Staff Sargent Amber Roberts has poured her life into honorably serving her country. Now her mission is to grow the sport of cutting in the New England and help others develop a passion for it like hers. This feat hasn’t proved easy as cutting horses have been slim
to nonexistent in her region. Predominately in New York State, disciplines consist of
dressage, and hunter jumper and some ranch sorting.
Roberts grew up in Wisconsin. Her parents bred someof the top Buckskin all-around performance horses in the mid-west including an International Buckskin Horse Association (IBHA) Supreme Champion and multiple IBHA Congress Champions.
However, Roberts shifted gears and joined the United States Army. Being stationed and deployed overseas for 10 of the 14 years of active duty, Roberts longed for the adrenalin rush of riding a horse. On a short visit home, she rode her first cutter and was instantly hooked!
Settling in St. Laurence River, New York, Roberts quickly found there was a non-existent cutting scene. She then determined to change that.
Roberts’ dream was to explode the sport of cutting in NY, to educate enthusiasts on the fun and the beauty of horses, and to bring resources and cutting events to the New England. Roberts had to dig deep and find good people to help on her journey.
“New York used to be home to the Empire Cutting Horse Association, that absorbed just before I got stationed here. Everything was in Ohio, Ontario, or PA which was too far to drive (on pass from the army). Nothing was here. But I knew there were ample cutting
enthusiasts in the region. They just needed to be found!” said Roberts.
Roberts’ grass roots plan for bringing cutting out East was born! Now well underway, she plans to build a foundation to stand the test of time.
“Backward Planning” is how Roberts describes it. It’s her process to make New York State and surrounding areas fall in love with cutting horses. Having a military mindset, Roberts said she started with her destination, and then prioritized all the steps needed to achieve her ultimate goal. Hence, “Backward Planning” she explained.
One major factor in growing interest has been her diligent attendance to regional expos. Roberts and a small group of helpers travel to shows and set up booths. They hold lectures and seminars on cutting and cow horses. They hold demonstrations and allow enthusiasts to come and try cutters first hand. They make it fun and encourage people to try something
new in a relaxed environment.
Roberts serves as a liaison for information and support to anyone interested. She has brought out many clinicians for those wanting to dive further into cutting. She has proven it is possible to make cutting a major discipline in New England.
“Bringing cutting to New York has definitely had its learning curves, yet I have been fortunate to have folks step up and provide mentorship” Roberts said.
Roberts gives credit to Tammy Schmidt, a local cutter, for helping spearhead the idea of reviving cutting in New England. She also gives accolades to Ernie Bradd, Dana Manwaring, and Michelle Muir who comes from Clayton, NY for volunteering their time and money to travel and promote the sport.
On a personal note, Roberts bred CR Duty N Sacrifice and CR Miss All American both out of her cutting mare. Her current show gelding has NRCHA and NRHA earnings, as well as earned
IBHA points in 7 different events from hunter hack
In just 3 short years, Roberts’ success at bringing people to the sport has been phenomenal. She has produced two NCHA Challenger Series in 2017, and 2018. Plans for 2019 are even bigger with a series of two 3-day USCHA events.
“I had never put together a show, and I wasn’t even sure if anyone would show up,” Roberts said, “however, we ended up with 60 runs and a great turnout that first show.” “It seems to keep growing every year. It was a lot to learn, but I have just so much respect for the horsemanship of cutting and want to show people how fun it can be.”
“It’s intimidating for those to jump out into the cutting world. They only get to see what the top riders do out west. Plus, the great expense it takes to reach that level,” she explained.
She is determined to overcome this stigma by encouraging people that it’s OK to start and learn from wherever you are. “Go show on ‘Old Red’.
Go enjoy cutting. Go make mistakes. And most of
all have fun!” she said.
For Roberts, riding an exhilarating cutting horse has been the adrenaline rush she longed for. It gives her peace and excitement all at the same time. It sparked the idea of creating a special ‘trainer/veteran program’ to help vets coming
home from deployment fill that void with a cutting horse.
“This beats turning to fast cars, drugs, alcohol, or other reckless behavior.” she said.
Another challenge for local cutters is that they have to travel more than 13 hours to the closest weekend event. Roberts plans to change that. The USCHA has stepped up and supported Roberts to ensure the cuttings she produces are successful and top notch.
Roberts is also eternally gratefully to Michelle Cannon, owner of Cannon Quarter Horses, her main sponsor. Cannon has been a major contributor to get initial shows up and running.
Roberts’ goal for 2020 is to host a limited age event weekend cutting. The key will be finding more sponsors to make these events a reality and to keep it economically friendly for everyone.
Roberts’ passion for the sport is infectious. She believes any rider once put on a cutter, will forever be a cutter.
“It’s a feeling like no other!” she exclaimed.
“I’d like to see the participation grow by 100% by the end of 2020, maybe see some resident trainers in New York and other parts of the New England move up this way. And more and more NCHA events too! I know it