After all the handshakes and hugs, a teary-eyed Kathy Boone still couldn’t believe what transpired Thursday.
Aboard Playin Witha Cat, Boone posted 226 to claim the Mercuria NCHA World Series of Cutting Non-Pro finals.
Boone, of West Columbia, Texas, took home the first-place check for $11,461. Elizabeth Quirk and Starstruck Ichi marked 221 for second place ($9,131), while Dan Hansen and Woody Be Lucky finished third (219.5, $6,621).
“I’m excited,” said Boone, a hall of fame Non-Pro rider. “I feel wonderful. I never thought I’d be able to ride again.”
She almost didn’t ride again. In August 2011, Boone developed a staph infection in her arm. The infection spread to her heart, kidneys, everywhere. She suffered a major heart attack and a stroke – she still hasn’t fully recovered from the stroke, saying, “Sometimes I walk like I’ve had too much drink, but I haven’t.”
“Everything kind of went wrong,” she said. “They thought I’d never leave the hospital.”
But she did leave the hospital. After 31 days of treatment combined with her own strong will, she went home.
“I guess I’m just hard-headed,” she said. “I just wasn’t going to give up.”
Boone, 61, and her husband, Don, bought Playin Witha Cat, an 8-year-old gelding by High Brow Cat out of Plagiarism, last summer. She didn’t have high expectations for the horse at first.
“When we bought him, I thought we’d just have him for practice cuttings at home,” she said. “And me and Don could compete against each other, and I’d get to win.”
But as she continued to work back into cutting, she found something more than a horse. She found a friend.
“Playin Witha Cat is good therapy for me,” she said. “He’s real smooth. He pretty much takes care of me.”