Have you ever sat in your living room watching Yellowstone and the Dutton Ranch hands working horses, wishing that you could watch these cowboys and cowgirls work their magic LIVE? If the answer is yes, you must attend the Cascades Futurity and Aged event, a cutting horse competition, at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds and Expo Center, September 8-18, 2022.
Just like Yellowstone’s season four episode with Jake Ream, you will see that it is not magic, but instead, hard work, dedication, and courage. You will witness cowboys and cowgirls working two and a half minutes against cattle for big payouts. Watch their dance, watch their finesse – rider and horse – trapping the cow in the center of the show pen. This necessary skill continues today on ranches worldwide when separating cattle from a herd to doctor or vaccinate.
During the era of the open range, cattle from different outfits would often drift apart, so in the spring and fall, neighboring ranchers joined for a roundup to sort out their brands. Ranchers and their remudas (horses that ranch hands chose to mount daily) accomplished the task of separating the cattle. Each cowboy had several horses in their remuda, each well-trained and suited for specific jobs. A steady mount was needed to patrol the herd during the night, and during the morning, a spirited bronc would be used to quickly travel to the far reaches of the roundup.
The cutting horse was the elite member of the remuda – a horse that pricked its ears toward a cow, watched it travel, wary of its every move, instinctively knowing how to handle the cow. These abilities were nurtured and prized among cowboys. This type of horse made separating branded cattle easier. “It was worth the trip to brush country just to sit above Ol’ Gotch and feel his shoulders roll, watch his ears work and head drop low when he looked an old steer in the eye,” said cowboy humorist Will Rogers after his visit to a South Texas ranch during the 1920s.
Cattle are herd animals so they will instinctively return to the group if separated. With that in mind, a horse and rider team quietly ride into the herd, select and “cut” or separate one cow at a time from the group. Once the cow has been cut, the rider is no longer allowed to use their reins. Trained cutting horses are required to think on their own and anticipate the cow’s moves. The competition is judged on difficulty, finesse and how well the horse anticipates and reacts to the cow. This is the only equine competition where the horse is required to think for itself.
The first advertised cutting contest was held at the 1898 Cowboy Reunion in Haskell, Texas. Ranch hands competed against each other to see who could separate and isolate the cattle the fastest and cleanest. This soon turned in to an official timed competition with rules to show the finesse of the cow horse. From cutting’s roots in Haskell to Australia each year there are
thousands of cutting events attracting riders aged eight to eighty competing in levels separated by the age of the horse or the amount of money the horse or rider have won.
Cascades Futurity and Aged Event is Oregon’s ONLY premier National Cutting Horse Association event where competitors of all divisions compete for over $500,000 in total paid out. This premier cutting brings serious competition from over ten states, many who have won millions of dollars. For Hall of Fame riders competing in this sport, it’s a way of life and a living.
Not only will you be immersed in an old west competition, but Cascades also offers a Western Heritage Vendor Expo featuring the 1904 Mercantile. Western based vendors, food, and a saloon for spirited drinks offer something for everyone. During the 15-20-minute break between sets is a perfect time to get some provisions.
There are many cutting events around the world, but few are produced by a staff of women like Cascades Futurity. Started in 2018 by Bend resident and owner of Clarke Butte Ranch, Julie Clarke. A great deal of collaboration, organization and hard work goes in to putting on this annual event and when you attend you will see a bit of America’s agricultural history. Julie, and her team handle cattle contracts, marketing and advertising, set-up, and tear down, development, styling and running a concierge booth. Team members include Maria Salazar, Pilot Point, Texas; Jennifer Friend, Sisters, Oregon; Jody Gray, Cool, California; Aubyn Koch, Sisters, Oregon; JoHanna Symons, Madras, Oregon; Theresa Nelson, Idaho; Laurie Errington, Utah; Ashley Hallinan, Lockeford, California; Morgan Cromer, Templeton, California; Cheryl Callis, Texline, Texas and intern Betsy Sandstrom, Bend, Oregon.
Come sit ringside at the 5th annual Cascades Futurity and Aged Event and enjoy watching the best horses and riders in the industry against local cattle. Thursday, September 8 through Sunday, September 18, 2022, 9:00am – 5:00pm. For more information see the website at www.cascadesfuturity.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 503-501-6498.