Article by Susan Hargrove, Oh Joy Farms
In a cutting class the horse is required to separate "one" cow from the herd and hold it in the center of the arena! Depending upon the workability of the cow chosen...an exhibitor will normally work two to three animals during his allotted time (2-1/2 minutes). Creating a cutting class for our models does require extensive props... namely the cattle. There are some excellent model cows available for this purpose. The animals used in cutting are cows or steers... not calves!
Showing in the cutting class does not require the purchase of a specific model (although there are some awesome custom and AR/OS cutting horses available). Any breed, type or color horse may be used in cutting. Walking OF models can be shown entering the herd and "driving" out the chosen cow. Jogging OF models can be shown "within" the herd (where their actual gait is not visible) picking out the cow. Loping OF models can be positioned to "work" the cow in the middle of the arena!
The placement of your model relative to the cattle and to the fence is very important! The herd should be shown standing against the "back" fence of your photo (a horse will be rewarded credit for his ability to enter the herd "quietly" with very little disturbance to the herd or to the one brought out). You don’t want your cattle scattered around the arena or "running away" from your entry. If your model is working "within" the herd... the rider is allowed to "guide" the horse to the selected cow...so your entry "could" be on a tighter rein. However...once the chosen cow has cleared the herd...a LOOSE rein is required (credit is given for riding with a loose rein throughout a performance).
If your model is working the cow in the middle of the arena...be sure and place it to have the "working advantage" over the cow (a horse is penalized for going past an animal and losing that advantage). A horse turning TOO far "ahead of" or "behind" the cow would be considered out of position and would be penalized. Additional credit is given if the horse drives the chosen stock sufficient distance from the herd to assure that the herd will not be disturbed by his work (a horse is penalized for "running into" or "scattering" the herd while working). So place your entry "away" from the extra cattle in your photograph. Do not place your model set-up too close to the arena fence (a horse is penalized each time the "fence" turns or stops the cow... so don’t make your entry appear to be working the cow "off" of the fence).
The tack required for a cutting class is a western saddle of any style, a bridle with split reins and any western bit. Curb bits must have a curb strap. A horse under 5 years of age may show in a bosal or snaffle bit.
Don’t be intimidated by the more advanced performance classes...study the rules for each class and take your time in setting up your entry. You can do it!
Complete Rules and Regulations for the cutting class can be found at the NCHA website.