Cutting Horses

Cutting horses are one of our passions here at Cook Arena! We strive to own and train some of the best in the business. The sport of cutting originated back when horses were used to work the ranches. Cattle would have to be cut out of the herd and held until they could be roped or secured in order to doctor them. The good old quarter horse didn’t take long to figure out his job, and the next thing you know, a sport was born!

Cutting Horses In the Show Pen

Today the sport of cutting is one of the most popular in America. You have two and a half minutes to showcase your horse to the best of yours and its abilities on either two or three head of cattle. The main objective is to stay between the herd and the cow that you choose to cut out. Working time truly begins when the rider drops his hand down his horses neck and the horse takes over working. Cutting horses have to be intelligent, willing, and brave in order to hold that cow with no help from the bridle! The show horses of today truly have “cow” bred into them – they want to work and live for their job.

Cutting Horses

Cutting Horse Terminology

When showing cutting horses, there are several terms that might get thrown around that need some explanation:

  • Re-Run Cattle: Re-run cattle are those that have already been worked in a previous class at a cutting horses competition.
  • Cutting For Shape:  Cutting for shape just means that you don’t have a cow pre-picked, and will instead attempt to cut whatever is left standing when the rest of the herd goes back to the wall. This is usually used in re-run cattle classes where the cows are getting faster and harder to work.
  • Sticky Cattle: This is the term used when the cows will not come off the back fence. Usually this occurs in re-run cattle classes.
  • Married Cattle: What is used to describe when two cows join up and the cutting horses have a problem with separating just one out to cut. The hard part is to split them and not lose both!
  • Quitting a Cow: Hopefully you will never hear this spoken about your own horse! This is when the cutting horse stands there or runs off instead of turning back with the cow while the rider is expecting to keep working.
  • Herd Holder: These are the two people on either side of the herd, closest to the back wall. Herd holders are especially important in re-run cattle that are sticky.
  • Turnback Help: Your turnback help are those that are out in front of you in the show pen. They literally turn back the cow toward the cutting horses.
  • Dry Work: The term used to describe practicing without any cattle.
  • Sweep: A very good thing! Used to describe cutting horses that make the 180 degree turn in one fluid motion.

Where to Show Cutting Horses

In my opinion, the best place to show your cutting horses is the National Cutting Horse Association. They have been around forever, and put on well organized and family oriented events. Combine that with excellent payouts, prizes, and of course cutting horses; and you have a win-win atmosphere! You can visit to see where a show will be held near you!

Training Cutting Horses

Cook Arena would be happy to help you in getting your cutting horses trained and ready to hit the show pen! Please visit our training page at for more information, or give Heidi Cook a call at 678-492-0440. Cook Arena is located in Summerville, Georgia and would be happy to help!