During the 1890s the cutting horse was considered to be something of an endangered species. Thankfully this creature was saved by the evolution of the weekend rodeo.
As mentioned in our previous story, this evolution ended up increasing the value of these prized horses, not only could they earn their keep during the week working cattle on the ranches but come the weekend the best of the best could earn generous prizes from competing in Rodeo events and in particular cutting.
As this event developed through the beginning of the 20th century, necessity once again came to the fore, in 1946 at the Southwestern Exposition and Fat Stock Show, the National Cutting Horse Association was born. It was appropriate that the NCHA was formed at this venue as some 27 years earlier this is where the first ever cutting as a spectator based arena event was held. From this time onwards this little get together rapidly evolved itself into a nationwide organisation.
As the organised sport of cutting expanded throughout the US it was apparent that a set of guidelines and rules should be established, the onus being on fair play and the encouragement of good performances by good horses. The original rules are the foundation of today’s rule book and not much has changed when it comes to the essence of what cutting is all about. The very first two rules ever written epitomises what a cutting horse contest is. ” a horse will be given credit for the way he enters and acts in a herd, also credited for the manner in which he cuts one out and penalized if he (or his rider ) creates unnecessary disturbance.” The second rule being “When an animal is cut off from the herd, it must be taken toward the centre of the arena. If it goes down the arena fence, that is alright, but the horse should never get ahead of an animal and duck it back toward the herd to get more play but should let the turnback men turn it back to him.”
In 1952 the honor roll points system was introduced with the first year’s gong going to the Royal King Mare Miss Nancy Bailey for her trainer Bob Burton. Ten years on the NCHA Futurity was born. This event was created for three year olds competing in their first ever competition. Moneys Glo a stallion sired by King Glo was the inaugural winner. This was also the beginning of a very successful NCHA Futurity career for his trainer Buster Welsh who won the prestigious event 5 times. This period however was the beginning of the end of the dominance of the “King” bred horses. A failed race horse by the name of Doc Bar was soon to change the face of cutting forever. Today the NCHA World Championship Futurity is the richest indoor horse event in the world with a total of around $4 million (US) up for grabs.