CHTO News

Member Spotlight – Josh Keimig

February 9th, 2021 by Sophia Skeith

Josh riding a 2 year old with his son

What started out as a quest to make the best rope horse has become a journey that has taken Josh Keimig from working on the power line to ridin two year old cutting horses.

A friend with a cattle ranch introduced Josh Keimig to the fast paced sport of cutting with a YouTube video and broke cutters.

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Trainer’s Corner – Russ Westfall – Granbury, TX

February 9th, 2021 by Sophia Skeith

Total Earnings: $3,453,801

As a high schooler, Russ Westfall worked for a cattle ranch that provided cattle at cutting shows in the Northwest. That winter he went to work for a trainer and started colts. Then he got the incredible opportunity to work for Buster Welch in Texas. He was there for three years.

“It was the best time of my life. I learned so much!” said Westfall.

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Barn Management with Slate River Ranch’s Kellee Clarke

February 9th, 2021 by Sophia Skeith

A well-run barn is the key to any smooth operation. Whether you have one or 50 horses in your care, it’s crucial that you have an organized space, know where everything is and are able to act in any kind of emergency.

Kellee Clarke has been the barn manager for Slate River for nine years and counting. She makes sure everything has its place, and most importantly gets put back in place. Her feed room, vet room, tack room and stalls are clearly labeled so almost anyone can walk in and know just what to do for any of the horses.

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Trainer’s Corner – John Mitchell – Weatherford, TX

January 12th, 2021 by Sophia Skeith

Total Earnings: $4,468,839

After a childhood spent in the saddle showing in western pleasure, English and cutting, John Mitchell decided early on that dropping the reins was the sport for him.

Originally from Australia, Mitchell began riding horses for Winderadeen, a large quarter horse breeder in New South Wales.

Afterwards, Mitchell went to work for well known trainer Graham Amos to learn how to train cutting horses. Along the way, many others have had a hand in helping develop him into the trainer he is today.

Mitchell came to the States for the first time at 14 years old and celebrated his 15th birthday there.

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Member Spotlight – Christine Perry – Calvert, TX

January 12th, 2021 by Sophia Skeith

Christine and I Cant Tell You Why

Christine Perry has spent all her life on a ranch, but she didn’t get introduced to cutting until later. She was invited to a local pre-work where she got the bug and then purchased her first cutting horse.

Perry has been cutting since 2011 and shows mostly at weekend shows. She has a big pen she can work her horse in and all the fresh cows she wants on her ranch. Not just any cow, she works Brahmas that have a reputation for being wild.

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For The Good Of Cutters: Past and Present

January 12th, 2021 by Sophia Skeith

Buster Welch with the Sculpture in his Honor

From honoring Buster Welch and the King Ranch’s Little Peppy to supporting the next generation of cutters, the NCHA Foundation has been behind cutters of all ages for 40 years. The NCHA Foundation is the charitable branch of the National Cutting Horse Association.

The Foundation was formed in 1982 to raise money, support educational programs and preserve the history and culture of cutting. But interestingly, it’s played a lesser known but crucial and wide-ranging role than just being an archive, by providing funding when they see a need and supporting animal welfare and research.

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Adan Banuelos is Your 2020 Futurity Champion!

December 14th, 2020 by Sophia Skeith

What a year for Adan Banuelos! He is the 2020 National Cutting Horse Association Open Futurity Champion, scoring 224, winning $246,880 dollars, riding All Spice owned by Hill/Holmes Partnership. Adan won the 2020 Open Horse of the year aboard Twice in Santiago and is the 2020 Equi-Stat rider of the year. Adan has now won in excess of $3.8 million dollars.
Here is Adan’s winning run! Phenomenal program, well done Adan.


Trainer’s Corner – Matt Gaines – Weatherford, TX

December 9th, 2020 by Sophia Skeith

Most interesting and rewarding journeys are never taken in a straight line. That’s certainly been the case for $8.5 million dollar earner Matt Gaines who took a few side paths on his way to becoming one of the greatest trainers in the sport of cutting.

Despite his father Dick being a successful cutting horse trainer, Gaines decided to go to college and earn an agriculture business degree. He then went on to work for tack manufacturer Dennis Moreland. But eventually, Gaines realized none of those routes were for him so he moved to Mississippi and started training horses.

