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Sheila Rubey

When I was eight years old, I started riding a Welsh pony named Rexy. He was fresh-as-paint and threw me off more times than I could count ~ but I was crazy in love with him!

I have been cutting for 5 years, but honestly the first 4 years seemed like 2 steps forward and 3 steps back!!

My introduction to cutting was when Karla Camp asked me if I wanted to try the flag on Jewel, a horse I had purchased in 2010 for trail riding. It was totally intriguing to me! When I bought Jewel, I had no idea that she was a cutting horse. It was just a fluke thing that Karla asked me if I wanted to try her on the flag!

At the time I was riding at Bill Crabtree's barn, a Quarter Horse trainer in Red Lodge MT. Throughout the winter of 2012, I traveled with Bill to the Thermopolis WY winter cutting series. My first time walking to the herd, it was such a rush! That was really my beginning of this addiction we call cutting! Unfortunately, Jewel tore her deep flexor tendon and so cutting for her came to a screeching halt. I was crushed, but eventually ended up with John L. Dublin and bought Stylishs Good Son from Dr. Tim Johnson, and things started moving in the right direction again!

Last February at a North Ridge Ranch Cutting in Pierre SD, I saw NRR Jack the Cat and was instantly captivated by him. So I said to his owner, Jason Reed, if you ever want to sell him, please let me know. About a week later, Jason let Rachel Showalter know that Jack was available. Holy cow, I could not believe it! So I went back to test drive Jack in March, and I was head over boots in love! Jack is a 6 year old gelding sired by Black Catamounts Rey. He has NCHA earnings just under $50,000 and was raised at the North Ridge Ranch, trained by Tracy Barton.

Through my purchase of Jack and training with Tim Stryker, I feel like it has finally been (almost) a year of moving forward with cutting! I am still such a total rookie, but a great horse and a great trainer can make all the difference in the world.

My favorite Cutting Horse Show so far with Jack was Henry's Lake ID, last summer. Such fun! My 2016 Goal in the Cutting Pen, keeping my head screwed on the right way! Something which Rachel Showalter said to me several years ago really resonated with me, “There's no such thing as good luck. It's all about practice, patience, and persistence."

Outside of the cutting pen, I love hiking with my dogs. Do it every day! In September 2014, along with my husband and son, we opened Moon Lake Market in Red Lodge MT. The purpose of our market is providing good nutritional choices to our customers, so that they can live healthier and happier lives! The market places a lot of importance on local goods, and carries a diverse selection of local Montana products. Provisions include dry goods, refrigerated and frozen foods (including local meats and dairy) fresh organic produce (local MT produce whenever available!), bulk goods (grains, beans, nuts, dried fruits, herbs, healthy snacks and treats), vitamins, supplements, herbal remedies, tinctures, homeopathy, eco-friendly household products, healthy pet treats and supplies, health and beauty products, essential oils and diffusers, and much more! We support all dietary needs and habits, including gluten-free, lactose-intolerant, diabetic, paleo, vegetarian, vegan, raw, and healthy omnivores. We believe in sustainability, responsibly-produced goods, the humane treatment of animals, and the healing power of healthy, natural foods.

Good luck to Sheila and Jack this year in the cutting pen, and thank you to Moon Lake Market for your Platinum level sponsorship of the MCHA!!


Congratulations to Esther Peterson -
MCHA 2015 Rookie of the Year!

In April, Esther Peterson and her husband, Joel, made the trip to the famous Pitzer Ranch in Ericson, NE for their Spring Catalog Sale in search of a rope horse for Joel.

Joel had a short list of seven or eight horses picked out prior to the sale and when sale day came, the Peterson's purchased Oh Brother Boon, a 2008 AQHA Red Roan Gelding x Peptoboonsmal and out of Little Shiney Twist.

On the trip back to Montana, Esther googled Peptoboonsmal and found out that Gary and Alycia Bellenfant bred and raised the gelding. And the news gets better - Gary had trained the gelding as a cutting horse and - "Boon" had actual NCHA earnings to his credit.

Esther had met trainer, Kip Denton, in Bozeman earlier that spring. She made the phone call to Kip and asked Kip to work the gelding. Everyone was pleasantly surprised and Esther left the gelding with him for a refresher course for three weeks. Esther eagerly made the trip to Belgrade on a daily basis to keep up with Boon's progress and to take lessons on her new horse. Ester had always wanted to cut. Life has its ups and downs and finding “Boon” this past spring as perfect timing.

