In 2016 Dannica Percevich and her horse Smooth (ImASmoothLittleCat) took home the title of Denver Nationals 50,000 Amateur Champions, fast forward to 2018 and she has her site sights on a world title. Photo Credit: Ted Petit Photography
What is your horses registered name? I am showing 2 horses right now - ImASmoothLittleCat in the $15k Amateur and Wild Haired Lilly in the $35k Non Pro.
How is your horse bred?
Smooth (ImASmoothLittleCat) is sired by Smooth As A Cat and out of Little Lena Merada.
Lilly (Wild Haired Lilly) is sired by Wild Haired Cat and out of Lilly Mate.
Tell me a little bit about their personality?
Smooth prefers her own space and is very much a diva. She is not very personable. I haven’t had Lilly very long, I purchased her from Teresa Courier at the end of April, but she is more personable so far. One quirky thing that both of them do every time you take their bridle off halter off, they both shake their head violently and “mane whip” you.
What is your favourite thing about your ponies? I have a lot of favorite things about my horses! One thing that I love about Smooth is she has so much heart and try every time you get on her. She is so honest and always takes care of me in the show pen. I trust when I throw my hand down that she will do her job. I love that she is a Diva too, it fits her.
Describe their style in the show pen?
Smooth is gritty in the show pen. She has a lot of heart and try. She has more of a cow blocker style to her, but stays correct and more up in a cow. She will try so hard to not let a cow past her, we’ve ran into quite a few cows and turned them away by her blocking them with her shoulder. Lilly has more style and eye appeal, gets low and sweepy. She has a lot of draw and wait. They have completely different styles.
What class(es) do you show in? I typically show in the $15,000 AM and $35k NP. I am hauling in both classes this year.
Do you find one class harder to show in than the other? I find the $35K NP harder for me, first because of the competition. At most shows the $35 NP tends to be before the $15 AM. It seems like I need to walk to the herd a time or two before I am back in the groove at a new show, so the $35 NP seems to give me more grief until I get comfortable in the pen and get my nerves worked out.
Dannica Percevich rides with Todd Adolf of T n K Performance Horses, located in Wickenburg, Arizona. Photo Credit: Ted Petit Photography
Leading up to this year, what was your biggest accomplishment or favourite moment in the cutting pen? Prior to this year, my biggest accomplishment was winning the $50,000 AM at the 2016 Denver Nationals. I entered the $50,000 AM just for more experience and to walk to the herd another time. It was my first time showing in that class. I was thrilled to make the finals and walked into the pen just happy to be there. My friend, Penny Bailey, held the high score for most of the finals. I was the last horse to walk to the herd, I knew I was having a good run because on my last cow I could hear Todd Adolf and Les Bates yelling, "stay tough, stay tough", pretty aggressively at me. When the score was posted I couldn’t believe that it was the new high score! It was pretty special and really boosted my confidence in Smooth and that I could be competitive.
When you started out the year, what were your goals? My goal starting out this year was to make the world finals in both the $15 AM and $35 NP. At first I just wanted to make the finals, the year started off really good and soon my goal shifted to hauling for a shot at a world title.
This will be the first time I am going to the world Finals to compete. I attended the world finals last year to spectate and support my friends, Israel Valles and Hailey Schaffer, who ended up the World Champion in the $15,000 AM and Reserve WC in the $2,000 LR, respectively.
Do you ride with a trainer? I ride with Todd Adolf, he keeps all of my horses in great condition and they are always prepared for me at the shows. He is an exceptional coach and trainer. Kim, Todd’s wife, is so much help and I am so blessed to be a part of the T n K Performance Horse family. This year Todd isn’t able to go to all of the shows on my schedule, I have hauled with Lamont Cross Performance Horses, Mike Wood Performance Horses and Jake Ream when Todd cannot be there. I can not thank everyone enough for the support and help I have received. Everyone takes you in and treats you like family.
What is the best advice your trainer has ever given you? The best advice my trainer has ever given me would have to be to just have fun. That is truly what this is all about. I get nervous prior to showing sometimes it’s hard for me to relax. It’s hard not to think about where you are in the standings and what you need to do to stay where you are, gain ground, or whatever it may be. At the end of the day you can’t let it get to you and you just have to go out in the pen, have fun and do your best every time. Your best changes, but if you leave it all out there in the show pen and have fun, every run is a success.
Oh boy, is there something my trainer tells me a lot. Absolutely. Quit Leaning! Use your Feet! Kick! Push on the horn! Sit Down!!!!
