Stratford cutting horse rider Melissa Poingdestre will join competitors from all over New Zealand to compete at the New Zealand Cutting Horse Association's Ariat Futurity in Hawera this weekend.
Melissa was placed third overall in the major competition last year after showing her horse Quick Draw N Spin for the first time.
Cutting is a western horse competition in which a horse and rider work as a team before a judge or panel of judges to demonstrate the horse's athleticism and ability to handle cattle during a timed run.
Melissa has spent two years training the 4-year-old derby horse herself and coming third last year was a great achievement, considering it was the first show Quick Draw N Spin had been ridden at.
She is not getting her hopes up too high this year, however.
"You just never know what cattle you are going to get ... you can train and train and train but you just never know what you are going to get on the day."
Melissa has been riding since she was seven but started western riding when she was 10 and then started cutting seven years ago. She got into the sport after her father Wayne Poingdestre got keen on it and says she hasn't looked back.
"It's just the adrenalin — it's a really hard sport to do and I really enjoy being involved with the club."
This year, Bob Guest, from New South Wales, Australia will judge all of the events.
During the show, each contestant is assisted by four helpers — two who help to keep cattle from running off to the back of the arena, and the other two who hold the herd to stop them from escaping into the work area.
Cutting dates back to a time when American ranch owners hired cowboys to work and sort through and separate herds of cattle out on the open range. American Quarter horses are the breed predominantly used in the sport and are well known for travelling short distances fast. They have an ability to out-think and out-pace stock and are naturally alert.
Melissa says she put a lot of of tears and hard work into training Quick Draw N Spin, but because she doesn't have cattle at home she has had to travel to different shows around the North Island and then work her horse afterwards, using the cattle that were there for the show. After the futurity the sport has a break and Melissa plans to sell Quick Draw N Spin and get another young horse to train up.
"It is sad but it's a step up to get something a bit better."
Melissa — who will also ride Kings Play Boy in the open category — says cutting is a great spectator sport and encouraged people to attend the show and watch some top cutting horse riders at work.
"It should be a good weekend."
The New Zealand Cutting Horse Association Ariat Futurity is being held on Saturday May 12 from 9am at the TSB Indoor Arena, Egmonton A&P Showgrounds, Hawera. The show will feature an auction and there will be food for sale.