You can’t beat that first buckle feeling. Bobby pictured at Right
Bobby Kearney grew up in Nevada and was influenced by his grandfather who would tell him how special a cutting horse was. He would get to ride occasionally as a boy, but after he finished medical school the first thing he did was buy a horse.
He attended the PCCHA cutting shows in Reno and would watch and talk with people. They moved to North Carolina and he put horses to the side after experiencing difficulties finding a trainer. Eventually an employee invited him to come riding and much to his excitement she rode cutting horses!
Kearney said 2021 was his Rookie year and he was able to show a few times. He has met some of his goals already including winning his first buckle and making sure there was a seven in front of his score.Keep on reading!
An apprenticeship to an equine chiropractor brought Hayden Upton to the United States from Australia 22 years ago. He grew up around horses but it was through working on cutting horses that drew him into the sport as a trainer. Upton had worked for Gerald O’Brien in Australia where he learnt how to break horses of all disciplines from thoroughbreds to kid’s ponies but he never worked for a cutting horse trainer.Keep On Reading!
Wes (19) with Buster in the chuck wagon tent while they were branding cows at Buster’s ranch 20 years ago.
From bits and saddles, to working a cutting horse in a round pen, to helping start the NCHA and hosting the first futurity, Buster Welch made cutting what it is today.
“Anybody that has [ridden] a cutting horse has been influenced by him whether they know it or not,” $9.1 million earner Austin Shepard said of his good friend Welch, who passed away June 12th, 2022 at his Abilene home at 94 years old.
Growing up, Dave Afseth said he rode a horse more than he rode a bicycle. They didn’t have fancy horses, he said. “If it had hair and four legs and it could gather the cows…”, then it was good enough for him.
He moved on from horses for a few years and raised a family. Then life in the saddle lured him back. He found himself at a cutting horse competition and was hooked just watching it. He ended up buying a horse and boarding it at a cutting horse facility.Keep On Reading!
Michael Cooper never worked for a cutting horse trainer and literally came from nothing. He is from Missouri originally and learned about cutting when he traveled to Arkansas to visit relatives who happened to work for a cutting horse trainer. They offered to let Cooper work a cutting horse and he couldn’t believe what he was feeling. He learned by watching everything he could about cutting and even wore out training dvds.Keep On Reading!
The talented group of Legends that have left their mark on the sport.
Milestones are meant to be celebrated! NCHA Australia recently celebrated 50 years of cutting at the 2022 NCHA 4Cyte Futurity! On June 10th the Association held a fantastic evening showcasing memorabilia, launching a book called A Good Hand by Gail Ritchie and 11 of Australia’s cutting legends walked to the herd in an event that was more packed than the Futurity finals.Keep On Reading!
Luis Fernando Taboga rode JSA Comanche Way to a 75 claiming the Open Futurity last month in Brazil. Photo by: Adilson Silva
The Amazon rainforest, stunning beaches and colorful festivals come to mind at the mention of Brazil. But Brazil also has a rich ranching history and a growing cutting horse industry.
After working for Beau Galyean for two short years, Brazilian trainer Rodrigo Taboga has amassed close to a million dollars in winnings and numerous championships under his belt.
He got his start in Sao Paulo, riding cutters on his father’s ranch and competing in the Associação Nacional do Cavalo de Apartação, the Brazilian affiliate of the NCHA, which was founded in 1989. Keep On Reading!
Monty Buntin grew up on a small ranch in Arizona and was always into horses. A neighbor three miles away had a ranch and Buntin soaked up as much barn time there as he could. Buntin was introduced to Yancy James and Lance Harrel, Leon Harrel’s son. They introduced him to cutting.
He spent some time with Salvador Cabral and at 18 he went on to work for Tim Smith. Buntin later got a job working for Smith’s clients in Lockeford, CA.
Gary Kuoppala grew up on a dairy farm so he had plenty of experience working with cows. He went to farrier school and ended up becoming a horse trainer. He was later introduced to cutting and wanted to give it a try.
He typically starts colts in his program but he purchased a filly with the intention of training her into a cutting horse. He spent a little time with a local trainer but he rides by himself and does all of his own training. Keep On Reading!
Brad Jordan was introduced to cutting through his daughter’s barrel racing coach and family. He and his daughter followed them into the sport. He has really enjoyed cutting and has been working at his skills for two years.
“I’m more about building a connection with the horse. I love the sport and I want to win and be competitive but for me it builds a bond with the horse that I probably wouldn’t have built otherwise. That is important to me.”
Ascencion Banuelos grew up with horses since his family didn’t have trucks or cars in Mexico. At 13 years of age, he came to California and started working on a dairy farm milking 400 cows twice a day. After five years at the dairy, he kept hoping he would run into horses.
He would get a few days off every six months and he found a horse barn and applied for a job on those days off. He got the job riding pleasure horses and then later the boss’s kids wanted to get into cutting so they bought some trained horses. He was able to hop on some of the cutters and get a feel for it. He even started training some of the pleasure horses to cut.
Jesse Lennox and Spots Hottist at the Summer Spectacular in 2021
At age 10 he was cleaning stalls, by 14 he was breaking in ponies and a few years later he turned a date into his first job training cutting horses. You could say Jesse Lennox creates his own luck. Where others see a difficult path, Lennox sees opportunity. Despite coming from a non-horse background, Lennox discovered early on that horses were his passion. Little did he know he would go onto work for two billionaires and be at the top of the cutting horse game. Keep On Reading!
Joani and Boon Suen Enuf Photo by: Scootem n Shootem Photography
Joani Mink was in Australia on an agricultural exchange program and the first thing her host family did was assign her a cutting horse. They didn’t show cutting horses; they actually used them on their cattle ranch. A big part of Mink’s job was separating yearlings and settling the cows so they wouldn’t be wild.
When she returned to the States her dad got her a cutting horse. She put off college for a short time and went to work for Tom Campbell. Campbell trained Mink and the horse. She walked to the herd for the first time in 1997 and showed her own horse as an NCHA member in 2001.
AAAA NCHA Judge, Russ Carroll grew up in the cutting industry. He loped horses for his father, cutting horse trainer Rusty Carroll.
Carroll warmed up horses for his dad at eight years old. He built up a client base for training horses while studying at college. After graduating from the University of Houston with a business management degree, he knew he wanted to pursue cutting professionally.
He currently operates his training program in Rockwall, Texas and recently made the 2021 Open Futurity Finals. Keep On Reading!
Best buddies – Lance and Cade as youths killing time at a horse show.
After slingin’ dirt and cashing checks in the cutting horse youth and non-pro classes, childhood friends and successful showmen, Lance Cooper and Cade Shepard are now beating the pros at their own game!
They both handed in their non-pro cards one day apart after their wins in the Summer Spectacular Derby last year. Shepard had won almost a million dollars and Cooper was approaching a half a million when they became open riders.Keep On Reading!