POCATELLO — Sitting in a makeshift cubicle made of blue tarp, with a pad of paper and pencil in hand, Will Nuttall is not a desk jockey in an office, but a judge for the cattle cutting competition taking place in front of him.
Nuttall was in town Monday to judge the Idaho State High School Rodeo Finals.
A Hailey native, Nuttall has been judging cattle cutting for the past five years, a position that is not given to somebody, but awarded.
In order to become a cattle cutting judge, one must win over $100,000 in competitions to be eligible for the position.
“I grew up on a ranch and cutting cattle was a part of our daily life,” Nuttall said. “It is something I have always been around.”
Cattle cutting is a Western riding style where a horse and rider are judged on their ability to separate a single animal away from the cattle herd and keep it away for a short period of time.
“When I’m judging (cattle cutting) I like to see if the cow is working the horse,” Nuttall said. “The horse should look like a mirror image of the animal he is facing.”
In the event, the horse and rider select and separate a cow out of a small herd.
As the cow tries to return to its herd, the rider loosens the reins, eventually putting his or her hands down and leaving it entirely up to the horse.
A judge awards points to the cutter based on a scale that ranges from 60 to 80, with 70 being considered average. When Nuttall is not judging, he is training horses on his ranch to cut cattle.
“My life revolves around cattle cutting,” Nuttall said. “I judge competitions because it is something I enjoy, but my profession is training horses.”
A job that has been a passion for Nuttall has also been very rewarding. Next week he will be traveling to Sao Paulo, Brazil, to show some of the horses he has trained.
Following that journey, he will be heading to Calgary, Canada, to do the same.
“This is the truest form of the Wild West,” Nuttall said. “It is something that is used on a daily basis.”
Cattle cutting originated on the cattle ranches of the American West. Separating cattle from the herd is used for vaccinating, castrating, and sorting.
High school cowboys and cowgirls from all over the state started arriving at the Bannock County Fairgrounds Monday to compete in the Idaho State High School Rodeo Finals.
Cattle cutting was the first of many events that will be taking place during the weeklong event.