Cutting is a sport born of necessity and dates back to a time when cattle ranchers in the American West hired cowboys to work and sort through herds of cattle out on the open range, separating those in need of branding or doctoring. Local cutting competitions were held among ranchers and cowboys to earn bragging rights for having the best cutting horse.
In 1898, the first cutting horse competition was held in Haskell, Texas. On March 14, 1908, the Old North Side Coliseum, now known as the Cowtown Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas, hosted the first indoor cutting horse contest. In 1918, the Forth Worth Stock Show hosted the world’s first indoor rodeo, also making it the first time a cutting horse exhibition was held in connection with a rodeo. With the growth of cutting horse contests, a group of cutting horse owners decided it was time to establish a universal set of rules and regulations, and in 1946 the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) was founded.
From the open range to the indoor arena, cutting has grown into a widely recognized sport with sanctioned events, some of which offer added monies and awards comprising million dollar purses.
A cutting horse possesses an innate ability to anticipate or read a cow’s intended moves – an ability commonly referred to as having “cow sense” or “cow smarts”. Cutting horses that are well-trained and properly conditioned for competition are athletes with skills honed to respond instantaneously, matching a cow’s every move, head to head, in order to contain it. The harder a cow tries to get back the herd, the more skill, athleticism, and cow sense are required of the horse. The best equine athletes stop hard and turn sharply, almost synchronously as the cow turns, all in an effort to keep the cow from returning to the herd.
American Quarter Horses are the most popular breed for cutting competitions. The Open Spear Ranch breeding program has focused strongly on the cutting foundation bloodlines. In addition to our cutting prospect pedigrees, our horses exhibit the mental talent, physical strength, and deft agility needed to perform well in cutting competitions. Being raised in an open range environment, our horses navigate rough terrain, often interacting with cattle in the same pastures, which result in promoting the athletic and mental abilities needed in cutting competitions.