(Jackson, MS) — Local cutting horse competitor Mr. Pittman Turner won the Senior Youth championship in Jackson, Mississippi last weekend.
The 14-year-old HCHS freshman scored 222 points on Hickorys Handy Cat to finish just ahead of Ryan Rapp of Weatherford, TX, the reserve champion who finished with 219 points.
Turner has been a very successful rider over the past several years and was the Junior Youth reserve champion on Handy last year. He is also an eight-time NCHA Eastern Nationals finalist, and claimed his first buckle in the 2012 Junior Youth aboard Hez Neon Blue.
In 2013, he was a Junior Youth finalist with A Cat Named Sue and a $2,000 Limited finalist riding Heza Smart Doc.
In 2014, riding Hez Neon Blue, he claimed reserve in the $15,000 Amateur Finals, and was a Junior Youth finalist on Hickorys Handy Cat, who he also showed as a Junior Youth finalist in 2015. It was Hez Neon Blue, however, who carried him as a finalist in the 2015 $15,000 Amateur Finals.
Hickorys Handy Cat, by High Brow Cat, is an NCHA Eastern Nationals veteran.
The 10-year-old gelded son of High Brow Cat was a three-times Open finalist with Zeke Entz; won the 2013 $2,000 Limited Rider championship with Bobbie Hughes; and carried Zeke Entz and his daughter Katlyn in five other finals divisions between 2012 and 2014.
Pittman says he and Handy just ‘clicked’ when he began riding him over three years ago. “Handy is just my buddy,” says Pittman. “He’s just one of them horses I have just connected with perfectly.”
Pittman loves to ride and plans to continue to compete after high school. Right now, however, he is focused on some big upcoming events including the ‘Summer Spectacular.’
The NCHA ‘Summer Spectacular’ is held in July and is the final leg of the NCHA Triple Crown of Cutting and is contested over 20 days. It features the NCHA Derby for 4-year-olds, and the NCHA Classic Challenge for 5/6-year-olds and offers a purse of over $2 million.
As the third jewel in the NCHA Triple Crown, the NCHA Derby has seen just three Open horses, and one Non-Pro horse claim the Triple Crown title. Likewise, the NYCHA Convention and Scholarship Cutting are held in conjunction with the Spectacular which brings the youth to the forefront of the competition.
Cutting is a western-style equestrian competition in which a horse and rider work as a team before a judge or panel of judges to demonstrate the horse’s athleticism and ability to handle cattle during a 2 1⁄2 minute performance, called a “run.”
Each contestant is assisted by four helpers: two are designated as turnback help to keep cattle from running off to the back of the arena, and the other two are designated as herd holders to keep the cattle bunched together and prevent potential strays from escaping into the work area.
Cutting cattle are typically young steers and heifers that customarily range in size from 400 to 650 lb (180 to 290 kg). They are of Angus or Hereford lineage or possibly a mix of crossbred beef cattle with Charolais or Brahmanlineage.
A contestant is required to make at least two cuts from the herd, one of which must be a cut from deep inside the herd while the other(s) can be peeled from the edges.
Once the selected cow has been driven clear of the herd, the contestant commits the horse by dropping the rein hand to feed slack and give the horse its head.
At that point, it is almost entirely up to the horse (with the exception of leg cues from the rider) to prevent the cow from returning to the herd; a job the best horses do with relish, savvy, and style.
Turner claimed a buckle and some scholarship money for his big win in Jackson last week. The driven young man says he is driven to work so hard as a cutting horse participant because he just wants to get “better and better” at his sport.