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Experiencing The Kentucky Derby!!!

June 19th, 2018 by Simone Cobb

The orange glow of first light warmed the horizon. The morning dew spoke of a clear, fresh day as a gentle breeze cooled the sweat on the magnificent thoroughbreds limbering out along the famous track. Conditions were perfect for preparing an unknown Derby champion.

The 144th Kentucky Derby Race

It was two days before the 144th Kentucky Derby and morning practice had brought Churchill Downs to life. Those eager to get a close up look at the 20 horses running in the nation’s most popular horse race were milling along the track.

A mix of two years olds getting used to the track were being trotted out slowly by their jockeys while the three and four year olds were stretching out at a faster pace against the inside rail. Some horses rested at the outer railing in groups of two and three, so close you could touch their hindquarters or pet their nose. They all looked invigorated, happy to be out exercising in the crisp morning air.

As though heeding a call to join the fray, a chestnut horse standing right by us suddenly slid into a canter as the rider lifted out of her saddle pad, their pair moved so gracefully, Beau Galyean remarked “it’s like dropping in on a wave”. The athleticism, the balance, the power of this horse was breathtaking. Who was this horse? Non other than the event favorite, Justify!

Two presenters filled the gargantuan TV screen above the track to discuss the contenders, of particular interest was the import from Ireland, Mendelssohn who made his appearance later in the morning surrounded by a large entourage. The Irish horse had just come out of quarantine, and despite the fanfare looked a little uneasy having worked up quite a sweat. But by the end of the session, the second-placed favorite was appearing more settled and its paces more impressive.

Other horses making tongues wag amongst the group of cutters was Audible, who in comparison to Justify’s effortless movements, required quite a bit of urging via his jockey’s whip to get moving. While this initially put us off, we later found out, Audible was not a morning horse!

Cutters Hit Kentucky

At Oaks Day

Our group consisted of Matt and Tara Gaines, Beau and Ashley Galyean, Duncan Steele-Park and myself, with the trip hosted and organized by Gabe Reynolds and Lauren Minshall who live and train cutting horses not far from Louisville.

For many in the group, it was their first time ever to attend a horse race. Lauren grew up around thoroughbreds in Canada where her parents and grandparents bred race horses. Her step grandmother, Barb Minshall is a current well known trainer at Woodbine, Toronto. Lauren’s knowledge of the industry is extensive as was her patience answering our never ending questions.

Exploring Keeneland, Lexington

With our first impressions made, we headed out to Lexington for a broader look at the industry. Lauren took us to Keeneland, another renowned race course and the nation’s top auction house for thoroughbreds.

It’s a beautiful, tree-filled facility where many trainers work their horses, Barb included over the winter months leading up the Derby.

At Keeneland Stables

We visited with her and some of her racers, one of which had won a race on the Wednesday at Churchill Downs. Interestingly, these leggy horses with a reputation for being flighty and hot tempered were anything but as they were led quietly around and stood in their stalls.

The doorways had nothing but a simple crossed plastic-covered chain to keep the horses in, giving them more air and helping them to feel less hemmed in.

They appeared soft-natured and curious, keen for a pat. One playful two year old stallion had a large pink teddy bear hanging from its doorway to nuzzle. Matt Gaines couldn’t resist and got some close-up cuddle action himself. We also met Barb’s gelding, Admiralty Pier, that was racing on Derby Day in an earlier event.

Posing with American Pharaoh

From there, we drove to the esteemed Ashford Stud, owned by Coolmore Stud, the world’s largest breeder of race horses. The stately driveway lined with hundred year old trees, led onto an array of beautiful stone stables, offices and breeding facilities that over looked rolling hills carpeted with the famous lush green grass of Kentucky.

Tara and Matt Gaines With American Pharaoh

Our tour guide took us straight to the main stud stable which housed non other than American Pharaoh. Featuring a soaring cathedral ceiling, the stables held four massive stalls lined with varnished timber, filled with an overabundance of straw to soften the floor. Brass name plates announced the owner of each stall. Declaration of War was getting his daily grooming via vacuum as we entered and Uncle Mo was enjoying some downtime. A groom brought the great American Pharaoh out into the courtyard where we got a closer look and a photo with the 2015 Triple Crown Champion.

While these stallions are retired from racing and live in “luxury”, they face the arduous task of 3 live crosses a day, seven days a week. Even for the most virile, it’s a tall order. The going rate for American Pharaoh is $125,000 a service, guaranteed to a foal on the ground. With 160 mares to cross each breeding season, I would say those boys earn every cent!

