Black Elk Classic competitors a cut above
Ponoka’s first annual Black Elk Cutting Classic has been put out to pasture after a fruitful weekend.
Five hundred and fifty riders came from as far as Idaho and Montana to compete for a fraction of the $30,000 in prize money that was up for grabs at Ponoka Ag Events Centre May 25 to 27.
Each rider had two and a half minutes to cut the preferred two or three ruminants from the herd.
Once cut, the dance between horse, rider and cow began. The cutters and their horses synergized with a combination of balance, reflex and their ability to read the cow’s path, rather than force, to continuously head it off.
“It’s really challenging,” said cutter Kayleigh McEvoy of Lacombe, who rode Smart Rosanna in the $2,000 limited rider class.
“I’ve been riding since I was nine, but riding decent and cutting for the last three years.”
McEvoy says her introduction to cutting was a fluke. She’d gone to Oklahoma to work for a horse trainer as a summer job and has been cutting ever since.
“It’s one of those things, you get a little taste and you’re hooked,” McEvoy said. “It’s exhilarating when you and your horse come together,” she said finally, seemingly at a loss to explain her feelings.
Similar to rodeo professionals, many cutters and trainers cut year-round in a circuit to make their living. Unlike rodeos cutting is a quieter sport. Without the temperamental bulls and broncos hammering against the chutes only the crowd was left to make some noise. However, they were as intent as the rider and hardly made a sound.
The Black Elk Cutting Classic consisted of 14 classes and a Never Won a Buckle class. However, it wasn’t only the money and other prizes given away that were appreciated.
“It’s one of the best arenas; the size, the stabling,” said Jason Hanson, a cutter and horse trainer from Fort Saskatchewan. He’s been involved in events like cutting, and horse training his whole life.
“I was raised up that way. In my family everyone trains horses for a living. It’s all I want to do,” Hanson said.
Hanson participated in four classes: the open derby, the $10,000 novice horse, in which he placed first second and fourth with horses, the $3,000 novice horse and open class where he placed.
Hanson was also in Ponoka for the practice show last winter.
“I’ll be back for sure. It’s perfect.”
Other cutters also competed in multiple classes. Included are Loren Christianson who rode in the $10,000 novice horse, the open and the $3,000 novice horse, and Brad Pedersen who also rode in the $3,000 novice horse and the open.
By Amelia Naismith