With this year’s COVID-19 outbreak leaving cutting horse participants without a place to show, many trainers and their clients have found themselves looking for ways to enjoy their horses.
Equi-Stat Elite $1 Million Rider Casey Crouch, his wife, Chelsa, and some friends recently came up with a fun way to have a good time and keep their horses tuned up, all while also entertaining thousands of cutting enthusiasts.
The end result was an hours-in-the-making jewel of a homemade glow stick cutting video. It was filmed May 2 at the indoor arena of friends and neighbors Joe and Stacy Robinson.
Glow stick cutting, in short, is horse, rider and cutting flag all outfitted in glow sticks, cutting in a pitch-black arena. The cast also included an audience of dancers lined with glow sticks.
The evolution of this creative gem — perhaps the best 2 minutes, 10 seconds of shelter-in-place — began with the Great Quarantine of 2020.
Chelsa Crouch said she and Casey were on the road traveling to horse shows when many of the event cancellations or rescheduling began. They returned home and self-quarantined at their Corsicana facility.
As it turned out, some of Crouch’s customers — James and Heather Todd of Murray, Kentucky — asked if they could park their horse trailer and stay at the Crouch home during the shutdown. Friends, clients and fellow Corsicana residents Ken and Kim Bernhagen, as well as their son, Aden — who won the 2019 NCHA $2,000 Limit Rider World Championship — and daughter, Sophie, often joined the two families for dinner.
At one of the dinners, Heather Todd showed Chelsa, whose Equi-Stat record is creeping close to the $100,000 mark, a video of some kids dancing with glow sticks. That led to a brainstorming session of what-if that turned to actual scheming.
“Let’s try it on a horse.”
“Let’s try it cutting.”
“Hey, let’s light Casey up!”
Of course, there were decisions to have: Where it would be dark enough so the glow sticks would show up well? What horse would be quiet and calm enough to stay focused while cutting a flag in a completely dark arena? How would they attach the glow sticks so they would stay on?
“It was all quite an adventure,” Crouch said. “We decided to hold the cutting at Joe and Stacey Robinson’s indoor arena. We thought we’d be able to get [the building] dark enough for the video.”
For a horse, Casey decided to use “Willie,” a horse owned by clients James and Angie Hall, since he’s pretty “bomb-proof.”
“James said, ‘Oh, so Willie is a famous cutting horse now and nobody is even going to see what he looks like?’” Chelsa said. “We all had to laugh.”
The next day, the Crouches and Todds went to a local Walmart to purchase approximately 100 glow stick necklaces and bracelets, and lots of Gorilla Tape.
“We had a whole [shopping] cart of glow sticks,” Chelsa said. “Casey kept looking at Heather and I, and asking, ‘How are we going to do this?’ And we were just like, ‘We’ll figure it out!’
“I think the guys were like, ‘There’s no way these [glow sticks] are going to stick to the horse, it can’t possibly work.'”
But it did, and very well at that.
“We worked on getting the skeleton, legs and barrel of the horse lit up, so you could see the horse move and work,” Chelsa explained.
The project was truly put together by trial and error, Chelsa said. They used Gorilla Tape to attach glow lights to the flag, saddle and Casey’s hat — then weaved, or braided, the glow sticks in the horse’s mane and tail.
Several people videoed the action from different angles.
“Once we had attached the glow sticks to the flag, we slowly started shutting the lights off so that the horse could get [his eyes] adjusted to the pitch black arena. Then everyone got into position with their cell phones before we turned the alley lights off. Casey [and the horse] were positioned near the flag before we shut the last light off and it turned completely dark.”
The horse didn’t seem to mind the dark at all, Chelsa said, although he was admittedly a little upset when the bugs that were attracted to the glow stick lights kept hitting him.
“Casey said the horse did really well [in the dark], but that it did feel very strange cutting in the dark. If a glow stick broke or fell off the horse, Casey would call out, ‘Hey, a glow stick has come loose,’ and we’d take our flashlights out to fix the glow stick light, then start videoing again.”
Chelsa estimated it took about four hours to complete the video project.
“The dancing at the end of the video was a last-minute thing,” she explained. “They [dancers] were going to be our ‘crowd’ or ‘cheerleaders,’ but it just turned into them all dancing and cheering and having a good ol’ time.”
As it turned out, Crouch said, everyone had a great time working on the video and it turned out better than they could have imagined.
“It was a great Saturday evening with our quarantine crew,” Chelsa said.
The video was a clear hit. It has been shared dozens of times and thousands of comments have been recorded across the country and from as far away as Germany, Italy, Australia and New Zealand.
Good job, Casey Crouch Cutting Horses and crew.