MOUNT GILEAD — Spend a couple hours with Jack McDonald and you will feel his passion, knowledge and care for the cutting horse.
McDonald grew up with horses and showed his 4-H horse projects at the Allen County Fair. He was away from horses for 20 years before he fell in love with cutting horses and got his first cutting horse when he was 39.
Today McDonald is the owner of JM Cutting Horses, a hidden treasure in Morrow County, where he has trained horses and riders for competition over the past 20 years.
McDonald said the most important thing to know about the cutting horse is their innate ability or instinct for cutting, which is separating a cow from the herd. In cutting competitions the horse and the rider are working together to separate a cow from the herd and hold it away from the herd.
The cutting horse competition is a sport where the horses are making decisions, McDonald explained. The reins are loose and only leg signals are given to the horse.
“The horse is trained to read the cow and control the cow. That instinct to read the cow has to be there,” emphasized McDonald. “The rider needs to read the horse. The rider and the horse work as a team.”
McDonald said the cutting horses are treated as athletes. Conditioning is important along with training. Before exercises in training and learning signals, they have a warm up routine.
Julie Beeh has been working with McDonald the past year and a half to learn how to train and show cutting horses. She was working with the horse named “Puddee” Wednesday and talked about how she came from New Jersey to work with McDonald.
Beeh grew up with a horse that was abused by a former owner. Her goal is to first show and eventually become a trainer. She wants to learn to train so that no horse she trains will know the cruel treatment her horse experienced.
Her training began in Texas after she left New Jersey and when she had the chance to ride on a cutting horse, she said she fell in love with them. She was impressed with their intelligence and independence and wanted to train them.
Quarter horse events
Beeh feels very fortunate to have found JM Cutting Horses and McDonald.
“I think the world of Jack and how much he knows about horses. He cares and he gave me a chance when no one else would,” Beeh said. “I have learned so much about horses from him.”
Jim Carey of Marion decided he would like to show cutting horses after he retired recently. He boards his horse in the JM Cutting Horse stable and commented that McDonald is a great trainer in working with both horses and people.
“Ask Jack about his winnings,” Carey said with a smile.
McDonald said his winnings in shows have surpassed $100,000. He shows at quarter horse events such as the American Quarter Horse Congress that is in Columbus, Ohio. He noted that it’s the biggest horse show in the world.
McDonald served as a member of the Ohio Cutting Horse Association Board 15 years and during that time he was president of the association for seven years. He is also past state director for the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA.)
The history of the cutting horse began in the west with cowboys who worked on the big ranches and had cattle with several brands in their herds. The cowboys would bet on who had the best horse for cutting, or riding into herds of cattle to separate out certain cows.
Soon the skill was added as a competition in rodeos. The National Cutting Horse Association was founded in 1946.
In competition an NCHA judge will score a run by taking off points or giving credit points following guidelines determined by NCHA rules. Points are awarded or taken off for attitude and “eye appeal,” working the herd, control of the cow, degree of difficulty in the type of cow selected and working without visible control of the horse by the rider.
To see a video of a cutting horse competition go to NCHA – The Sport of Cutting Horses on You Tube. For more information about the services of JM Cutting Horses on CR 98has, you can reach Jack McDonald on County Road 98 at [email protected] or by calling 740-485-2044.