The best 2 1/2 Minutes of your life

So as last Friday’s post stated, Practice Makes Perfect.

And oh so long ago I tried to briefly explain what a Cutting Horse is, or really how you show one… all the rules, guidelines, etc.

And I didn’t do such a hot job of trying to explain… but it’s really so in depth at times that a small blog post doesn’t do it justice.

So… Every year starting around Thanksgiving and ending about 2 weekends before Christmas (give or take) is a thing called the NCHA Futurity.  These are 3 year old babies (of the equine persuasion) who have never been shown in front of a judge for a score, ever.  It’s their first run out.  There are 3 categories, Amateur (Rider has won less than $50,000 Lifetime earnings, never been a trainer), Non Pro (not currently a trainer, gave up training status or never been a trainer), and Open (all the Big dogs or trainers, haha).  So the rider pays their entry fees to take these babies out for their first big showing in Ft. Worth, TX.  There are 2 go-rounds, Semi-finals and the Finals and it is a weeding out process as in so many go back, so many go back and eventually you wind up with 25 in the Finals battling it out for the title to be called Champion.  (and the money too 😉 Open wins $250,000)

So… here is the 2010 NCHA Futurity Open Champion, One Time Royalty Marking a 230**; Lloyd Cox trainer/rider; Jeffrey Matthews, Matthews Cutting Horses of Weatherford TX, Owner

**At the NCHA futurity you show in front of 5 judges, the top and bottom scores get thrown out, then they add the 3 middle scores together and that is your score for that ride.**


The best seat in the house is on the back of the horse.  The second best is in the Judges stand (right out front watching it all happen).

One of these days when we have the flag working, I’ll video that for you as well 🙂  Enjoy!

Practice Makes Perfect

For the type of horses we show, there is a way to practice without live cattle or buffalo, it’s called a flag or a mechanical cow.

Now we’ve really stepped up our game b/c when I say flag, our old flag was an old wheel of a bicycle on one side of the arena and the other part with the pedals on the other.  There was a rope between the tires and you had a person who sat there and hand cranked the bicycle.  The “cow” was an old towel, feedsack, shirt, etc that was tied in the middle and it moved back and forth as the “cow operator” moved the pedals of the bike.  Let me clarify a bit, you were actually standing on the ground, your hands were operating the pedals… just so we’re all clear.  I tried googling a picture, but couldn’t find one… so hopefully my description did it a little justice 🙂

We now have a mechanical cow.  It runs off a motor & electricity.  In fact the person on the horse runs the controller so you don’t have to have 2 people to practice… just one and a horse :)… oh and electricity ;).

Here dad is strapping the remote on to his wrist.

And their off.

Muddy bites at the real cows, I guess he thinks he should bite at this one too?

It’s also a great learning tool in a controlled environment to teach Tbug how to show cutting horses.

And of course the “babysitter” Aloha takes real good care of Tbug.

I was actually sitting on the ground, in the sand, on the other side of the cow.

KG is scared to death of the cow.  No this isn’t a picture of him scared, he’s actually working, but he works further back than any of the other horses.  See where hubs and Tbug are sitting… they actually had to move back, this is how far away from the cow KG works.  Now real cows you don’t have that problem but he hates this fake cow.

Then hubs jumped on Aloha.  He’s actually working without stirrups b/c he’s on Tbug’s saddle.  He was “correcting” Aloha after Tbug was done.

I almost didn’t get to go home in the front of the truck b/c I was sitting in the sand.

Working on the flag isn’t always the best method because the horses tend to learn to “cheat” but at the same time, it’s great practice if you don’t wanna bring the cattle up or if you’re trying to teach the youngun how it all works.  It keeps her in a nice controlled environment.

