Quote 4the day: Follow your heart and your head as combined they make the most sense and then you can help your four legged friends more :o)
Fact 4the day: Cutting is an equestrian event in the western riding style where a horse and rider are judged on their ability to separate a single animal away from a cattle herd and keep it away for a short period of time.
A cutting horse is an athletic and willing animal possessing an innate "cow sense" and ability to respond quickly and turn sharply that is trained to keep a cow from... returning to the herd. The horses involved are typically American Quarter Horses, although many other stock horse breeds are also used.
In the event, the horse and rider select and separate a cow (typically a steer or heifer) out of a small group. The cow then tries to return to its herd; the rider loosens the reins ("puts his hand down" in the parlance) and leaves it entirely to the horse to keep the cow separated, a job the best horses do with relish, savvy, and style. A contestant has 2 ½ minutes to show the horse; typically three cows are cut during a run, although working only two cows is acceptable. A judge awards points to the cutter based on a scale that ranges from 60 to 80, with 70 being considered average.
As the cow turns, the horse is to draw back over its hocks and then turn with the cow. The rider is centered over the horse keeps his or her eyes focused on the cow’s neck so as to anticipate the cow’s next move. The horse’s shoulders during a run are parallel with that of the cow’s. The team is judged on how the horse moves in relation to the cow. Leg aids may be used to steady a horse and keep them from falling in on the cow throughout a run.
The sport originated from cattle ranches in the American West, where it was the cutting horse's job to separate cattle from the herd for vaccinating, castrating, and sorting. Eventually competitions arose between the best cutting horses and riders in the area. In 1898 the first cutting horse competition was held in Haskell, Texas. With the growth of such cutting horse contests, a group of owners decided to form an organization to establish a universal set of rules and regulations. As a result, in 1946 the National Cutting Horse Association was founded.
Today, cutting is a fast-growing equine sport. In 2006, the contestants at the United States NCHA Futurity competed for more than $3.7 million—over a hundred times the offering of the first year. Total purses at NCHA-approved shows alone now exceed $39 million annually. Additional prize money is distributed at Australian Cutting Horse Association, American Cutting Horse Association, single-breed shows, European and Canadian events.
Any breed of horse may compete, although the American Quarter Horse is most commonly used. Regardless of breed, the horse needs to anticipate the actions of the cow and keep it from turning back into the herd.
A judge scores a performance on a number of factors; points are added for courage, eye appeal, herd work, controlling the cow, degree of difficulty, time worked, and loose reins. A rider can be disqualified for using illegal equipment, leaving the working area before the time limit is reached, and for inhumane treatment of the horse. A horse and rider team is penalized if forced off a cow, if the horse charges a cow, excessive herdholder help, and judges either add or take away points based on the horse and rider's performance throughout their run.
A western saddle is required. A breast collar and back cinch are optional. A bridle is also required with varying options for bits and curb chains as long as they meet competition guidelines. A saddle pad used under the saddle. Splint boots and back or skid boots are recommended for the horse’s leg protection during competition. Chaps are not required but are recommended, and commonly used in competition.
Competition divisions common in cutting are:
*Professional: Anyone who has received payment for training, riding, or showing in any equine discipline, unless granted a change of status.
*Non-professional: May not train horses in any equine discipline. The horse must be fully owned by the non-professional, a spouse, or minor child.
*Amateur: A rider with lifetime earnings less than $50,000 in cutting competition. They may not work on a horse training facility, nor can they be married to a professional trainer.
*Youth: Riders must be 18 years old or younger to compete as a youth.
A variety of breeds of cattle can be used for cutting as long as they are sensitive and herd bound. Before a run riders will watch other riders to see how cattle react and perform for other riders and their horses. When cutting a cow out of the herd some riders use characteristics or markings to help identify an individual animal. A rider who is able to differentiate between cattle offers the horse the best opportunity to have a good run. The cow selected by a rider needs to challenge but not overwhelm the horse and result in losing the cow.
Thought 4the day: Watching and figuring out your herds dynamics. Its never easy. I have had some come in in the past that have been meek and mild and as soon as they get their hooves under themselves and figure out they can be leader they go into a complete melt down. Sheldon was one example. He would drive the mares about and the gelding and never eat and he would even back up and try to kick thr...ough the fence. It was horrible for him. We then had to put on our thinking caps as he cannot be alone he has to have company or his worse. We ended up after talking things through with friends to put him in with the 4 tb mares we had at the time and lets say they were disgusted with him for attempting to be boss. Watching the stress fall from him and think oh ok was a relief all round. His now a calmer member of the herd not the bottom but never the top either. Horses teach us alot :o)