Belton, Benton, Kansas
: Matacorp Ltd., Midland, Texas

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Tripp Townsend
: Hoorey
2006 sorrel stallion by Dual Rey-Hickorys Tornado Rio by Doc’s Hickory
: Dan Churchill, Moline, Illinois
: Tripp Townsend, Earth, Texas

Ben Baldus
: Doc O Boots
1996 sorrel stallion by Grays Starlight-Doc’O Lenita by Doc O’Lena
: Tejon Ranch Co., Lebec, California
: W.T. Waggoner Estate, Vernon, Texas

For more photos from the World’s Greatest Horseman Shootout contest at Battle in the Saddle, watch the Journal slide show below. To view the captions, click on the photos.

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