Hundreds of teams compete in Black Elk Cutting classic

“If you ever ride a good cutting horse, it’s amazing. They are so smart.” Sandy Reid

John Thomas on Canasta Cat shepherding cattle last weekend during the Black Elk Cutting Classic fall show at the ag event centre.

John Thomas on Canasta Cat shepherding cattle last weekend during the Black Elk Cutting Classic fall show at the ag event centre.

Some of Alberta’s best ranchers competed at the Calnash Ag Event Centre last weekend during the Black Elk Cutting Classic event.

Director Sandy Reid said they had more than 140 entries each day for the first fall show hosted in Ponoka. The trick with cattle cutting is for a rider to pick a cow out of a small herd and then keep it from returning for a period of time.

A competitor has two and a half minutes to separate as many cows as possible. The only way a rider can return to the herd is if the cow turns away, stops or has all four hooves on the ground, explained Reid.

Athletic and agile horses are important to every person competing. “If you ever ride a good cutting horse, it’s amazing. They are so smart.”

The best horses for the job are the ones that have a tendency to want to look after cows. Reid says the majority of horses used in the sport are quarter horses.

There are three classes of competitors plus a junior category that compete in cutting events:

● Trainer class

● Non-professional amateur class

● 2,000 limit

The trainer class involves the professional cutter. The riders can use different horses in cutting challenges.

“That’s how they make their living,” says Reid.

For the non-professional level, Reid says the riders must use their own horses when entering a competition and the 2,000 limit group of competitors are not allowed to surpass $2,000 in winnings.

For the youth category, Reid says many of the younger riders will use the older horses that may not be able to carry an adult but have no issues carrying a young person. She says the older horses can sometimes surprise judges with their experience.

Getting involved can be as simple as trying out at a cutting clinic.

“It’s very seldom people don’t like it,” says Reid.

The club has seen balanced growth, she explained. While there are some members moving to the United States, there are others joining the group in Alberta.