Before becoming a top craftsman of stirrups, Ronnie Nettles clinched the NCHA Futurity on Doc Per 30 years ago.

by Susan Morrison

NettlesRonnie Nettles and Doc Per won the 1984 NCHA Futurity. Photo by Danny Huey.

It’s almost December, and there are a few things I know for sure. The National Cutting Horse Association Futurity has started in Fort Worth, Texas, where our office is based; there will be some great young horses making their show debut; some of the best may not make it past the first go-round; and many of the saddles used will be outfitted with Nettles Stirrups.

The name “Nettles” is famous in the cutting horse world. Ronnie Nettles won the NCHA Futurity and his wife, Gala, has written numerous books about the industry and its players (both human and equine), and writes a column for Western Horseman’s sister publication, Quarter Horse News.

In late August, photographer Darrell Dodds and I drove to Madisonville, Texas, to work on a story about Nettles Stirrups. If you ever get a chance to visit with Ronnie and Gala, do it. They have been part of the horse industry for decades and share stories that will make you laugh and cry. They can often be found manning the Nettles Stirrups booth at the Futurity, especially during the last week of the event (which runs through December 13), and this year they will also have a booth at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

The story behind the stirrups can be found in the December 2014 issue of Western Horseman. But Ronnie’s other claim to fame—that NCHA Futurity win—was only a mention in that article. In 1984, he rode Doc Per to the open championship. In 1985, he and the stallion tied for the NCHA Super Stakes win. Doc Per won more than $427,000 in his career, most of it with Ronnie in the saddle.

If you want a glimpse at a true cutting horse and a phenomenal athlete, check out the video below of Doc Per and Ronnie from that winning ride. While cutting styles have changed and cattle have become tougher, this horse’s incredible athleticism and cow sense, and the sought-after ability to draw a cow to him, are timeless. The special ones have that kind of staying power. And as you’ll see, Doc Per was special.

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