Making the Cut: What it takes to compete in the Cutting Competition

March 02, 2021

Making the Cut: What it takes to compete in the Cutting Competition

They are athletes. Cat-like, quick and agile, they crouch low to the ground, every muscle focused on the animal they are trained to drive.

They are performers. Sleek, powerful and booted in chrome, they are bred to feed off noise from whistling fans as they complete each slide, stop and turn.

They are cutting horses, and when they come to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™, they come to win.

What does it take to make the cut in a cutting-edge competition?

When a cutting horse and its rider enter the arena, they have two and a half minutes to separate two cows from the herd. This is called ‘making a cut.’ One of those cuts is required to be ‘deep,’ meaning the rider selects a cow from the inside of the herd.

After making the cut, the horse must keep the cow isolated, and because cattle are naturally gregarious, this is no easy task.

The judge scores the rider on a scale range of 60 to 80 points. Points can be deducted if the cow gets back to the herd or if the rider stops working.

The usefulness of cutting horses extends far beyond the glory of the show arena. In the working ranch industry, cutting horses are used to sort large numbers of cattle into fresh pastures, doctor calves and hold the herd in place if needed.

Tune in to our Live Stream to watch the 2021 competitors in action!