He’s won a Calgary Stampede championship. He’s earned a Classic Challenge triple crown across Alberta. He’s followed in his dad Roger’s bootprints and become one of the finest cutting horse trainers in Canada.
And yet Guy Heintz of High River, Alta., can’t disguise the thrill of having seen his beloved sport of cutting become a family affair at the Heintz’s Rafter H Ranche.
“Seeing (daughter) Maria and (wife) Moneca do well is always exciting. They really don’t get too much time to work their horses on cattle or buffalo, because they’re always busy doing everything else around the ranch,” says Guy, who saddled up on the rodeo circuit, in bronc riding, bareback riding, and bull riding, before becoming a cutting horse and working cow horse trainer. “But they’re very professional in their attitude, and if they don’t win, they still like their horses!”
Heintz, riding Call Me Smurf in the Open division at the Calgary Stampede’s 39th annual Cutting Horse Competition under the Big Top this week, scored a 213 in Monday’s first go-round and a 201 in Wednesday’s second preliminary round — not enough to earn a spot in Thursday’s eight-team finale.
Guy’s entire family has tasted success in the cutting horse arena. Guy was the Stampede’s 2007 Open champion on Miss Docaboon, the same year Maria was reserve champ on Smart Peppy Ote in the Non-Pro division. Maria has also been a consistent threat at the Stampede’s annual fall Cutting Horse Futurity — winning the Non-Pro Futurity title in 2008 on Call Me Ote, and earning multiple Non-Pro runner-up finishes. And Moneca was 2009 Stampede Futurity reserve champion in Non-Pro Derby on Miss Kitari, a mare trained by Guy.
“I love the fact that we all participate in cutting together,” says Moneca, who was a self-described “city girl” from Copenhagen, Denmark, before immigrating to Alberta and meeting Guy. “We all love to show. I love it when Guy and Maria excel . . . they both have won numerous events over the years, and I’m very proud.
“We all love this sport, and it’s very addictive. And being able to share it together is just great.”
The Stampede’s Cutting Horse Competition, a participating event on the Fort Worth, Texas-based National Cutting Horse Association’s Mercuria/NCHA World Series of Cutting, will wrap up Thursday, July 14 with division finals under the Big Top at 5 p.m. — starting with the trainers and professional cutters of the Open division, and following with the Non-Pro and Youth categories. Because of the World Series’ involvement, the Stampede’s Cutting Horse Competition will feature $25,000 in added money in each of the Open and Non-Pro divisions — bringing the total prize purse to just over $80,000.
The sport of cutting shines a spotlight on the pure athleticism, instinct, agility and intelligence of the cutting horse. With horse-and-rider teams attempting to cut at least three individual cows out of a herd within 150 seconds, cutting has evolved into one of the most exciting equine events in North America.
Wednesday under the Big Top, the 22 Open entries battled it out during the second go-round in the hopes of advancing to Thursday’s final. The elite eight qualifying for the Open final, and its $35,340 prize purse, are: Russ Westfall of Los Olivos, Calif., on Lil Bit Reckless; Dustin Gonnet of Cayley, Alta., aboard Christinas Blue; Jason Taylor of Rancho Murieta, Calif., on Lil Dulce Lu; Denton Moffat of Armstrong, B.C., aboard Smart Asa Whip; Chubby Turner of Weatherford, Texas, on CD Boonsmal; Gonnet on Reyligious; Turner on Dual R Smokin; and Westfall on Peptos Opus Cat.
Thursday’s 12 Non-Pro finalists, who started among a group of 42 hopefuls, were determined after Tuesday’s second go-round. Competing for a pot of $44,740 will be: Carol Ward, of Rancho Murieta, Calif., on Lil Dulce Lu; Constance Jaeggi, of Weatherford, Texas, on Dual R Smokin; Michelle Lund, of Red Deer, Alta., aboard No Guns In The Bar; Danny Jones, of Ponoka, Alta., on Time In Montana; Marilyn Anderson, of Calgary, on Christmas Mate; Valerie Dettwiler, of Vanderhoof, B.C., aboard Peppers Fancy Page; Scott Wardley, of Okotoks, Alta., on HAH Rey; Kelsey Conn, of Hempstead, Texas, aboard Red Money Merada; Lucy Streeter, of Nanton, Alta., on Peptos Playtoy 005; Dan Hansen of Nampa, Ida., aboard Woody Be Lucky; Mary Jo Milner, of Southlake, Texas, on Twist N Smart; and Calgary’s David Anderson aboard Peptos Opus Cat.
Guy is the only member of the Heintz family competing at this year’s Stampede. Moneca will be back in action this fall at the Stampede Futurity, while Maria’s schedule with the Calgary Stampede Queens Alumni Fundraiser — she was the Stampede Queen in 2001 — has precluded her from entering the ring this week.
“I’ve been reserve at the Stampede, but I really do want to win it one year . . . maybe even two years or three,” says Maria with a chuckle. “I think my dad’s the best cutting trainer around. I guess I am biased, but I think that’s the truth.”
The Stampede will be webcasting all events being held in the Scotiabank Saddledome and the Big Top this year. Visit http://ag.calgarystampede.com/saddledome-ustream-2011 for live streaming of Saddledome action, and http://ag.calgarystampede.com/big-top-ustream-2011 for events under the Big Top.