Horses, riders, trainers and owners from across the nation have flocked to Ardmore for the week to compete in the 10th Annual Arbuckle Mountain Futurity.
Macon Massey, arena manager for the event, said that there are over 180 horses with over 100 different riders competing in the various open divisions taking place and that even more horses and riders will be arriving as the week progresses.
“Once the non pro and amateur divisions get started even more people will be coming in,” Massey said.
He said the open competitions are for professional riders, and then described the difference between the non-pro and amateur categories.
“The amateurs have not won as much money as the non-pros,” Massey said. To be considered an amateur, a rider cannot have won more than $100,000 while showing cutting horses. After a rider has made more than that, they fall into the non-pro category.
“The non-pro is not a professional,” Massey said. “It’s not their job. They’ve just been showing long enough that they’ve won so much money they aren’t an amateur.”
Massey said competitions are scheduled for four-five- and six-year-old horses. He then described what the horses and riders will be doing.
“They have to enter a herd of cattle and separate one cow from the herd,” Massey said. “Cattle are a herd animal, so its instinct will be to stick with that herd and try to go back. So the object of the game is for that horse and that cow to stay head to head.”
He said the horse will then mirror whatever the cow is doing to prevent it from returning to the herd. Riders are only allowed to use their feet to cue the horse, and after the cow is separated from the herd both of the rider’s hands must remain down. A one point penalty is deducted from the total score every time they raise a hand.
Massey said that in addition to the horse being shown, two other horses are also in the arena assisting with the showing. These horses are ridden by turn back riders.
“They move in if the cow gets to running around wall to wall and try to stop him so the man can actually show his horse.”
Massey said cutting horse competitions like the Arbuckle Mountain Futurity are based off the work ranchers do while in the field.
“If you have a sick calf in a herd of cattle, you need to take a horse and get that calf out of the herd so you can doctor it,” Massey said. “This comes from the old ranching days and even today they still do the same thing to a certain extent.”
The Arbuckle Mountain Futurity will be taking place daily through Sunday at the Hardy Murphy Coliseum. Each day begins at 8 a.m. and Massey said they encourage everyone to come watch the competition.
“We’re more than glad to have anybody that wants to watch come out,” Massey said adding that there is no charge for admission.
For more information about the Arbuckle Mountain Futurity, visit www.nchadella.com. This site will also have a link to a live stream of the event.