Cutting is a western riding disipline where a horse and rider are judged and timed on the ability to separate one animal, typically a calf, from the remaining herd and keep it isolated for a brief amount of time.
A cutting horse is an athletic and willing animal possessing an innate "cow sense" and talent to stop quickly and turn sharply. A cutting horse has an inbreed ability to separate a cow from the herd and keep it from returning. The American Quarter Horse is generally the horses used in cutting, although seveal differnt horse breeds are used. Most horses can be taught to 'herd' an animal, but this talent comes naturally to the best cutting horses.
Once the horse and rider have chossen a calf to separate out of the small herd, as the calf tries to return to the herd, the rider puts the horse on a loose rein and allows the horse to go to work. A good cutting horse will do this job completely on his/her own, and will relish in the work and do it with style and savvy. Points are awarded on a scale of 60 to 80 with 70 being an average score.
Watchin a horse and rider work as a team can be quite impressive. As the calf turns, the horse is to spin over it's hocks turning with the cow. The rider should be focused on the calf's neck anticipating the calf's next move. The horse's shoulders during a run are typically parallel with that of the calf's. The horse and rider team is judged on how well the horse moves in anticipation to the movements of the calf. Rider's can use leg aid to help assist and steady the horse, the rider must posses excellent seat and balance while allowing the horse to work. oughout a run.
Penning saddles have been developed to assist the Team Penning riding discipline. Team penning is a western riding event that came into practice from common ranch work. Cattle would need to be separated from the herd and placed in pens in order to be vaccinated. branded, doctored, and transported.
Today, however, this has turned into a fast paced event that provides a 3 rider team sixty to ninety seconds (depending on the category of the event) to separate 3 previously designated cattle from a herd of thirty, and put them into a 16' x 24' pen with a 10' opening, on the opposite end of the arena.
Thirty head of cattle, normally yearling beef cattle, (mature cows and or bulls are not allowed) with numbers attached to their backs or colored collars. The horse and rider must select out 3 of the cattle with the appropriate colored collars or number range that is announced once the horse crosses the starting line. The cattle selections should be totally random and not pre-know to the riders. The 3 horse team should then select out the approptiate cattle and drive them to the finish area of the pen or arena. This is a timed event and the team with the lowest time wins.
Teamwork by the three riders and horses is optimum as only the preselected cattle may be driven into the holding pen at the opposite end of the arena. One rider's job is usually to hold back the cattle that have not been selected. These cattle are sometimes referred to as 'trash'.
The history of the team penning game is believe to go all the way back to 1942 when brothers Joe and Ray Yanez and Canadian cowboy Bill Schwindt were sorting cattle from a herd. During a lunch break the three reportedly came up with the concept to organize seemingly routine ranch chores into a competitive sport. This allowed cowboys to showcase their refined riding skills and put their horses to the test. The first organized competition is believed to have taken place at the Ventura County fair in August 1949.
Today, the team penning game is active in the US, Canada, Europe, and Autralia. In Northern America, Ft. Worth, Texas is home to the US Team Penning Association (USTA).