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.
Being both academic and athletic, Burch’s plan was to become an equine veterinarian. She was voted best athlete in her class and attended college on a sport scholarship, playing multiple sports.
At 16 years old, Burch started to show her own horse and fellow competitors took notice. Soon they were sending her horses to ride. Her family and friends helped build her an arena on their land and local FFA kids would allow Burch to work their show cattle if they could build a bucking chute in her arena and ride the steers.
“I worked the cutting horses I had on them and the boys would ride them out of the chute. By the end of the year when they went to market or went to the show, they were great. They were muscular and not too fat and had a lot of lean muscle so our chapter won everything.”
Burch continued showing while in college and took her horses up to UC Davis where she earned a bachelors in zoology and master’s degree in endocrinology. She didn’t get into vet school, so she thought maybe she was meant to train horses.
Burch moved to Clements, California and showed more seriously at Modine Smith’s feedlot in the late 70s and in the PCCHA circuit. She traveled up the coast in California to Salinas, Santa Ynez and Reno. All the big-time Texans in the world of cutting would also come to show.
“I was always a fixture on the fence watching everybody train. Learning what not to do is sometimes as valuable as learning what to do.”
“I was always going to school, so I never really got to work for anyone other than Bruce when I was 13-years old cleaning stalls. I had to learn by watching, participating and trial and error,” Burch said.
She added, “You can learn a lot from the horse you’re riding if you give them a little time.”
“My whole philosophy, when working a cutting horse, is to let the cow be the teacher and I am the substitute teacher. I just help and position the horse in the spot that is going to be conducive to him or her controlling a cow.”
It’s a mindset that has served Burch well. Some of her greatest achievements include becoming Co-Reserve Champion at her second ever Futurity on a mare named Diamond Mystery in 1979. The next year, she won the coveted title aboard Mis Royal Mahogany with a 225.5 achieving the distinction of being the first woman to win the Futurity.
Burch also marked a 233 aboard Bet Yer Blue Boons at the World Finals in Houston in 2000, setting the record for the highest score for many years. The pair went on to win the Open Championship for that year. Burch said Bet Yer Blue Boons taught her a lot. She could never drill the mare; it didn’t fit either Burch nor Bet Yer Blue Boons. She was terrible as a two and three-year-old, Burch remembers, and not a very good 4-year-old.
“…I just wouldn’t give up on her. I was as stubborn as she was. I could feel periods of greatness in her and then she would just walk off or just not take a cow. Most of the time she would work great for 2 minutes and then she was just done…When she caught on, she never looked back.”
And for the next seven years, Bet Yer Blue Boons became a legend, earning over $300,000 in the cutting pen at mostly weekend shows.
“The cutting was never over until Bet showed,” Burch said.
Burch has received many accolades over her years in the sport. She has been inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame, Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, NCHA Riders Hall of Fame, NCHA Members Hall of Fame, PCCHA Members Hall of Fame, and been a receiver of the PCCHA Trainers Award, the PCCHA Ed Smith Memorial Sportsmanship Award and the Modine Smith Humanitarian Award.
Burch has also been heavily involved in giving back to the sport. She was the president of the PCCHA, and the first woman president of the NCHA. She has been the driving force for the development of the Horse And Cattle Welfare Committee. And remains the chairman since its inception.
“I want to continue to help inspire other people and to inspire our industry to effectively care and promote the welfare of our horses. I think we’re doing a really good job at that. The trainers, showman, and the competitors are coming on board with that more all the time,” she said.