Just riding a unicorn, thinking about how I'd probably sell my soul to the devil to do this everyday. Photo Credit: Callaghan Creative Co.
Cutting. It sucks. Like, really sucks. I know, you are probably thinking the cows, the ridiculously expensive horses, the fact you need a trainer, the hauling, the cost... Nope. none of that. Not this time around anyways... *refer to all the old Beginner's post if you want to hear me whine about other reasons why cutting sucks* It's the fact that... JUST... just when you think you are done with this game... just when you think you are going to take up team penning, or bird watching, or like putting money into your savings... it's back. Cutting is like a bad dog, or a bad boyfriend, whichever you want to call it, constantly pissing you off, but always coming back for more and giving you those puppy-dog eyes like "I can be better." Sure you can, you're constantly chasing the damn cows around but maybe you'll learn... again, boyfriend or dog, either or people. I haven't been in the show pen for nine months, and I haven't swung a leg over a cutting horse in almost as long. It was starting to feel like a challenge - that negative voice in the back of my head was asking me, "how long can you go? Nine months can quickly turn into nine years you know. You won't even remember how to ride one at this rate." Yet, nine months seemed like the right amount of time. There were a couple mental wounds that were taking more time to heal that a nasty proud flesh cut on a hock. I was doctoring them, but I knew they needed some time, they needed some TLC. I was resolute, I wasn't going to rush it, I was content, I needed a break. I watched my bank account rise slowly, like a mountain-climber that had just fallen off the side of a severe cliff. It's battered and bruised self was clambering over the ledge, grateful for flat ground. My diet was consisting of more than ramen noodles. When the steering pump went on my truck, I didn't go into a full-on meltdown. It wasn't scary to pull into a gas station anymore. It felt good. Mentally, all those big slashed open wounds from being an insecure mess in the show pen were closing up. I kind of started feeling like I could do the deal again, but I could do it differently. I could be happier, more importantly, I could be a lot more grateful. This is where it all goes downhill... here's how you fall into the rabbit hole again. Step One: Watch Some Inspiring Shit. *bonus points: drink a lot of wine at the same time*
World's Greatest Horseman Champions, Kelby Phillips and Hickory Holly Time. Photo Credit: NRCHA/Primo Morales
All these feelings were bubbling around, just under the surface, when then NRCHA World's Greatest Horseman competition was occurring in Fort Worth, Texas. Now, if you don't know what World's Greatest is, I suggest you go figure that out - because it's.the.freaking.best. Take some of the greatest older horses in the world, some of the best cow horse trainers in the industry, make them go through a gauntlet of four events - reining, cutting, fence work and steer stopping - and then, pit the top ten against each other in a finals. World's Greatest is the epitome, those horses are so amazing, I kid you not - I cry throughout the finals, especially the fence work, they just have so much damn heart and try. Tell me ya'll didn't tear up when Kelby won it on Hickory Holly Time? Especially after watching Down The Fence. If you aren't getting either of these references, I just don't know if we can hang. So anyways, the finals were live cast, and I watched them from the comfort of home, with a healthy dose of wine and a few friends on the other line of my cell phone. Texting back and forth, declaring that cow horse was my new sport. Then, to top it off, right after World's Greatest finished up, the NCHA South Point Mercuria Cutting in Las Vegas started about an hour after. Talk about an evening of great performance horses. Morgan Cromer went and did the damn thing and won it on Stylish Look Bella with a 225, last in the herd. If that doesn't make you stand up and fricken cheer after two bottles of wine, I don't know what will. I just don't know. Guess you're dead inside. You're probably out chasing cows in a field and wreckin' fresh cattle, that's all I got. & if you wanted to know where it all started again, where this stupid, stupid sport infiltrated my bones again - it was right there, two bottles of wine down, watching one of the greatest in our industry mark a damn 225. I shot my friend a text, "Okay, I know I keep saying I love cow horse, but I lied - I still freaking love cutting." I was doomed. Step Two: Taunt Yourself With Inanimate Objects
I mean, it has really cool star tooling... how could I say no to that?
Shortly thereafter, I heard through the grapevine a friend of mine had her saddle for sale. In the financially desolation that was my previous years in the show pen, I had sold almost everything I had. So I shot her a text, made her an offer, and bought the saddle. It was like, an investment, okay? Well, that's where we started really falling down the rabbit hole - if you have the saddle, you better go use it. Once I got it, I kept walking by it and I swear I could hear it whispering to me, "pretty stupid to buy a saddle if you don't even ride." It became a sort of challenge. I don't like to be challenged - whether by humans, or by inanimate objects. Step Three: Hang with a Pack of No Good Meddling Kids Then I had a friend call me and ask me if I'd show a horse she has that has been sitting on the back-burner. "Oh, I don't know, maybe I'll show him at some club cuttings this summer," I responded, steadfast in this whole "retirement" deal I had suckered my little brain into. "Well, we've made the executive decision, you are showing him next weekend." Nine months. It had been nine months. It had been a rollercoaster nine months, big ups, big downs, lots of swirling and swishing around, but there it was, even the thought of showing made me feel like I had just main-lined eight cups of coffee... but in like, a really good way? If that doesn't sum up cutting, I don't know what else does. It makes you feel like a jittery, crazy mess of a human being, BUT IT'S THE BEST. Step Four: Stop and Smell that Arena Dirt
& just like that, here we are... Photo Credit: Callaghan Creative Co.
I mean, it didn't take but two seconds of arena dirt under my boots and bridle reins in my hands before it washed over me, before I was back to being just as addicted, if not more, than I ever was. I mean, I've been so hungry for this sport for so many years now that my body doesn't even know anything other than starvation. It's a sickness.
It seems almost stupidly predictable, but the horse that I jumped on at a little winter series show, I won the class on. I walked out of the pen swearing about how much I loved cutting. Random people were giggling at how ludicrous I am... Well, you can't exactly stop there, can ya? I mean, I was Beginner's Trapped all over again, GOSH DARNIT. That's why cutting sucks so bad, it starts as a little seed - sprouted from a live feed - and it embeds into your skin and it starts to grow, and push through your bones and veins and it just blossoms right in your brain. Which is where it sits like, "hey sucker, remember me, I'm baaaaaaaack." &, you're right... it's not like I put up much of a fight. Addiction is freakin' hard to beat. All of a sudden, here we are, back at NCHA shows and our first is this weekend... wish us luck.