Every year, the cutting horse futurity at the Calgary Stampede brings together top horse and rider competitors. This year's 2016 futurity was no exception. Cutting horses and riders face the challenge of separating a designated cow from the herd; then, the horse must keep the cow separated as it runs, spins, and tries to work its way past the horse.
A good cutting horse is highly athletic and has a natural "cow sense," or an understanding of cow body language and what cutting's mission is. Once the rider and horse have separated the cow, the rider needs to drop his or her reins to give the horse its head. From that point, it's really up to the horse's instincts to keep the cow from rejoining the herd.
Horse and rider teams have a set of two and a half minutes. During this time, they must cut at least two cows from the herd. Each set is judged, and horses and riders can gain or lose points according to where in the herd the cow is cut from, how athletic the horse is when keeping the cow separated, and how much of a challenge the cow provides.
Because cow cutting requires an intensely athletic horse, many cutting horses are Quarter Horses. Quarter Horses have lightning-fast speed, are known for being agile, and are also more compact than other breeds which allows them to get down deep in their turns.
The cutting horse futurity is just one of the many events offered at the Calgary Stampede. Additional rodeo events include steer wrestling, barrel racing, bareback bronc riding, bull riding, tie-down roping, and more. The Calgary Stampede offers over $2 million in prizes and lasts for a thrilling 10 days.
Interested in the Calgary Stampede? The 2017 event will take place from July 7 through 16th, and tickets will go on sale on October 3rd. Be sure to visit the Calgary Stampede website to learn more about the event.