This was a remarkable performance, especially considering that Tayla, like all the stud cutters, only found out which horse she was riding in the event the day before she competed, and rode him just twice before the class!
Generous owners of some of Australia’s most experienced and decorated cutting horses allowed their much-loved steeds to be ridden by the stud cutters, while cutting riders such as Lynda MacCallum, Link Baumann, Warwick Screen and Todd Graham donated their time to teach the enthusiastic stud cutters the skills they needed to enter the show pen. After a training day at Link Baumann’s property on 23 March, three teams formed, headed by Lynda, Link and Warwick.
“I was in Lynda’s team and she was absolutely fantastic. She rides horses every day and invited us to drop in whenever we were going past her place so we could ride with her,” Tayla enthuses. “So I went there a few times for some lessons, where we worked the flag and some cattle on a practice horse named Henry. That was awesome, and so was the group training day in March with all the other stud cutters at Link Baumann’s property. I was very lucky to be introduced there to some of the best cutting trainers in Australia and get some very, very helpful tips and tricks!”
Having never previously ridden a cutting horse, Tayla had about six sessions with Lynda before the event, and says that by the time she rode into the herd at the competition she felt much more at home in the saddle than she did in her first sessions.
BOUNCING OUT OF THE SADDLE
“In my first lesson I was bouncing out of the saddle, the saddle felt too big!” Tayla laughs. “I didn’t know how much leg to use, or where to put my leg, and then how to get the horse to the point where I could put my hand down and trust it. I found out quite quickly that I had a very lazy right foot and the practice horse would certainly take advantage of that and drift when I was working the cow or the flag, he definitely picked up on our faults!
“When riding big warmbloods you need to use a lot of seat and leg to keep the horse uphill, and to perform the various movements you do throughout a dressage test. So I think I started off on the right foot, I had the muscle strength and balance to be able to change my riding style and sit to a cutting horse,” Tayla explains. “However, to ride a cutting horse, I found that instead of using my thighs and calves, I had to turn my toes out and use my feet to direct the horse, and sit more on my jean pockets. I found out pretty quickly that if you had the horse back on your feet and waiting for your direction from your feet, it was a lot easier to put your hand down and trust the horse.”