The Great Outdoors
Heart of a champion
Tipton competed in the sport for 11 months and recently finished the season. He won the world championship in his division.
“In order to win, you have to practice during the week and show almost every weekend,” he said. “Points are accrued throughout the 11 month show season and at the end of the season the rider with the most points in their class wins. Surrounding yourself with good trainers and showing well trained and bred horses are also very important.
“Riding a 1,200 lb. finely tuned horse as they run, stop, slide and maneuver themselves in front of a cow so close the ground is an amazing feeling. Cutting is a high adrenaline sport both for the horse and rider. The hardest part of the experience was the time it took and the work associated with it. Hauling from town to town every week and taking care of the animals is hard work!
“I competed on several horses along the way, but the horse that took me to the winners circle was a 20-year-old mare named “Flying F Candyflex”, otherwise known as “Candy”. This mare had won the world before and she knew how to do it again. But I wasn’t just along for the ride - I had to perform too. She just made it easier for me to win because she was so well-trained and experienced. The biggest highlight for me was being able to ride her. We bonded quickly, and it’s like she knew what I wanted to do without me telling her. That bond was a truly amazing feeling.
“The challenge is to select a single calf from the herd and gently guide it into the center of the arena. Then, with lightening fast starts and turns, you have to prevent it from ducking past the horse and escaping back to the herd. In the contest arena, the art of the cutting horse comes alive in a classic test of intelligence, training, breeding and skill. In competition, the cutting horse and rider must work together as a team in demonstrating their cattle-handling skills.
“The contest begins as the pair approaches the herd quietly, deliberately and without hesitation. The horse and rider have two and one-half minutes to complete their work. Approaching the herd, both horse and rider must concentrate on moving into the cattle to separate one animal from the herd without provoking disturbance.
“Performance is judged in part by the activity of the calf, so the animal selected is singled out by choice, not at random. After the rider has indicated a specific calf to the horse, neither horse nor rider may change calves without penalty. When the cut is complete, the challenge really begins. Once the calf is isolated near the center of the arena, the rider must loosen his rein to allow the horse freedom to demonstrate its cutting skill and real "cow sense". Controlling the calf by speed, agility, balance and motion, the horse matches the calf move-for-move to prevent its return to the herd (the calf's natural inclination).”
Tipton says he knew he wanted to learn the sport of cutting and he figured the quickest way to figure it out was to go and compete.
“Many other riders take lessons before they go to their first show,” he said. “I just jumped right into the competition. I joined the American Cutting Horse Association (ACHA), and they offered novice level show classes
“Owning and operating a business can be stressful for anyone. For stress relief and fun, many people play golf, hunt or fish. Riding horses is a great stress relief too and I recommend it to everyone. It’s a great way to not only relax but it can help guide you to true happiness.”
In the words of Sir Winston Churchill, “There is something about the outside of a horse that’s good for the inside of a man”. –ab
©2011 Construction News, Ltd.