Cutting 101

So for some of you, I have a feeling you don’t know the type of horses I show.  They are a very specialized type… not breed (Paint, Quarter Horse, Appaloosa, etc), showing type (as in reining, cutting, western pleasure, Hunter Under Saddle, etc).  My parents have been involved with cutting horses since I was 5 years old.  Before that my mom showed Arabian horses in Western Pleasure, English Pleasure, Halter, etc.  Where we lived when I was 5, there was an arena right around the corner.  One afternoon my mom was killing time and went by to see if anything was going on.  They were having a cutting horse practice and some guy asked my mom to ride a horse for him, not knowing if she even knew how to ride a horse.  She was sold.  She loved it so much she came home that night, told my dad her horse was for sale and they got into the cutting horse business.

So far all of our Cutting horses we own are registered American Quarter Horses, which generally is the case, but not always.

So anyway I thought I’d try to give you a cutting lesson and explain what happens through the use of pictures… Sit back and enjoy 🙂

First things first, you have to hook up your truck to your trailer

And load the horses up so they are ready to go.  Now ours enjoy a little munchy for the road, it keeps them from being so crabby and stomping around in the trailer while going down the road.

So once you get to the show you are headed to (this one was about 2 hrs from our house) you unload your horse, saddle them up, and go to “warm them up”.  This is like with any sports you play, you want to warm your muscles up so you don’t cause injury.  Also, in this case, if it is chilly out, you take the “freshness” out of them.  (Freshness = the extreme excitement, or the feather up their tail… LOL)

This particular day I wore a sweatshirt just to take the chill off but it wasn’t cold so it didn’t take much to get the horses to calm down.

So once you’ve done all the prep work then you sign up for your class (although sometimes you do that before warming them up… just whichever as long as you get signed up)

For every horse that signs up for the particular class that is getting ready to start, they place 2 1/2 cows in.  Now I’ll bet you are asking how you place a half a cow in… well for every 2 people there are 5 head of cattle added to the herd.  It also takes at least 3 people to make a class.  If you wind up with an odd number of entrants therefore an odd number of cattle (that half a cow) they round up.

Next before the class starts, the first person asks for a “turnback” to settle the cattle.  These cattle (unless announced otherwise) are fresh, meaning they’ve never been worked by a horse.    The turnback goes in and walks through them, runs back and forth through them, etc trying to get them to settle into the herd and not be skiddish for when the riders are running back and forth in front of them.

While the turnback is settling the cattle, usually the people who are going to show in that particular class are doing 1 of 2 things.  Continuing getting their horse ready or else they are sitting there watching the turnback and how the cattle react to the horse.  The cows who are skiddish, you usually try to avoid because they aren’t always the best to work…

You also have a judge.  He has a judges card.  Our particular judge was sitting on horse back but usually they sit up on a truck bed, or in a judges box or something up a little higher so they don’t get an obstructed view.  He has a judging card which is where he makes his notes so he can decide what you score.  The scores range from a 60- the highest I’ve seen is a 78.  You have to be AWESOME x10 to get a 78…  The average score is a 70.  You can also get a 0 if you walk out before the timer is done.  You have 2 1/2 minutes to work 2 cattle.  That doesn’t seem like much when you just read it, but trust me, it’s intense!
When you walk into the herd, most judges have  you set at a 70, then you work up or down from there.

So the rider walks down very slowly and smooth into the herd of cattle and pushes them out.  You want to be left with one cow out in front of you and the rest of the herd to group up behind you.

This gray horse you see in this picture, is a “Turnback.”  You have 2 turnback helpers who are between you and the judge.  These guys help turn your cattle around.  Then you have 2 herd holders.  Those guys stand down by the herd and try to keep them from “squeezing” (coming) out on you.

Then you put your hand down and only cue the horse with your feet.  Every time while you are actually working the cow that you pick your hand up is 1 point off your total score, unless you are legally tagging off.

There are a couple of Legal tag offs.  One is if the cow turns away from you (turns his tail to you).  You can pick up your rein hand and place your horn hand down on the horses neck.  That is a legal tag off and you go back in to get another cow (unless the timer has buzzed signaling time is over)

The other “Legal” tagoff is if the cow is standing dead still (as are you).  You can pick your rein hand up and place your horn hand down on the horses neck. 

If you don’t tag off legally, then you are known for a “hot quit” which results in a 3 point penalty.  An illegal tag off is if you pick up your hand to tag off while the cow is moving or turns head toward you.