Esther's first show was on June 6. Her first class was described by Esther as a "royal disaster" however she redeemed herself on her second run in the Never Won A Buckle class and earned her first cutting buckle and the championship.

Esther's cutting career was off and running. Onto Whitehall, the Big Hole, Kalispell, Henry's Lake, and Billings - and - a 2015 MCHA Rookie Championship and fifth in the $2,000 Limited Rider.

Esther and Boon have now set the new goal of earning Esther her NCHA Achievement Buckle in 2016.

And - her new bucket list item is to one day meet Gary Bellenfant. You go, girl.

Congratulations to Jann Parker and Merada Jo
Western Nationals, Non-Pro – Champion!

Tell us what you liked about the show and the format - One of my favorite shows, it always has been. Loved it when it was in Ogden, really, really love it in Reno, and Denver was great, too. I like the stepped up atmosphere and show set up, level of competition, cattle, and the overall professionalism of the event. From the host city to the practice pen, it's stepped up. If my schedule will allow it, it' a "must attend" event for me.

Which classes did you compete in at Western Nationals? One - the Non-Pro.

In reflection, what, in your opinion, was the piece of advice given you that helped get you to the finals, and who gave it? Will Nuttall told me not to do more than the cow and to be accurate. I tried very hard to apply that. And - I knew I had to stay quiet on those cattle. In the first go, I was totally out of air when I rode out of the pen and that has never happened to me before - Will said I did not breathe the entire 2.5 minutes - I was trying to stay quiet and make no unnecessary movement - like breathing, I guess.

Tell us about some of the people who have influenced you to this point in your cutting career:
Big question with a big answer - John L Dublin helped me catch the cutting bug and I have tried to learn, watch, keep an open mind, study horses and riders, pedigrees, conditions, situations, cattle, etc., ever since I was bit by the bug. I don't want to stay in the box and I know I need to continue to progress with every run and I try hard to do that. Will Nuttall has been very good for me, he has my horses on task and expects me to deliver on my end and that makes me step up. It's cutting and there are a lot of variables so sometimes your best doesn't work that day, but I always, always leave the run learning or growing in some manner so you can apply it when you need it the next time. There will be another run another day. My husband, Bill Parker, has made sure I have a competitive horse, may not always be my first choice, sometimes it is, but I have made that work to my advantage and to the best of my ability.

What horse do you show or ride? I showed MERADA JO in Reno.

How is your horse bred? Sire and dam - He is by Cats Merada and out of Sanjo Sue by San Jo Tari.

How Old? 6

Tell us about your horse’s past and training history - Originally trained by TJ Good and then purchased by Bill Cowan who had a lot of success with the gelding. James Payne most recently had the horse for Cowans.

What is your biggest, single win on your horse? Non-Pro at Western Nationals

Tell us what makes your horse special to you - He is a good horse who is solid trained and likes his job. I like that he doesn't miss anything, he is smart and pays attention. He likes me, too.

What are your 2015 plans? Aged Events this fall with Merada Jo.

Anything else you would like to share – It's great when it works and your runs come together, and it takes a lot of people to help you get there, and I appreciate everyone who has helped me along the way and to those who specifically helped me at Reno: Will Nuttall, Todd Adolph, Dustin Gonnett, Josh Sleeman, and Kimberly Gustafson. Thank you.



Congratulations to Cody Lee and Bluish
Western Nationals, $5,000 Nov. Non-Pro –
Reserve Champion!

Have you competed at Western Nationals before?

I have competed at Western Nationals maybe about a half of a dozen times.

Tell us what you liked about the show and the format -

I really enjoyed the food and social part of the Doc Bar hospitality room each day. Also a city like Reno adds to the excitement of the event.

Which classes did you compete in at Western Nationals? 5000 Novice Non Pro

In reflection, what, in your opinion, was the piece of advice given you that helped get you to the finals, and who gave it?
We used a strategy to be as mistake free as possible but be aggressive when the opportunity presented itself.

Tell us about some of the people who have influenced you to this point in your cutting career:
A lot of the trainers in Montana and the longer standing Non Pros have all provided me with encouragement and advice that I will always have with me when I ride into the herd.

What horse do you show or ride? His name is Bluish

How is your horse bred? Sire and dam: He is sired by Mecom Blue and out of
Badge to the Bone

How Old? 8 years old

Tell us about your horse’s past and training history-

Phil Hanson trained him originally and then Parker Horse Company got the horse and Will Nuttall and Travis Young worked with Bluish from that point forward.

