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  • June 16, 2023 3 min read

    What is Cutting?

    Cutting is a competitive equestrian event that involves separating a cow from a herd and then preventing it from returning to the herd. A cutting horse is a highly trained horse that is specifically bred and trained for Cutting.

    The horse and rider work together as a team to anticipate the movements of the calf and react quickly to keep it from returning to the herd. The horse must be agile, quick and responsive to the rider’s commands. It needs to anticipate the cow’s movements and uses its natural instincts to mirror the beasts actions and keep it separated from the herd.

    The sport of cutting originated in America from the working practices of ranches and cattle operations, where horses were used to separate individual animals from the herd for various purposes like branding, doctoring, or sorting. Over time, cutting developed into a competitive sport, and today it is a popular event in Western riding competitions, including the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA). Cutting horses are typically bred from specific bloodlines known for their cow sense, athleticism, and agility. They undergo extensive training to develop the skills required for cutting, including learning to read and respond to the movements of cattle.

    Cutting is considered one of the most prestigious equine disciplines because of the amount of money which is invested into the horses breeding, nurturing and training program.

    The cutting contest is judged by a number of adjudicators, each responsible for giving their score between 60 and 80 based on the riders cuts, the horses ability to control a cow and the overall eye appeal of the run.

    Cutting was first introduced into Australia in 1967 when Gregory Lougher gave a cutting exhibition at the Warwick Gold Cup but it wasn’t until Lougher was invited to give a cutting and western horsemanship demonstration, as one of the main arena attractions during the Royal Easter Show in 1968, that Cutting was first performed on centre stage. Thousands of spectators were delighted by the skill and ability required by both horse and rider for Cutting.  

    What is the difference between Cutting and Campdrafting?

    Cutting and Campdrafting are both equestrian sports that involve working with cattle, but they have distinct differences.

    Cutting - The main goal in cutting is to demonstrate the skill of a horse and rider in separating a single animal, typically a cow, from a small herd. The horse and rider must work together to prevent the chosen cow from returning to the herd. The horse uses its natural instincts and agility to anticipate and block the cow's movements, while the rider uses subtle cues and body language to guide the horse.

    The cutting competition takes place in a controlled arena, usually called a cutting pen. The rider has a set amount of time, typically 2.5 minutes, to work with the cow. The judging criteria are based on the horse's ability to anticipate the cow's movements, its agility in quickly changing directions, and its ability to maintain control of the cow. The rider's skill in reading the cow and effectively communicating with the horse is also evaluated.

    Campdrafting is an Australian sport that originated from the practical skills used by stockmen in mustering and working cattle in the bush. It involves a horse and rider working together to select and control a specific beast from a group of cattle within a designated time frame. The objective is to guide the chosen beast through a course of specific movements.

    In campdrafting, the rider enters a camp and selects a beast from a herd of cattle. They then guide the chosen beast through a series of maneuvers, including a figure-eight pattern around two pegs and guiding the beast through a set of gates. The rider must control the beast's movements while demonstrating precision, timing, and strategic decision-making.

    The judging in campdrafting is based on the horse and rider's ability to work together as a team, the control exhibited by the rider, the horse's agility and responsiveness, and the efficiency and accuracy of completing the course.

    In summary, while both cutting and campdrafting involve working with cattle, cutting focuses on separating a single cow from a herd within a controlled arena, while campdrafting involves selecting and controlling a specific beast through a series of maneuvers in a set course.