Matthew Koenig started out racing motorcycles. His wife was the horse lover. When they got married and wanted a family, racing motorcycles didn’t make sense, so he picked up trail riding. But Matthew still enjoyed competition so he began to look for something to challenge him. A nearby cutting horse trainer got Matthew intrigued and two years later, Matthew is the owner of three cutting horses and going strong in the sport.
Total Earnings: $462,067
How did you get into cutting?
“My dad and mom raised horses, and they wanted to upgrade their program. There was a guy that had a son of Little Peppy. So we made a deal to breed some mares to his stud… We did some welding to pay for the breedings. That man was Tom Merryman who is now my father-in-law. I quit school in 8th grade and I was over there helping my dad with welding. I saw Tom cutting and he asked me if I wanted to turn back for him. I had no clue what that was but I said yeah I’ll try it. I started helping him and ended up working for him for 3 years…”
It takes more than a good horse to be successful in cutting. It takes planning, practice and positivity. That’s according to someone who’s had plenty of success of the show pen, $3-million trainer Grant Setnicka. Not only that, Setnicka’s clients also enjoy plenty of success themselves. Setnicka shares his tips on how to set yourself up for a satisfying experience in cutting.
➤ Step one is decide what shows you are going to attend for the year. And then learn what each client or yourself needs and adjust the training, work and practice schedule to suit.
Greg and his family own an equestrian facility in Canada and the trainer there taught him how to ride. She asked him if he wanted to work cows one day and he fell in love with cutting after that.
Greg has been cutting for two years now. He borrowed a horse and says he doesn’t think he marked above a 60 that whole first year.
He then looked for a horse he could buy. He bought Better Moonshine and they have experienced a lot of success together. One of his most memorable moments was when he marked his first 72 with the new horse.
Hall Of Fame trainer, Andrew Coates, started his first horse at 13 years old in Australia and now he and his wife Nicole own and operate Southern Cross Ranch in Esparto, California. A few years ago they chose to change their business model to keep their family together. Coates now trains 2 year olds and shows a few 3 year olds. Coates said they are very blessed to have incredible clients that have stuck with them through the transition as well as great friends like Morgan Cromer and Eric Wisehart. Coates also raises and sells Wagyu Cattle, and runs a feedlot.
How do you revamp and modernize an organization to secure its future yet stay true to its western-heritage roots? It’s a challenge the new NCHA Executive Director Jay Winborn has already begun working on. With experience in business, marketing, event promotion, sporting associations and as competitive horseman himself, Winborn has all the necessary skills and attributes to manage this daunting task.
In part two of our in-depth interview with the new NCHA leader, Winborn divulges more of his plans to restore the Association to its former glory but in a way that is more inclusive for all levels of riders and budgets.
You could say Jay Winborn is a man with a plan, or two or three. Not only is he brimming over with creative ideas, he has a track record of implementing them, successfully. It’s why the National Cutting Horse Association, plagued by membership decline, lack of leadership and financial strife, was prepared to make a lucrative offer to get Winborn on board. So in December of 2019, the NCHA welcomed Jay Winborn as the new executive director.
Jay sat down with CHTO’s Simone Cobb for an indepth chat about his goals and challenges in steering the NCHA onto a path of growth, stability and longevity.
Total Earnings: $9,227,718
How did you get started in cutting?
“As a young boy in 1975 I wanted to meet a cowboy, so my parents took me to the Cow Palace and I met Leo Camarillo and his wife. My parents developed a friendship with them and I have always had a love of horses ever since I was born. And my dad was looking for a way to semi-retire to the country…We got introduced to cutting and reined cow horse and went to the Snaffle Bit Futurity but I really had a fondness for cutting so my interest and passion grew from there.”
Jade Johnson was introduced to cutting in Oklahoma when she worked for Rick and Dolly Chayer, of Chayer Performance Horses. They had working cow horses and show ropers. This gave her a taste for the way a cow horse felt. When she came back to Australia, she spent weekends at Turpentine Park riding their cutting horses and fell in love with the sport. She has now been cutting for 10 years.
Her favorite thing about the sport is the people she has met and the places the sport has taken her.
Dustin Grams has experience showing and training in the cutting and reined cow horse disciplines. For the past 3-4 years, he has focused on the cow horse side of the business after a local cow horse club got started and created a lot of interest in the sport.
Grams has been training horses for 34 years. In his 20s, he started 2 year olds and got his first introduction to cutting and cow horses. A lot of horses he started ended up at the Bar H, where Winston and Paul Hansma trained out of.
Grams began showing in the cutting pen about 10 years ago. He and his family have shown throughout Canada and the United States. Grams is proud to say his wife, Shannon, qualified for the NRCHA World Show the past few years.
The last few years Grams has had to slow down training horses due to some heart issues but is now back at it. When Grams was sick, Shannon was able to ride the aged event horses and keep them going. Dustin said he is so thankful for her stepping up and carrying on.
Lifetime Earnings: $2,342,759
Top Three Horses Trained:
• Crafty With Cows
• A Little Bossy
• Sueper Kitty
It’s that time of year again! Two year olds are being started and the ever important foundation for the rest of their career is being established.
Reserve NCHA Futurity champion for the second year running, Adan Banuelos has already earned in excess of $3 million in the show-pen. At just 31 years of age, Adan has proven his mastery in the show pen. Now we take a closer look at his skill as a horseman and learn how he handles his two year olds.
Adan is captivating to watch and listen to because he is such a student of the horse. His respect for the horse is admirable. He reiterates all the time how he likes to TEACH his horses something rather than TELL them!
Adan wants to instill a “where’s the cow” mentality in his horses, so that no matter what angle they land or where they end up (past the cow or behind the cow) that they want to find the cow and go with it.