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Discovering Cutting In South Africa

March 13th, 2019 by Nevada Huffman

We all know that cutting is practiced in many countries around the world, but it may surprise you to learn there’s a burgeoning cutting scene in South Africa. A small number of passionate riders have created an informal but fun cutting group according to Anthony Galliers, who discovered CHTO as a learning tool. He is from Rosetta in the province of KwaZul u-Natal.

We found it interesting to hear how cutting was structured in South Africa, as well as some of the challenges they face to get quality 

How long have you been involved in the industry, and what brought you into it? 

“My wife and I come from jumping and Polo Cross back grounds. We dairy farm so [we] don’t get out much. So we were looking for fun activities to do on [our] farm. We had luck when we stumbled on a western disciple show in 2014, this lead to our daughter falling in love with reining. This lead to the sale of all things English (tack and horses) and to us sourcing western tack and quarter horses. 

The whole family soon got hooked. My wife, daughter and son compete in reining. It left me to find my thing. I started to look up what else was out there and came across cutting via you-tube about 2 years ago. So we built a sand arena which allows us to ‘play’ in between milking cows.”

 What is the cutting industry like in South Africa? 

“It is just a few of us committed folk getting together every six weeks and to see where our horses are at. We have a lot of laughs and we share the little we have learnt between meetings, you tube videos and videos brought over from the States. This is 1000% hobby but hell we are having fun.” 

How often do cuttings take place, and how far do you have to travel? 

“As mentioned we try to meet and hold fun cutting days every 6 weeks, work and season depending. The six of us farmers are all located in our province (state) known as KwaZulu Natal. What is great is that we are all located in a 100 km (60 mile) radius of each other so we travel to one of the two farms where cutting pens have been made.” 

What are the challenges with importing horses/genetics to South Africa? 

“Importing horses is an option but a very expensive procedure, especially with the weak Rand to Dollar [conversion rates]. There are horses here in South Africa that have been imported mainly for reining and pleasure work. As a result the studs here are reining and pleasure genetics. We have however had a bit of Colonel Freckles, Smart Little Lena, a Highbrow Cat great grandson and Peppy San Badger genetics brought into to our gene pool. And that is what we have focused on for our cow horses. Regarding semen imports we have major governmental barriers in place that prevent us from importing semen at present which is a massive hurdle. We are working through this, however in Africa this requires governmental intervention so we can’t hold our breath for this to happen quickly.” 

What is the most popular horse discipline in South Africa? 

“We have a large race horse industry which feeds horses into various sports. Polo and Polo Cross are big team horse sports here. South Africa is the current holder of the World Cup Polo Cross trophy. 

Thoroughbreds have been the main horses used for many English disciplines. The Aussie Stock horse crosses have recently come into their own, for polo cross, via a breeding program that has been going on here for some 10 years. Then jumping, dressage and eventing is well set up with good followings, warmbloods and thoroughbreds are mainly used. Gymkhana events [similar to a 4H show] are held under the banner – Mounted Games and this is very popular.” 

What is the cutting horse market in South Africa like? 

“Cutting specifically, it is still very small, however there is a demand for the ranch type horse. But we like to believe we will attract folk to the sport as more horse and rider combinations are able to showcase the sport. 

We rely on CHTO DVDs and you-tube for some kind of direction. As well as investing in trips to the US. In June, our family spent time with Uwe Roeshmann and Cody Lamont which was an awesome learning experience and we have tried to implement what we have learnt here in SA. 

Recently we had Mark Lyon from M&M Horsemanship take a trip to South Africa, who taught us a lot. Mark is a colt starter and horsemanship clinician by trade. However he knows enough about cutting and ranch roping and was able to add massive value to us as a group as we got to work on our own horses.” 





Get Your Barn Humming – Work Flow Tips For 2019

January 14th, 2019 by Nevada Huffman


Duncan interviewing Kellee

Does every step you take around the barn have purpose? Do you have an efficient work flow? Does your staff know what they should be doing at any time of the day? Do you have a maintenance schedule, a vet schedule, an organized work space? Do things get put back after use? These are simple questions that can have a huge impact on how efficient your day to day operation is! 

We recently visited Slate River Ranch in Weatherford, Texas. Slate River is one of the most recognized cutting operations in our industry. Barn manager, Kellee Clarke, has been with Slate River for 9 years. She walked us through her routines that help keep everything organized and everyone on track. 

