Master the Basics: Cutting

Put your horse-training skills to the test by trying your hand at the sport of cutting.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

If you’ve ever watched a cutting competition, you probably suspect it’s one of the most exciting equine events around. The adrenaline rush you get as a spectator can’t compare to actually sitting atop a powerful American Quarter Horse as he almost touches his belly to the ground - doing everything possible to keep individually selected cows away from the herd for two and a half minutes.

To get involved, you’ll want to learn from experienced, reputable cutting trainers. Trainer John Mitchell says the absolute best way to jump into the cutting world is to take lessons from a trainer with a style you can emulate.

During your first lesson, your trainer will probably want to assess your riding ability by putting you on a well-broke help horse, John says. If you’re comfortable, you’ll be moved up to a well-mannered cutting horse so you can get the feel for the cutting style and whether you still have interest in leaning the event,

No matter what discipline you want to participate in, you need to make informed, educated choices when it comes to purchasing a horse. Download AQHA’s Buying and Owning Your First Horse report so you can do just that.

“Right then and there, you’ll know whether you love it and are just tickled to learn the event,” John says.

Two or three general riding lessons will get you comfortable on a cutting horse’s back. After you’ve built a good foundation, your trainer can start talking about cutting maneuvers.

Picking a Horse

If you feel you’re trained and ready to make the commitment, there are several steps involved in the purchase process. Review Purchasing Your First Cutting Horse for tips and tricks that’ll help you find the right cutting horse.

Time for Advancement

You won’t be a beginner forever. As you advance in skill, it’s necessary for your horse to advance, as well. Many times, you’ll need to move on to a more advanced horse to progress in the discipline.

John says the key is when you can school your seasoned horse and use your feet. You need to know where to be on a cow and how to maneuver. If you know these things, you’re ready. “It might take two or three months,” he says. “Others might take a year to learn the fundamentals.”

“In cutting, some people think you go out there and put your hand down, and it all just happens. But, it takes some jockeying - you have to get yourself into certain positions. As soon as you can school your seasoned horse comfortably, you can ride a more tuned, younger horse.”

Whether you’re purchasing a cutting horse or a kids’ horse, there are certain things you should know before you make the commitment. Download AQHA’s Buying and Owning Your First Horse report to uncover this essential information.

Cutting Basics to Learn

1. Watch the cow. The cow tells you what’s going to happen. The biggest thing you’ll hear when someone getting a lesson from somebody really experienced is to watch the cow.
2. Use your feet. See your horse into the stop and use your feet out of the turns to keep your horse in motion.
3. Learn to ride out of the turns, keeping your body position correct.

John recommends practicing loping your horse and sitting the stop. “The coordination with your feet and sitting the stop are the basics of cutting. If there’s a step-by-step process, I think it comes with learning to ride and lessons on the three basics.”