Derby Day Arrives

Derby Fashions

Derby Fashions

Fast forward to Derby Day, cowboy hats, boots and buckles were swapped for fedora’s, bow ties and even the odd cigar (or two). The ladies donned some larger than life hats and spring inspired dresses and hit the track. The people watching is just as fascinating as the horses, where anything goes from crazy hats, gaudy suits and killer heels to the most refined millinery and haute couture outfits of the well-heeled and/or famous.

Yes. Unexpectedly. It. Rained. All. Day. Needless to say, it was a great excuse to stay close to the bar and sample a Mint Julep or Oaks Lily (or three or four…).

Another factor to take into account, the wet track. As each race took place, the track got sloppier and sloppier, till come Derby time, it was a mud bath! You could almost see the odds changing in the lead up to the race as horses with experience in the wet improved and others got longer. All except Justify, the horse that never raced as a two horse year old remained the firm favorite!

For most of two days, the group got an A for participation when it came to betting but an F for success when it came to winnings. But it didn’t dampen anyone’s spirit, Tara and Matt were so full of awe, they stood out in the drenching rain to watch the Derby race at the rail, keen to feel the thundering hooves of those splendid athletes striving for immortality.

It’s a simple concept: first past the post, but what an exciting flutter of emotions it creates when you have a vested interest in how it ends! With a half mile to go, Justify passed Promises Fulfilled, and looking comfortable and totally in control, took the lead and sprinted home. Whopping and hollering like mad men, we were all going off but it soon became evident who picked the winner as Beau crowed triumphantly! It was a great moment, a great day, a great experience! Thanks to Gabe and Lauren for being such great hosts and so generous with their knowledge and thanks to Beau for letting us feel successful by association!

Now what are we going to wear next year? Did anyone mention this is addictive?

Watch Beau Galyean videos here.

Watch Matt Gaines Videos here.

Watch Gabe Reynolds videos here.


Best D.I.Y. Fly Spray For Horses???

June 7th, 2018 by Simone Cobb

Vinegar wins the day! How cool is that! It’s cheap, easy to get, totally natural and I personally love the smell of it.

CowboyWay.com did this awesome experiment on four different recipes which are all fairly easily sourced and then compared them to find which worked best.

(Another common solution not part of  this experiment below includes a 50/50 Pinesol and water mix in a spray bottle however it must be noted this can be an irritant to the horses, is not made from natural ingredients and is probably much better used around the barn.)

Homemade Horse Fly Spray Recipe #1

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Eucalyptus oil
  • 1 cup water

NOTE: To learn more abut Eucalyptus oil please scroll to the bottom of this page.

Instructions
Mix the ingredients together in a spray bottle. Shake well before every use and spray the horse.

Natural homemade horse fly spray ingredientsThe Results
For house flies and stable flies this recipe worked very well. In our opinion it worked better than several store-bought fly sprays we had recently used. It wasn’t perfect – the house and stable flies still landed on the horse but the actual bites he experienced were definitely less.

However, it was a different story with deer flies. When we rode the horse away from the barn and house and out into the pasture the deer flies swarmed to him like he was a free, all-you-can-eat buffet. The fly spray seemed to be of little or no help as the deer flies bit him constantly, all over, and in large numbers.

How Long It Lasted
This fly spray lasted between 45 minutes and an hour. It did work well for house and stable flies during that time.

Our Opinion
For house and stable flies we liked this fly spray recipe. It only has three easy-to-mix ingredients, and the ingredients are all natural (remember, as we stated above we’re defining “natural” as an ingredient that is not a man-made insecticide). However, it did not work at all for deer flies.

Homemade Horse Fly Spray Recipe #2

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup hair conditioner for humans (the kind you leave on for a minute or two then rinse out). We used an inexpensive generic brand without a strong scent (Suave).
  • 3 Tablespoons Eucalyptus oil
  • 1/2 cup baby oil
  • Enough water to fill the remainder of a 32 ounce spray bottle

Ingredients for homemade horse fly sprayInstructions
Mix the ingredients in a 32 ounce spray bottle. Shake well before every use and spray the horse.

The Results
Like recipe #1, above, this homemade horse fly spray worked well around the barn and house, but was of no help in the pasture for deer flies.

How Long It Lasted
Also like recipe #1, above, this fly spray lasted between 45 minutes and an hour.