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Member Spotlight: Julie Clarke

January 14th, 2019 by Nevada Huffman


Julie Clarke

Julie Clarke is the owner of Clarke Butte Ranch of Bend, Oregon. She has always had a passion for horses, which is what she claims to be the foundation for her breeding success at Clarke Butte Ranch. 

Julie retired from a corporate career and found her fascination with the cutting discipline. She was trained by NCHA Hall of Fame Member Phil Hanson Jr. who was also the trainer to some of her most successful horses that stand at Clarke Butte Ranch. Little Silver Belles, with LTE of $200,431.68, was one of those, along with Pounce who has LTE of $217,585.59. 

Julie continues to show cutting horses in the non pro division and trains with Morgan Cromer and Eric Wisehart. 

 Why Julie likes CHTO: “CHTO is a great, quick resource to find training and showing tips from respected professionals in our industry who have similar but different points of views. It’s my go-to gift for fellow cutters!”

Climbing To The Top – Kody Porterfield

December 18th, 2018 by Nevada Huffman

Kody during his winning run at the Futurity. Photo Credit: Quarter Horse News

He’s a gentle giant making a name for himself in the hallowed Will Rogers Coliseum! Kody Porterfield won his second Limited Open Futurity title in Fort Worth when he rode Cat Gethr and marked a 223.

“It feels great. It feels real good,” he said humbly.

It’s been a big year for trainer Kody Porterfield. He notched up a win in the PCCHA Intermediate Open Classic Challenge, purchased his own training facility near Weatherford TX and of course capped off the year with his Limited Futurity buckle. He also made the Open Futurity Semi Finals on the same horse.

Kody won his first Limited Futurity title in 2015 aboard This Isa Third with a 222. To put Kody’s success into perspective, he more than doubled his earnings with his first win in the Will Rogers three years ago taking home almost $17,000. Since then, the 29 year old trainer has earned approximately $265,000.

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Member Spotlight – Justin Cox

December 18th, 2018 by Nevada Huffman

Justin Cox

Justin is a Utah native. Horses haven’t always been apart of his life.

A friendly neighbor got him “hooked on a cow.” For the last three years Cutting has been a part of Justin’s life.

This past year has been especially exciting for Justin. He was awarded the Rookie of the year award in Montana. He was also the end of the year $2,000 limited rider Champion in Utah.

He credits a horse that he bought at the beginning of this year named Rocky. He has gotten him to where he’s at in his career today.

Why Justin Uses CHTO: “I can always go home after a live lesson and research tips I was given. I don’t have to ask questions, I feel like I can always find the answers on here.”

In The Judge’s Seat – Grooming The Next Generation

December 18th, 2018 by Nevada Huffman

Judging Contestants Judge a Live Class – Photo Credit: NCHA

While most cutters were focused on the exciting horseversus- cow action in the Will Rogers Coliseum at the Futurity, the NCHA was also working to hone the skills and knowledge of the next generation of judges and competitors at the annual Judging Contest. This is the third year that the NCHA has hosted this contest, but the first year that the organization opened it up to more than just collegiate teams, with many high school students also competing. Colleges, FFA teams, and 4-H teams traveled from all over the US to show off their judging prowess. Each judging contestant is required to complete a rule book test, a penalty clip test, and score two sets of 10 cutting runs.

The top 10 individuals in each division were placed in a designated area and allowed to judge one day of the World Finals. They scored them just as a regular judge would, and were awarded points based on how close they were to the official scores given by the actual judges.

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Man On Fire – Clay Volmer

November 19th, 2018 by Nevada Huffman


Clay Volmer

After just four years of competing in the Snaffle Bit Futurity, Clay Volmer sent the crowd wild with his scorching fence run that saw him take out the 2018 Intermediate Championship at the Will Rogers, Fort Worth on SDP HY Rey Bound.

“I had told people for months, if I get into the finals, it’s going to look like my hair is going to be on fire because we are going to go fast,” he said.

“I knew it was good when I got done. It was one of those deals when you’re in the moment and you’re going as fast as you can possibly go and be as accurate as you can possibly be. It was fun and being in the Will Rogers where everybody was just screaming. After the first turn I couldn’t hear anything, it was so loud,” he said reliving the moment.

