Author: Lisa Haldane.

If you participate in the sport of cutting, you know that it can be the most humbling of experiences.  All our weaknesses are on display, you just can’t hide it because the competition itself is totally consuming.

If you participate in the sport of cutting, you’re probably like me and have the best intentions of staying calm, focusing on making a good cut of your cow out of the herd, sitting deep and quiet, staying relaxed and out of your horse’s way with your legs, keeping you rein hand low, using your legs more than your reins to bring out your cow.  You walk in with the firmest of convictions, enter into the herd and bring out a few cows, then all hell breaks loose and off you go on the run again!

The blessed souls who are there to help you just sigh, sometimes they have words to encourage  you for the next time, most times they just think it’s better to be quiet at that moment.

If you participate in the sport of cutting or not, maybe you’ll find some humor and wisdom in these words from some of our best:

My favorite quote is from my long time trainer and friend, Scott Raftery, who said: “Yours has to be the quietest mind out there.” To me participating in this sport is the activity that strengthens me mentally, conditions me not to be reactive and keeps me focused on a single goal. I learn to manage a complex situation for the best and not be distracted by all the chaos that can go on.  I return with a fresh mind every time, letting go of the last run whether good or bad because in this sport you have to be 100% present in the moment.

Same day, different trainer, Scott Weis, who’s comment after my wild run was: “Live by the sword, die by the sword”.  You can picture the disaster I’m sure.  What I really love about this sport is that we have to be assertive, but with discretion and finesse.  We pay alot of money to do that, so the lessons are painful and meaningful.  There are rules and etiquette in this sport that we operate within, but there is also tremendous freedom of expression within those parameters.

Another favorite trainer, Andrew Coates, after watching me unintentionally push my horse back into the herd consistently on every run on the same side: “Your legs have to be relaxed, but your feet have to work”.  This really sank in and I use it to this day.

My complaint was that I wasn’t doing anything to cause this.  Also, how come my horse is always going to far on one side? He said I was causing that, but again, I was totally unaware. This started me on the journey to wanting to understand how I could be causing these reactions in my horse when I didn’t intend to.  Eight years later I now understand about the crookedness in my spine and pelvis and how that created different pressures in my legs which my ultra sensitive horse could feel and was responding to.  Now I am much healthier for having researched this matter but it took years and persistence to get to the root of it. Thank you Andrew.

From several trainers, I guess from back in their broomstick horse days: “That’s a nice stick” when referring to the horse.  Maybe someone will enlighten me about the origin and meaning of this term but it makes me laugh.

Also from several trainers: “Well that’s one way to do it…..” with a long pause…..

And a classic one: “And why do you want to do that?”

God bless them all, I love them and have never in my life been in the situation where four professionals would give of their time to individually help me.  I was a ragamuffin as a kid and it was so hard for me to receive their help but I’m so grateful for it.  They don’t know, but it was life changing.