What is your biggest, single win on your horse?
Reserve champion at this past Western Nationals would be our biggest accomplishment.

How did you find your horse or hear about your horse prior to purchase?
I knew the horse was going to be in the February BLS sale and all I knew about the horse was he was athletic.

What was it that convinced you to purchase your horse (if applicable)?
I bought the horse sight unseen over a phone to be a horse to use on our ranch. I had zero expectations on him being a successful show horse so with the way things have turned out I am very proud of that.

Tell us what makes your horse special to you -
The horse is special because he is quirky and like to drink lots of beer. He is most generally a happy horse too.

What are your 2015 plans?
I plan to continue to show Bluish at the shows that I am able to attend and try to become a very consistent team with him.

Which is your favorite show and why?
I like the Heart K show and Nampa Idaho show because the facilities are so nice there.

Anything else you would like to share –

I would like to thank all the show producers for their hard work in providing a place for us to compete and enjoy this great sport.


MCHA Non-PRO Horse of the Year

Miss Chiquita Boon owned and shown by Jim Bower

Congratulations to Jim Bower on a great year in 2014. See below for some interesting information about this amazing team.

How is your mare bred? Sire: Blue Bayou Boon Mare: Smart Lil Chiquita

How Old? – Foaled February 10, 2004

Who raised her? – Breeder; Smith Starkey (DeKalb, TX)

Tell us about her past and her training history – Lee Francois rode in Aged Events early in her career, Marlyn Egger worked with her (horsemanship) as a 7 year old, to calm her down.

What is her biggest, single win? – (2) Kentucky Cutting Horse of the Year – Montana Cutting Horse of the Year

Total NCHA Earnings to date - $90,941

How did you find her or hear about her prior to purchase? – John Dublin referred me to Jeremy Barwick

What was it that convinced you to purchase her? – I walked into Jeremy Barwick’s Barn in Texas and she watched me like a Red Tailed Hawk.

Tell us what makes your mare special to you – She can be a ballerina, and American “Sniper”, or Grandma all at the same time. VERY UNIQUE!

What are your 2015 plans with your mare? – Compete with her in Open and Non Pro in Montana.

Anything else you would like to share – I feel honored to ride her as she is a world class athlete and thinks like a human. Above all she makes “ME” look better than I am as a rider.
Tim Stryker and Rachael Showalter have done a superb job in maintaining her conditional and overall health maintenance. I never worry about her being properly handled as she is in Montana and my main home is in Indiana.

MCHA Open Horse of the Year

Sues So Smart – owned by Bambi Gress, rider Brian Anderson

Congratulations to Bambi Gress and Brian Anderson on a great year in 2014. See below for some interesting information about this amazing team.

How is your mare bred? - Sire and dam - WR This Cats Smart x Meradas Little Sue

How Old? - 9 yrs

Who raised her? - Frank Vandersloot of the Riverbend Ranch, Idaho Falls, ID, bred and raised her.

Tell us about her past and her training history - Brian Anderson has been her Life Long Trainer. He was Reserve Champion 4yr. Old in Las Vegas, made Mercurial Finals in Calgary and 4th in the Mercuria World Series in Nampa Idaho 2013.

What is her biggest, single win? - Western Nationals Open Reserve Champion in Denver – 2014.

Total NCHA Earnings to date - $86,728.38

How did you find her or hear about her prior to purchase? - I had watched her and Brian for years.....especially as a 4 yr old, she was really something but Not for sale . (So....patience and a lot of luck)

What was it that convinced you to purchase her? - My gut....and Brian, she had been in the same program her entire life. I didn't need convinced.

Tell us what makes your mare special to you - So grateful to have a mare if this caliber. She's very confident and absolutely loves her job!

What are your 2015 plans with your mare? - We are off to a good start. Weekend shows and plan on the World Series Events in Las Vegas, Calgary, Nampa in hopes of making the top 15 in December at Ft. Worth.

Anything else you would like to share – Many thanks to Brian, Mr. Vandersloot and my husband Tim for believing in me! THANK YOU!!!!


Jim Brown showed Light Up At Noon in the $5,000 Nov Horse/Non-Pro last March & April 2014 at the Cottonwood Equestrian Center in Silesia, MT.

Jim Brown
Jim Brown’s NCHA number is 202. That is a what card players would call a “tell”… can “tell” just about how long Jim Brown has been a member of the National Cutting Horse Association. Early. Try 1972. He has been an NCHA member every year since.