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Member Spotlight – Carlos Webster

November 19th, 2018 by Nevada Huffman

Carlos Webster

Carlos Webster has always owned a horse. He grew up in the Houston area where he regularly attended the Houston Live-stock Show and Rodeo. It was there that he found his love for cutting horses.

He was just given the opportunity to purchase his own cutting horse 5 years ago. He started training with Mark Mills and now with Alvin Turner. He credits them both for his advancement of skills in the show pen.

His most memorable show moment is when he marked a 70 in Belton, Texas riding Countin Checks Is My Thing. Carlos said, “There wasn’t any feeling like finally marking a 70. I was so excited.”

WHY CARLOS USES CHTO: “I like all the different trainers they offer. Each trainer has different techniques so it is nice to see all their different techniques and choose what works best for you.”

Want to enjoy more success in cutting? Get access to the best trainers and showmen/women in the business. It’s the best dollar you’ll ever spend in cutting! So if you’re not a member yet – Click HERE to get a free week and access our entire video library!!!

Get 7 Days Free!

You can cancel anytime. If you decide to continue with the membership past 7 days, your card will be charged on the 8th day for your convenience, you don’t need to take any action. To cancel, just email us at least two days before your bill date.

You Don’t Have To Be Born A Champion

November 19th, 2018 by Nevada Huffman

Simone & Blake & Lori Patillo

Cutting hasn’t always been a way of life for the Patillo family. In fact, they had never even owned a horse until a few years ago. Even that was a spur of the
moment decision that they had no idea would
completely change their lives.

While traveling through the “Cutting Horse Capital of the World” during a family holiday, Blake decided his Illinois-based family needed a horse.

Amazed at all the training facilities around Weatherford, Blake, his wife Lori and their four kids drove around the area, when an arena off FM 1885 that caught their eye. Not knowing who it belonged to or what they were looking for, they decided to drive in. “If we pull in here and tell them we want to buy a horse they’ll let us in,” he told his wife confidently at the time.

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Member Spotlight – Pam Crouch

October 22nd, 2018 by Simone Cobb
Pam Crouch

Pam Crouch

Pam Crouch grew up in East Texas, and always had a love for horses. Her family didn’t own any horses, but her aunt would always to take her to ride when time would permit.

In her adult years, she was finally able to have horses of her own. Around 1995 she fell in love with the cutting horse industry just by watching it. Pam credits her horse Dualin Dalton for her confidence in the show pen.

“He won a lot of money and allowed me to have great success in the show pen,” said Pam. She has spent the last 18 years as a member of the NCHA.

With a demanding job as an ER nurse, she hasn’t been able to haul to anything other than aged events until the last 6 years.

A few life changing events led her to the outskirts of the Cutting Capital of the World in 2012. Pam says she didn’t have any intentions of ending up there, but she loves it because of how convenient it is to make the shows. She plans to start hauling in the aged events in 2019 with a new horse now that she is able to focus more on her cutting career, with Ben Roberson as her trainer.

WHY PAM CROUCH USES CHTO: “In my downtime, if I can’t make it to a trainer’s house, CHTO makes it convenient for me to be able to learn from right here at home from top trainers. It never goes away. I am able to rewind it as many times as I need to and apply it to my runs.”

Want to enjoy more success in cutting? Get access to the best trainers and showmen/women in the business. It’s the best dollar you’ll ever spend in cutting! So if you’re not a member yet – Click HERE to get a free week and access our entire video library!!!

Get 7 Days Free!

You can cancel anytime. If you decide to continue with the membership past 7 days, your card will be charged on the 8th day for your convenience, you don’t need to take any action. To cancel, just email us at least two days before your bill date.


You Can’t Pick ‘Em – Winston Hansma

October 22nd, 2018 by Simone Cobb



Legendary Bar H trainers and brothers, Winston Hansma and Paul Hansma have always had a wicked sense of humor. In fact, we’re reported previously in our newsletter another prank Paul pulled on Duncan Steele-Park with pistachios. This time Paul and others had Winston in their sights. As Winston tells it below, even trainers sometimes can’t remember their cows!

“We were at Steamboat Springs, Colorado. We always had a lot of fun at those shows. It was first thing in the morning and somebody came up to me asked me if I’d settle their cattle for them. It wasn’t somebody I normally would have or didn’t even help, so I was a little surprised they asked me but you know they said who ever they got to usually settle the cows was having to work a horse at 8 o’clock so I said, “alright””, said Winston Hansma.
Keep on Reading!

