History and Mission
The Utah Cutting Horse Association is an affiliate of the National Cutting Horse Association. The National Association oversees a sport that offers a glimpse of the past and, with each new contest, renews the legend and the spirit of the working cow horse and the great American cowboy.
The sport of cutting is a contest between a horse and rider, and a cow. It is the only equine sport where the horse must work on its own relying on strength, agility and intelligence. It is also the only equine sport where the competitors assist their opponents.
The cutting horse was born out of necessity in the mid 1880's on the plains of West Texas. The ranch work of separating, doctoring, and herding cows was easier if the ranch hand used a horse that could handle or "cut" a cow. These horses were the elite ranch horses and only one in a hundred had the necessary skill and intelligence to handle cattle. Reputations, bragging rights and impromptu challenges set the stage for the first cutting horse contest held in Haskell, Texas in 1898.
The growth of the sport led to the birth of the National Cutting Horse Association in 1946. The NCHA, with headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, was started as a means to standardize contest rules, promote cutting contests, and to preserve the cutting horse heritage.
On a hot summer evening in 1948, a prominent Arabian horse breeder gathered nine horsemen from the Arab and Quarter Horse communities with an idea. He wanted to expand the Arabian Horse Cutting Club into an all breed cutting association. The breeder was Rich Whitmore. The nine horsemen were: Keith Bowden, Bill Greene, Boone Bruno, Roy Carpenter, Rudy Carpenter, Aut Beebe, Dwayne Green, Emmit Ford, and Dan McArthur. These ten were the founders of the Utah Cutting Horse Association. Their President was Roy Carpenter, the Secretary, Rich Whitmore. The ten original members were soon joined by six more: Dick Hammer, Conny Bowler, Dick Robbins, Bruce Petersen, Swede Hansen, and Doc Wilkinson. One member is still with us today: Keith Bowden. Early cutting was a far cry from what we see today. Cutters traveled in unreliable trucks and old stock trailers to outdoor arenas of different shapes and sizes. Saddles came from Sears and Roebuck, manes were roached, and tails were short.
Cattlemen had a different philosophy about handling cattle. They brought the cows in on a run for more action to a horse that did double duty competing and turning back. There were no herd holders and there was a lot of snatch and grab with two hands on the reins.
The first shows were Exhibitions followed by an Open and a Novice and anyone could judge. The one who threw the most dirt usually won. If you won you might have enough gas money to get home.
As the sport moved in to the 50's there were others that joined the association: Jr. Beckstead, Al Heaps, Payne Kibbee, Enoch Eskelson, Wayne Bues, and Weldon Rutledge.
And in the 60's and 70's they were joined by: Bob and Paul Mendenhall, Bob Condie, Dennie Dunn, John Mortensen, John McKenna, Bob Sly, Dix Turnbow, Boyd Summerhays, Brent Layton and Mike McBride.
From our grass roots, today's UCHA members enjoy standards that the original members could never imagine. Indoor arenas, carefully handled cattle, horse trailers with all the comforts of home, standardized judging with a video monitor system, horses bred for their cow sense and ability and sanctioned competitions with annual prize money of over 30 million dollars.
We owe much to our early members for their dedication in building the sport. We have the responsibility to protect their legacy and the sport that preserves the traditions of the past.