A native of the Golden State, Jim was still living in sunny California. He had some horses and had been playing around with horses in general and met a man named Art Miller, a cutting enthusiast. Jim purchased his first cutting horse from Art, “Albers Jessie” a gray gelding that had won a fair amount of money.

He was 16 or 17 when Jim bought him – Jim followed the advice of another cutter about purchasing an older, seasoned horse to learn on.

Jim showed the gelding for a bit. He got out of cutting for a while then got back in thanks to the help and support of June Mitchell, Yucca Valley, CA.

Jim purchased a young horse that he kept in training for the California Cutting Horse Association Futurity held in Temecula, CA that year. June showed the gelding – “Poco Plaudit” - and won all three go-arounds of the Futurity.

The three year old was by a son of Poco Bueno. Jim kept him a few more years, but felt he still wasn’t capable of handling a young, less experienced horse. Jim sold his gelding and took a break from cutting as work was busy and other interests prevailed.

1987 PCCHA $10,000 NP Classic Champion Jim Brown seated on Bonito Lynx. From left to right the people are Dave McGregor, Chris Benedict, Lindy Burch, Joyce Brown, and Bill Martin kneeling.
In 1984, Jim purchased a two-year named “Bonito Lynx” a gelding by a full brother to Peponita, named Bonita San. Former NCHA President, Chris Benedict, was Jim’s trainer at the time, living in Temecula, and showed and trained the gelding.

Three months before the California Futurity that year, the push was on to get the gelding trained and showable. Show he did, placing in the first two go arounds and qualifying for the semis’.

Chris continued to show the gelding through his four year old year and at the Pacific Coast Derby, Chris and Bonito Lynx placed third in a tough field of horses.

As a five year old, Jim took over the reins in the $10,000 NP while Chris showed him in the Gelding Class and Open.

Jim earned Championship honors in the $10,000 NP Classic on the nice show horse. Both he and Chris earned top ten in PCCHA standings.

As a six year old the gelding won the PCCHA Classic/Challenge. The best show Jim had with the gelding was in a $10,000 NP class with 51 entries with the duo earning a first place finish.

The gelding lived to be 31 years old and lived with Jim until the day he died
Jim’s work and career picked up speed and cutting again was put on the back burner.

In 2000 Jim along with his wife Joyce, moved to Montana. They reside in Gallatin Gateway where Jim continues to enjoy the sport of cutting, competing and attending select MCHA shows.

My 2014 Cutting Season - by Dakota Arno
Montana Cutting Horse Association's "Rerun Cattle Win A Saddle" Winner!

(Left) Dakota Arno with Pretty Boy Jax and saddle donated by Tim Johnson (right)
In the beginning, I had no idea I would be a saddle winner!

Andi (Andrea James) got me on my first cutting horse in October of 2013, just a few months after we met. Steve (James) has taught me everything I know about cutting and Andi has been my support and traveling partner. And we can't forget Mavis (James), she keeps everything at the ranch alive while we are off showing. Without these people I wouldn't be where I am today!

I started off the season showing Smashing Aristocrat at NCHA Days in June and won the average trophy in the 2000 LR there. We then headed for Whitehall and that is where I learned I was in a class that was in the rerun cattle win a saddle running. I didn't own my own horse so the only class I could show in was the 2000, so we weren't sure if the saddle would be in reach or not. Andi and I love all the Montana people, they always welcomed us and took us in like family everywhere we went. We enjoyed it so much that we traveled to the rest of the Montana shows. I even talked Andi into going 11 hours to Kalispell. Tom Campbell and Tim Stryker were always there to help, and we appreciate them and all the other trainers who are willing to help all day long show after show.

As the show season was winding down and we loaded to head to Henry's Lake Idaho it was raining on us the whole way. I was 45 dollars behind to win the saddle. Saturday morning the show was cancelled due to rain. Sunday we got to cut and I had one chance to win the saddle. It all came down to the last show, the last day, and the last class!

Pretty Boy Jax and I had an average run with a bobble on our first cut but still winning 191 dollars. I didn't know if I had won the saddle though because the second place person in the running for the saddle also placed and won some money. When it was all said and done, Andi told me I had won by 87 dollars! Even though we were stuck all weekend, freezing cold, wet and muddy, we left the cutting that weekend full of joy and excitement! What a season we had! I wouldn't trade our many miles traveled, lessons learned, or the new friends I have met for anything now! I would like to thank Tim Johnson for donating the saddle and also everyone else who rode down this show season journey with us!