Our Opinion
While this recipe worked about the same as recipe #1 it has more ingredients to purchase and mix, so is therefore slightly more complicated to make. We also didn’t like trying to get 1/2 cup of thick hair conditioner out of a measuring cup and into the top of the spray bottle. The conditioner kept plugging up the top of the bottle and using a kitchen funnel wasn’t much help. Since this recipe worked about the same as recipe #1, we prefer recipe #1 because it has fewer ingredients and is easier to mix.

Homemade Horse Fly Spray Recipe #3

IngredientsHomemade essential oil horse fly spray

  • 12 ounces of water (after first putting the above ingredients into a spray bottle, this is enough water to fill the bottle to the 16 ounce line)

Note: Coconut oil is a liquid in hot summer temperatures (above 76 degrees Fahrenheit). In cooler temperatures, it is a solid. Therefore, coconut oil may not be suitable for a fly spray recipe unless the temperatures are warm.

Instructions
Put all of the essential oils and the coconut oil into a spray bottle. Add enough water (which should be about 12 ounces) to fill the spray bottle to the 16 ounce line. Shake vigorously before every use, and occasionally during use. This mixture separates very easily.

Since essential oils can cause skin irritation, the first thing we did with this fly spray recipe was spray our own forearms and wait 24 hours. When we didn’t have any kind of skin irritation we tested it on the horse.

The Results
Epic fail. Unlike with the other homemade fly spray recipes on this page we never even got the horse groomed or saddled before this recipe failed. We sprayed him, and there was a brief pause when he was really damp that the flies and other insects slowed down for a few moments. Then, after mere moments, he went back to fighting flies as if nothing at all had been sprayed on him. We had to follow with a different fly spray in order to groom and ride him.

With this “fly spray” recipe, if you can call it that, our horse did smell heavenly, but as an insect repellent this homemade recipe was totally useless.

How Long It Lasted
Mere moments.

Our Opinion
This recipe is a total waste of essential oils and coconut oil. We like essential oils for some things, and love coconut oil as a mane and tail conditioner and homemade hoof conditioner, but when used together in this recipe as a fly repellent for our horses they didn’t work at all.

Homemade Horse Fly Spray Recipe #4

This is actually a semi-homemade fly spray recipe that is NOT all natural since one of the two ingredients is store-bought horse fly spray.

Vinegar and fly sprayIngredients

  • 1 part white vinegar
  • 1 part store-bought horse fly spay (we used a brand that had permethrin .25% as its active ingredient)

Instructions
Mix equal amounts of white vinegar and store-bought fly spray in a spray bottle. Shake well before every use and spray the horse.

The Results
We feel like this semi-homemade fly spray recipe worked just as well to keep house and stable flies from biting our horse as when the store-bought fly spray was used alone. In fact, though it was hard to tell for sure, we thought it may even have worked slightly better. Although flies still landed on the horse the actual bites were greatly reduced.

When it came to deer flies, the mixture of vinegar and store-bought fly spray was helpful to keep them from biting the horse, but not as helpful as we had hoped. However, when the store-bought fly spray was used alone the results were only marginally better. In both cases deer flies still bit the horse in noticeable numbers, but slightly less than when no fly spray was used at all.

How Long It Lasted
This semi-homemade fly spray lasted about an hour, perhaps a little less. This is about the same amount of time the store-bought fly spray lasted when it was used by itself.

Our Opinion
In our opinion the mixture of white vinegar and store-bought fly spray worked just as well for house, stable, and deer flies as when the store-bought fly spray was used alone. The mixture also lasted about the same amount of time, and since vinegar costs quite a bit less than store-bought fly spray using the mixture cut our costs significantly.


Hauling A Horse? The Mandate That May Require You To Get A Commercial Drivers License!

May 16th, 2018 by Simone Cobb

You thought you were involved in the horse industry? It seems the Federal Government may actually define you as a commercial truck driver.

According to the Commercial Drivers License law written in 1986, anyone driving a vehicle weighing 26,001 pounds and above is required to carry a CDL whether it’s for recreational or agricultural purposes. So you might have to go sit for your commercial license test just to haul your horses to a show!

Protect The Harvest Representative, Shawn Burtenshaw

Shawn Burtenshaw, a Representative for Protect the Harvest, explains how the CDL law requirements plus a 2012 Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate could affect how you travel, but is here to educate and help you!

“The law that was implemented [in 2012], which would be referred to as the ‘ELD Mandate,’ is an electronic device put in your vehicle to monitor your drive times between point A and point B and throughout the day,” Burtenshaw said. “So if you’re in a pickup and horse trailer traveling, hauling horses to shows it’s your business… it puts you as a commercial driver to where you’d have to have an electronic logging device in your pickup to haul your horses to shows.”

