The Showdown in Cowtown

Here's a new term for most of you, (including myself), "Slot Cutting"

What is it? Why should I care? Well, if you're like me and like watching badass horses work cows, you're going to want to know what it is, and once you know what it is - you're going to care.

Let's start this off with a little explanation of what a "Slot Cutting" it is, and how it came to fruition.

"Showdown in Cowtown" was created by Jeremy Barwick, owner of Western Bloodstock. Western Bloodstock is the premier sale company in the cutting horse world. They hold prestigious sales during major events like The Futurity, as well as famous dispersal's, like the recent dispersal of Alice Walton's "Rockin' W Ranch." The Showdown in Cowtown is also co-hosted by the National Cutting Horse Association, and first held in conjunction with the Summer Spectacular in Fort Worth in July. The second began yesterday, with the first go-round of the Open, held during The Futurity.

This event, a slot cutting, is the first of it's type in the sport. 100 slots are available for sale, if all the slots are filled the top 20 make the final. Slots costs $5,000 for the Open, $3500 for the Non-Pro and $2,500 for the unlimited amateur. So, it's definitely not a cheap entry fee by any means. If only I HAD $5,000 to throw at a show... haha... BUT, because of the cost, and the limited number of entries it becomes a VERY lucrative show if you make it to the finals. The winners will earn $100,000 in the Open, $60,000 in the Non-Pro & $30,000 in the Amateur. Even if you make the bottom spot in the finals, you are guaranteed to double your entry fee.

It's also spectator-friendly. Recently at the Calgary Futurity, a friend of mine watched as two co-champions flipped a literal coin to decide who "won". She thought it was a joke. It wasn't... but it sure seems like one to a sport that wants to bring in crowds to watch an already confusing format. The Showdown in Cowtown takes no ties into the final or to win first place. If two people do tie for champion, there will be a work-off for the buckle - a LOT more exciting than a coin toss, in my humble opinion.

Stylish Bet & Lindy Burch
Photo by Cutting Horse Central

Yesterday kicked off the Showdown with the first go of the Open with some VERY COOL horsepower. To show you how tough the pool of competitors was, there were multiple Open World Champions - CR Sun Reys, A Little Bossy, Special Nu Baby, One Time Choice. The Horse of (last year), Junie Wood, is making an appearance. Stallions that have prestigious show careers, as well as prodigy records, also came out of retirement to show the young guns their stuff - Bamacat, Kit Kat Sugar, Boon Too Suen & Third Cutting all made appearances. The Aged event champions came out to show their cow-sense as well, He Be a Cat, Buzzted, Reyzin the Cash. Finally, one of cutting's most illustrious and winning teams, headed by the great mare Don't Look Twice, came out of retirement to show what she's got. So those are just SOME of the amazing horses that came to play in the Open, we can't forget the trainers that piloted these great horses to so much success as well. To sum it up, millions and millions of dollars in winnings are about to walk across the dirt in Fort Worth, and it's pretty exciting. Getting back to the spectator-friendly aspect of it all, these are horses even some of the non-cutting public knows, it's exciting for people to come out and watch "Third Cutting" come out of retirement, because they may have a Third Cutting colt in their pasture at home. These are great horses, and it's an honour to have them back in the show pen.

Wesley Galyean & Lil Rattler
Let's just take a moment to appreciate where his left foot is in this photo...
Photo by Cutting Horse Central

The Showdown in Cowtown yesterday was incredibly tough, taking an astounding 221 to make it back to the finals. Some pretty amazing horses fell to hard luck, with Special Nu Baby and Matt Gaines marking a zero, probably one of their first in a very long time. One Time Choice 2013/2014 World Champion also marked a zero. He Bea Cat, Futurity Co-Champion, Don't Look Twice, World Champion & Bamacat, Multiple Aged Event Champ, and 3rd in the World, all were out of the finals by one or two points.

The finals, which are to be held December 4, will prove to be very, very exciting cutting to watch. 15 made it back to the finals, due to the 74 horses that entered into the slot cutting.

Junie Wood, 2013 Futurity Winner and 2014 Horse of the Year, came out swinging hard with a 225. Lindy Burch, and her mare Stylish Bet, are currently in the World Open Race in 5th, also showed up and laid out a 224.5.

Boyd Rice and Third Cutting
Photo by Cutting Horse Central

Two of my favourite stories that come out of the finals is the "Old Man of Cutting" - 10 year old stallion Third Cutting & "The Canadians." Third Cutting came out of retirement to score a 222 under Trainer Boyd Rice. On his stallion page, his tagline is "Talent & Heart", and he indeed has both, and showed that yesterday. Third Cutting has won $522,421 in his career, and was the 2009 Super Stakes and Derby Champion with Rice. His offspring have already won $194,847 in the show pen.

Dustin Gonnet riding This Cats Got Style
Photo by Cutting Horse Central

The Showdown in Cowtown was good for Canadians as well, with two making the finals. First, Jesse Lennox the young-gun who has seen so much success on the great mare "Boon San Baby", who now calls Texas his home. Secondly, Dustin Gonnet came and showed that a Canadian can get down in Cowtown alongside all the big boys too. This Cats Got Style, owned by fellow-Canadian Ronald Patton scored a 221 to make it through. I'm a little biased, but here's hoping Dustin lays down another spectacular run when it comes to the finals.

Exciting stuff - be sure to tune into the webcast on December 4th to watch some spectacular horses turn some heads!


  1. Exciting indeed! Ok, so not knowing how cutting is scored, what gets you a 0? Is it changing cows, or not dropping your hand, or a hot quit?

    1. Changing cows and a hot quit are both three point deductions (I believe, they could be five) not dropping your hand will warrant a zero, or falling off your horse/your horse falling, getting whistled out of the pen for excessive spurring/jerking & leaving the pen before the clock stops is also a zero. But usually if you are having a really bad run (change cows, get run into the wall, not working In position) and get multiple 3-5 point deductions you'll end with a 60, which is also a zero but just means you still walk with a score.

      There's a lot of intricate rules - your giving me an idea for a follow up blog post! ;)

  2. Haha - thanks to your last post when you wrote that Special Nu Baby didn't make it, I was all, "ahhwww I like him!" - these posts are fascinating to me. I think I could learn a LOT from getting a bit more involved with an entirely different equine sport like this. Hmmm. Fascinating.

    1. Haha awesome!! Glad your liking all the cutting stuff... I was worried it's been a bit too much on that and nothing else lately but there is so much cool stuff happening right now in the cutting world!!

      It's definitely a COMPLETELY different riding style than a lot of equine sports. I think there is some small comparison to jumping though, like we work our horses day in and day out with the goal that we can drop our hand and trust our horses to perform how they've been trained and then we just have to quietly ride and aid them up there. While you guys are obviously riding hard and can use your hands but some of the best jumpers I seem look just as effortless and quiet up there. My thought of the day haha

  3. Well damn, that certainly is exciting! That is going to be so fun to watch too!


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