Record Entries At Cotton Stakes Following New Leveling System

October 22nd, 2018 by Simone Cobb

The new class leveling system was a much-needed shot in the arm of the once-ailing Cotton Stakes. That was the overwhelming feedback to come out of the recent cutting show that saw entries up by nearly 150 percent.

The Cotton Stakes in West Monroe, Louisiana, produced by Robert Charles Brown, was the first show to trial the new class leveling system. Ora Diehl and Denise Seiz originally proposed the concept to the NCHA at the 2018 Convention.

Denise described the show as “a family reunion.” They both agreed that they felt like they were at a cutting in the 70’s because of the large turnout, and the positive atmosphere and the return of familiar faces. They said the excitement brought by the people who entered was indescribable.

Ora Diehl

Ora Diehl

Prior to the Cotton Stakes, there was concern the added levels would reduce the entries, and not pay enough. But the entries almost tripled (see the statistics below). The show producer’s income also almost trebled, and the two women said everyone felt like they had a level playing field when walking into the show arena.

Denise said this was the Cotton Stake’s last hope because of the money lost in prior years hosting the show. Robert Charles decided to take a chance on their idea. Because of the increase in entries, he was able to make back all the money lost in previous years, as well as make a profit during this year’s show.

Ora said that Robert will now implement the new classes going forward and that he didn’t have one negative thing to say about it. He also told her that other show producers had been in contact with him as they are now interested in trialing the concept.

Denise Seiz

Denise Seiz

Both ladies said everyone seemed pleased and happy with the outcome except for some of the open riders. While not completely against the idea because they agree that change is needed, many trainers were concerned about payouts being reduced.

Trainer Jonathan Rogers said, “It didn’t pay well and it was very tough to make the finals. You have to have a good horse no matter what. For example, the same horse won the Intermediate and the Open which shows that it has a lot to do with the horse rather than the rider.”

He said the new system seemed to work great for the amateur and non pro classes, but that the open was a different ball game. He suggested creating levels based on the horse’s earnings and not the riders as a better alternative for the Open class.

Photo of Jonathan Rogers, Cutting Horse Trainer

Jonathan Rogers

“We need a change or there isn’t going to be an NCHA in the next 5 years. This just isn’t the change we need. When I was a loper in this industry cutting was fun and everyone encouraged each other. Now it isn’t like that, now it is all about the money and it isn’t exciting until Futurity time because [it is the one show] no one knows what they’re going to see,” said Jonathan.

On a post-show survey and Denise stated, “I had 86 who all had positive feed-back and a yes vote on the system, and 1 maybe. I didn’t have anyone tell me no on this new system, which made us feel pretty optimistic and speaks for itself.”

Denise and Ora said the only difficulty they encountered with the new levels was entering it into the software. While it wasn’t impossible, they said it did take a few extra steps. They both agreed the software can be re-tuned if more show producers and the NCHA decide to go forward with this format.

Non pro rider James Hooper admitted that he was going into the Cotton Stakes thinking that the new leveling system was too much of a drastic transition. Once he got to the show however, he was blown away by the optimistic atmosphere. He said there were several people that made the finals that he had never seen before.

James Hooper on CR Heart Attac

The Senior Division Champion in the Intermediate Derby Amateur, James Hooper on Cr Heart Attac at Cotton Stakes

“The NCHA is in trouble if we don’t do something. A level playing field like this will encourage people to get involved and stay involved. Trainers are running people off because they dominate the finals,” James said.

He agreed that this may dilute the purse, or make the open not pay as much, but that the organization needed to do what benefited the most people.

While there was some difference of opinion in the way the new system was implemented, the need for change was unanimous.

“We’ve lost so many people and the change in atmosphere at West Monroe proved that change is what we need,” said Jonathan.


Member Spotlight – Reagan Box

September 19th, 2018 by Simone Cobb

Reagan Box grew up in the city where horses weren’t a part of life for her and her family.

Reagan Box

Reagan Box

She later found herself breaking colts in Northern Georgia. At that time, Reagan was specializing in problem horses. After a few cutting bred horses came her way, she fell in love with the industry because their quality.

Her passion for horses and cow work brought her to Texas. She worked under a few trainers and then went out on her own.

