Let’s face it. Some of you don’t know a Quarter Horse from a Quarter-Pounder. You’re a city-slicker who’s interested in cutting but you’re not sure what it’s all about. It is with you in mind that we put together this page, A Greenhorn’s Guide to Cutting.

Cutting is a sport that has its origins on the cattle ranches of the Southwest in the 1880s. Ranchers found that individual cows occasionally had to be
separated from the rest of the herd for branding, because of sickness, or to sell.

The cutting horse was crucial to performing this task because of the natural inclination of the cow to return to the herd. The horse had to be alert and anticipate the cow’s moves.

Cowboys soon began contests to test the abilities of their horses, and these competitions grew and became more structured with rules and prizes given away. These competitions are now called “cuttings”.

The most desirable cow to cut is one that is energetic and responsive, but respects the horse. A calm, docile cow does not challenge the horse or allow it to show the judges its true potential.

The judges credit a horse when it shows aggressiveness, courage, determination, style and grace when cutting a cow.

The rider may not cue the horse in any visible way after the cow has been cut from the herd. This includes certain kinds of spurring and using the reins.

A rider should have a loose posture when working a cow. his or her back should be relaxed and bent, never rigid. This is called the cutter’s slump.

The rider can hold the reins only with one hand. The second hand can be used only to straighten the reins.

View Cutting Horse Terminology