Chilliwack’s Heritage Park hosts cutting horse show

Organizers say cutting horse shows were once a Fraser Valley staple, and they hope for a revival.

Some of the world’s finest Cutting Horses and riders are coming to Chilliwack.

The Heritage Cutting Classic runs April 26-28 at Heritage Park, with cowboys, cowgirls and Hall of Fame trainers from B.C., Alberta and Washington State competing for over $20,000 in prize money.

Cutting cattle from a herd on horseback is an equestrian sport that dates back to the early days of B.C.’s ranching history.

“British Columbia’s Chunky Woodward and George Tidball were two of the dominant early leaders in this sport,” said Lois Clough, a local competitor and board member for the non-profit Mighty Fraser Agriculture Society. “Several decades ago, B.C. was the hub of Cutting Horse shows in Canada.

“It’s this history and the legacy of those who came before us that we wish to honour by bringing a major cutting show back to the Fraser Valley.”

In cutting, a horse and rider work as a team during a two-and-a-half minute performance, referred to by competitors as ‘a run.’

“The action starts slowly as the rider calmly walks into a large herd of cattle and cuts out a single cow,” Clough elaborates. “Then the horse, without visible cues from the rider and using instinct and training alone, tries to keep that cow from rejoining the herd.”

Easier said than done as the cattle’s natural instinct is to get back.

“The horse mirrors and anticipates every move the cow makes as it tries to get back,” Clough said.

Competitors normally ‘work’ three cattle during their 150 second run.

The same techniques used in the sport were and are used in real-life scenarios where cattle must be separated for branding, medical attention or other reasons.

Langley’s Travis Rempel is one of the rising stars in the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA), winning nearly a half-million dollars.

Rempel rode ‘This Cats Max,’ a horse owned by Chilliwack’s Doug and Angie Wiens, winning the 2017 Calgary Stampede Open Mecuria Championship.

Facing a field of 500 in Fort Worth, Texas, Rempel finished inside the top 10 at the NCHA Futurity 2018 World Championship last November.

It’s been 40 years since a Canadian accomplished that feat, and he did it riding a horse trained at ‘Rocking P’ ranch, which is owned by Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Bobby Patton.

He’ll be a favourite at the Heritage Cutting Classic, but Clough said he should expect lots of competition.

“The number of competitors has far exceeded our expectations and we are thrilled,” Clough said. “Our goal is to expose this exciting equestrian sport to as many people, and that’s why we admission is free for the entire family for the entire event.”

Action starts at 7 a.m. each day and more info can be found online at heritageclassic.ca/home-page.html

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