If you “lose a cow” which means that the cow goes under your horses neck without you legally tagging off, you deduct 5 points from your total score.

The joke is you rush rush rush to get to a show and get ready and then you sit around and wait for your turn…

Another penalty is if you have a back-fence.  There usually is a “marker”, in our case purple hankies, down on the fence very close to where the cattle stand.  There is one on either side.  If you and your horse go to the inside of those markers, that is a Backfence which results in a 3 point penalty.

Other typical penalties: If you have 2 hands on the reins at any time, that results in a 2 point penalty every time you do it.

If you go to training on your horse (way to many penalties) a judge can “Whistle” you out which will result in a 0 score.  And they actually have a whistle for that purpose if they feel the need.

Whether you score a 0 or you score the winning score of the class you pay the same entry fee (whatever it is for that class).  In American Quarter Horse Shows you are competing for Points.  So many points qualifies you for the World show.  The Adult World show is held in Oklahoma City, OK and the Youth World show has been moved to Tulsa, OK.

If you are competing in National Cutting Horse Association shows you are competing for money.  Different placings get you different monetary winnings.

Once you have finished showing for the day, you unsaddle your horses, load them back up in the trailer and head for the Ranch-o-Grandy.

I hope I have taught you anything and everything you’d ever like to know about showing cutting horses.  Yes this was just an over view and some of the major point penalties.  If I didn’t answer a question, lemme know and I’ll try 🙂

Do you smell that?

We Hurry up, just to wait?

I’m bored!

Did you at least bring me a snack?

Wait, what is that smell?

Do you not smell that?  It smells so great!!!
Know what it is?
It’s the smell of Fresh Cattle

A short history lesson on the type of horses I show, the phrase “Fresh cattle” means a cow that has never been worked by a horse.  We aren’t talking that the horse will eat the cattle… LOL

iPhone – Never Leave Home Without it!!

I’m really bad about leaving home without my big dSLR camera, although I usually do have my PAS (point and shoot) with me but even then, now that I got this darn iPhone, I hardly bring the PAS out to play. Between the dSLR and the iPhone camera my PAS is feeling lonely but it eats batteries like no bodies business! It’s frustrating when you put new batteries in the PAS and within no time flat it is flashing at you that the batteries are low. =P is what I think about that 🙂 yes I stuck my tongue out at it, very mature I know but whatever (I refrained from saying that’s the way I roll, oh dang there it is).

Well this weekend was hectic just like every other weekend. I swear one of these days I’m going to have a weekend where I do absolutely nothing! You hear me, NOTHING. Mark my words and when I get to that point we’ll have to mark it down on the calendar! But I truthfully don’t see that happening any time this summer… maybe next!

Friday night started out with going to dinner with Kalem & Evelyn and then we shot some games of Pool. I think out of the 5 games we possibly played I only lost 1. Yeah my first game I put the 8 ball where it was supposed to go but it was pure accident. I suck at pool! I only won the others b/c of scratches on the 8 ball or they put it in the wrong pocket.


So information about me, I’m SOOOOOOOO not a morning person. My co-workers joke and say not to bug me until around 9-10am because that’s when I actually start functioning and my college roommates always never spoke to me until I spoke first. So PC and I decided to go mow our lawn on Saturday so that we could open the pool while the previous owner was in town to show us all that needed to be done. He wanted to leave my house no later that 8am (on a Saturday none the less). After my house we had to run to his mom’s house to get his stock trailer and so we could get her lawn mower too. We have the best parents! (ours died last week). We were out of my house by 7:15 at the latest and out of his mom’s house by 7:45 and got to our house by 8am. He was so pleased with me. Bear was excited because he got to go also. He had a busy day. I think he probably slept most of Sunday to catch up! Must be nice!


Our house has fruit trees. I think there is 1 Cherry tree, 1 Pear tree and 2 Apple trees… I think that’s right. Anyway my grandma came out on Saturday while we were there opening our pool and mowing lawn to pick some cherries. While my services weren’t being used I was helping her pick cherries. We got some Fried Cherry Pies out of the deal. PC was happy!


