Under the guidance of Glynnie Walford, former cutting horse Tapt Outta Cash is learning the ropes of Western dressage. • Photo by Shane Rux.

Cutting Horses Excel at Western Dressage

Glynnie Walford has an affinity for cutting horses. She likes that the horses are athletic, have good brains and need a job. When a new horse joins the herd, he works on the ranch, trail rides and competes in Western dressage. 

One of the latest additions to her show string—Tapt Outta Cash—was bred and initially trained in cutting by EquiStat Elite $9 Million Rider Phil Rapp. The red roan son of EquiStat Elite $49 Million Sire and National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Futurity Open Champion Metallic Cat quickly showed his aptitude for his new career, winning the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) World Show Basic/Junior Amateur Western Dressage late last year in only his fourth time showing in the discipline.

In Western dressage, horses are ridden in Western tack but execute maneuvers using principals of dressage. Horses are evaluated at introductory levels at the walk, jog and lope. More challenging maneuvers, such as the pirouette, are added as the horse advances up the levels of Western dressage competition.

“He is a good 15 hands so there is quite a lot of him, but he is very athletic,” Walford. “He wasn’t going to be a futurity horse, so Phil sold him. Then he was for sale again at the San Antonio Stock Horse Show. Ronnie (Shelby) was determined to come home with him. Then he went to Mike Major for all of 2020 and did versatility.”

Tapt Outta Cash, aka Rio, earned $2,471 before Walford’s partner, Ronnie, purchased him. The couple splits their time between ranches in Tennessee and Texas. The Metallic Cat gelding is out of top-producing broodmare Tapt Twice (by Dual Pep), whose offspring have earned more than $1.6 million, and includes one of cutting’s all-time great mares, Dont Look Twice.  

When Walford’s show horse, another ex-cutter named Hay Momma Rock Me, got hurt early in the season, Shelby suggested she ride Rio. She leased him and started riding him. Three weeks later, she entered him in his first event, which he won.

Then she hauled him to the Western Dressage World Championship Show, where he finished as a Reserve World Champion and won the Amateur High-Point with an 82.17% score. His fourth Western dressage event was the AQHA World Show, where he won the Basic Amateur level.

“He got dropped in at the deep end,” she said. “He loves the fuss and is a real prankster. His favorite thing is trying to take your hat.”

Tapt Outta Cash is just one of multiple former cutting horses, or horses with cutting bloodlines, that Walford has ridden in Western dressage competition.

At the AQHA World Show, Walford also rode cutting-bred Bonita Lights (CD Lights x Shortys Bonita Lena x Shorty Lena). The 13-year-old mare was born on Valentine’s Day, earning the barn name “Val.”

Glynnie Walford and Bonita Lights compete in Western dressage. • Photo by Shane Rux.

In total, the pair have claimed four World titles at four different levels and have earned the bronze, silver, and gold medals through the Western Dressage Association of America. The 14-hand mare has also earned enough points to receive Supreme Horse recognition, Walford said.

“We are so fortunate to have such kind loving horses,” Walford said. “I think cutting horses come from a world where they get the exposure early on. Even if they are not in the top tier of cutters, they still get exposure early on and I think that makes them open to the training.”

Walford credits Chris Cox with getting her started on horsemanship fundamentals to help her get started in Western dressage when she first bought Val seven years ago.

“I am very proud of my US citizenship,” she said. “Being British by birth I kind of came from the classical world and he helped me make that transition over.”