By Kimberly Bowker
Riders and horses from Canada, Montana, Idaho, Washington, California and Texas will be in Redmond this week to participate in what ranchers have been doing since the 1800s: exhibiting the art and practicality of cutting cows from the herd.
The second annual Cascades Futurity and Aged Event is free to the public and runs Aug. 11-18 at the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center. The event was envisioned by organizer Julie Clarke, who noticed that Oregon and the Pacific Northwest had been without a major cutting function for the past decade. After generating a positive response from last year’s Cascades Futurity and Aged Event, 500 horse stalls have been sold for the 2019 gathering — 100 more than last year.
“Cascades Futurity is dedicated to providing contestants a well-run show, great local cattle to work from Symons Beef Company and Oregon hospitality that creates the finishing touch,” Clarke said.
Competitors may range in age from five to 80, with both men and women equally represented. They compete in Open, Non-Pro and Amateur divisions for more than $130,000 in prizes.
Riders and horses train daily for the two and a half minutes of competition in the arena. Cutting horses are bred to work cows. They begin training as two-year-olds and are shown at age three at the Futurity level. Four-year-old horses compete in the Derby category, and horses five and six years old compete in the Classic Challenge. On average, riders hold 20 years of experience, cultivating the relationship between horse and rider to fine-tune both reaction and style.
Clarke explains that it is easy for those interested in the sport of cutting to find a local trainer and ask for a test drive.
“All I can say is it will be the most exciting two and a half minutes of your life,” she said.
The Vern Weible Memorial Youth Scholarship Cutting event, featuring junior competitors vying for college scholarships and other prizes, will also be held. Young cutters are the grassroots of the industry, Clarke said, and the event helps to encourage their future and education.
New to this year’s event is the Ranch Raised division, which is open to all futurity horses in Open and Non‐Pro divisions who have been bred, raised and shown by the same entity throughout their lives. $2,500 will be awarded in both the Open and Non-Pro divisions.
At the Western Heritage Expo, attendees will be able to shop more than 25 equine and western vendors, many of which are based in Oregon. The diverse group of vendors will be offering apparel, custom-made felt hats, western tack, artwork, custom leatherwork, handcrafted knives, wine samples, and veterinarian and horse therapy services.
The concourse at the Expo Center will be filled with vendors, a western-style town and saloon, and comfortable furniture to create a warm Oregon welcome for both contestants and guests.
“Watching elite equine cow horse athletes and their riders work against the clock for big dollars and awards is exhilarating,” Clarke said. “Bringing the western tradition of herding cattle on the range to the show pen shows the diverse abilities of the American Quarter Horse.”
For more information about the event, please visit cascadesfuturity.com.