Leader photo/ALY GIBSON Dave McCartney and his wife, Brenda, display their ribbons and Dave’s American Ranch Horse Association World Champion belt buckle with Dave’s horse, Bond. The McCartney’s traveled to Wilmington, Ohio, July 16 for a week-long horse show, where Dave was named the world champion in ranch cutting.

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Dowagiac rancher named world champ

Published 6:37pm Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Dowagiac native Dave McCartney received top honors recently when he was named the world champion of ranch cutting at the American Ranch Horse Association’s World Championship show in Wilmington, Ohio.

While McCartney, and his wife, Brenda, didn’t grow up with horses, they’ve owned and operated their 60-acre ranch for the past 18 years. McCartney and Brenda began training local horse riders part-time nearly 20 years ago, deciding to make it a full-time effort 12 years ago. They serve as charter members with the Ranch Horse Association of Michigan, competing in local shows in the region. The world championship show was a first.

“I would say it was a little intimidating at the beginning,” McCartney said Tuesday. “But I think we were very lucky; working with cattle, a lot of it is luck.”

For the week of  July 16-21, the McCartney’s and four riders competed in the world championship show, bagging several ribbons and accolades in their respective classes. They were accompanied by Nattalee Smith, of Dowagiac, Liz Barrett, of Vicksburg, Sam Holwerda and Joy Bond, of Chicago.

“They all did very well, too,” McCartney said, admitting he was more excited for them to succeed than winning his own title.

Smith took home the title of reserve youth world champion in working ranch horse. Barrett snagged first runner-up as the Ranch Horse Charter Queen. Holwerda was named the reserve world champion of open confirmation gelding, and Bond walked away with several placing ribbons.

“We were well-represented for Michigan,” McCartney said. “None of us had ever been before, and they all worked really hard to achieve those titles.”

Among the recognition of being world champion, McCartney received a signature belt buckle. He said going into the show, he just wanted to be competitive and was extremely surprised by his win.

“I learned, from attending the show, how to get better at my craft,” McCartney said. “You know going in that you can compete, but you also see where you can make improvements.”

The championship show, McCartney said, wasn’t as stuffy as it would sound to an outsider.

“It’s so laid back and fun,” Brenda said. “Family is a big deal when you go.”

McCartney said that, when he was growing up, he would watch Westerns with his father, attributing that exposure to his interest and love for what he does.

“We really enjoy it,” he said. “In Michigan, it’s about the closest to being a cowboy you can get.”

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