During my career as a professional horse trainer, I’ve heard horse
owners tell all kinds of reasons why they think their horse could
be a winner in the cutting arena. Unfortunately, when it comes to
cow horses, a lot of folks are misinformed as to what is fact and
what is fiction.
And of course, any time you're talking
about horses, there are always exceptions to the rule. But, for
the most part… Here are a few of the most common myths.
My colt should really make a great cutter. Whenever our "dog"
goes into the pasture, the colt chases him around and works him
just like cutting a cow. (For the word “dog” you could substitute
“goat”, “another horse”, “a person” or “whatever”).
I wouldn’t enter him up at the Fort Worth futurity
just yet. Here’s the usually disappointing truth. The dog isn’t
a cow… The colt is doing this without a rider on his back… And most
importantly, the colt is doing this activity without any rules he
has to adhere to. In reality, there are a lot of colts that like
to have fun chasing something around. It’s play, pure and simple.
It’s another thing entirely for a colt to become
a cutter. First of all, the newness of working the cow will wear
off and the training will eventually become work. When the colt
finds out he has to work the cow with precision, form and style,
he might not want to do it.
That’s why it’s so important your cutting prospect
is bred to be a cutter. If the sire and dam have the attributes
to be successful in the cutting arena, the colt has a lot better
chance of being successful also.
My colt should make a great cutter. I rode him out to gather some
cattle for the first time and he was really good. He wasn’t
bothered or scared by the cattle and acted like it was nothing new
Like I said earlier, there are always exceptions
to the rule. But, when a colt doesn’t show much of a reaction to
a cow it usually means he’s not going to be a good one. Every top
cutting horse I’ve ever trained, either was fearful of the cow and
wanted to keep a safe distance from it or was aggressive towards
the cow and wanted to dominate it.
The 1990 NCHA futurity champion, Millie Montana,
was the dominant kind. The very first time I worked her on a cow
she wanted to take charge. Her head went down, her ears went back
and everything about her body language told the cow that she was
The great NCHA world champion mare, Doc N Missy,
was the exact opposite. She was in my string when I was working
for Gene Suiter in Arizona. I’ll never forget her reaction the first
time I introduced her to a cow. She was so scared of it she literally
tried to jump out of the arena.
The cow would be 150 feet away down at the other
end of the arena, but that was too close for comfort for her. It
actually took a couple months before she got confident enough to
move the cow.
My colt should make a great cutter. He is 99% foundation bred. His
bloodlines trace back to Wimpy P1 five times on the top side and
three times on the bottom. Those old foundation horses were real
Now, if you own a foundation bred horse, don't
take what I'm about to say the wrong way. Our topic here is modern-day
"competition" cutting. I've ridden plenty of foundation
bred horses that would definitely work a cow. But...
If you go to any of the top cutting trainers
and ask them to describe what it’s like to try to get one of these
old-time “foundation bred” horses to cut, here is the answer
you’ll get 9 out of 10 times:
Most don’t have enough cow or intensity to
make it in modern-day cutting competition.
They’re difficult to train for today's type
of cutting. For example, they either learn too slow to be ready
for the futurity or they want to argue too much.
If you manage to overcome A and B, it's still
tough to win because many of them don’t have the athletic ability
and style of modern-day cutting horses.
If you want your colt to be a good cutter, the
least you can do is make sure he comes from bloodlines that produce
good cutters. And yes, there are horses that are exceptions to the
rule, but they are few and far between.
My colt should make a great cutter. I’m going to put him in training
with this hot shot trainer for six months and have him shown at
the cutting futurity.
Actually, this is a misconception a lot of people
have about training a cutting horse. It takes a long time to get
a horse to the point of being "showable" at a contest.
To have a colt ready for a futurity takes a minimum of 18 months
If the colt is an exceptionally fast learner,
you might get lucky and have him ready in just one year. This means
to have a colt ready to compete in the fall futurities as a 3year
old, he needs to be started on cattle in early spring of his 2 year
Owners are afraid of starting their colts that
young, fearing injury to the colt from starting him too early. In
reality, a good trainer never works a young colt very hard. The
idea is to give the colt a solid foundation built slowly so there
is no stress. When this is done right, seldom will a colt get hurt.
I’m going to buy my first cutting horse and take him to a show next
week-end. I should do pretty well. After all, cutting horses are
trained to work on their own. The rider doesn't have to do anything
but hang on.
I sure wish it was that simple. It would make
my job as trainer and coach much easier. It’s true, cutting horses
are trained to work on their own. However, the rider has a "big"
influence on how well the horse works.
An inexperienced rider can cause even the best
cutting horse to make mistakes. The most common ones are… rounding
the turns, missing the stop and being out of sync with the cow.
Most new cutters don’t realize they could ruin their horse if they
don’t learn to ride correctly in a relatively short period of time.
The best plan is to find a knowledgeable coach
that will help you learn to ride your cutter the right way.
If you're looking for the best cutting videos,
About the Author
Copyright © 2004 Larry Trocha