Reagan was working for a trainer that had a horse they didn’t think was going to make the cut in the show pen. They told Reagan they were going to sell her for $500. She asked them if they would let her try to get her through a few runs before they completely gave up on her. Little did she know this horse would provide her with her most memorable moment in the show pen. Reagan took Quiejannas Winning Streak to Sweetwater, Texas and marked a 75.

Her plans are to keep improving as a trainer with hopes of becoming one of the top trainers in the industry.


“I’ve always worked for trainers or trained horses for myself in remote areas that didn’t have easy access to advise [from] other trainers. Cutting Horse Training Online provides me with a learning tool without having to travel by providing information from some of the top trainers.”

Want to enjoy more success in cutting? Get access to the best trainers and showmen/women in the business. It’s the best dollar you’ll ever spend in cutting! So if you’re not a member yet – Click HERE to get a free week and access our entire video library!!!

Get 7 Days Free!

You can cancel anytime. If you decide to continue with the membership past 7 days, your card will be charged on the 8th day for your convenience, you don’t need to take any action. To cancel, just email us at least two days before your bill date.


Why Cutters Are Helping To “Protect The Harvest”

September 19th, 2018 by Simone Cobb

It is there at every Triple Crown show. If you’ve visited the Exhibit Hall at the Will Rogers Coliseum in Fort Worth, you’ve probably seen the “Protect The Harvest” (PTH) booth and wondered what it was all about? But what, you may ask, does farming and protecting it, have to do with cutters?
No, it is not an insurance scheme for crops ruined by flood, hail, or drought, or a lobby group for farming subsidies as it may sound like. It is, in fact, a metaphorical name to apply to all of agriculture, horses included, about protecting a way of life.
“At Protect The Harvest we promote responsible animal ownership and that’s like these events here,” said Shawn Burtenshaw referring to the NCHA Super Stakes that was underway.

Shawn Burtenshaw - Protect The Harvest spokesman

Shawn Burtenshaw – Protect The Harvest spokesman

The non-profit group was founded in 2011 by Forrest Lucas, owner of Lucas Oil, the Super Stake’s major sponsor.
“These animals are so well cared for. I mean this is animal welfare at its finest at these events, at 4H shows, at rodeos. Animal rights groups, extreme animal rights groups want to see these events completely eliminated. They view any use of any animals as animal slavery,” said Burtenshaw, a spokesman for the organization.
“We want people to have the rights to make that decision not the animals to have the rights, the same rights as people,” he added.
PTH was created to “fight against animal rights groups who want to end meat consumption, halt consumer access to affordable food, eliminate all hunting practices, and outlaw rodeos, circuses and pet ownership” as stated on the PTH website.
Burtenshaw said the USDA monitors the raising of livestock using strict standards and regulations already in place.
He said Lucas saw the need for a group to defend the livelihoods and industries of agriculture, livestock and sport and to push back against animal rights activists who were extremely vocal.
“People were afraid to go up against these animal rights groups because they use bullying tactics and you know, they get very, very aggressive. And as agriculturists [they] are very recessive. We just get to work and provide and do our thing,” Burtenshaw said.
Specific issues PTH is championing include the ELD mandate which may force people who haul horses to get a commercial truck driver’s license.

Protect The Harvest

Protect The Harvest

Burtenshaw said their motto is to inform, protect and respond, using education to spread the word and motivate people to take action.
“We’re going to save agriculture in America. That’s our goal,” he said.

“Most people in the West do not know where their food comes from. They have impression it comes from a grocery store. So information is key.”
Burtenshaw said PTH runs some counter campaigns against what he called radical organizations. He said people need to become engaged. He said there are many ways people can get involved by going to their website, contacting their local representative on issues that affect them, share PTH’s social media posts, volunteer for the organization or even make a financial contribution.
“Don’t sit idly by and think somebody is going to take care of it for you. We are the lead organization on this but we can’t do it on our own. We need help,” he encouraged.

Want to enjoy more success in cutting? Get access to the best trainers and showmen/women in the business. It’s the best dollar you’ll ever spend in cutting! So if you’re not a member yet – Click HERE to get a free week and access our entire video library!!!

Get 7 Days Free!

You can cancel anytime. If you decide to continue with the membership past 7 days, your card will be charged on the 8th day for your convenience, you don’t need to take any action. To cancel, just email us at least two days before your bill date.


