Cornbread Thinks: Your Head, Your Clothes and the Futurity


Laura & Tate Bennett with Rios Jewel

We want to see what a great trainer can bring out of great horses. Great trainers teach them to be athletes first. They teach them how to position themselves to not only block any attempt to go to the herd, but give a cow the impression that he is in two places at once, already landing to head the next turn, and telling the cow, “Don’t even think about it.”

We also want the rider to look like a cowperson. Wearing real “Western attire.” Hats, not ball caps, and usually with a “cutter” crease, but there are regional variances. Haven’t seen a “Bat Masterson” one with a hatband chain of beer tabs lately, though. Western shirts are worn with collar and buttons or snaps, but usually buttons. Some riders have been known to leave a couple or three undone, in a vain attempt to distract a judge. Good judges can watch horse and cleavage. Not all judges are men either. Kick a big hole in your overall run content. The rule even allows you to wear chaps and spurs, which is good ’cause everyone does.

Don’t see Batwings much, mostly shotguns. It’s considerably easier to walk from cowbox to horse in shotguns. Bats hide your feet better, but nobody sticks them in the shoulder anymore anyway. Contrary to popular belief you can wear a “Hoodie” as long as it is made of a material PETA would condemn. Shirts are Mostly earth tones or darker.  Black or dark blue shirts on show day, especially finals. Don’t pester or expect friendly convo if your friend is wearing a dark shirt. Don’t be a distraction on show day. NEVER, EVER wear yellow. It’s terrible bad luck. Your help doesn’t even want to be near you. It isn’t a superstition if it’s true.

If the NCHA Futurity is over when you read this, I am sure it was great. They all are. I’ve never been to a bad finals. The John Deere Open finals were the best ever. Tate Bennett, Monty Buntin and Jesse Lennox taking first, second and third are all new, young and very promising talents. Even though they’re young, all already have inspiring life stories. True success stories. Living the dream, God-given talent, hard work, perseverance and no quit. None.

I don’t know Jesse Lennox yet, but I know Tate Bennett and Monty Buntin. Their wives/lopers, Laura Bennett and Tessa Buntin, are as much a part of their success as they are, and both freely and from the heart say so. Cutting will be okay if we keep making people like this.

Tate and Laura had trained two outstanding horses, but there were doubters, who I hope were settled after Tate ended the first round of the NCHA Futurity Open in Fort Worth, Texas, with two horses tied for the lead, with a big ol’ 221scores on both. Tate and Laura train on her daddy’s place, 45 miles northwest of Hereford, Texas, and 10 miles past nothing.

Laura, I suspect, is a daddy’s girl, learning cows from an early age, like nine months before she hit the ground. That girl knows cows.

Monty came in under the pressure of an owner, Scott Gaddy, turning down  $320,000 of real money a year ago for Highbrow Jackson. I turned cattle back for this horse in the sale, and he was the single-best two year old I have ever seen. Monty got him a month before after one of the best showmen in the business elected to ride other ponies. Tim Smith, who believed in the horse just not for himself. Monty worked for Tim and was Tim’s recommendation. Monty calls Tim his mentor. More of the soul that makes cutting great. Giving a horse the best opportunity at his 2 1/2 minutes. The great trainer helped a young man become a great trainer.

I have said it many times. You just aren’t a cutter if you don’t make it to the Coliseum. There are things to learn here you can learn nowhere else. Like the Spirit of Christmas, it is the Spirit of Cutting. It’s the romance of cutting, and it’s the parts that aren’t about being on stage in front of judges.

Start making plans for the spring NCHA Super Stakes, also in Will Rogers Coliseum.

Cornbread thinks: If you weren’t here, you messed up.


You can reach Cornbread (Jimmy Bankston) at [email protected] or see him on Facebook by going to