Thank you, all. Dakota


Kathy Foote – MCHA Vice President for 2015

Longtime Montana cutting horse enthusiast, competitor, supporter and breeder, Kathy Foote, of Livingston, Montana, was recently elected Vice President of the Montana Cutting Horse Association. Kathy has lifetime NCHA earnings of approximately $250,000.00, and her husband, Jonathan, is a past executive member of the NCHA, as well as having been inducted into the NCHA Member’s Hall of Fame. Kathy rodeoed throughout grade school, high school and college, and came from a ranching background in the Gallatin Valley.

How it all began: Kathy attended a wedding of one of her girlfriends who was marrying a son of Jonathan’s. Kathy and Jon started talking at the wedding, and he invited her to come over and try a cutting horse. Kathy worked her first cow and was immediately hooked. Jon had not been cutting for several years because of a back injury, but he let Kathy show his mare, Lady Tivio Barred at the upcoming cutting in Big Timber. Jonathan knew Kathy was a cowgirl and was convinced that she would win the $500 rider on her very first trip into the herd, even though she had only been riding cutting horses for a month. She lost a cow that day … but got the feeling of competition and away she went.

Kathy knew she had a lot more to learn, but was also on a budget. She had heard that Ray McReynolds of Gallatin Gateway had a horse for sale, so off she went to buy him. Trips Lucky Leo became Kathy’s first show horse. John Edwards was training in Montana at that time and he helped Kathy earn her first championship buckle that year – 1991, in the $500 Novice Rider.

Kathy’s next cutting horse was Peponitas Docette who she bought from Leah Lucas from Canada. “Docetta” was a great little mare, who was very cowy and had a huge stop. Kathy made her first Limited Aged Event finals on Docetta at the Cutters of Idaho show in Hailey when they won their first aged event buckle. In 1993, Kathy won her first Non Pro in Montana on Docetta, who was now ten. In order to keep progressing in cutting, Kathy had to sell her current horse in order to get a new one, so she sold Docetta to Jim Markle, who had a very successful cutting career with Docetta.

Kathy went shopping again. Russ Miller directed her to Smart Little Bunny, a five year old gelding by Smart Little Lena. In addition to aged event success, Kathy earned her first Western National Finals Reserve Championship in the $10,000 Novice Non Pro, showing “Thumper.” In 1996, she again earned the MCHA Non Pro championship, in addition to making the Amateur finals at the NCHA Summer Spectacular in Fort Worth. When “Thumper” aged event out, Kathy sold him and he eventually found his forever home at Switchback Cutting Horses in Red Lodge, Montana.

Now riding with Russ Miller, Kathy’s next horse, “Miss Telesis” a mare by Lenas Telesis earned her a second Western National Reserve Championship in the $10,000 Novice Non Pro, in addition to making many aged event finals aboard the sorrel mare. “Tilly” was sold to Buffalo Ranch bred to WR This Cats Smart.

Moving on again, Kathy found Sneakin Up Onu in Las Vegas during their spring aged event. Terry Clifford of Texas had the mare in training, and urged Kathy to try her out, but warned her that she bucked and was kind of wild. Kathy and Russ tried her out and agreed with everything Terry had warned them about, but they were willing to take a chance on her. In 1999, Kathy won the MCHA Non Pro on her, as well as making many limited aged event finals. Kathy and Russ ended her aged event year with both of them winning their respective Open and Non Pro 5/6 year events at the Utah Futurity. Kathy loved Sneakin and kept her to show on weekends. Their very first year of weekend cutting, they ended up in the top ten in the NCHA.

Kathy bred Sneakin to High Brow Cat and her first foal, “Pouncin” went on to win nearly $70,000.00 between Kathy and Russ. Sneakin also produced several other NCHA money earners, including Times Sneakin Up Onu or “Lola” who was by Peptotime. Again, Kathy and Russ made many aged event finals, including the Pacific Coast, Northwest Futurity, Idaho and many more on her. As a seven year old, Kathy made the NCHA top 15 in the $5,000 Novice Non Pro on Lola, and showed her in the finals last December in Fort Worth. Unfortunately, Sneakin died at the very young age of 13. Sneakin Up Onu was bred and raised by NCHA Hall of Famer Don Strain and his wife, Kathy, of White River, South Dakota.

Pouncin has a One Time Pepto coming two year old filly and is bred back to One Time Pepto. In addition, she has a Dual R Smokin yearling stud colt. Kathy’s plan is to keep her two mares out of Sneakin and keep breeding them to good stallions. Kathy says she is very emotional about Sneakin and her offspring and wants to carry on her good mare’s legacy.