Todd Graham – A League Of his Own

September 19th, 2018 by Simone Cobb

On June 10 this year, Australian trainer Todd Graham created cutting horse history. He became the first and only rider to win six Futurities! The legendary Buster Welch has won five in the US and while Todd has won Australian NCHA Futurities, it’s an astonishing feat to win six of any title no matter which country or what sport! Think Roger Federer who is the only player to have won the Australian Open and Wimbledon at least 6 times (Wimbledon is actually 8) or even the greatest Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps won the same event just four times, to show how difficult it is to claim multiple victories in one event.
Last out in the final, Todd rode Duplicity owned by Lloyd Nielson. He marked a 223 to scoot past leader Linda MacCallum’s 219 to win.
“Any Futurity win is good and this last one was special. The guy that owned the mare has been a mate of mine since we were kids,” said Todd.
“We cut the first two cows we knew [were fresh] and we were putting a pretty decent run together…It just felt like it was building. We went back to cut the rerun…and I wasn’t fussed on that. It was kind of numb and wasn’t going to do too much and as I stepped into the herd, out behind me came this other cow…I again knew it was fresh but I didn’t know if it was any good.   Anyway I took a risk and cut it and it was ok, it wasn’t great but it was good enough to finish on without a mistake.”
“Every Futurity I’ve won, you know, as you’re coming along you can feel it building. It’s a big thing I learnt probably years ago, you got to build on your run. You won’t win it in the first 20 seconds.”
“Yeh it was a great feeling, to prove to yourself you could still do it and to do it for Lloyd,” he said.

Todd Graham on Spins Gypsy Queen

Todd Graham on Spins Gypsy Queen

Todd and his wife Jackie were in the States this month looking at horses and cutting facilities. Jackie was also competing in the International Non Pro Cutting Challenge at the El Rancho Futurity in California.
After 25 years running his own training business and working for the public, Todd relocated to Goondiwindi, Queensland to work full time for Andrea McCosker, a wealthy cotton grower and owner of SDM Quarter Horses. Andrea took over the reins from her mother Sue who died a few years ago. Sue had started a breeding program centered around One Time Royalty which stands at Oswood Stallion Station in Texas.
“We were looking for a change just to get away from the grind of working for ourselves and managing all that and it just seemed like a good challenge,” said Todd Graham.
The change couldn’t have come at a better time, with much of Queensland and all of New South Wales suffering one of the worst droughts on record.
“You’re buying horse feed, cow feed, you know paying staff, whereas now, we don’t have any of those worries, so that’s good, “ he said.
It’s been 3 years of well below average rainfalls. Feed costs have more than trebled and hay has had to be shipped from 20 hours away at a cost of $7,000.
“Bare, there’s no grass, it’s just dirt. If you drive around New South Wales or even around our place at Goondiwindi, it’s just dirt, there’s no grass. It’s desperate. It’s just really desperate. There’s towns running out of water, it’s affected the whole country,” said Todd.
While it’s been an adjustment going from boss to employee, Todd said he is excited about establishing SDM Quarter Horses as a major, if not the major, cutting horse and camp draft breeding enterprise with a proven show record.
“She [Andrea] is committed to seeing the Royalties go through and be competitive and sought after” which he said, they look like they will be in the next 12 months. “They’ll suit the camp draft market, they’ll suit the cutters and it’s good to be a part of all that, the developing of that, the promotion of all that.”
Todd and Jackie visited cutting ranches around Weatherford, TX, like the architect-designed Rocking P Ranch owned by Bobby Patton, Slate River and Winston Hansma’s to get ideas for developing their facilities at Goondiwindi.
“We’re building indoor arenas and barns and all that. There’s a lot of horse facilities there but not set up to train cutting horses so we’re redoing the whole thing.”

