Cutting Horses

by | Aug 11, 2022 | Working Cow Horse/Cutting

Jim Neshem aboard Smart Sugar Britches aka Dakota

I grew up with horses and working cattle horseback. I admired the horse’s ability to control a cow. How the horse seemed to be able to know what a cow’s next move was really intrigued me.

I started going to different places where cutting was being held to observe. Learning the rules, watching how to go about showing a cutting horse, I ended up meeting some people that let me ride a trained cutting horse.

Later, I was shoeing horses at a cutting facility, a trainer there put me on a horse when I could come. About this time, my kids were in high school rodeo, we purchased a horse for them to show on. After high school was over, I had a cutting horse that I attempted to show with the help of a couple trainers in the state. I had some success, which in turn, gave the incentive to want a better horse, which now I think I’m on my fourth horse!

In cutting there are several different classes based on the ability of the person, starting out on up to experienced. Also, classes based on the young horse (four-years-old), on up to how much money they have won in their lifetime. As a person advances, the classes that he/she can ride are also determined by how much money they have won.

Getting help from different trainers has been extremely helpful in learning how to best show your horse. Practice on how to pick cattle, sorting to make a cut, and getting your horse set up correctly. It can be very frustrating, but when it all comes together, it’s an awesome rush! The power and agility of your horse, working a cow basically all on his own will is extremely exhilarating.

The concept of cutting is two and a half minutes. You are scored from 60-80. Basically, going in with a 70 score, as your run is scored with plus or minus points, depending on the run you make. A rider needs to cut at least two cattle in this time, preferably three head. You ride in, sort one out, trying to center the cow in the middle of the pen. You can pickup your hand to get another only if the one you are working, either stops still, or turns its body away from you.

A rider is judged on how well they sort them out, nice and smooth, not stirring the rest of the cattle up, and how well your horse mirrors each turn of the cow. Some advice would be to not give up or stop learning no matter your age, circumstance, or skill level.

Until next time — Jim.

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