Another of Kathy’s favorite horses is Remanitas Alegria (Noche) who she purchased from Linda Chambless as a five year old, and went on to make many aged event finals with Kathy aboard. When Noche aged out, she sold her to Cody Lee, who had tremendous success on the little black mare. “I always said about Noche, that if she could cook, Cody would marry her!” Kathy added.

There have been many other horses that Kathy and Jonathan have owned throughout their twenty plus years of raising and showing horses together. They both love to cut and are very passionate about the cutting horse industry. Kathy also is very passionate about helping our youth cutters. With that in mind, Kathy was instrumental in structuring the Angela Bauer scholarship fund that is still going strong today.

Kathy says the best thing now about cutting is watching their daughter, Meghan, compete. Jonathan and Kathy are very proud of Meghan’s Reserve Championship this past October in the Non Pro 5/6 Class Challenge at the Wrangler Cutting Futurity in Calgary, Alberta. Kathy says that Meghan has the aged event bug and plans on finding a young horse to show this next fall.

The circle continues ……

Tim Stryker – MCHA President for 2015

Tim Styker grew up in the middle of no where – between Ekalaka, MT and Camp Crook, SD.

Tim’s father, Donnie Stryker, was a pastor with Rural Home Missionary Association – and their duties were to start non-denominational Bible churches in rural areas.

Sunday was church, and the rest of the week was day working for area ranchers and starting young horses. The oldest of three boys, and having an older sister, their family had a little place that his Dad leased and Tim and his dad started colts for the public.

From the time Tim was five until he was 13, that is where you could find him after school. Tim attended grade school in Camp Crook, with a grand total of five to seven kids in his class.

When Tim was 14, his family moved back to Nebraska and his father Pastored a church – and he and his Dad continued with their horse business.

After graduation, Tim attendee college at Dawson Community College in Glendive, MT and graduated with an associates degree in Ag Business. Tim paid his way through college starting colts and riding young horses.

After college, he returned to Nebraska and rode colts full time, starting young horses for the famous Haythorn Ranch in addition to outside customers.

In 2000, he moved to Wyoming and worked for Kenny Graves, a rancher in the Big Horn Mountains. Eventually, Tim went back to riding colts full time and riding the Muddy Creek Grazing Association above Buffalo, WY.

In about 2005, Tim joined Montana native and cutting horse trainer, Tom Campbell in Rancho Murrieta, CA starting young horses for Carol Ward. For three or four years, Tim was the assistant trainer at Carol’s cutting facility in California.

In 2009, Tim made the move back to Montana and started out on his own. Today, he is training horses in Billings, Montana and is our new Montana Cutting Horse Association President for 2015. Tim has a nice non-pro and amateur clientele – “They are almost like family”, Tim commented. He has a nice indoor facility to work out of located on 56th street west in Billings.

If you are interested in starting to cut, or would like to tune up your skill set, Tim can be reached at 406.702.4007.

Jim Bower
“It all started with a pony named Duke that drug me through a barbwire fence”, Jim Bower stated. “Then, the next day my Dad sold him. I was 13. That was the end of my career with horses - until I was 45”, he continued.

“I saw Dan Lufkin’s photo on the front page of USA Today 25 years ago. I was playing basketball and Tae kwon do, getting beat up physically, and wanted a sport to compete in competitively in my 40’s. I thought cutting looked relatively ‘easy’, so I called Dan Lufkin’s office in New York. They transferred me to one secretary, then to the next secretary and then Dan answered,” a somewhat surprised Jim reflected.

Jim continued “I had never met Dan, he was a big-time brokerage firm and I introduced myself as a small brokerage firm. I was minute to Lufkin Jenrette, but he took my call. He put me in touch with Lindy Burch”.

“Now, I had never ridden a performance horse much less a cutting horse, and just imagine me – cutting with Lindy, on her terms!” Jim exclaimed.

“I loved her work ethic. She would have 25 head saddled at 4:30 a.m. and didn’t stop until 3 or 4 in the afternoon. She took me in as a big favor to Dan, she taught me so much and I learned how the professionals did it,” he explained.

“I came home to Indiana, bought my first cutting horse through Marlyn Egger, who was a terrific, terrific horseman, he taught me cutting from the horse’s angle. I purchased Smokin Quixote through Marlyn, that was the first horse I owned, he was one of the best horses to come out of the Midwest”.

