Trainer’s Corner: Rob Hodgman

April 6th, 2021 by Sophia Skeith

Total Earnings: $892,000 Aus

At 18 years old Rob Hodgman left home in Australia and traveled to California to ride reined cow horses. He returned home where he said the sport was more popular then and bought a cow horse. That horse did not like reining so a friend suggested he take it to the cutting futurity. He ended up winning the 1983 Australian NCHA Open Futurity on the horse.

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Member Spotlight: Samantha McPherrin & Suzanne Stilwell

April 6th, 2021 by Sophia Skeith

Samantha McPherrin & her mom Suzanne Stilwell

Samantha McPherrin rode a cutting horse for the first time in 2010 when she was working for a trainer. She had a blast and her mom, Suzanne Stilwell, also got into cutting at the same time.

Stilwell bought her first horse in 2010. Stilwell said Todd Bimat and Jose Mendez were a big part of how she got started in cutting.

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Buffalo: The Next Best Thing To Having Cows

April 6th, 2021 by Sophia Skeith

Buffalo getting a feel for the arena

They’re goggled-eyed, mop-headed, unbalanced looking creatures that can seem downright intimidating, but the ungainly bison can be a cutter’s best friend when it comes to tuning your horse.

With constant supplies of fresh cattle a fantasy for most cutters, buffalo are a much more affordable substitute. Unlike cows which sour quickly after being worked, buffalo can be used to train six to eight horses a day for a number of years, provided you handle them right.

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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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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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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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Trainer’s Corner – Dustin Gonnet – Cayley, Alberta, Canada

October 5th, 2020 by Sophia Skeith

Photo By Hudyma Photography

Total Earnings: $1,672,203

Dustin Gonnet bought a horse from a sale that a cutting horse trainer had put some time on and he ended up getting a job with that trainer, Doug Reinhardt, to start colts and later he worked for Scott Amos. He never turned back! Gonnet grew up cowboying and riding colts his whole life in Saskatchewan, Canada. Gonnet was a true student of the sport, spending many hours watching other trainers in the practice pen at shows and applying what he thought would work for him and building on that.

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Member Spotlight – Lilly Loraas – Duluth, MN

September 14th, 2020 by Sophia Skeith

Lilly and Smart Like Pepto Rio

Lilly Loraas first started cutting about a year ago and at 14 years old she has big dreams. She is a regional director for the NYCHA and hopes to one day become president or vice president of the board. She also hopes to compete at the world finals and continue learning about the sport.

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Member Spotlight: Kylie Barnett – Tamworth, NSW, Australia

August 4th, 2020 by Sophia Skeith

Kylie and Yugilbar Gday Kitty

Kylie Barnett has been around horses her whole life. Her background is in camp drafting (an Australian sport that shares some similarities with reined cow horse) which goes back to her grandfather, but she has always enjoyed watching cutting at the Australian NCHA Futurity. She was watching the Futurity sale and saw a mare she liked that wasn’t going for much so she decided to take a chance and buy her!  Keep On Reading!


Member Spotlight – Roberta Rollins – Belle, MO

July 24th, 2020 by Sophia Skeith

Roberta receiving her Reserve Champion $5000 AM buckle at The Bonanza

Roberta Rollins began her riding career with Western Pleasure Futurity horses. She and her trainer, Jaime Bissell, went to Tom Lyons’ ranch in 1994 where Rollins got a taste of cutting. After a 3 day crash course in the sport, she purchased Doc’s Lord Monty and attended her first cutting show.

“I was terrified at the thought of showing in cutting, when my background was a slow lope around the pen on a pleasure futurity horse,” Rollins remembered.

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Trainer’s Corner – Guy Woods

July 24th, 2020 by Sophia Skeith

Guy Woods

Total Earnings: $2,729,007

Originally from Australia, Guy Woods grew up in the horse business. His dad was a cutting horse trainer and so he started showing as a youth. At age 18, Guy moved to the States to work for a reining trainer. His boss later suggested he work for cutting horse trainer, Bill Riddle, and the rest is history!

Guy has been working for EE Ranches for an impressive 32 years! He said the key is really good communication with the owners, the Ellards. Several years into working for EE Ranches, Mrs. Ellard started showing a lot. She was the head loper and she was in the trenches with Guy. She saw the good, the bad and the ugly, Guy said. She saw every aspect of the sport, which helped her understand cutting from a trainer’s perspective and the challenges they face. He said this has been the key to their partnership’s success and longevity.

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Jay Winborn – From Polo To Cutting – Life Lessons

July 23rd, 2020 by Sophia Skeith

Jay Winborn

NCHA Executive Director Jay Winborn has a background in an equine sport you don’t hear much of in performance horse circles. For 15 years, Winborn was an international, professional polo player!

He started off as a groom in a polo club. As a third generation polo player, it was a natural progression for the young rider. He not only competed in the sport, but trained polo horses and ran polo clubs in the Dallas district.

Playing professionally meant a lot of traveling. He would spend four to five months a year in Florida for the winter training and riding. In the summer, the team would travel to New York, Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma and other states to play in month-long tournaments.

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Creating The Conditions For Success With Michael Cooper Pt2

June 1st, 2020 by Sophia Skeith

Michael Cooper talking to clinic participants

As most cutting horse shows start back up in June, it is time to think about your strategy for the rest of the year and get your head in back in the game! Top trainer Michael Cooper offers some great insight into how to do just that!

Set Goals

Michael Cooper spends time with each of his clients on developing their goals. He said setting goals depends on three things: the horse, the rider, and the steps they need to take together to accomplish those goals. For example, what does the client want to do with their horse? Show more themselves or have Cooper show it to try to win the most money on it?

Together, they also decide if it’s an open or a non pro horse or if it can be both at some shows. From there, they work out a plan for the horse. If it’s a horse they just want to show in the non pro or amateur, Cooper will still show it every third show or so at the weekend level to keep it tuned up and increase its money earned.

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Trainer’s Corner: Cullen Chartier

June 1st, 2020 by Sophia Skeith

Cullen Chartier Photo by Martin Lengals

Total Earnings: $1,004,761

With two generations of cutters behind him, you could say cutting is in Cullen Chartier’s blood. Before committing to be a trainer, Chartier’s main focus was other sports. At one point, he pursued a sports broadcasting career, but made the switch after watching his brother, RL Chartier make the Futurity finals.

Cullen showed in the youth and worked for his dad, Randy Chartier for two years. He then went to work for RL at Wrigley Ranches. After two years, RL told him it was time to go work for someone else, so Chartier headed off to Paul Hansma. He spent four years with Hansma, before starting his own business training out of Paul’s place.

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