The weekend horse is a true warrior. He may be asked to perform several times in one weekend, and at times, he may be asked to cut in less than perfect conditions. Finding individual horses that fit individual cutters is specialized work, but there are some rules that stand true in every situation. We asked World Champions and professional cutting horse trainers Casey Crouch, Corsicana, Texas, and Kobie Wood, Stephenville, Texas, what they look for when finding a weekend horse for amateur clients.
Temperament is one of Crouch’s biggest concerns especially for new cutter.
“For a customer, the horse has got to be quiet and easy to handle on the ground,” he said.
Consistency is the key to winning weekend after weekend.
“You need a horse that’s going to cut no matter what the person does. If they do something wrong, then the horse should ignore them and keep working the cow,” Crouch said.
“The consistency is in the horse and the rider together – no matter where they draw, they’re consistent, and if they get through a clean run, then they’re going to get a good clean mark,” said Wood, who looks for horses that mark a 73 and above.
“You look at the times he’s been showed and the times he gets a paycheck. Then you’ve got to look if the horse is going to fit the person.”
A horse that is powerful, choppy or rough in its turns will make it more difficult for the rider to sit through the turn. In addition to being smooth and easy to ride, Crouch wants the horse to improve with the rider.
“If I’m looking for an amateur horse, I’ll try to find something that they can start in the $2,000 range, then go to the $15,000 range before they need to step up to another horse,” Crouch said. “I’ll try to find a horse that I think they can grow with, and as they learn to ride and manipulate the horse better during a run, they can make more things happen and make it a showier horse. That way you’re not looking for another horse after a year.”
Crouch explained that there are differences between amateur aged-event horses and amateur weekend horses.
“At a weekend show, you’ve got to have a gritty horse that will go hold a soft cow or a bad cow, and they need to keep cutting if the cow is up under them tight under their neck, whereas for an aged-event amateur horse, the cattle are softer,” he said.
Wood continued, “Technically, an amateur shouldn’t be showing a 4-year-old because the horse isn’t consistent enough yet for an amateur.”
Soundness is important, but older horses will have some issues.
“If it’s something you can manage with routine maintenance, then the horse is OK,” Crouch explained. “If it’s manageable, then it’s no different to us taking an aspirin so we don’t hurt and can perform.”
Examples of routine maintenance may be getting the horse’s stifles injected or corrective shoeing.
Crouch likes to put a beginner cutter on a 10-15-year-old horse.
“Older horses are usually easier to get on with and are easier to show,” he said.
Wood added that the more advanced amateur or non-pro can buy a horse that has been through and finished an aged-event career.
“The 6- to 10-year-olds are at the top of their game, but they are for your better rider,” Wood said.
People looking for their first weekend horse can expect to pay around $20,000. The horse’s price will vary depending on his age, soundness, how easy he is to ride and performance record.
Commission is a part of the landscape when buying and selling horses, so don’t be insulted when your trainer brings it up. It is best to discuss commission as soon as you start talking about buying or selling. The standard commission is 10 percent but can vary with each deal.
Your trainer wants you to win and will spend a lot of time trying to find a horse that fits you.
“Get with someone you really trust, get the commission out on the table and have them say, ‘I work for you, I’ll tell you what this horse does for you, why it will or won’t work and what he’s worth.’ Between all the heads, you should come out with the best horse for you,” Wood said.
“If you can afford to lose the price of the horse by not insuring him, then you can afford to pay the 3 percent insurance on him every year,” Wood said.
“Insurance is critical for the first two years that you own the horse because that’s when you’re going to have problems. I don’t care if it’s a yearling or a 10-year-old, you don’t know the horse, and things generally happen then.”
Use the two
The $2,000 Limit Rider class offers people a unique opportunity to ride horses that don’t belong to them so that they can work out what style of horse fits them.
“They can ride all different kinds of horses and work out what kind they like and what they don’t like. They can get to feel some real finished horses so they get to know what a good horse feels like,” Wood said.
Wood recommends that his customers stay in the low-entry fee $2,000 for up to two years, or until they prove that they can show at a higher level.