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The Dog Fight that is the 2,000

I'm going dark people. I'm shutting down the blog for a month. Okay, I'm being dramatic, but I am going to stop posting for a little bit. I want to finish the website i've been working on for.. ya know.. a year and I want to re-evaluate my content and start publishing regular monthly series on more of a schedule. I've slowly moved away from telling the stories of celebrated competitors, and I want to bring that back into the fold, but in a different way. And, of course, I want to celebrate novice competitors as much, if not more, than I have been doing. Plus, if I throw some fashion in, or some personal perspective... you guys know the motto is #MyBlogMySoapbox. It takes a lot of work to be an ad hoc, spout off whatever-i'm-thinking in the moment blogger ya'll. A lot of work, and a lot of wine. This decision has been inspired by the fact that the realer and the rawer I get about the performance horse world - humorous, serious and otherwise - the more you seem to like what I post. I, in turn, have really been enjoying the real and raw content that sites like The Cowboy Journal, The Team Roping Journal Magazine and The Players Tribune have been putting out about their professional athletes. All three have some excellent online reading from the athlete's perspectives, ya'll check it out. So, I will leave you with some thoughts today, and until March 1st, about what I've been mulling around in my brain and how I feel about one class in particular - the 2,000 Limit Rider in the National Cutting Horse Association. As always, if you enjoy content I'm putting out there - please share my posts, comment on them to tell me what you think and like my Facebook page. Let's build the base, and on that note...

The 2,000 Limit Rider. Talk about a dog fight. I don’t mean to disparage the class, because I don’t want to scare people off of the sport of cutting, but man… it’s a damn dog fight out there, no doubt.

I’ll get back to that later. First, let's talk the sport of cutting itself... Look, cutting is an art form. To me, it’s one of the coolest things going in the performance horse world. Watch a cutting horse dance in front of a cow, appreciate the time that goes into these magnificent animals, watch that rider move in motion with the horse, you’re going to want to do it too. For me, it was instant. Have you ever felt a horse rock back on it’s hocks, sweep through a turn, and then get over there and just.. stop. Like in the ground, hard. Then wait on a cow? It’ll take your breath away. It’ll make you question every ounce of horsemanship you have inside of you. It’ll make you stare at that horse and think, how the hell did you do that? How the hell am I going to get you to do that again? Then you start to learn and grow, the horses get better, the competition gets harder, you get smarter, it just gets better and better and cooler and cooler, and it’s a damn trap, but you’re there for the ride now. But back to the 2,000. I’ve heard it more times than I can count, “The 2,000 Limit Rider is one of the hardest classes there is.” You know why? You don’t have to own your own horse. On paper, and for a lot of beginner riders, that makes a lot of sense. A rider can get on a horse and dip their toes in the proverbial pool of cutting, splash around a little out there, see how it feels. Put on the water wings, grab an old cow blocker and see what this sport is about. In reality though, along with those cow blockers, every once and awhile a rider will show up… mounted. I’ve seen a rider show up on NCHA Horse of the Year in the 2,000 Limit Rider. Damn. I’m not here to get super negative about it, because I don't actually believe it's all that negative, it’s the reality of the class. Some days your 69 is going to win it, other days a 76 will. I’ve seen it time and time again. It’s a no holds bar dog fight because you don’t know what’s going to happen - sometimes the Pit Bull takes it, other time the Chihuahua. This is not a game of strength. The reality of the class is that you have to be one mentally strong motherf*****. If you are comparing yourself to someone equally as mounted as you, if you are whittling yourself down to nothing when you are just as capable. Wait until someone shows up on Horse of the Year. Start thinking about how much that horse has won. Start thinking about how that person has to only pay for their show fees, no vet bills, no trainer bills, no bill of sale. Keep on spiralling down that hole you are creating. You are done before you even got started. Throw your hundreds in the sand and walk away baby, it’s over. That sounds really harsh, cue the hate mail, but every one that knows me knows I love the sport of cutting, but maybe I love that little class called the 2,000 Limit Rider more? Maybe I really love novice competitors? Why? Because IT IS a damn dog fight, and more often than not, someone will come out of nowhere, on a horse they bought for cheap, and will beat the Horse of the Year rider. How did they do that? Sometimes a loper, whose been fricken cleaning stalls, and eating ramen noodles for three years, will get put on a good horse and will win a cheque. Can’t take that away from them. They didn’t pay the vet bills but they paid their fricken dues all the same. Wanna-be up-start trainers can start off in the 2,000 Limit Rider and sometimes they crash and burn. Back to the drawing board, that did not work. Even more humbling when you trained one yourself, try it out sometime. Trainers kids will come and clean house, trust me when I say it isn’t some academy awards gala life to be a trainer, let alone their dang kid. If you’re trading slave labour for a cheque in the 2,000, all the power to ya, you deserve it, god knows I couldn't have my parents coaching me out there.

The 2,000 Limit Rider - cue the tears, and the fist pumps and the damn congratulatory Facebook posts - this is where cinderella stories are born and raised baby! So why am I talking about the 2,000 Limit Rider today? Why am I using this post to go dark for awhile on this blog? Because of the cinderella stories, the ones that need to be heard. I’ve been mulling around in my mind what content I want to share on this blog for awhile now, and I finally settled on real and raw content. I want to hear the stories behind the big Open and Non Pro wins, just like you guys. Man I love that stuff. I could swap out Open Futurity win stories for breakfast, any day of the week. They should put Austin Shepard’s face on a damn box of Wheaties, I will buy it. I hate cereal, I love cutting. You know what I also want to hear though? The stories of beginner riders, we need to celebrate novice competitors and treat them like their stories deserve a platform in the game. Why? Because the base is crumbling, everyone recognizes it. Where are the youth riders? When they turn 18, why don’t we see them anymore? Why don’t we have more people moving from the 2,000 to the 15 am or the 35 non pro? Where are our beginner riders going? They are probably poor. They probably spent three years trying to win a damn buckle and came up short every time.

They probably feel like there isn’t a ton of movement for them in this sport because they don’t own an oil company. (Sue me, oh wait, you can, you own a Fortune 500 - I take it all back)

They may have shown the legs off their horse and now can’t get the funds together for a new one.

So many reasons. And I know, I know there are associations out there trying to build the base, people out there campaigning for novice competitors, and I want to be a part of that, and so, I’m going to start sharing as many of their stories as possible. This is my service to you, you wonderful 2,000 Limit riders. You weekend warriors. You Top 15’ers. You ramen-noodle eating lopers and you wanna be aged eventers. The deal is, when you are watching the 2,000 Limit Rider, you never know which of those riders may go on to be the next Non Pro Futurity Champion, 15 Amateur Regional Champion, the next big time open competitor, or hell - may just stick it out in this sport, support other competitors, keep entering shows year after year, and help keep it alive. Let’s talk about it. Let’s build the base by celebrating it.

See ya'll in March.

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