What is Cutting?
Adapted from Cutting Horse Chatter's, "In the Beginning there was the Horse"
Cutting, by modern showing standards, is a derivative of day to day ranch work.
Today, cutting takes place in a relatively controlled environment - usually a covered arena with a set number of cattle, easy to view for judges and spectators. The atmosphere of today's cuttings may be a great deal different, but the same technique and skill is as viable today as it was over 200 years ago.
When cattle herds roamed western prairies in the 1800's cowboys would ride with a strong of horses each suited for a specific type of work. Among the cowboy's best horses were the cutters. The cutting horse was the one most aware and interested in the cow. He was keen to cow's movements and could nearly anticipate her every step. This was the horse that made separating cattle simple and fun.
With the twentieth century major cattle operations turned into smaller ranches. Work once done on horseback was handed off to the truck and cattle chute.
The cutting horse was quickly become a thing of the past.
Despite the decline in cutting horses being used on cattle farms, an upsurge of cutting shows started around 1919. With the numbers of competitions growing a group of horseman recognized a need to create an organization that established rules and procedures for holding such a competition. The first sanctioned NCHA show was held in Dublin, Texas in the fall of 1946.
Many of the horses that made cutting what it is today were from unknown parentage and humble beginnings. Some of the biggest ranches had been purposefully breeding their own horses for decades.
By 1963 the NCHA recorded the results of 727 shows with contestant vying for a piece of $404,183 in prize money.
Today, payout at NCHA shows exceeds $43 million annually.
The Sunshine State Cutting Horse Association offers competitors the opportunity to compete for $131,642 annually from --- shows at Koren's Quarters.
Since 2007, over 269 different competitors have ridden through the gates of this Plant City facility coming from across the southeast.
Despite the numerous tangible benefits of cutting horses, most folks enjoy the intangible benefits most. The bond between horse and rider coupled with the historical ties of the Old West make cutting a unique sport in the twenty first century.