“He was my first test at riding a good horse. It was all about balance. He was my number one horse”, Jim explained.

“Since then, I had some struggles but have progressed. I went through a time when I was working on my business and I just ‘stayed in tune some’ with cutting,” Jim continued.

But Lindy Burch’s advice stayed with him - “If you want be a better rider, ride a better horse”, she told him.

“Lindy’s seen me flounder. John L Dublin helped me find Miss Chiquita Boon and Decidedly’s Kitten, we bought them both from Jeremy Barwick. Before I ever bought Miss Chiquita Boon, I knew she was special,” Jim added.

“Marlyn toned her down for me. He didn’t ride her for him, he rode her for me. She won Horse of the Year in Indiana, Kentucky, and she was an Open Champ, too. That mare is so intense”, Jim explained.

“Tim Stryker now has Miss Chiquita Boon for me. I want to get her to $100,000. I also have a High Brow Cat mare with Randy Chartier, ‘Pasta Primavera’, and I plan to bring her to Montana this year. Decidedly’s Kitten is with me here in Indiana.”

Jim also has a four year old “Wild Haired Suzzana” that he has with Randy this year. One that Jim plans to show in the Aged Event classes at as high of level they can... "want to get better...ride better horses", Jim reminded.

Jim Bower is Owner and President of Bower Trading, Inc., a full service commodity futures and option trading brokerage firm with 40 years of being in business with no compliance issues.

Jim explained “Trust is important to us. We’ve proven that if you manage your risk properly and you don’t over trade, there are good returns on investments. We know our customers personally and we try to match the trade with their level of risk tolerance. Our business has been built on matching the correct portfolio balance.”

Jim and his wife, Vicki, live in Zionsville, Indiana and also own a home in Billings, Montana.

Jim concluded “I have enjoyed Montana, my Dad told me to go west 50 years ago. I wish I would have come earlier. I’ve had a good time there.”

A native Montanan, Wylie Galt Gustafson was born and raised in Conrad, Montana on his families cattle and horse ranch. Wylie’s father is a ranch veterinarian and Wylie grew up enjoying the unique rural lifestyle of northern Montana. The Gustafson ranch has a long history including a rich “horse” history. In 1939, Wylie’s father, Rib Gustafson, along with his older brother Duke Gustafson, made the trip to Marfa, TX and picked up some quarter horse type breeding stock to bring back to Montana. Keep in mind, the AQHA was in it’s infancy, as it was officially organized in 1940 in Fort Worth, TX .

Duke owned the sale yard in Havre, MT during the 1940’s and 50’s, and owned and bred many of the Cadillacs of the roping and rodeo horses of his era. He bought and sold many horses through the sale yard and private treaty.

Rib was a partner in their horse business and also started a breeding program about the same time.

Montana cutter and Conrad native Pat Wyse purchased his very first performance horse from Rib and his program. Also, local horsemen John Balkenbush started with Gustafson bred horses from the program.

Back to Wylie, in the early 80’s, Wylie attended University of Montana in Missoula where he pursued his music career. In 1981, Wylie and his older brother, Eric, won the Montana “Battle of the Bands” and Wylie became fully focused on a career in music. After six years playing the northwest club circuit with the band “The Talk”, Wylie moved to Los Angeles to pursue a national recording contract. While in LA in 1992, Wylie flew a film crew to his family ranch in Montana where they filmed Wylie’s first country music video which became a huge success on CMT and TNN.

Wylie was based out of Nashville and after pursuing his music career for over ten years, with 200 or more days on the road annually, he longed for the simple lifestyle that he had left behind in the West.

In 1995, Wylie and his then-wife, Kimberley, moved back to Kimberley’s family ranch in eastern Washington where her aunt, Marlene Dreger, was a cutting enthusiast. Marlene introduced the Gustafson’s to the sport of cutting. They both have been hooked ever since.

For four years, Wylie did his time as turnback help and driver for Kimberley on the Washington club cutting circuit, and was an avid team roper.

In 1999, Wylie attended the John Scott Dispersion Sale in Billings, MT where he purchased the yearling “Irish Whiskey Sugar” to develop as a head horse. When he returned home to Washington, Kimberley looked at his registration papers and informed him that he did not purchase a “rope” horse, but a “cutting” horse.

After consideration on what to do next, they decided to send his horse for cutting training to Bill Speight near Red Deer, Alberta .

“Whiskey” finished his fall futurities with Bill and then came home to Wylie in Washington state.

