I was cobbling together a piece for the next issue when I came across this vintage photo. Bill Collins on Bonita Tivio, circa 1964 during the Royal Cutting Horse Tour of England. Bill looks a little like he might be having the time of his life, doesn’t he?
This excursion of a lifetime all came about in the summer of 1963, when Prince Philip visited the Douglas Lake Ranch in British Columbia, and someone had the fabulous idea to put him on the back of a cutting horse. The Prince, an accomplished horseman, naturally caught the cutting bug and upon leaving invited the group to England the following summer for a six-week tour of 17 horse shows. And so it was that on an early morning in May of 1964, as unlikely as it may seem, six Canadian cutting horses and their owners, travelled by rail to Montreal, and a few days later took to the skies on a flight bound for Manchester, England.
The horses in this group were Bonita Tivio, Silver Sport, Poco Dipsy, Muy Bueno Young, Tivio Don and Bueno Jesse. Two of these, Bonita Tivio and Tivio Don were full siblings, by Poco Tivio and out of the dam Pepper Girl. Owned by Douglas Lake Ranch, they comprised some of the foundation stock of the Canadian cutting horse industry, and both left a legacy with inductions into the Canadian Cutting Horse Hall of Fame in the late 60s.
Bonita Tivio, pictured above, went on to produce some outstanding cutting horses, including most famously, the great Peponita, later owned and shown to NCHA Hall of Fame status by Matlock Rose. Bill finished off each cutting during the Royal Tour with a bridleless demonstration aboard the phenomenal mare.
Her full brother, Tivio Don was named the top scoring horse over the three month England tour and presented with the Prince Philip trophy, by His Highness himself, after the show. I wonder where that trophy resides today?
Other cutters who enjoyed this trip alongside Bill included Fred Duke, Bill Elliott, Tom Fox, Chunky Woodward, Don MacKay, Cliff Ross, Hu Harries, Hales Ross, Ian MacRae, Barry Fox, Lyall Roper, Denny Mighall, John Ross and Hal Yerxa.
I read an account of the trip penned by Denny Mighall, in which he told of presenting Prince Philip with his own cutting-bred Quarter Horse.
Denny wrote, “This was a very well bred three-year-old, purchased from the Douglas Lake Cattle Co., ostensibly for his use as a polo pony. We learned later that this plan did not materialize as this filly became a favored saddle horse of the Queen.”
He followed up this story with a quip only a male would make, stating, “apparently, these things happen in Royal families too.”
Canada’s cutting, cow horse and reining pinnacle event – the Canadian Supreme – is well underway at the Westerner grounds in Red Deer, Alberta. The highlight of course are the aged horse events.
This show represents the second final futurity event in Canada, just two weeks prior to the Calgary Stampede Cutting Horse Futurity.
We began our coverage of the cutting horse Canadian aged events with the Saskatchewan Limited Aged Event in Moose Jaw, August 2-5.
Three weeks later the Olds Agricultural Society held their annual Cutters Classic Cutting featuring the first Alberta aged event, with both a Futurity and a Derby, running for two goes.
Jesse Crandall of Ponoka, AB, riding C Marks the Cat, owned by Vaughn Hanson, Jeff Schwitzer of Valleyview, AB, on SDP Overdrive, owned by Richard Hollingworth and Schwitzer on his own Shesa Swingin shared the Futurity first go accolades, each marking a 144. The second go of the Futurity was captured by Doug Reinhardt of Irricana, AB, riding Ken Chrisensen’s Freckles Lil Light.
Riding Dun Drivin (Hydrive Cat/DFL Golden Freckles), Bruce McMeekin of Alhambra, AB, captured both the first and second go of the Non-Pro Futurity. The pair repeated this win three weeks later at the Silver Slate arena, near Stavely, Alberta, where the Santangelo family hosted their cutting horse aged event.
At the Silver Slate Futurity Finals, it was This Cats Max, ridden by Dustin Gonnet, who wowed us all, scoring a deserving 149. This WR This Cats Smart stallion is owned Doug Wiens, whom we featured in our July/August issue as our Leaderboard subject. The 3-year-old is Canadian-bred out of Doug’s good mare, PF Docs Med.
There was some talk that this gal may have played a critical role in the win – and judging by the smile on her face, she was just as happy with the results as the trainer and owner. We often don’t give enough credit to the work the riders behind the scenes do in preparing a 3-year-old, or any horse for that matter, for their moment in the ring. Let’s give it up for the lopers once in a while!
Watch for this stallion and 16 other 3-year-olds in the Open Cutting Futurity Finals on Saturday. The Canadian Supreme Open Cutting Futurity Finals runs tomorrow morning.
Meanwhile in the Derby, two goes gave us all an indication of what could be expected at the Supreme. Gerry Hansma aboard the Canadian-bred Genuine Catch, owned by Welland Muri of Calgary, marked a thrilling 149 to capture the first go, and Doug Reinhardt on Ray Too Smart caught the second go championship with a 148.5.
A special thanks to Sandy Hansma for sharing these gorgeous shots she snapped at the Silver Slate Arena.
Hope we see you at the show this weekend, please drop by the Western Horse Review booth and say hello. We have a fantastic subscription offer available there and a draw to enter as well.
If you can’t possibly make it to Red Deer this weekend, you can catch a live feed of the events here.