Few horse events are as unique as cutting horses, as the horse and rider must work in unison to handle cattle. Unlike horse racing, cutting is unique in the way that the event is judged by officials, who will mark the entrants based on their athleticism and ability to control that cattle, meaning that the decision when it comes to winners is based on a scoring system.
The sport sees horse and rider compete in a two-and-a-half minute block, which is called the run. Horses involved are slightly smaller than those used in horse racing, and the most prominent lineage that is seen within the sport is Hereford and Angus. Throughout history, there have been some extremely famous cutting horses, with some of the most successful earning millions of dollars.
Smart Little Lena
Smart Little Lena remains one of the most successful cutting horses of all time. He was later inducted into the NCHA Horse Hall of fame and AQHA Hall of Fame for his performances in the sport. He made his debut in the competition back in 1982, as he won the National Cutting Horse Association Futurity. His dominance would later continue with victories in the NCHA Super Stakes and Derby, which made him become the first horse to achieve the NCHA Triple Crown before it was given that title.
However, he would later win the Triple Crown once again in both 1982 and 1983. In total, the horse generated just over $740,000 in prize money during his career and was ranked as the fourth-best all-time cutting horse by Equi-Stat records.
The money that he won during his career as a three and four-year-old is still unmatched, while he later enjoyed success off the track and became the first $1 million sure in 2011. As a sire, his earnings have exceeded $1.2 million, being equivalent to some of the best horse racing place bets of all time.
Lynx Melody is another horse that was honored for his performances in cutting by being inducted into the AQHA Hall of Fame. This horse was inducted in 2008 after enjoying excellent record-cutting. His biggest wins came in 1980, as he won the NCHA Derby as well as the Futurity. Lynx Melody was the National Cutting Horse Association World Champion in 1980 for his performances during that season.
In 1979, he also won the Pacific Coast Maturity, before winning the World Championship in the following season. Throughout his career, he took total earnings of $113,681, making him one of the highest earners in cutting history. Like Smart Little Lena, Lynx Melody was also part of the Doc Bar bloodline which shaped the sport as we know it today.
Mr. San Peppy
Mr. San Peppy is another of the most famous cutting horses to have competed in the United States. Like Lynx Melody and Smart Little Lena, he was also inducted into the AQHA Hall of Fame once the curtain came down on his career, and he was inducted in 2011. Such was his bloodline’s success that he joined his half-brother Peppy San in the hall of fame, as he was inducted in 1999.
Mr. San Peppy was extremely dominant during his career, as he was named NCHA world champion on two occasions. His first success came in 1973 before he would later win a second world title in 1976. He would also achieve success in the AQHA World Championships for Senior Cutting with a title in 1976. His list of accolades continues, as he was also named the High Point Cutting Horse by the AQHA in both 1975 and 1976.