SUBLETTE COUNTY – How do you put on a memorable and ever-growing cutting-horse show in Sublette County?
For show manager Andi James – a rancher, schoolteacher and mother – it’s all about the connections she’s built throughout her life in Sublette County.
This was James’ eighth year in a row putting together the Big Piney Weekend & Aged Event Cutting Show, produced by Montana Cutting Horse Association and staged at the Sublette County Fairgrounds from Aug. 10-16.
Riders, trainers, families and fans arrived by the trailer-load and camped at the fairgrounds, bringing 400+ horses – not all to compete but along for the ride, so to speak – and 1,000 show entries. They were in place by Aug. 9 and ready to see their names drawn early the next morning for their order of appearance in the arena.
On Thursday, Aug. 10, cattle were sent into the Event Center arena for the show at 7 a.m. No details were too small to leave to chance and the fairgrounds’ crew worked tirelessly to set up, take down and move panels, gates, bleachers and other equipment.
“We had over 1,000 entries,” James said. “Along with the horse show, we also had a world champion cutting-horse trainer, Mike Wood from Arizona, offer a clinic where 20 participants were able to learn from him.”
With 1,000 entries, James put together a massive herd of 3,000 young cattle – half of them from Mike and Tara Miller of Big Piney and the rest provided by Aaron Sorensen, Greg Harland, Scott Rosemond and Boone Snidecor.
Local riders stepped up to help visiting cutters and trainers lope their horses in endless circles, set up panels and other needed chores.
Local businesses also stepped up, according to James. Ice Hole Mugs and 307 Mercantile helped with awards. Bondurant Bouquets’ Alix Crittenden arranged flowers for the show and The Bear Den Restaurant in Daniel catered the banquet meal for all contestants, for which local cooks provided homemade desserts.
That week, Juan & Belinda’s Food Truck was parked at the fairgrounds and Pioneer Smoke House served from its concession kitchen in the Event Center
“We would also like to thank everyone in the community who help support all of the extra people around for that week as far as accommodations,” James said after the event. “As show manager I couldn’t put this event on without my entire crew! Friends and family all showed up to offer help make it happen! (Her and Dakota Arno’s daughter) Asa had the time of her life in the biggest sandbox, meeting new friends and surrounded by many pretty horses all around her for eight days!”
More about this annual sanctioned cutting-horse show and others is available at www.montanacha.com.