is an equestrian
Equestrianism more often known as riding, horseback riding or horse riding refers to the skill of riding, driving, or vaulting with horses...
event in the western riding
Western riding is a style of horseback riding which evolved from the ranching and warfare traditions brought to the Americas by the Spanish Conquistadors, and both equipment and riding style evolved to meet the working needs of the cowboy in the American West...
style where a horse and rider are judged on their ability to separate a single animal away from a cattle herd and keep it away for a short period of time.
The horses involved are typically Quarter horses, although many other stock horse
A Stock horse is a horse of a type that is well suited for working with livestock, particularly cattle. Such horses are riding horsescharacterized by agility, quickness, and powerful hindquarters...
breeds may be used. A cutting horse is an athletic and willing animal that is trained to instinctively keep a cow from returning to the herd.
In the event, the horse and rider select and separate a cow (typically a steer or heifer) out of a small group. The cow then tries to return to its herd; the rider loosens the reins ("puts his hand down" in the parlance) and leaves it entirely to the horse to keep the cow separated, a job the best horses do with relish, savvy, and style. A contestant has 2 ½ minutes to show the horse; typically three cows are cut during a run, although working only two cows is acceptable. A judge awards points to the cutter based on a scale that ranges from 60 to 80, with 70 being considered clean and perfect.
The sport originated from cattle ranches in the American West, where it was the cutting horse's job to separate cattle from the herd for vaccinating, castrating, and sorting. Eventually competitions arose between the best cutting horses and riders in the area. Rules were added, and in 1946 the National Cutting Horse Association
The National Cutting Horse Association is an equestrian organization in the United States that promotes and stages cutting events. It was founded in 1946 at the Southwestern Exposition and Fat Stock Show, and put on its first competition that same year at Dublin, Texas.It is currently...
(NCHA) was formed, which today is the governing body of the sport.
Cutting is one of the fastest growing equine sports in the world. In 2006, the contestants at the United States NCHA Futurity competed for more than $3.7 million—over a hundred times the offering of the first year. Total purses at NCHA-approved shows now exceed $39 million annually, not including prize money distributed at Australian Cutting Horse Association, American Cutting Horse Association, single-breed
Horse breed is a broad term with no clear consensus as to definition, but most commonly refers to selectively bred populations of domesticated horses, often with pedigrees recorded in a breed registry. However, the term is sometimes used in a very broad sense to define landrace animals, or...
shows, or European and Canadian events.
In 1972 the NCHA was formed in Australia and is an affiliate of the American National Cutting Horse Association. The showcase of Australian cutting is the NCHA Futurity which is held every May or June at the Australian Equine and Livestock Events Centre
The Australian Equine and Livestock Events Centre is a multi building and arena complex that was designed for equine usage. It has two indoor arenas, stabling, plus an education and training building, which is located on the New England Highway approximately five kilometres south of the Tamworth...
(AELEC), Tamworth, New South Wales
Tamworth is a city in the New England region of New South Wales, Australia. Straddling the Peel River, Tamworth, which contains an estimated population of 47,595 people, is the major regional centre for southern New England and in the local government area of Tamworth Regional Council. The city...
. During the 36th cutting futurity held in 2009 A$540,000 in prize money was distributed during the 11 days of competition.