Both green, Wylie and his horse, started competing in club cuttings and attending every and any cutting clinic that was produced in the northwest. Clinicians included Lindy Burch, Chubby Turner, and Paul Hansma. Wylie enlisted the expertise of local trainer John Paul to help finish Whiskey’s Derby year campaign. In the fall of 2002 they won the Dave Withnall Memorial Non-Pro Derby in Vernon, BC..

Wylie said the biggest thing that Whiskey has given to him is confidence. “I used to think I was a good horseman until I came to the full realization that it was Whiskey’s brilliance who was making up for my deficiencies as a green rider and making me look somewhat competent!”

Wylie began his first NCHA cutting year in 2003 riding Whiskey in the Washington State Cutting Club.
The duo was extremely successful in all the classes they competed in and eventually rode up through the ranks.

In 2005, Wylie and Whiskey earned a hard to come by NCHA Western National’s Championship in Ogden, UT in the $20,000 Non Pro. Wylie also has two Open top ten buckles and two Reserve Championship Non-Pro buckles from Western Nationals aboard his great gelding.

Since then, this duo won many more association titles in the Northwest and Wylie rode out of the Amateur classes (earnings in excess of $100,000) in 2007.

After a divorce from Kimblerley, Wylie moved his horse business “Cross Three Quarter Horses” back to his home turf in Conrad, MT in 2009. After a 3 year hiatus in cutting Wylie joined the MCHA in 2012. Aboard his old-time hard knocker Whiskey they won the MCHA 2012 Non-Pro Championship and will accept the 2013 MCHA Non-Pro Championship in March.

Wylie owns the dam of “Whiskey” and two shares of his sire “Paddy’s Irish Whiskey” who stands at the 6666 Ranch in Texas. Wylie has raised and trained “Whiskey’s” full brother “Captain Beefheart” who earned Region 1 NCHA Non-Pro Derby Champion year-end award from the NCHA. In 2013, Wylie showed the 5 yr full sister “Whiskeeta” who was third in the $5 Novice Non-pro year-end for Montana. Wylie’s breeding program focuses on larger sized performance horses that can cut, rope and be useful and durable mounts on the northern ranges. All of his cutting horses are taught how to handle a 1200 lb. cow on the end of a rope. Getting out of the pen and onto the range to see how the “other side” lives is an important part of Wylie’s training program.

This year, Wylie plans to campaigning his 16HH colt “Hiline Pepto” (One Time Pepto X Selana Starlight) in the northern futurities. For more information on Wylie, his music, and his horses, you can find him on FB at  and  or  

CLICK HERE to view "Wylie and the Wild West Quick Facts".

MCHA Member Spotlight: Tim Johnson
Lifetime Earnings: $9,102
From: Bozeman, MT

Five years ago, Dr. Tim Johnson, Bozeman, MT rode his first cutting horse. Interestingly enough, “Top Cat Doc” a three-time World Champion originally shown and trained by Pete Branch, and later in his career owned and shown by Tim’s mother, Mary Jane Johnson, was a sprite 23 or 25 years old.

That first year, Tim won his first check aboard “Top Cat Doc”. Tim explained “I really think it was the first time I got all three cows cut – it was in the $800 Limit Rider at a show in Great Falls.”

And - Tim has earned a top five placing in the Montana Cutting Horse Association each year since.

“I wasn’t getting any younger and neither was the horse”, Tim acknowledged. Knowing that “Top Cat Doc’s” runs were limited, Tim purchased “Debra Badger” from Theresa Nelson the year following Theresa’s top 15 NCHA honors. Tim showed “Debra” for the next two seasons, and earned a Reserve Championship finish in the MCHA’s $2,000 Limit Rider.

“She is a good, steady horse that helped me learn”, Tim explained.

Tim’s goals for this year? Tim put it like this: “To not be a bridesmaid - again!” And – with two previous finals qualifications at Western Nationals, he would like to do that again, too.

Tim’s current cutting horses include “Dulces Mighty Oak” a 7 year old gelding and “Stylishs Good Son” a 15 year old gelding.

He has Fort Worth on his mind, too. Tim currently has a three-year-old “Zacks Little Lena” filly started by Jeremy Barwick and now with trainer John L. Dublin being trained for a December trip to the NCHA Futurity.

A busy gastroenterologist with his practice based in Bozeman, Tim said “I enjoy the people. It’s a fun crowd, and a good distraction, too”.

Photo by Scootemnshootem Photography – Laurie Errington







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