SO not only would you be required to carry a commercial drivers license, but you would also be required to log your trips and abide by ELD rules. However, advancements in vehicles and the hauling industry have changed vastly since these were written, creating a few complicated issues.

“The problem is this law was written in 1986, when a one-ton pickup was 8600 pounds,” Burtenshaw said. “It was never intended to umbrella over pickups and trailers but today when this is enforced through, the ELD really brought attention to these weights because the law is still at 26,001 pounds; which in 1986 was a Class 7 truck, today it’s a pickup. Gross vehicle weight ratings since 1986 to 2018 have increased 60% but the law stayed the same so that’s where people get caught in it with a pickup and horse truck.”

Adding to the complexity are states that have different regulations and classifications of a CDL, where in some states it’s a simple process, while in others it is extremely difficult.

“We’d like to see that not happen because these people are not commercial drivers, they’re horse trainers, they’re rodeo cowboys, they’re ranchers, they’re farmers, they’re not a commercial driver,” Burtenshaw said. “So why should they need to go get a CDL and be monitored the same as a over-the-road truck driver when they’re just driving their horse to a horse show?”

Another issue that will place an onerous burden on drivers is the tracking and monitoring that o

Electronic Logging Devices (above) required for commercial drivers to log all stops and track drive times, and requires breaks after certain amounts of driving.

ccurs with the electronic logging device.

“It is extreme inconvenience,” Burtenshaw said. “It becomes a personal issue of privacy to tell you the truth, I don’t want to be monitored how fast I’m going, where I’ve stopped, how long I’ve stopped. I don’t want to be told when I need to stop and use the restroom, I don’t need to be told when I need to stop and eat, I don’t need to be told when I stop and sleep. The hours of service that you have to comply by when you have an electronic logging device in your pickup and you have live animals on your trailer, you can’t stop for ten hours consecutively, you have to keep going.”

From December of 2017, there is a 12-month exemption to the rule for agriculture when live animals are being transported.

“So that means that hopefully within the coming year that maybe different hours of service can be written,” Burtenshaw said. “These laws need review because it’s not 1986 anymore. The biggest thing I’m trying to do right now at Protect The Harvest are get people engaged and get them educated to where they’re going to fall in this mandate or these CDL requirements, what classifies them as a commercial motor vehicle.”

On the Protect The Harvest website it also states that a “Not For Hire” sign on your rig will not protect you if it is determined that your truck and trailer fit into the commercial category or are being used for commercial purposes. Nor will it protect you if you are driving a vehicle and trailer that requires a commercial license. The law also affects young drivers and will put the brakes on anyone under 18 hauling a horse or anyone under 21 crossing state lines to go a rodeo or show.

“To be intrastate (within your state) you have to be 18 years-old to get a commercial drivers license and to go interstate (to cross state lines) you have to be 21 years old. 87% of the college rodeo kids are under the age of 21 and every college rodeo around the United States kids have to cross across state lines,” he said.

If the mandate alarms you, Burtneshaw said go to protecttheharvest.com and read the highlighted version of the 200 page mandate, which has been narrowed down to the key points. Another suggestion is to spread the word and lobby your local representatives.

“Call your congressman, get a hold of your senator, get everybody in government whose connected to you, because those government officials work for you,” Burtenshaw said. “Let them know where you stand on these issues, let them know that these need review. The more people who write their letters, call their representatives, make some noise about it to get this changed.”

“It’s laws like this that keep restricting our industry. Usually it happens and nobody knew about this..well we’re gonna tell you right now it’s happening,” Burtenshaw said. “Please take action, get involved, become engaged, voice your opinion, and help us move forward with getting this rewritten.”


Wrangler in the Pen & on the Streets: Gabe Reynolds

April 25th, 2018 by Simone Cobb

By Bailey Bryan

He could have had his pick of glamorous ladies, he could have been the master of the rose ceremony, he could have been a reality TV star, but Gabe Reynolds is more interested in training and showing cutting horses.

Between modeling assignments, TV scouts and cutting clients, it seems the Kentucky based trainer is in high demand. But with a growing list of wins to his name, four time Mercuria Finalist, NCHA Ltd Reserve Champion, and Augusta Classic Challenge Reserve Champion, Gabe’s focus is squarely on his training career.

With his dashing good looks, unassuming manner and Aussie charm, this cutter has got a little more boot cut than the rest of us, filling in for Blake Shelton as a Wrangler jean model and starring in a Wrangler commercial along with George Straight! The opportunity presented itself when Gabe was training for Barbra Brooks in Tennessee.

