WHO influenced your involvement ?
Our initial involvement in cutting was in the late ‘70’s and was attributable to two influences—CN Woodward of Douglas Lake Ranch and Al Quigley and Bill Ferguson of Pineview Ranches here in Kamloops, all of whom are in the BCCHA Hall of Fame. All cutters in Alberta and B.C. owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Woodward for popularizing and fostering cutting .He brought in the horses and established the breeding, availability and training programs of cutting horses in Canada. He also encouraged and influenced the established cutters of the day- Matlock, Buster and the like, to compete at shows in BC and Alberta which contributed immensely in popularising the sport here.
Al Quigley and Bill Ferguson were instrumental for me personally by letting me ride their horses and also found me an experienced horse to begin cutting on.
Regrettably, I suffered a neck injury in 1980 which resulted in a fused neck. The hard stops and turns implicit in cutting are not compatible with riding cutting horses. So ended my rather brief cutting career! However, I did judge for a few years thereafter. While I was cutting and judging, my wife Sandy was Secretary-Treasurer of the Assn. for a number of years. We instituted and prosecuted the Hall of Fame from inception until just recently.
WHO did we love to watch show?
We were privileged to watch, at one time or another, all the “Legends Of Cutting” that Ian Tyson sings about—Don Dodge, Buster Welch, Shorty Freeman and Matlock Rose. In addition, many of our Canadian cutters were equally as noteworthy—Bill Collins, Dave Batty, Len Perry, Art Graves, Len Monical, Les Timmons, and others.
WHEN did you experience your most memorable cutting experience ?
My personal highlight (and trust me they were very few!!) was riding the great little mare- Babe Kilobar at a cutting at Rocky Point Arena in Pritchard when the Hook’s owned it. Bill Ferguson had ridden “Babe” to the Non-Pro Championship in the 70’s. She was tiny, quick as a cat and extremely athletic- one of those horses that knows what to do and wants the rider to stay the hell out of the way once you’ve separated the cow! Babe was so quick that she dumped many a rider. She proved a thrill, a treat and a challenge but she gave me one of those “memorable moments” (as well as a pulled groin!!!)
The other highlight that comes to mind was @ the Finals of the PNE Cutting in Vancouver in the Agridome. This would be in the late 70’s. Bob Threfall and I were judging. There were 5 horses in the Finals but this was all about 3 of them .First was Doc’s Marmoset (the 1973 NCHA Futurity winner) ridden by Tom Lyons who was hauling for the NCHA World Championship (and did, in fact, win it that year). Tom had very nice, clean run and we both gave him a 74. Next up was Bob Nelson riding a nice little mare(name?) from Dan Lufkins Oxbow Ranch in Oregon and he had a beautiful go and we both marked him a 76. The horse had so much charisma and expression! Last up was Bill Collins riding Larry Sands’ great horse- Striponita Red. Bill had so much “try” in him and was such a fierce and talented competitor that he did not seem at all intimidated by having to beat a 152! He “went for it” and when the smoke cleared and his run was done, both Bob and I gave him a 75! It was a memorable moment to see such skill, talent and competitiveness on display. Thankfully we, as judges, had identical scores for all three contestants. As well we know, that is not always the case!
WHAT is my best advice to cutters ?
Learn to ride properly! Take lessons if need be. Your horse will thank you and perform much better.
Be as well-mounted as you can afford with a horse compatible with your skill level, experience and personality.
Find a trainer/mentor you are compatible with. Devote the same due diligence you would in engaging any professional and stick with him or her. Don’t flit around with the “flavour of the month”.
Be patient and practice as much as you can. Cutting is a challenging sport and hard work but as you will experience, can be very satisfying when you have those moments when it “all comes together”!
Sandy and I love cutting ….the horses, the event and the people. This accounts for our interest and involvement. There are three types of cutters—the pros, the serious competitors and those who like horses, like cutting and they just want to have fun and winning is not the main focus. We hope there is room for all in today’s cutting!