According to Dr. Mac, some horse breeds have an inborn capacity to isolate a cow from a herd, making them a desirable farm companion.
Arabians and American Quarter Horses have the agility and skill to be used for cutting cattle out of a herd. It’s as interesting to watch as a Border collie working sheep.
Cutting is described as a “war of wills between a horse and a cow” by the American Quarter Horse Association.
Cutting horse contests are mostly conducted in Canada and the United States, where horses continue to play a significant role in large-scale widespread beef production.
Ranch-bred steers are brought in to be handled by cutting horses during shows. Each rider is judged in turn and has to work within strict time limits.
The horse is moved calmly into the herd, and when the cattle split to let the horse through, one steer is skilfully herded out towards the center of the arena.
The steer, being a herd animal, dodges away from the horse in an effort to rejoin its mates.
Once the steer comes to a halt, the horse follows and slides to a halt, then turns and pursues it in the other way.
Spins are so quick that the rider sometimes needs to cling on the saddle horn to keep from being thrown off.
Judges award a run when two or more cattle are removed from the herd during a cutting competition.
The run lasts around three to five minutes. As with many western classes, the score comes to between 60 and 80, with the judges adding or subtracting points from the standard of 70.
Points are subtracted if the rider jerks the reins, if a foot is placed against the horse’s shoulder, if the cattle are scattered, or if the horse bites or paws at a cow. Riders who are suspected of mistreating either horses or livestock are disqualified.
The three motions that must be perfected are the stop, draw, and turn.
As the cow accelerates, the horse follows, sliding to a stop in a cloud of dust when the cow stops. By sitting deep and minimizing leg pressure, the rider promotes the halt.
Once the horse has stopped, it then pulls its weight back onto its hocks (the ‘draw’), and swings into a rapid turn at the same time as the steer turns. A good cutting horse does not turn; it turns itself to follow the steer.
The horse is entirely focused on the steer. The horse gallops parallel to the steer, overtaking it until it reaches the head. This causes the steer to come to a halt, pause, and then turn again.
As the steer becomes tired of the game, the rider returns to the herd to cut another.
On the farm
Cutting horses are used by cattle ranchers to assist separate calves at weaning time, sort cattle, and transfer damaged or unhealthy animals out of the herd.
They’re also effective for transporting big groups of cattle from one site to another while keeping weaners from darting to the side.
Dr. Mac is a professor, stud owner, and practicing horse veterinarian.
What breed of horse makes the best cutting horse?
American Quarter Horse
A cutting horse is a stock horse, usually an American Quarter Horse, that has been bred and trained for cutting, a contemporary equestrian sport in which a horse and rider must remove a single cow from a herd of cattle and keep it from returning to the herd.
What are the different types of cutting horses?
The most common horse breeds for the sport are American Quarter Horses and other horse breeds of Quarter Horse lineage, such as American Paint Horses, while other breeds with stock horse type are sometimes utilized, especially in breed-specific competition.
What is the most famous cutting horse?
A dominating force in the cutting horse industry, the Peppy San Badger line is arguably the best Quarter horse bloodline in the discipline. Mr. San Peppy, a renowned and dominant cutting horse and champion in his own right, was his sire.
What is the most expensive cutter horse?
Wes and Lindy Ashlock of Abilene consigned the cutting horse, which sold for an all-time high of $1,050,000 at the National Cutting Horse Association Futurity Auction in Fort Worth.