Horrifyingly, eight-year-old Dan dragged along the ground when his spur caught in the stirrup coming off his horse. He had fallen off a horse before, but this was different. He was in a cutting show and he’d never been dragged along the ground.
It felt like an eternity.
He really didn’t want to get back on his horse, in fact, it took him several minutes to consider it, but he mounted his horse again and he’s never looked back. He continues to compete fearlessly in cutting shows with his family.
Dan and his two sisters Anna (10) and Cate (5) and his parents train for and compete in horse cutting shows together.
Dan’s parents decided to make horses a part of their lives early on. Riding horses was one of the things they bonded over when they first met.
Since then, they decided to focus on creating strong family bonds through training together.
Whether it’s horse cutting, outdoors, athletics, or music lessons, creating strong family bonds happen when you participate in an activity together.
Sharing a common goal like getting to the lake at the top of the mountain, getting your footwork right in a sport, or performing your best at a recital can motivate the family to work harder.
The unconditional love, encouragement and practice involved creates bonds that will last a lifetime. It won’t always be roses and rainbows, it will be a lot of hard work and occasionally you’ll get grumpy or frustrated with one another, but the family time is priceless.
Training for cutting shows takes a lot of time and energy for the rider and the horse. For Christine (Dan’s mother) it is worth it.
She says, “After doing all the work of loading the horses into the trailer, we have a half hour drive to the trainer’s each time we practice. We spend that time talking—about cutting, but also about the day, school, friends, life.
We also spend the last few minutes of each drive doing mental prep. We each say what we’re going to work on during that practice and then we meditate on that detail as we conclude the drive. I like to think that this is good prep for life.”
The family goal is to win consistently. Christine says, “This is so unrealistic. We have great horses and we train our hearts out, but much is left to chance…So, the real goals are: to work hard to get better at something we love, to spend time together, to handle challenges with less fear and greater equanimity, and to manage failure with the right mixture of grace and defiance.”
I took my twins to watch a cutting show in Oakley, UT. We watched Anna (10) and Dan (8) and their parents get their horses warmed up and saw them taking turns cutting before the competition.
I noticed while one was at work, the other three were sitting on their horses watching. When they competed they rode out together and watched one another in order to learn from each other, encourage one another and celebrate each person’s successes.
When Dan fell off his horse in his first show, his family supported him and encouraged him.
His mom said “I hope it gave us a chance as a family to develop a certain we-can-handle-failure-because-we’re-going-to-try-big-things-and-have-a-few-big-failures ethic.”
As families, we can try big things and fail as long as we do them together, have boatloads of fun and bond along the way.
Attend a Cutting Show. Local cutting shows are generally free. Remember to pack sun block, water bottles, and snacks. Visit http://nchacutting.com (National Cutting Horse Association) for more information.