What has been the highlight of your year so far? I have had several highlights of the year! Seems like every show I go to I have an amazing time, I don’t know if I can pick just one! One of my highlights of the year would be making the Scottsdale Rerun Showdown Finals and winning the circuit award there. The showdown was great, I didn’t do well in the finals, but it was so much fun!!!
Have you had a low point?
We hauled to Watrous, NM in May. I could not get my horses shown, I think I potentially lost more cows that weekend than I have since I started cutting. The harder I tried to be better, the worse I got. I showed Smooth in the $15 AM and never ended up in the money, lots of schooling runs. This was also the first show I took Lilly too after purchasing her and I had a hard time figuring her out, so it was a struggle on both horses.
How did you get through it?
I sat down with Kim Adolf and Israel Valles and we just talked about hauling, the ups and downs. We talked about each of their experiences with hauling in the past, their low points and high points, and that you just need to put it behind you and move on. The next day or show will be better.
Do you get nerves/anxiety in the show pen? I do not get nervous when I am showing, after I walk in the pen I am focused on showing my horse. I do get nervous before I walk in to show.
If so, how do you deal with them?
I have a bit of a ritual I go through in my head every time before I show. I pray and then tell myself that it is really simple, just go cut 3 cows. Breath. Have fun. I throw in a few things I am trying to improve on as well.
What was the best advice you received in the show pen, or about cutting, this year? My trainer, Todd Adolf, asked me a question that really stuck with me and I think about it often. The show wasn’t going well and I was making a lot of mistakes. He asked me, if you knew today where you ended up in the world standings, would all the anxiety, nerves and pressure still affect you? The answer was no. I’d just ride and enjoy every moment of it. That is what I’ve been trying to do.
What could you not live without at a cutting? Is it bad if my answer is alcohol?! Haha I could not live without the people at the shows. I love my cutting family! I love meeting new people and certainly love seeing old friends and “family” and enjoying a beverage after the show is completed!
Dannica describes her main mount, ImaLittleSmoothCat as a cow blocker, and a gritty mare. Photo Credit: Jordan Laine Photography
What’s your number one tip for hauling down the road? Make sure when you decide to haul, that you have the support of your family, friends, and co-workers. Your support team has to be involved for you to get through the year! You are going to need it. I have been on the road most of the year, work is difficult, my horses at home are being cared for by friends, family is pitching in with yard work and taking care of the house, it truly takes an incredible support system. Everyone has contributed to my success by helping with the behind the scenes work allowing me to go haul.
Have you had to haul pretty hard this year? I live in South Dakota and my horses are in Wickenburg, AZ with Todd Adolf. Everything is far away from South Dakota! I have been staying at Todd and Kim’s place in between shows when needed so I don’t have to travel quite as much. I can give you some information on the hours I have logged so far. I think the hours and miles I have logged are probably more than most people do while hauling. So far, I have driven 18,546 miles totaling 305 driving hours. I have flown 9537 miles totaling 36 hours at the airport and flying.
What is your favourite show to haul too, and why? Well, I don’t have a favorite show at the moment. My favorite show used to be in Crested Butte, CO. The town was just so unique and beautiful. The Loping pen and practice pen outside just had amazing views everywhere you looked. I guess right now my favorite place to show would be Rancho Murietta if I had to pick one.
If you could show to one song, what would it be? Picking one song is hard, I would say “All I Do is Win” by DJ Khaled. I guess this would more be a song to listen too prior to showing, but it would be fun and make people laugh!
Have you had an embarrassing moment in the show pen this year? Oh I feel like every time I walk into the pen there is the chance for embarrassment! This last weekend in Watsonville, CA I had just finished having a pretty great run on Smooth, marking a 74, tagged off when the buzzer sounded, I reached down to pat her on the neck and I relaxed, Smooth was not done cutting. She jumped forward towards the cow, flinging me back in the saddle and causing me to spur her forward more and drop a rein. We recovered pretty quickly, but it sure gave everyone a laugh!
Looking towards world finals, what are you most excited about? I am excited to continue to haul this year. I enjoy spending time with my cutting family and meeting new friends along the way. I am excited to continue to haul to new places, exploring and seeing the country, traveling, is one of the many great things about hauling.
What do you plan to show in next year?
I do not know what I will show in next year, I recently acquired a 4 YO so maybe I will show in some of the aged event classes next year.
What are your goals for next year?
I do not have any goals for next year at this time as far as cutting goes. I will likely take some time to spend with family and friends and take a vacation! I will still show, but will take some time off. Smooth, my trusty mare, will get a much needed break and enjoy some time off.
As of July, Dannica is currently leading the 15,000 Am with $7,973.07 won and is sitting fourth in the $35,000 NP with $4,238.14. Photo Credit: Ted Petit Photography