Todd Graham with kids Addy and Aiden

Todd Graham with kids Addy and Aiden

While building costs are much higher in Australia, a standard indoor arena with no walls costs $120,000, Todd said Andrea plans on creating a show piece.
“We will build one [arena] big enough to hopefully hold a show in it, some competition, some pre-works. Probably put 40 stalls in it, horse walker, try and put it all under one roof. Also want to put in some rehab facilities, state-of-the-art type stuff.   Andrea’s pretty committed to it, if she does anything, she does it right.”
Todd said the breeding adds a new challenge for him as he explained his new goal for SDM Quarter Horses: “I don’t really want to you know go along and just cruise along, I’d like to, I’ve always wanted to be the best so you kind of want to do that too.   You know when people want to buy a horse, they ring (call) us, when people want to breed a mare they ring us, when people want a job, they ring us,” he envisioned.
Always on the lookout for new mares and bloodlines to import, Todd said so far they’ve bred to some Metallic Cats, and Smooth Talking Style. They also currently have a few horses in training with Lloyd Cox.
With camp drafting the biggest market in Australia, the horses also need to be good at running. Camp drafting is an Australian sport that includes a snaffle bit component before riders then guide the cow in a figure eight at speed. It has many similarities to cow horses in the States.
“They are really starting to source them now [from the cutting industry] because of the training that we do on them, they’ve got a great foundation…so they can get on them a lot earlier now than they used to 10 years ago.”
“They need to be soft in a snaffle, they need to rate a cow at speed without getting too hot and be able to run a tight circle.”
But if you think Todd is slowing down in the show pen, think again. Ever ambitious, he said he’d love to also have success in the States. He said Lloyd has a good 3-year-old for the Futurity.
“I said to him the other day if it’s good enough for him to show it, he should show it, but if not I’d like to come do it.”
“It’s more personal pressure because you’ve done it at home and you want to come over here and do it again, not necessarily win but just be there and be competitive,” he added.
It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Todd. He dominated in Australia in the mid 90s when he won his first 3 futurities in a row in 1995, 96 and 97 when Roger Wagner and John Mitchell were on his turn back team. He won again in 2002 but then went 12 long years before returning as Futurity Champion in 2015 and again this year.
While he was still making finals and placing over that 12 year gap, he said he wasn’t able to put it all together, a time when he was going through a divorce.
Now married to Jackie, Todd said being happy helped him get that winning finesse back.
“When you’re content and you’re happy, that’s when your mind’s a bit clearer and you can do the right things and get your focus on what you need to do…I guess your mind’s clearer and more comfortable, you do the right thing, you cut the right cow at the right time.”
“You need that support…it’s long hours, it’s demanding, you know the pressures and all that sort of thing but Jackie’s always there…when you need her and that’s a huge help.”
They are a winning team. Jackie herself won the Non Pro Futurity this year.

Jackie Graham at 2018 Australian NCHA Non Pro Futurity

Jackie Graham at 2018 Australian NCHA Non Pro Futurity

Todd Graham is Australia’s top money earner in the sport with $2.4-million. While you may think it doesn’t compare to the top US trainers like Phil Rapp, Matt Gaines and Lloyd Cox at $9 and $8-million, the prize money offered and the number of cutting shows is far lower. The Futurity pays $75,000 to win and trainers there typically take home a smaller percentage. Todd said the first Futurity he won in 1995 paid $17,000.
“I’ve showed a lot of horses to win $2.4 million,” Todd Graham said.
Todd said cutting has changed a lot in that time, becoming far more technical.
“The mare I won it [1995 Futurity] on was cowy and a little wild and was a little out there and now you can’t do that. You get stung for a small miss or a big miss… the judging’s changed heaps and that’s changed how the horses work…you can’t expose them as much as you used to,” he explained.
Todd said winning is not more difficult now, just different.
“Winning is always difficult, I wouldn’t say it’s any better, I wouldn’t say the cutting is any better now. The horse training’s changed a lot, there’s a lot more control, sometimes it’s a little more bland. Not all horses are bland but the majority of them, it’s taken a lot of style out of them,” he said a little wistfully of the way cutting used to be.
So what’s his secret? Todd said it’s a combination of his mental preparation and a natural talent for the sport.
“Sometimes it just happens, but most of the time you’ve got to make it happen. You’ve got to clear your mind about what you’re doing…here’s my job tonight and this is what I need to do and sort of clear your mind so you can remember the cows and think about how you’re going to work your horse and do all those little things right,” said Todd Graham.
“I’m pretty lucky I’ve got a good feel for a horse and a good feel for a cow…I probably haven’t had to work at the basic stuff. But I guess I’ve developed over the years, my timing is pretty good on a horse and I’ve tried to relate that to the cow. Don’t worry when I was younger I made plenty of mistakes…so you’ve got to wait to the next show and do it again. And that made me get smarter when I show and I guess I’ve got this thing that apparently I don’t look flustered when I’m in there. I can be really nervous but I don’t look like that. I guess I’m lucky in that department and lucky that I found something that I was good at,” said Todd.

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