Black Elk Cutting

The youngest exhibitor at last weekend’s Black Elk Cutting in Ponoka, wee Colten Powell competing in the Junior youth class.

“Build it & they will come” – and come they did – from all three western provinces and from Big Fork, Montana, too. May 22 – 26 saw the return of the Black Elk Cutting Classic to the Calnash Trucking Ag Event Centre in Ponoka, Alberta. It was a family affair, as competitors ranged in age from 8 to about 75. About 400 cuts were judged over the five days by veteran judges, Joe Cameron and Todd Williamson, hailing from Alabama and Idaho, respectively.

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“This is an outstanding facility to see in a small town,” stated Cameron. Both judges have judged Canadian shows before; Williamson stated that “I think it’s the nicest facility in Canada.” Both Cameron and Williamson have been involved with the sport of cutting horses for most of their lives, either raising, training or judging cutting horses. They also found some sightseeing time between classes; Joe was most impressed with the cleanliness of the countryside. They both remarked on how friendly people were here, the good quality of the cattle used in the event, and the excellent maintenance in the building, evident throughout the event.

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Ron Andersen is a well known voice in the equine industry. He made a return trip to Ponoka to announce the 2nd annual Black Elk Cutting Classic. “I’m so impressed with the sound in the Ag Centre; I like announcing here because there’s no dead spots – people can hear me no matter where they’re sitting in the building,” Ron said with a laugh. “This year, I’ve really been impressed with the cattle handling crew, how quickly the herd changes are made; the entire staff have been accommodating, working hard to make sure the event ran smoothly. They’ve had to deal with rain for the better part of two days, but they kept their sense of humour and have really been helpful in so many ways.”

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Competitors at the Black Elk Cutting Classic can collect points in the Alberta Cutting Horse Association, the Canadian Cutting Horse Association and the National Cutting Horse Association’s points programs. Year-end awards for each of these associations are based on the competitor’s performance throughout the year. Winners of classes at this event received leather jackets, with reserve champions taking home fleece coolers for their horses. Total prizes and prize money approximated $40,000. Brett Jones and his horse Sweet Lil Gal garnered themselves a jacket in the $15,000 amateur aggregate, and Harold Radke took home a very nice cooler for his reserve aggregate win in the $2000 limit rider division.

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Scott Wardley, president of the ACHA, made the trip here from Okotoks. “This is one of ACHA’s biggest shows, and we’ve enjoyed being here this week. We know it’s a new facility, and there’s always a few kinks to work out in a new facility. We can see the team work that’s going on to ensure we have the best show possible. We’re making plans to return in September for a new show, and have started making plans for the 3rd Annual Black Elk Classic in May, 2014.”

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