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Member Spotlight – Shelley Casciato

December 9th, 2020 by Sophia Skeith

Shelley Casciato and MK Smooth Texas

Three years after doctors told Shelley Casciato she would never compete again, she won the 2020 United States Cutting Horse Association Finals in the $5,000 Novice Non-Pro aboard MK Smooth Texas. She was 70 years old.

She had endured two total hip replacements in 2017 and was out of the saddle for two and a half years, yet she was able to make her dream come true. Casciato’s mental tenacity helped to make her win possible.

“The only failure in life is not trying,” are the words Casciato lives by.

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The Impact of COVID – 19 On Cutting

December 9th, 2020 by Sophia Skeith

A rider at the futurity wearing a mask.

No one could have predicted the year 2020 has been. The cutting horse industry has never experienced something like COVID-19. All equine sports have had to adapt to continue to function in the midst of the pandemic. But how has COVID -19 actually impacted the sport and the community involved with it?

It’s important to recognize that many people have suffered the loss of loved ones and/or endured the illness themselves not to mention dealt with financial hardship. While it’s impossible to know those statistics in the cutting industry, we can investigate other ways it’s been felt.

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Sam Shepard – A Legacy Of Learning

November 5th, 2020 by Sophia Skeith

Sam Shepard

Sam Shepard loved learning. It’s perhaps the reason he came to cutting later in life as a cutting horse trainer and was able to enjoy almost $2.5 million worth of success in the show pen. But it wasn’t just his training prowess that made him a name in cutting, it was his decency and love of people that really established his reputation.

Shepard was diagnosed with a rare condition called Amyloidosis. He passed away September 15th this year at his home in Verbena, Alabama at the age of 74.

His son, Austin Shepard, described his dad as a very well rounded person. He was well read, passionate about education, and a talented horse trainer. Shepard traveled the world because of cutting horses and was always interested in people from all walks of life. Austin said his father lived a full life.

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Trainer’s Corner – Lindy Burch – Weatherford, TX

November 5th, 2020 by Sophia Skeith

Lindy Burch and Bet Yer Blue Boons

Total Earnings: $4,030,194

In Ojai, California in the early 60s on a family Sunday drive, 13-year-old Lindy Burch came across a cutting show. She decided then and there that she had to be part of it. A few weeks later, in another moment of serendipity, a cutting horse trainer moved in down the road and Burch immediately wanted to learn from him. She offered to pay the trainer, Bruce Cahill, to teach her cutting. They worked out a deal where she would help around the ranch cleaning stalls and saddling horses in exchange for coaching.

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Member Spotlight – Garnett Hayes – Cerulean, KY

November 5th, 2020 by Sophia Skeith

Garnett Hayes and JR Colored Summer Prom

Garnett Hayes has enjoyed the sport of cutting for 38 years. He first saw the sport on TV as a young boy and thought it looked fun. Hayes started out riding a paint and has owned many horses. Hayes enjoys his retirement with his horses on a 400 acre farm in Western Kentucky.

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Member Spotlight – Jed Lawrence – Nancy, KY

October 5th, 2020 by Sophia Skeith

Photo By Brent Puhl

In 2007,  Jed Lawrence attended a cow horse sale in Indiana. He had grown up on a cattle ranch and thought reined cow horses looked fun. He went to work for Shawn Flarida, focusing on the reining event. Lawrence now has his own training operation in Nancy, KY and he uses Cutting Horse Training Online to improve his herd work.

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Trainer’s Corner – Geoffrey Sheehan – Weatherford, TX

October 5th, 2020 by Sophia Skeith

Geoffrey Sheehan

Total Earnings: $1,570,398

Geoffrey Sheehan grew up in Gundagai, New South Wales, Australia. At about 12 years old he started working for renowned trainer Graham Amos on school holidays. When Sheehan was 16, Graham Amos came to the States to compete in cutting. Sheehan decided that was his path too and continued working for him in America.

Amos was Sheehan’s main mentor, but he also credits other trainers for teaching him along the way such as John Mitchell, Roger Wagner, and Clint Allen to name a few.

“The first time I ever walked into Will Rogers I [thought] this is what I want to do,” Sheehan said.

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