When it comes to cutting horse events on the calendar, a favourite destination for many North American competitors is Calgary, Alberta. The Calgary Stampede is known around the world for showcasing the western way of life with unrivaled style. Organizers are proud to include cutting as a big part of Calgary Stampede equine activities, offering two events each year, including the upcoming Cutting Horse Futurity, presented by Wrangler, October 16-20.
“We’re always pleased to hear from competitors that Calgary is always on their bucket list,” said Kim Hazlett, a long-time Stampede volunteer and Chair of the Western Performance Horse committee.
For those who have never experienced the excitement of cutting, each horse and rider is faced with a herd of cattle and two and a half minutes on the clock. Working together, they must select a single cow to move out of or ‘cut’ from the herd. Once the cow has been selected and removed from the herd the rider drops their reins, saying to the horse – take it from here! The pair must then demonstrate their ability to keep the cow from returning to the herd. The horse uses great strength and agility as it mimics the movements of the cow, always staying one step ahead. Once the cow has lost interest and looks away, the team may re-enter the herd for a new cow to cut.
“This is the show to win,” states veteran Alberta competitor Doug Reinhardt. “To me, if somebody says ‘did you win Calgary?’ and you can say ‘yes’, it means something.”
The Irricana, Alberta based trainer can answer in the affirmative several times over, and really strives to get horses in his stable primed and ready for the Futurity event each fall.
Reinhardt’s daughter Emma is also blazing a trail of success at the Futurity, having attended the event since well before she can remember.
“Calgary is one that I have always dreamt of winning,” admits the young talent. “I think it’s awesome that we get so many American trainers up here. It proves that this is a great show and run really well.”
That sentiment is echoed by competitors who travel many hours with their horses for the chance to show at Calgary.
“It’s just one that’s always on the top of our list every year,” said competitor and Utah-based trainer Heidi Hadlock-Evans, following last year’s competition. The annual five-day Cutting Horse Futurity, which is sanctioned by the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA), offers more than $300,000 in prize money, along with prestigious buckles. But that’s not the main draw for Hadlock-Evans. “They do everything first-class and make us feel welcome.”
“The calibre of competition here is impeccable,” added Hadlock-Evans, “You have to have your ‘A’ game here. It’s one of the toughest in the world.”
Competitors watching the movement of the herd.
Trainer Tim Johnson, of Lacrosse, Washington agrees about the top-notch competition. But there’s another reason Calgary has become a regular stop on his show trail.
“Consistency. We always know when we come the ground is good, the cows are going to be good and they’ve got good judges. It’s nice to get out of our own neck of the woods and visit our friends up north,” says Johnson.“They’ve never let us down.”
“We always take suggestions from participants and do whatever we can to make this a show they want to be at,” added Hazlett. “We have a great team here, from the cattle crew to the office staff. We couldn’t do it without them. Everyone loves working the events and we all have the same goals.”
Trainer Diehl Hiner of Walla Walla, Washington is another longtime Calgary Stampede fan.
“To be honest, the cuttings are phenomenal, and that’s why we come back,” stated Hiner. “Secondly, but not by far, it’s the people. The other trainers, the other Canadian owners – just quality people, and through the years we’ve built friendships, and we always look forward to coming up and seeing everybody.”
There are also plenty of rave reviews for the venue, the world-class Nutrien Western Event Centre, which has a practice pen right next to the temperature-controlled competition arena, horse-friendly footing, and even seating designed to accommodate clear views around cowboy hats.
Stony Plain, Alberta trainer Loren Christianson is grateful to have the Nutrien Western Event Centre so close to home for his biggest show of the season.
“You go a long ways to show in a facility like this. This is an amazing facility, so it’s fun to come here and show. It’s got a big-time atmosphere. And there’s a lot of money to win here,” Christianson commented.
With Calgary being located so close to the Rocky Mountains, it’s also a chance for visitors to experience spectacular scenery.
“We have something for everybody, and we want cutters to know we listen, and respond to their needs,” noted Hazlett. “We start planning for our next event while the current one is still underway!”
Entries for the Calgary Stampede Cutting Horse Futurity are open until Monday, September 16, 2019. To enter, or for more information, please visit the Calgary Stampede website.
The 2019 Calgary Stampede Cutting Horse Futurity, presented by Wrangler runs from Wednesday, October 16 to Sunday, October 20, 2019.