Cascades Futurity

A lot of money will be up for grabs at the Cascades Futurity and Aged event Aug. 9-19 at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds. This is Oregon’s only premier Futurity and Aged Event.

This is the first year for the $99,500-added Cascades Futurity horse cutting competition. In addition to the traditional futurity (3-year-olds), derby (4-year-olds) and classic challenge classes (5-6), the event will also feature a $15,000-added Amateur Shootout, sponsored by Coyote Rock Ranch in Terrebonne, for riders who have earned less than $100,000 in NCHA lifetime earnings.

The National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) was organized by 13 ranchers and cowboys at the 1946 Fort Worth Livestock Show & Rodeo. Their objective was to develop a standard format for cutting contests. In as little as 50 years, the state and 22 foreign countries have become involved. Now, NCHA has more than 20,000 members world wide and promotes and celebrates the cutting horse and the ranching tradition and Western heritage that helped foster it.

During a cutting competition, each contestant is allowed 2 ½ minutes to cut at least two cows from the herd before a panel of judges to demonstrate the horse’s athleticism and ability to handle cattle. Extra credit is given to the rider who drives the cow they want from deep inside the herd.

The rider is helped by four riders of their choice. Two herd holders that are positioned on either side of the herd and two riders who stay between the cow being worked and the judges stand that are called turn back riders.

Once the rider has clearly separated one cow from the herd, they must loosen their grip on the reins and allow the horse to have its head.

Judges score contestants on a scale of 60 to 80 points. The total number of points awarded will decide the winner of each class.

Cutting demands extraordinary control and lightening quickness. The smart athletic American Quarter Horse has been bred for these qualities and about 96% are registered American Quarter Horses. A cutting horse is developed through superior breeding and careful training and is often considered the aristocrat of Western horses. Cutting horses were originally highly regarded on ranches for their unique skills and continue their usefulness on ranches all over the world.

When American cowboys of the 1800s began using their best horses to separate individual cows from a herd, it was part of the daily job. They would never have imagined cutting as one of the world’s most popular equine sports. Today, thousands of cutting events around the world attract riders both young and old each year.

“I love the bond between the people and horses that makes this sport so special,” said Julie Clarke, owner of Clarke Butte Ranch in Bend.

“Our roots are dug deep into Western heritage which really sets it apart from other events. With over a 10 year hiatus from a premier event, it was time to bring one back to Central Oregon.”

This event has been very well received from the cutting community, said Clarke.

“We’ve worked hard to keep the majority of our business right here in the state. As an example we have Madras owned Symons Beef as our cattle supplier, Arena Technologies from Bend working our footing, Hooker Creek Companies supplying the footing and several locally made awards by Hide Alchemy and Pottery by Yvonne to name a few. Holding the event in the pristine Deschutes County Fairgrounds Expo and First Interstate Bank Center is just the finishing touch to a great event.”

Clarke’s lifelong passion for horses shows in the quality of her horse breeding program. In her youth, Clarke showed horses and after raising a family and retiring from a corporate career, she found cutting to be the ideal combination of speed, finesse and carefully bred horses.

“Two years ago I began the journey to bring an aged event back to Oregon. To see it all come to life is amazing, and I’m so grateful to the team of folks that has made it possible,” she said.

Cascades Futurity and Aged Event will be followed by the NCHA Approved Weekend Event Aug. 17-19. For more information, visit