Not horsing around

Cov­ing­ton na­tive, Jessie Hays, en­ters world horse cut­ting fi­nals this year

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - MARIYA LEWTER mlewter@cov­news.com

Jessie Hays has done it again. The Cov­ing­ton na­tive has qual­i­fied in the top-15 for the Na­tional Youth Cut­ting Horse As­so­ci­a­tion (NYCHA) World Fi­nals again af­ter pre­vi­ously com­pet­ing in the com­pe­ti­tion in De­cem­ber 2015.

Hays, who just grad­u­ated from East­side, will com­pete in Fort Worth, Texas from July 25-26 and July 28 as a part of the youth di­vi­sion at the Will Rogers Com­plex. Though she’s been in this com­pe­ti­tion be­fore, the stakes are higher this time around.

“I’m kind of ner­vous,” Hays said. “I was in the World Fi­nals last year, but this is a dif­fer­ent di­vi­sion, so I don’t re­ally know what to ex­pect. There’s dif­fer­ent com­pe­ti­tion. We com­pete against peo­ple that are up to 18 years old, but the skill level is out of this world. It’s amaz­ing.”

In De­cem­ber’s com­pe­ti­tion, Hays and her horse Clever Hick­ory Mate left with a top-3 world rank­ing and nearly $10,000 over 53 shows.

The Se­nior Youth di­vi­sion in which Hays com­petes is for rid­ers that are be­tween the ages of 14 and 18. The show sea­son started June 1, 2015 and ended this past May 31. She com­peted across the South­east­ern United States and against youth from all across the coun­try, from Cal­i­for­nia to Florida, said her father, Julius Hays. She will en­ter the World Fi­nals in 14th place with hopes to ad­vance through­out the four rounds of the com­pe­ti­tion.

“I ex­pect it to be fun,” Hays said. “There’s no pres­sure. You made it to the World Fi­nals, you know. So you just have to have fun and do the best you can.”

For those who don’t know, horse cut­ting is a com­pe­ti­tion that first be­gan as a way to round up the cat­tle out west.

“There were cer­tain horses that could ‘cut’ a cow out of the herd bet­ter than oth­ers,” Julius Hays said. “Once they started breed­ing these horses to be­come bet­ter ‘cut­ters,’ this was the start of the sport of cut­ting. Com­pe­ti­tions be­gan to see who had the best cut­ting horse amongst the cat­tle ranch­ers.”

The NHCA was formed in 1946 by a group of cow­boys and ranch­ers with the main goals of “pro­mot­ing cut­ting com­pe­ti­tion, stan­dard­iz­ing con­test rules and pre­serv­ing the cut­ting horse's western her­itage,” ac­cord­ing to the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s web­site. NCHA held its first cut­ting in Dublin, Texas, in Septem­ber of that same year.

In this year’s fi­nals, Hays hopes to im­prove on what she’s al­ready ac­com­plished in the past.

“I al­ways want to be a bet­ter show­man,” Hays said. “You al­ways want to show your horse bet­ter than you did the last time.”

I ex­pect it to be fun. There’s no pres­sure. You made it to the World Fi­nals, you know. So you just have to have fun and do the best you can.”

Sub­mit­ted photo| The Cov­ing­ton News

East­side High School grad­u­ate Jessie Hays is headed to the Na­tional Youth Cut­ting Horse As­so­ci­a­tion World Fi­nals. Horse cut­ting is a sport that pre­serves the tra­di­tion of round­ing up cat­tle that cut from the heard.

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