Kids. Kids everywhere, with nothing to do. Jan Seago, practice pen manager for the Breeder’s Invitational (BI), couldn’t help but notice that fact at the show more than 10 years ago. But while some are observers, Seago is a doer. She thought of ideas to keep the younger generation occupied during the BI, and what she came up with has become one of the biggest attractions of the show.
The Kids Cutting, a class allowing kids 12 or younger to cut for one and one-half minutes, blossomed as a result of Seago’s relentless brainstorming. The class’s 2008 debut brought only seven kids, but the fun-filled activity now brings nearly 50 youngsters to the cutting pen each year.
“The whole idea, to me, is to not only make it a family event, but to get kids to know it’s not all about competition. It’s about having fun,” Seago said. “If you have to win in order to be in there, it takes the fun out of it.
“It allows the trainers to become a person other than a trainer. You can see that a trainer is actually a human being and is a family member that doesn’t mind getting goofy and crazy with the kids. A lot of people think that Austin Shepard is this big, massive guy that doesn’t do anything but cut. That’s not true. Trainers have a life. They have a family and they do things outside of cutting, and they have fun with it. You want people to be able to see that.”
Seago credited BI Executive Director Bob O’Bannon for approving her unique idea, and said none of the event’s success would be possible without his support.
“I begged and begged for this,” Seago said. “There were people on the board that said, ‘No.’ It has become such a big thing. It’s all because of Bob that we’ve actually gotten to do it, and it’s grown every year since.”
In addition to participant growth, donators and volunteers have increased immensely after cutters recognized the event’s popularity. Everything for the 2016 event was donated, including fresh cows provided by Bill and Dianna Helm, pizza, desserts and drinks. The kids also had a big goodie bag of donated prizes to look forward to after their runs. This year the bags included a popsicle koozie, umbrella, duffle bag, ball, keychain and plenty of horse-related items like hoof picks and brushes.
Seago expects the event will only grow each year, especially with the backing of so many contributors.
“Bob has made a comment that I’m going to make him make it a full-day event,” Seago said with a laugh. “I have just always been such a big fan of the kids, and I’m so glad the event has taken off like it has. We want to make all of the kids feel special. There is no winner; they’re all winners.”
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