About 100 riders from seven states converged on the Paxton Ranch between Thedford and Stapleton, Neb., for the seventh annual “Cutting for Cancer.”
John and Jessica (Paxton) Warren and their many volunteers of neighbors, friends and family, as well as ranch crew welcomed the participants of the Western Nebraska Cutter’s Association from the states of Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas and of course, Nebraska.
As always, the financial support given by the riders through the free will donation can at the lunch stand to the “renting” of the practice cattle, will go to the Callahan Cancer Center of North Platte.
“John lost a brother at age 38, I lost my mother, and so many others here have gone through cancer treatments and have benefitted from the Callahan. It is so nice to have such a facility close for the patients and their families,” stated Jessica.
Stan Pettit of Tryon and his wife, Julie, come.
Stan is a cancer survivor and volunteered from the very first one to do the meat for the two day week-end lunches. Saturday he and his helpers grilled sirloin steaks for sandwiches, Sunday it was hamburgers.
(This writer, too, has benefited from the Callahan being close for her treatments.)
This year was also John Warren’s 70th birthday, so Jessica had three cakes made.
One for him, one for their son Joel, who celebrated his birthday earlier in the month and one for all the helpers with birthdays in July, including Stan and Wayne Licking, who oversees the parking of some two dozen vehicles and horse trailers.
If you have never seen cutting competition, put it on your bucket list.
The horse and rider are one unit, cutting a bovine from the herd and keeping it at bay until it tires or the buzzer sounds. They can use up to three head, so if one does not perform and show off the abilities of the horse and rider, they can cut out another.
Two minutes are allowed for each performance. The dual starts with 70 points, and points are added or subtracted by the judge for the final score.
The WNCA members serve as judges and pen riders, trading off on jobs throughout the two days. With up to 12 classes allowed, and as many riders as eligible for each class allowed, the days can get very long.
“To cut expenses, our members volunteer where needed. With Saturday being such a moderate weather day, we cut until dark,” stated Roxy Jordett, from Illif, Colo., who is the WNCA secretary.
Over the years, many of the cutters have become friends, such as Terry and Julie Correll of Tryon, who with two of their three daughters, Grace and Faith, participate. Grace, now 14, and Faith, 12, were 7 and 5 when they came the first time. Hope, age 4, will ride in a year or two.
For now, she enjoys playing with the other youth.
Her mom spreads a blanket and a tub full of her favorite toys are dumped out and the youngsters stay entertained for hours.
A Friday night rain had mud holes that also entertained the young ones, and on Sunday, with the temperature warmer, Terry and Julie connected a slip and slide to the water hose.
Grace and Faith by the time this story goes to print, will have participated in the National Junior Cutting Horse competition in Fort Worth, Texas. The family lives to cut is putting it mildly.
Another rider that has come all the years but stated to say this will probably be his last, is Bob Yeager of Valentine. Bob is 88, a World War ll veteran, and his horse is 26, so he said it was time they both retired from competing. He has enjoyed this cutting as it is close to home, a little over an hour away.
After all expenses were taken out of the funds from the two days, John and Jessica will give to the Callahan Cancer Center, $4,500. ❖