A Special Breed
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Their legacy dates back to the beginnings of the settlement of the country. They are now and have always been amazing athletes but come equipped with hooves instead of helmets. We’re talking Cutting Horses, a special breed of animal born and bred for a specific purpose; trained and ridden by modern day cowboys.
“The job of that horse is to keep that cow separated from that herd and it’s a natural herd instinct for that cow to want to get back to the herd,” explains long time horse enthusiast Charlie Israel.
Cutting horse lover Terry Sligh adds, “I was probably in my 20s and I just kept looking at cutting horses and what I thought was the best athletic animal I’d ever seen; what they could do, how they could turn around and I said, ‘You know? I think I’d enjoy this,’ and that was about 35 years ago and evidently, I do! My sons have asked me, ‘What do you do for entertainment?’”
“I ride a cutting horse.”
The history of the cutting horse is really part and parcel of this history of the country.
“The very foundation of cutting began on ranches in the 1800′s when cattle were wild, and it took a horse to handle them because they were so wild and so fast. Where we are today is primarily a contest sport. The practical use of the cutting horse on the ranch is limited today because the ranches are smaller and so the real essence of the cutting horse is in competition today,” explains Israel, the producer of a forthcoming documentary film on this special breed of horses.
“We started with the idea we should really do a film that celebrates the cutting horse, the roots of it, where it began and where it is today. The title is called The Cut and The Cut is what the cow is when you separate her from the herd.”
Cutting is about competition but when you see the smile on a six-year-old like B.A. Scheer, you know it’s a lot of fun as well. His parents Brandi and TC manage Scheer Performance horses near Susan Moore.
Sligh encourages young people to get involved, “A lot of kids need to be involved in something, whatever that sport is but if you want to be a cowboy, this is one of them sports that’ll hold your attention.”
“Winston Churchill said, ‘The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man’ and it’s really true,” notes Israel.
As for Sligh, a local Chevrolet dealer, it’s simple, “I work during the week, play cowboy on weekends.”
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