NCHA Challenger Series Picks up Steam

Things are picking up around the country for the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Challenger Series, and the event held in Gonzales, Louisiana, is no exception.

The Challenger event hosted more than 100 entries, the majority of which participated in the innovative team cutting concept developed by Keith Deaville. The format is an unapproved class in which participants can enter three times.

Names are drawn to form three-man teams. Each team member gets to cut for one minute, for a total of three minutes per team. Scores are then combined to determine the winner. At this event, there were a total of 19 teams that competed. The format was helpful for participants because it allowed competitors to be in and out within a day.

Deaville has always held the $15,000 Amateur first at his Challenger Series cuttings, and the class has never had fewer than 17 entries, generally with two sets of cattle. He feels this is unique and important because it allows competitors in the class to compete first, and have fresh cattle and good help available to them It also puts the spotlight on them.

“These are the beginners,” Deaville said. “They are the main targets for our industry. We have also been so fortunate that some of the local trainers in the area have supported the events with their help and their clientele.”

“It reminded me of the old days,” said NCHA Executive Director Chuck Smith, who was in attendance. “It brought back the primary reason to go to the cutting events – it is as much for the fun as it is for the competition.”

That was evident at the event: just how much fun everyone was having. The Challenger Series cuttings are intended to be as much about the cutting community, and fostering the friendships and connections within as they are about the cutting itself.

Deaville also hosted a fresh cattle practice session, followed by a clinic/workshop for the amateurs the night before the show, along with a potluck dinner. A used cattle practice session was held the following morning.

“It appeared to be an exciting and fun time had by all,” Smith stated.

“We were so glad to have Mr. Smith in attendance,” Deaville said. “The participants were all very happy and impressed by his visit.”