My mom has been in Milwaukee 2 weeks ago and Las Vegas last week for work. She flew into Tulsa airport so my dad, PC and I went to pick her up.

I so can’t help but sing the Willie Nelson song “On The Road Again”

I looked out my window and saw this and thought it was beautiful. The iPhone didn’t do it justice!

Then we stayed over night and went to the NCHA Breeder’s Invitational horse show. My uncle missed the finals by 1/2 point so they headed home on Saturday but they are back at the showing again this week on Wednesday. We only stayed for a short while because Aloha (my dad’s mare) is bred and we figured she might foal Saturday before we left. (side note: my dad leaves town today at 4 for work and our luck, Aloha will foal while he’s gone which will make him upset.)

See the iPhone has limitations, No zoom… so you can barely see the horse down in the show arena showing. Sorry next time I’ll bring the dSLR or get more batteries for the hungry PAS….

PC & me at the BI

So every Sunday night we have a bunch of friends who have Sunday Night Dinners. We weren’t sure if we’d be able to make it since we were still in Tulsa. We did though!! :). For dinner this week we had grilled hamburgers, fried cheese sticks, cream cheese/bacon jalapenos, Pizza dip and there was dessert but I was so stuffed anyway there was no room for the dessert. Afterward we sat outside while PC & Noah played guitar and shot the breeze. Me I stole PC’s laptop and worked on editing some more of my friend Doti’s photos we took of her & her fiance last week until the battery died.

This is their piggies pen 🙂

We ended the night with a campfire and the kids roasting marshmallows.

Peace, Love & Fires with Marshmallows 🙂
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Nicole 🙂

Ft. Worth or Bust!!

I was so excited about this last weekend. Finally, I took some vacation, and the family headed to Ft. Worth, Texas. I so needed the time off!! I think I’m starting to get antsy. To much time indoors because of cold weather. I hate cold weather. I really should move to Arizona or Hawaii or someplace warm! Anyway another story another time. Friday morning we headed for Ft. Worth to go watch the NCHA Championship Futurity. This is a yearly occurrence. Every couple of years my dad shows down there and usually, my uncle has a colt or 2, plus people that we show with on a consistent basis at the local shows participate. All 3-year-old babies who have never been shown in front of a judge compete. It usually starts around the week/weekend of Thanksgiving and lasts through around the second weekend in December. These babies go hardcore all the way through. Some have good moments and some have flaws, that’s just the name of the game. 2 1/2 minutes can make you or break you. Unfortunately, this year Squirt got sick in July/August and was on “bed rest” for almost a month so she got behind. Dad still worked her and trained her up until it got really cold outside in November and she just got better and better but we weren’t able to take her down to compete this year. He’s planning on working her this next spring and showing her at the local weekend shows. If she gets better, we may take her to some aged events. My uncle had 2 horses that he exhibited down there. He made it to the semi-finals of the Non-Pro with one and made it to the second go-round of the Non-Pro with the other. Aunt Connie and Brad were a little sad/disappointed but that’s the name of it all. You go, pay the judge for their opinion. You can like it or you can’t but in the end, they have the final say. This was Prince Charming’s first futurity to attend. He was like every other person at the end, gung-ho ready to go home and work work work.

Project – Horse

So last week we postponed the word since Prince Charming and I were going to a “Horse” Showdown in Ft. Worth Texas. It only seemed appropriate to postpone Horse until then. It was a great show and when Michael Cooper marked a 226 we thought the show was won. I made the comment to Prince Charming, man that’s a hard score to follow, I wouldn’t want to do it, but sure enough the very next guy, Tom Piggot outdid Michael. Tom scored a 229. But the minute that Michael hit that score, that set the finals of the OPEN NCHA Cutting Futurity into an excellent show. Up until then, it was just okay. My uncle was in the Non-Pro and made it to the Semi-Finals. We were very proud of him! This was Prince Charming’s first time to go to the Futurity ever and I sure think and hope he had a wonderful time. Now it’s time to come home and get ready for Christmas! After the 1st of the year, the shows will start back up.