Archive for September 17th, 2009


There aren’t a lot of cutting events around Ontario. Getting involved in cutting requires access to some specialized equipment: cows. However, the Eastern Canadian Cutting Horse Association (ECCHA) hosted an event at the Russell Fair last weekend, and I enjoyed an opportunity to see cutting horses in action. Above is a photograph of the scene of the competition, with participants waiting for events to get underway.


Modern cutting events have their roots on working ranches. Separating an individual cow or calf from a herd is sometimes necessary to treat an injury or otherwise attend to the animal. A specially-trained cutting horse can be used to separate the individual easily and efficiently. From this beginning, cutting contests originated and rules and guidelines were developed for competitions. Above, a competitor begins to separate a calf. The ECCHA offers this explanation of the event:

In modern cutting contests, competitors have two and one half minutes to cut or separate as many individual cows from the herd as they choose, usually two or three. As the horse slowly walks into the herd, the rider begins the process of selecting one cow to cut from the rest of the group.


Once a cow is selected and the cut made, the rider loosens the reins, grabs the saddle horn and allows the horse to take control of the contest. The horse must now prevent the cow from returning to the herd.


If the cow becomes inactive or loses interest in returning to the herd, the rider may lift the reins, signaling to the horse to “quit the cow”. The cow is allowed to return to the herd and the rider repeats the selection process.


Two judges mark each competitor’s performance and assign a score to the performance. The horse with the highest score wins the competition.


The horses move very quickly. Above, the rider is a second behind the horse as it dodges to intercept the calf.
Below is a series of photos of my favorite competitor, an agile bay horse. His cowboy lost his hat in the heat of the action.





To see a cutting horse at work, you can visit the youtube site below, featuring Bob’s Hickory Rio in action. Mousie would never make a cutting horse. She’s a brave little horse, but cows terrify her.


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