SWEPT: Belle Fourche’s Dannica Percevich wins $15,000 Amateur at cutting World Finals

Dannica Percevich and Wild Haired Lilly swept the $15,000 Amateur class at the World Finals. Photo by Scootemnshootem

One Belle Fourche woman had an outstanding end to her National Cutting Horse Association season at the World Finals in Fort Worth, Texas. Dannica Percevich swept the $15,000 Amateur class by winning both rounds and the year-end. She also showed well enough to be the reserve champion in the $35,000 Non-Pro division. She did it all on her nine year-old mare, Wild Haired Lilly.

Percevich says, “Going into the World Finals, I knew I had the $15,000 kind of wrapped up. I was a couple thousand ahead. I was uncatchable going in there so there was no pressure, really. I just needed to go in and have fun.” She and “Lilly” scored 225 in the first round and 222 in the second, winning both rounds and securing her year-end title.

In the $35,000 Non-Pro class, Percevich needed to win to catch the first place cow cutter. She says, “There was a little pressure in the $35,000.” The World Show rookie had first-time jitters. Percevich says, “I didn’t do very good because I’d never shown there. I got a 208. Going into that round, I could’ve caught first place if I had done well.” Fortunately, her luck turned around. She says, “In the second round, there wasn’t any pressure. I marked 225. My horse worked really good and I picked good cows and it was the high score of the day. It moved me into third for the show average for that class.” It would also secure her reserve championship status for the division.

Percevich has always known horses, but cutting came later. “I’ve had horses pretty much all my life. Growing up in Belle Fourche, I was involved in 4-H. Then, I got interested in the Quarter Horse world, showing western pleasure, English, and reining,” she says. Percevich stumbled into the discipline of cattle cutting by chance. “I randomly bought two older cutting horses that I thought I could turn around and make money on. When I got them home, they were not broke like anything I had before and that it wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought.” This piqued her interest in cutting. “I decided if I was going to try cutting, I might as well do it on these horses,” she says.

“Going into the World Finals, I knew I had the $15,000 kind of wrapped up. I was a couple thousand ahead. I was uncatchable going in there so there was no pressure, really. I just needed to go in and have fun.” Dannica Percevich

In 2012, Percevich sought instruction from Clark O’Donnell,, who was training cow horses in Alzada, Montana at the time. She then met Todd Adolf of T & K Performance Horses from Arizona, and has been training under him ever since. She sold her two original horses and bought more advanced horses to step up her showing.

The 2018 season did not come without struggles for Percevich. “There were some low streaks where I went to a couple shows without winning anything, where I was showing bad and picking bad cows. Even though it happens to everyone, I was still frustrated. I sat down with a couple people that have shown a lot. They said, ‘You have to keep going.’”

The stress from travel is another obstacle for Percevich. “We definitely get tired of hauling. I’ve been home maybe 45 days this year.” She also works full time, managing her own bookkeeping and accounting business while on the road.

All in all, her season went very well from the start. “When the first standings came out, I was sitting first in both classes. At that point, I decided we should try to haul more. At first, I just wanted to make top 15. As the year went on and I was doing well, my goals changed to be in the top five, and then I wanted to win or be up there in both of them.”

Though Lilly was an integral part of Percevich’s success, she also gives credit to her other mare, Imasmoothlittlecat for also helping her to win throughout the regular season. Her decision to bring only Lilly to Fort Worth was based on her skill, as well as to keep costs low. Lilly was only shown once a day, as the show was a week long event. “She’s really stylish, gets really low on a cow. We get along really good and there was never an adjustment period for us,” she says. Lilly was purchased earlier this year, per the recommendation of Adolf. “I knew I was going to need two horses to finish the season in two classes,” says Percevich.

The biggest thing Percevich has learned from Adolf is how to show to her full potential through relaxation and focus. Adolf tells her, “‘Go out there and have fun.’ It seems like the more pressure I put on myself and my horses and the harder I try, the worse I show. If I have the mentality, ‘It is what it is,’ we seem to do a lot better.”

Percevich is eager to continue showing in the next year, but she plans to, “Take it a little bit easier than last year.” She plans to move up to the $50,000 Amateur division with a new horse purchased at the Finals, Metallics Star.