Cutting Crew

Quarter Horse News (“the newsmagazine of the performance horse industry”) has a lengthy profile of Thomas McGuane. The piece is focused mainly on his second career as a rancher, and on his history as a fan of cutting horses (it’s less violent than it sounds). The sport, in McGuane’s estimation, has apparently sold out in recent years, but though some of the story’s details are a bit snoozy, he gets off a good quote or two that evokes his own earthy, rough-hewn prose:

“Cutting has this mystery at the center of it. The only thing that brings that mystery is the individuality of the horse,” he said. “If the horse is over-corrected or over-disciplined, over-controlled, it’s at the risk of losing some of that [mystery]. On the part of the human factor, there has to be an element of restraint about what we ask of the horse because we don’t want to take the spirit out of the horse. Everyone has to be judged as another living entity, and that’s the way you have to look at cutting horses if you’re ever going to get very far. There are mechanics out there that can train a horse to do things correctly and by the rules, but those horses are never real winners. You come to an agreement about the correct way of doing things without breaking the spirit of  the horse.”

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