“There was a bunch of celebrities that came out to Barbra’s ranch for the CMA shoot and for some reason or another Blake Shelton didn’t show up and they asked if I’d fill in for him as I was about his size,” Reynolds said. “A few months later I was in a western store and saw a picture of me.”

Reynolds later got a call asking if he’d come out to audition for the Wrangler commercial in California, which he originally said no to, but later they called again to offer him the role if he’d say yes right then.

“It was really neat,” Reynolds said. “I went out there and was picked up in a black limo and got full rock star treatment.”

As it turns out, Wrangler wasn’t the only one with an eye for Reynolds, he was also recently asked at a cutting event by scouters to participate in the popular reality tv show, The Bachelor.

“I was walking around the coliseum and they happened to sit next to me,” Reynolds said. “They got to whispering and they told me they wanted someone who rode horses and I told them I didn’t really know about that.”

Reynolds said he never really paid much attention to the show, but went back later and watched a few episodes and said afterwards that ‘it seemed a quick way to embarrass yourself.’

Although well-known as a handsome cutter, Gabe’s hardly an eligible bachelor, with a serious live-in girlfriend and business partner Lauren Minshall (sorry ladies).

Reynolds says on a more serious note he’d love to make a final in Fort Worth.

“I really feel like I’m knocking at the door in Fort Worth,” Reynolds said. “I keep making semi-final after semi-final, but am trying to stay consistent and train the best horses I can train and we’ve got some good horses this year.”

 

Watch more CHTO videos of Gabe HERE.


Kellee Clarke – More than a Loper!

April 13th, 2018 by Duncan Steele-Park

More often than not, lopers come and go, but Kellee Clarke has turned loping into a satisfying career thanks to her hard work, willingness to take on new challenges and interestingly, finding an outlet for her creativity.

An Australian native, Clarke moved to the States to work with horses where for the last eight years she has been loping for John Mitchell at the Slate River Ranch. With a passion for learning and a drive for taking on more responsibility, Clarke juggles loping, running the barn and managing the ranch office while starting up her own business.

“I wanted to make leather handbags and do them all by hand,” Clarke said. “When I grew up rodeoing, I made all my own shirts..so I’ve always had this creative thing going on.”

After purchasing all the materials, Clarke found that she never had the time to actually start.

Brumby Necklace

“One week I got so mad at myself because John’s wife, Hope kept asking, ‘have you made a bag yet?’ and it was really frustrating me,” Clarke said. “So one week I got super mad at myself and I said, ‘you have to finish one project by the end of the week.’’”

And since that week, Brumby Goods was born, but not in the way Clarke expected.

“I had kangaroo leather and lace because they were going to be part of my bags and I had some freshwater pearls and I had all this stuff sitting there,” Clarke said. “So I started tinkering around with it and the next thing I made a necklace with it. This long tassel necklace with these pearls on it and I was like, ‘that’s pretty cool.’”

 

Although Clarke hasn’t made any bags yet, she intends to expand the line later to include them.

“I had my logo and my name and everything for my business, Brumby Goods, that was all in place but the product wasn’t coming about,” Clarke said. “For now it’s evolved into jewelry.”

Brumby Earrings

Clarke officially launched Brumby Goods in February this year and is keeping up with working full time for Slate River Ranch while building her jewelry line, which has quickly gained a following.

Clarke says she gets design ideas while loping.

“It’s a matter of utilizing that time loping around and to just take that time to think about something,” Clarke said. “I’m constantly thinking about Brumby and what’s next.”

Brumby Bracelet

Clarke says she wants to stayed tapped into the western world and cutting/rodeo industry from her roots. One of her main materials, kangaroo leather, is used not only for its durability but connects her to her Australian heritage. Her company name, Brumby Goods also was chosen to tell people more about Clarke as a person.

“Brumby was something that came up..here in America,” Clarke said. “It’s a horse, it’s a little wild, free spirited and…it’s pretty catchy.” 

Clarke says she enjoys making the jewelry for women like herself.

“A lot of this stuff I had in mind for the working girl and the girl who rides,” Clarke said. “This was my original idea, to find something feminine but easy to wear.”

Clarke likes to make jewelry that is functional, durable, light and comfortable. She now ships across the country and overseas and also takes custom orders. Clarke initially made sales on social media, but now has her own website to properly display her designs, www.brumbygoods.com.

