A Beginner's Guide to Cutting: Kate Rusnack


Meteoric. That's a word you could use to describe the year Kate Rusnack had in the 2,000 Limit Rider with her gelding, Bet This Cats Smart. You could also include words such as... awesome, tough-to-beat, and awesome to watch. This duo was undeniable from the minute they cracked out at their first NCHA show this spring. The pair warranted their fair share of hype from the get-go. Bet This Cats Smart is a bit of a celebrity in Canadian circles, having had a very successful aged event career with trainer, Gerry Hansma, and previous owner, Ken Mix. So between the two of them, they garnered a lot of attention in the show pen. A moment to be on my soapbox - the thing with really great horses? You still have to ride them. Kate did just that, and she did it incredibly well. I've known Kate for a long time now, we actually loped together many moons ago. She's sweet and humble, and it was cool to watch her show the absolute heck out of her pony this year. Her accomplishments are pretty vast, Canadian Champion in the 2,000 Limit Rider, ACHA Okotoks Classic Novice Challenge Champion, Black Elk Aggregate Champion, Never Won A Buckle Champion... she showed up to the arena in a big way this year, and so obviously we had to interview her for this weeks A Beginner's Guide to Cutting!

Kate Rusnack riding Bet This Cats Smart.
Photo Credit: Sandy Hansma

What is your horses registered name?

Bet This Cats Smart (xWR This Cats Smart)

What is their barn name?
His barn name is Rambo which is fitting because he is always looking for a fight with the other horses.

Tell me a little bit about their personality?

Rambo has one of those personalities that you fall in love with right away. He's kind of like a big dog. You call him, he'll come running. Probably because he knows my pockets are stuffed full of treats!

What is your favourite thing about your pony?

There are many traits about Rambo that I love, but my favourite would probably have to be that he will always try his best, whether we're practicing or at a show. He is a very honest horse that is easy to trust.

Describe their style in the show pen?

His style in the show pen is a lot of fun. He can be gritty, and cool looking in the middle of the pen. However, his "thing" is stopping on each end when the cow gets moving pretty good.
Kate and Rambo after winning the Okotoks Classic Novice Challenge.
Photo Credit: Have-Dog-Will-Travel Photography

What class(es) do you show in?

This year I showed in the 2,000 Limit Rider, as well as the Never Won A Buckle class through the Alberta Cutting Horse Association.

When you started out the year, what were your goals?
I've always wanted to go and watch the NCHA World Finals and the Futurity in Fort Worth. However, NEVER did I think I'd get the privilege to show there. When I started out the year I thought making the NCHA top 15 and being able to go to Texas would be a pretty cool goal.

Do you ride with a trainer, if so, who?
Rambo lives at home with us, and I would haul in for lessons. I took lessons with both Gerry Hansma, and Doug Reinhardt this year.

What was the highlight of your show career this year specifically?

I think the highlight of my show season was marking a 149 in the show pen and winning the Canadian title in the 2,000 Limit Rider.

What was the low point?

I don't think there was a low point, and if there was I reminded myself that I'm lucky to be able to own a horse, and compete.


Do you get nerves/anxiety in the show pen?

My nerves at the start of the year were terrible, I wasn't sure how I could control them until I started reading The Beginner's Guide to Cutting by With A Western Twist. She would write about nerves in the cutting pen, and starting out in the cutting pen. Reading those articles would definitely help and I realized it's not just me who has bad nerves before I show.

[Editors Note - I didn't pay Kate to write that by the way. BUT, when I started reading the answer it made me get all soft and gooey inside. I'm so glad that my experiences in the show pen can help fellow competitors. Makes my heart happy.]


If so, how do you deal with them?
If I start loping Rambo too soon, that makes me nerves worse and neither of us stay focused. So, instead, I like to sit and watch other people show, that seems to keep my mind calm.


Photo Credit: Sandy Hansma


What was the best advice you received in the show pen, or about cutting, this year?

I've had a lot of good advice thrown at me, but there's two things I keep in mind. 1) Do the best you can with what you have to work with and 2) cut one cow at a time.

What was your best moment in the show pen this year?

I had many highlights in my show career this season, including winning the Okotoks Classic Novice Challenge, and the Black Elk Aggregate in the 2,000 Limit Rider. But... honestly, of all the highlights this season, the best one was when Rambo was standing in the arena with me. It was almost like he had a big red bow around his neck, and then to be able to share that with family and friends made it all that much better. Regardless of what we won, Rambo is such a special horse, that made my dreams come true.

How are you feeling about heading to Fort Worth for World Finals?
nervous? excited? both?!

I can't wait to get down there and learn more from Paul Hansma. I took a clinic with him earlier in the year, and he's letting me come and ride with him while I'm down there which is really exciting. I'm sure the day of, I'll be nervous as usual, but with the support I have from my family, friends, and trainers, it makes it more comforting to be there. The experience will be unforgettable. I haven't really set any goals specifically for when I'm down there, I'm really going more so for the experience.


What do you plan to show in next year?

Next year I plan to show in the 15,000 Amateur, and I'd like to see my husband, Dustin, start to show a little bit as well.

What are your goals for next year?

I don't have any specific goals for next year. We're going to choose a few of our favourite shows and go to those ones. I might think about showing at the Calgary Stampede Mercuria - I guess we'll have to wait and see!

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