Cutting is a western-style equestrian competition in which a horse and rider work as a team before a judge or panel of judges to demonstrate the horse’s athleticism and ability to handle cattle during a 2 1⁄2 minute performance, called a “run.” Each contestant is assisted by four helpers: two are designated as turnback help to keep cattle from running off to the back of the arena, and the other two are designated as herd holders to keep the cattle bunched together and prevent potential strays from escaping into the work area. A contestant is required to make at least two cuts from the herd, one of which must be a cut from deep inside the herd while the other(s) can be peeled from the edges. Once the selected cow has been driven clear of the herd, the contestant commits the horse by dropping the rein hand to feed slack and give the horse its head. At that point, it is almost entirely up to the horse except for allowable leg cues from the rider to prevent the cow from returning to the herd; a job the best horses do with relish, savvy, and style. Judges score a run on a scale from 60 to 80, with 70 being an average score.
Please, enjoy our photo report made by Einat Klein at Double K ranch last week.