Although her career is focused on loping, she believes that having Brumby gives her something more to look forward to each day.

“Its given me something for myself,” Clarke said. “I’m accountable, it’s all me. It gives me something, it’s making something and being creative and I like to look at it and be like, ‘I made that.”

 

Watch the full video interview HERE


Winning The Mind Game

May 31st, 2017 by Simone Cobb

When people participate or watch sports many people make the statement, ‘mind over matter’ or ‘it’s all about your mental game,’ but how many athletes train their brain to prepare for a competition?

“When you get to those really elite levels [of sports], you have athletes telling you it’s 96-97-98 percent mental,” said mental skills coach Tonya Johnston. “[People need to] understand that your mental skills are absolutely apart of the package as far as seeing yourself as an athlete.”

Johnston has her Masters in sports psychology and specializes in working with equestrian athletes, traveling across the holding clinics and working with equestrian sports teams such as Stanford, Smith and USC. Johnston emphasizes in her clinics and book “Inside your Ride,” that taking time to work on your mental game is just as important as working on the physical aspect. country

“When you spend 10, 12, 15 hours a week on physical and zero hours on mental skills, that could be where nerves and stress come from,” Johnston said. “Because I believe it’s much more mental activity, my competing is much more mental but all of my practice is in the physical realm.”

Johnston states that when your physical game is to a certain level, when it comes to competition day it is about making good choices mentally while in the moment.

“[When] the physical is dialed in, they know how to get the most out of themselves, they know how to connect with their horse and communicate with their horse and they understand that on any given day it’s about being present,” Johnston said.

One of the best pieces of advice Johnston mentioned was focusing on the positive.

Many people focus on bad days [and ask] what did I do? What happened? Why didn’t I ride well?” Johnston said. “I look first and foremost at good days-what are you already doing naturally and help that become part of [your] routine.”

Some other ways Johnston recommended to become more consistent and improve your mental game in the arena is by:

  • Visualizing
  • Tracking goals
  • Making sure your energy is in a good place
  • Making sure you’ve got a routine in place

Lastly Johnston notes that it’s just as important for you to have a routine as much as your “horse before competing, such as stretching, loosening up and having a plan for when you’re in a hotel.

“When you have an amazing run, think back to how did you prepare yourself, where was your focus, what were you saying to yourself, what were you doing before you got on your horse,” Johnston said.

To hear more tips from Tonya Johnston, listen to the full interview at: https://chtolive.com/podcasts/  (Gold and Platinum members get full access to podcasts, Silver members get access for seven days when new podcasts are uploaded.)


They Don’t Just Hula In Hawaii!

February 2nd, 2017 by Simone Cobb

By Bailey Bryan

Generally when one hears the word “Hawaii” there are visions of palm trees, drinking coconuts, warm beach, a red sunset, pineapples, luaus and of course hula dancing…so how do cutting horses fit? Think about it – no, really. How does an island get resources for such a complex sport that requires cattle, horses and land?

CHTO asked member and former Hawaiian cutter, Dee West, all about it. Dee relocated to Texas to be in cutting’s capital.

Though today there are many differences between cutting in Hawaii and other mainland areas, like Texas, West began cutting in Hawaii from 1971 through 1973, where she said the main difference was the cattle.

“Back then cattle weren’t so in-bred. Cattle were slower and easier to cut and hold,” West said. “Now you have faster, tough cows, but it’s hard to have fresh cattle in all classes.”

When West was cutting in Hawaii, there was only one class; however, even though the sport has grown, obtaining fresh cattle for everyone on an island can be quite difficult as well as not always possible.
Just to show in Hawaii, West would have to fly to the main island of Hawaii and then take a barge and at the time there were only two stables on Oahu.

Dee West cutting in Hawaii.

“Every weekend we would put our horses on a barge to different islands. It was so much fun, but a full day of showing,” West said.

Even though there was only one class for cutting then and there was no prize money, ribbons were enough of an incentive to spark the interests of most and continue to help the sport grow.

West stated that Hawaiians are known for their competitiveness and everyone wanted to win, making ribbons and bragging rights a valuable prize worth traveling and competing for.

During her time in Hawaii, West showed a palomino stallion named Skippers Count and together, they won pleasure, trail and cutting events. West credits her passion for horses and cutting to stem from her experiences on the big island.

Despite cutting not being as big a sport in Hawaii when West resided there, the idea of the sport became big as the years went on. As a more serious contender, West moved to the mainland to continue to compete but says she “feels blessed to have had the opportunity to learn about cutting” in Hawaii.


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