Long-time NCHA member and successful limited age event contestant Monte Strusiner of Northbrook, Ill., died unexpectedly April 2 while he was in Fort Worth preparing to show his horses in the NCHA Super Stakes.
Strusiner, a real estate developer from the suburbs of Chicago, joined NCHA in 1987 and qualified for the Non-Pro semi-finals of the NCHA Futurity that year, riding the Doc’s Oak mare Oaketta. The following summer, he landed in his first major event finals, placing seventh with Sugs Sue, by Doc’s Sug, in the NCHA Challenge.
He got his first win in Will Rogers Coliseum in 2006 when he rode EBR Lion Heart, by High Brow Cat, to the Limited Non-Pro championship at the NCHA Futurity.
“I love what I call the ‘dance’ of cutting,” he said. “Your horse is your partner, but so is the cow, and you try to orchestrate a run.”
While Strusiner enjoyed the big events, he also appreciated the steps along the way. His MCS Ranch in Grandview gave him a base of operations in Texas.
“It’s the process that’s exciting,” he said. “Just watching these young horses come on an do their various activities. To find these athletes that everyone is looking for – it’s exciting when you finally have one that you can just trust to do the job.
“Then there’s the adrenaline of participation. I love to go through the gate. There’s a nervousness that comes from doing that part, but that’s why we do it. It’s not a fear, but just the excitement of knowing the conditions that are out there; the cows, the horse, the whole circumstance.”
Over the years, Strusiner rode in the finals of 48 NCHA Triple Crown events. His mare, Cattahoochie Sue was reserve champion of the 2021 Kit Kat Sugar NCHA Super Stakes Intermediate Open, with Terry Clifford on board.
Private services are scheduled for April 7 in Buffalo Grove, Ill.
To read more from Sally Harrison, visit her blog at sallyharrison.com.