Watch riders compete for $100k and more at the Transwest NCHA Denver Nationals! June 23-30
For those of you who aren’t familiar, NCHA stands for the National Cutting Horse Association – and no, no horses will be lacerated. Instead ‘cutting’ is a style of riding that evolved from tasks performed on cattle ranches of the old American West. Essentially, the goal of the rider is to separate a cow from a herd and prevent it from returning, and it was a necessary skill to have so that the rancher could attend to specific animals whether they needed branding, vaccinating, or castrating, etc.
The first cutting horse competition dates back to 1898, when ranchers and cowboys gathered to compete for bragging rights, and it has been popular amongst enthusiasts since. Much of the sport’s appeal stems from the fact that it requires immense skill and athleticism from both rider and horse seen here:
The gist is that riders are given two and a half minutes, and are judged on controlling the cow, courage, degree of difficulty, herd work, eye appeal, and loose reins. A western saddle is required, and disqualification can occur for using illegal equipment, inhumane treatment of the horse, or leaving the work area before the time has been reached.
The other riders in the arena help contain the rest of the herd.
Although some competitions are breed-specific, many are not and you’ll see many different breeds of horses and cattle. Yet, like many rodeos, the American Quarter Horse remains a popular choice.
Best of all, the sport is perfect for all ages and with junior classes -for riders 13 years of age and under- and senior classes for ages 14 through 18- competing, cutting is definitely a family affair.
So, if you or anyone you know has ever had any interest in cowboy history, the rodeo, or horses the Transwest NCHA Denver Nationals might be your event of the year! Don’t miss it, it’s held from June 23-30 at the National Western Complex in Denver. For more information, click here!