My parents started showing cutting horses when I was 5 years old. Sure they had both grown up around horses, mom showed Arabians in pleasure shows and dad had farm horses and competed in play days, but the cutting Arena was new to all of us. The day my mom came home and told my dad her Arabian was for sale was the day we became “Cutters.”
I spent many hours sitting on a fence listening to the horse trainer talking to, yelling at and explaining what to do and what not to do; stop, pull back, why did you do that, don’t lean, tag off now, and the list goes on. Have you ever heard the old phrase, “God gave you two ears and one mouth so you can listen twice as much as you speak.” If you are talking you won’t hear nearly everything someone is trying to teach you.
The first time I went to show a cutting horse was in McKinney, Texas. I had never shown before but the opportunity presented itself to me and my parents allowed me to show my mom’s horse. Riding into the herd I asked the herd holder if I could just go home now. I did everything in the rule book you aren’t supposed to do from a hot quit to turning tail to the cow to reining points. I walked out of that arena and my parents just looked at me.
I hadn’t ever been in a show situation before though, I knew what to do and what not to do, but I was nervous. Nerves sometimes play a big deal in how you react to things. The next time I went to show, I did everything right. My dad talked me through things, he showed me some key points and they worked with me. How many times have you attempted something on the first go and succeeded? Now how much better have you done after practice? So the age old adage “Practice makes perfect” comes to win.
Practice isn’t easy and sometimes it is hard work even, but if you are truly dedicated to learning more and succeeding whether it is in the show ring or in life, you will go far. You’ll never truly succeed at something you aren’t even remotely dedicated. When it’s 100 degrees outside and you are hot and tired, it’s extremely easy to just give up, walk inside, pour yourself an ice cold drink and kick your feet up. While you are doing that though, there is someone out there who is outside, shedding blood, sweat and tears to be better. At the end of the day, who do you think will come out on top?
Something my father used to always and really still does say to me is “Can’t died in the corn patch.” As a little kid, I’m not sure I totally understood that phrase. As I got older though, that phrase started making more sense; the only person stopping you or standing in your way of truly succeeding is yourself. If people always said I can’t to everything ever presented to them you couldn’t read this because we’d all be uneducated and living in the dark. So on those hot days or cold nights, if it was time to go practice, I’d get my boots on and head out to the barn. I wasn’t about to stand in my own way.
Patience is a key factor. You aren’t always going to get everything the first time. Sometimes you have to be patient and persistent. There are times when everything that can go wrong will. You will get fed up; your horse will get fed up. Sometimes it is ok to call it a day on that note. Make sure you quit with one good thing and call it a day. You definitely don’t want to undo something that took you days, weeks and even month’s to accomplish. Knowing when to stop, knowing when to keep going, using your best judgment is key to success.