The 24-year-old held his own in a big way Wednesday in the Mercuria NCHA World Series of Cutting Open go-round. Banuelos and Lizzys Gotta Babe marked the round’s top score with 222 before later posting 217 aboard WhiskeyNADirtyGlass.
The top 12 horses with scores of 217 or better advanced to today finals, which start about 8 p.m. after two amateur finals.
“It’s humbling,” Banuelos said. “It’s a lot of work, but I’m the happiest kid to be able to do what I do. It’s a blessing.”
The 24-year-old Banuelos lives in Jacksboro, Texas, working on the family farm. He trains 27 horses.
Banuelos came only for the Mercuria World Series Open with his 7-year-old horses, WhiskeyNADirtyGlass and Lizzys Gotta Babe. WhiskeyNADirtyGlass is a stallion by High Brow Cat out of Jitters Brown owned by Vincenzo Vario. Lizzys Gotta Babe is a mare by Lizzys Gotta Player out of Moms Stylish Babe owned by Tim and Melissa Drummond.
“They’re too good of horses to leave home,” he said. “I wanted to start the year out in the Mercuria and see if I could do all right and maybe try and make the top 15 at the end of the year.”
Like Banuelos, famed equine behavior expert Pat Parelli came to Augusta solely for the Mercuria event. In 1982, he developed his popular Parelli Method of Natural Horsemanship Education, which utilizes psychology to help people relate to horses. He’s held his presentation for more than two million people the past three decades.
“I only started out to help people and to help horses,” he said. “I found a niche.”
Parelli is currently talking with reknown dog whisperer Cesar Millan about holding a series of seminars. Parelli also has a busy training schedule which includes trips to Australia, England and Germany over the next four months.
“We’re like the Cesar Millan of the horse business,” Parelli said.
He said he came to Augusta because of his 30-year-old son, Caton, who was born with hydrocephalus (water on the brain). Caton suffered a stroke when he was 12 and lost all his feeling on his right side. Still, he competed in the Mercuria Non-Pro later in the day.
“He’s been winning against able-bodied people over the past year,” the elder Parelli said. “He’s the real reason I came.”