TORRINGTON – The National Cutting Horse Association celebrated the start of the Big Sky circuit finals on Sept. 22 with dinner, music and a speech from the mayor.
The event took place at the Goshen County Fairgrounds and featured karaoke and free dinner. Laughter from attendees echoed throughout the room as they visited with friends they hadn’t seen in months. Torrington Mayor Randy Adams made his way around the room, shaking hands and making conversation. Workers served drinks through a bar built into the wall.
As guests sat down with friends and family to eat, Adams stood to make his speech.
After a brief recap of the history of Torrington, Adams welcomed cutting exhibitors and their families to the city and invited them to visit local businesses and to spread good reviews of Torrington back in their hometowns.
“It’s an economic benefit because these people come to town and they stay here for three or four days, they buy gas, they stay in the hotels and they eat at our restaurants,” Adams said.
Adams is also hopeful about the exposure the event will bring to Torrington.
“The national exposure that we’re getting from these people who’ve never heard of Torrington before, it’s a good thing…Hopefully some of these people will end up coming back to it and maybe live here,” Adams said.
Participants and audiences are looking forward to the competition this weekend. When the Telegram asked competitor Jerry Rankin what he was most looking forward to, he said, “Not falling off.”
Torrington has a long history of hosting cutting competitions but has not hosted a competition in several years. These competitions brought people and their business from all over the region.
“We’re very happy to have cutting back in Torrington. We used to come here years ago and it’s nice to have it so close to where we live,” participant Traci Hatten said.
Wyoming Cutting Horse Association President Jack Enright plans to have Torrington host more events in the coming year.
“My plan is to do a good job with this one and we’re planning to do three or four big shows there next year,” Enright said in an interview with the Telegram earlier in the week.
Cutting is a sport that originated from ranching. A horse and rider have two and a half minutes to separate three cows from a herd. Exhibitors must choose a cow that will best suit their horse and, after directing the horse into the herd and directing the cow out of the herd, the horse must then finish herding the cow away from the rest of the group. Riders are not allowed to use their hands and must direct the horse using only their feet. A panel of judges reviews each performance and assigns points to each one.
The circuit finals begin Sept. 23 at 8 a.m. and will end at 5 p.m. Competition will continue through Sunday, Sept. 26.
“It’s a unique opportunity for people who have never seen this kind of thing,” Adams said. “It’d be great if people who have some free time come out and watch…It’s entertainment, it’s educational, it’s something you can learn.”
Enright would like to thank Lex Madden for all his help in arranging not only the opening celebration, but also the competition.
“[He] has been super good. He’s been a great go-to for everything we needed,” Enright said.