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Ontario Cutting Horse News April 2024

Posted in Equestrian News, Home Page articles, western riding

Ontario Cutting Horse News April 2024

the rider news sunset two horses and a rider

More Than A Buckle.

By: Ryan Kent

The OCHA has a long-standing history dating back to the 1950s when Roy Ionson purchased the first cutting horse in Ontario. The sport of Cutting involves well-trained horses and their pilots that can navigate them. We spend Spring, Summer and Fall competing at different venues in Ontario, most notably the Ancaster Fairgrounds, Minshall Farms (Hillsburg) and Walker Farms (Aylmer). At the end of each season, riders are recognized in each class they compete with year end awards, with the Champion prize being a beautiful western buckle. We also award our perpetual trophies that are earned through hard work and dedication, by horse and rider or voted by the membership. In this article we will shed light on those awards and the well deserving athletes and explain what it means to those receiving them in 2023. 

Chantale Venick was awarded the Jake Walker Memorial Award, given to the person, by a vote of their peers, who best represents character, positivity and a genuine support to everyone in the show pen. Chantale is one of those people, when your hand is down and focused on cutting your cow, you can hear her cheer your name from anywhere inside that arena. When asked how it made her feel to have her peers vote for her, she replied, “honestly, I was so surprised, because I felt there were so many deserving people. I was very honoured and emotional to be recognized for such a great award.” Not only did Chantal receive that award, she also received the $15K Amateur class championship buckle and the 3rd place in the $35k Amateur class. She credited, Boon Katz (Buddy), for helping her achieve her goals for the season. A very successful year, for a deserving newcomer to the sport. 

Eric VanBoekel was awarded The Aubrey Minshall High Point Rider Award, given to the rider that has accumulated the most individual points over the course of a season. This is no easy task, the work and dedication it takes, is unmeasurable. “The time, and effort and being a student of your sport, is really what this award proves” Eric comments. He showed two horses this past season with OCHA, Hy On The Hog (Sawyer) and Spot The Hottie (Clair) all the way to the winner's circle. Eric said he is very supportive of the OCHA and is excited to see the growth in the sport over the last couple of years. Eric also serves as the Vice President of the OCHA.  Eric has proven to be one of the most helpful and dedicated individuals in the sport of cutting in Ontario and also travels across North America, competing in major cutting events. Around 2004, Eric started into the sport, while also team penning, at the time. In 2012, he decided to focus on cutting and has been dropping his hand ever since. His future goals include, helping the OCHA and it’s members to be as positive as possible. 

Heather MacArthur was awarded The Hellyer Presidents Award. This is given to an individual, picked by the president of the OCHA for positive contributions to the association and its members. Heather comments, that she was very honoured to be recognized for her efforts volunteering with OCHA. In particular, she mentioned her favourite show to help run is the Ancaster Round Up, a favourite of the cutters. Heather and others put a tremendous amount of work into the show season. They take away a lot of humble pride, knowing they served the sport well. She looks forward to getting back in the show pen with her new horse, Head Cat this coming season.

Mentioning riders is great, but before the riders, comes the horse. No rider can work a cow without them. They are the rock we lean on, to carry us through that two-and-a-half-minute ride. The Dale Purdy Horse of the Year Award is achieved from accumulated total points for an individual horse that season. The horse may be shown by multiple competitors, in different classes, but the result is that the horse accomplishes this, by displaying consistency in the show pen earning points.

Annies Lil Cat the 14-year-old gelding, owned by OCHA President, Amanda Law was the award winner this season. The list of accomplishments this gelding has achieved in his career is almost endless. Most notably he was a Canadian Supreme and Alberta Cutting Horse Association futurity champion, as a 3-year-old. His trainer, Dustin Gonnet, once commented “he really seems to get better, the tougher the cows get.” Not only did he achieve in the cutting arena, Annies Lil Cat was successful in the roping arena as well. This year Tyler Scott and Sloan Scott (Youth) dropped their hands and rode this gelding to a highly desired OCHA Saddle Series win, a $50k Amateur championship and a 3rd Place in the $25k non-pro class, two of the toughest classes to compete in. Overall, he achieved 3rd place with the NCHA Great Lakes Region in the $50K Amateur class. This 15’3 hand gelding has over $74,000 in career earnings. When asked about her gelding purchased in 2021, Amanda said, “he is the type of horse that can carry different levels of riders, all in the same show and go as easy or hard as needed. He is a little quirky, but he is very simple and knows his job.” Those horses are certainly a gift.

Last but not least is the Most Improved Rider Award. It covers every rider, no matter what classes they compete in or any previous accomplishments they may have. This award is a voted on by the board of directors prior to the awards night. The recipient essentially has no idea that they will be receiving it, until it is announced. The facial expressions can be quite comical before the applause begins. 

Ashely Chmara was announced the OCHA 2023 Most Improved Rider.  She has been competing in the sport of cutting for the last two years. Her husband Mike, who is a notable and accomplished OPP K-9 unit dog trainer, also shows cutting horses. She mentions she loves to have a sport that she can share with her husband and looks forward to all the time spent together. Last year they acquired a horse from Texas, Maggies Kit Kat (Mags) and Ashley got to work learning how to handle the high-powered mare. At the beginning of the season, she would joke about trying to hang on to this rocket but by the end, the pair were working as a well-oiled machine, bringing in points and cheques. Mike was standing right there to support her every move. Ashley competes in the $35K Non-Pro and the $50K Amateur class. She and Mags put in the work and the two became a constant dance performance in the arena. She credits multiple people for the support but gives special acknowledgement to Jon Walker and Werner Bohner, for the encouragement and support behind the scenes. 

The OCHA is proud to recognize all their members achievements, both in Ontario and abroad and will continue to promote the sport of cutting, for generations to come. The membership has seen steady growth with many new families and individuals, investing in the sport. 

Eric VanBoekel & Spot the Hottie (Photo by Diana Macdonald)

Ashley Chmara & Maggies Kit Kat (Photo by Diana Macdonald)

Amanda Law, Heather MacArhtur & Logan Donaldson

Sloan Scott & Annies Lil Cat (Photo by Diana Macdonald)

Below Left: Chantale Venick

Below Right: 2024 OCHA Board of Directors

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