For The Love of Cutting
Author: Lauren Middleton
Ok, let’s talk about this crazy cutting horse industry. It is the early mornings, the tough horses, the struggle of controlling the variables, and the over all mental game that should chase us off, but, ultimately, each challenge keeps us hooked.
An outsider looking in would undoubtedly be confused by our life choices. We pick up our entire lives for weeks at a time going from show to show like carnies in a traveling circus. This sport gets in our heads and is physically demanding; at times we wonder why exactly we do it to ourselves. Our closest friends are our competitors. In some cases, we even compete against our families to make a living. It is a constant balancing act between fun and work. We never get a break from the grind because even if we take a vacation, the thoughts remain. Our bank accounts go from on top of the world to living on $400 and a prayer. It wears on our relationships with family and friends, and we even begin to question our sanity. On the days when we wonder why we do it anymore, we go to the barn, saddle up, and ride. And there it is. The thing the outsider doesn’t understand, that feeling.
We really cannot get enough of it! We could have a normal hobby, take beach vacations, and sleep in, but we would never have the feeling. We all know it. It is in that moment when everything comes together. The horse you have been struggling with finally makes progress. The cows decide not to eat your lunch. You finally achieve a goal like winning a championship or simply ending your streak of setting down off center every cut. With each success, we look to our strained relationships and realize our competitors/friends are normally just as excited as we are. That’s when it clicks, if we had chosen a different lifestyle, we wouldn’t have them.
The cutting community is the best circle of people you could be around. In times of happiness and deep sadness, they are the people you want in your corner. With one phone call, someone is there to help us when we are broken down on the side of the road. In less than a few days, we can raise thousands of dollars for someone in need. There are so many people that will do things at the drop of a hat with no thanks necessary. They do it out of the goodness of their hearts because they truly care. To be surrounded by people like that is the bow tied around the gift of getting to do what we love each day.
Now, the count down has begun to the time of year when it all comes together. We have worked countless hours with our amazing animals. We have battled the mind games and refused to give up. For those of us who make this our livelihoods, Futurity season is especially taxing. After all, we are relying on three year olds to handle an unpredictable, overwhelming environment and somehow come out on top for the owners and us. The energy in the Will Rogers Coliseum in November amplifies everything. The lights, fresh sand, and butterflies in our stomachs remind us how human we are. But remember that feeling? The Will Rogers affects it too. We step onto the brand new show horses and walk to the herd. There it goes, all the trials, stress, and early mornings fade away. When the buzzer blares, our hearts start beating again and all we hear are the people who love us cheering.
So what should you say to the confused outsider? Come on in, friend, because, here, we love what we do. We know how to grow from “character building” failures and heartbreaks. We cherish everyday we sit on a horse’s back. And we belong to breathtaking community.
As we go into Futurity season, take a moment to remember the reasons why we chose this sport. The blessings in our crazy little world are immeasurable, and we live a life unlike any other. So, go to the barn, saddle up, and ride.