To be named to the World Equestrian Games team isn’t just an honor, it’s a major accomplishment for any rider, regardless of discipline. But for the McCutcheon family, competing for the United States Reining team has been a family legacy for the past three generations and they show no signs of slowing down.
For Tom and Mandy McCutcheon, horses aren’t just a business – it’s in their blood. Growing up on the reining circuit, the couple met through their love of horses and involvement in the sport. The equestrian world is small, and the reining world is even smaller, so it was only a matter of time until Tom and Mandy crossed paths. Not only do they share a love of horses, they also share many of the same accolades, including World Equestrian Game gold medals, NRHA Million Dollar Rider status, and are the industry’s leading riders – just to name a few.
Mandy McCutcheon and Yellow Jersey. Photo by Samantha Eckert.
Based out of their 150-acre farm in Aubrey, Texas, the dynamic duo run and operate Tom McCutcheon Reining Horses where they train, breed, and run a rehabilitation facility. Though there was no pressure from their parents to take up the horse business, it was only natural for Tom and Mandy’s two kids, Cade and Carlee, to follow suit and follow their love of horses.
“I had no interest in keeping the legacy going with my kids. My kids never had any pressure whatsoever to do this. They just happen to love it,” explains Tom. “For me, it was never about a legacy, it was about having a reason to get out of bed in the morning – doing something that fulfills you and makes you want to get up and go to work.”
Although Mandy is an amateur and Tom is a professional reiner, both husband and wife were named to the FEI World Games Team in 2014 where they won team gold. Individually, Mandy took home individual bronze and was the first female and non-professional to ever represent the United States at the World Equestrian Games.
“You're always cheering on your teammates no matter who they are,” says Tom when asked what it’s like to compete against Mandy. “But, when it's your wife you really want her to do well, just because that's your wife – that’s the person you want to do better than anyone else. I always cheer for her no matter what. We are real supportive of each other.”
Father and son team, Tom and Cade McCutcheon. Photo by Samantha Eckert.
Recently named to the United States Reining Squad for the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games aboard The Wizster, an 8-year-old Quarter Horse gelding – his fifth appearance in a row – it’s not his wife that Tom will be competing against this time, but his 18-year-old son, Cade.
“He's done a lot of things at a pretty young age,” explains Tom. “I always had hoped that I could be on a team with him someday. But in reality, I thought I would get too old before that could happen. To do it this young, I'm glad he did because it gives me the chance to be competitive and be on the team with him.”
Cade will be riding Custom Made Gun, a 7-year-old Quarter Horse stallion owned by his grandparents, Tim and Colleen McQuay this September in Tryon. Despite the young age of both horse and rider, they’ll look to keep the United States’ domination in reining on the international stage alive. Since joining the docket in 2002, the United States reining team has medaled at every World Equestrian Games – three of which are team gold.
Cade aboard Custom Made Gun. Photo by Samantha Eckert.
“We have been leaders and there are some countries really closing in on us,” says Tom. “I think this is going to be the most competitive World Equestrian Games we have ever seen. But the goal doesn't change. We still want to be the number one country in the sport of reining, so that's what we're going for.”
After all is said and done, the McCutcheon's number one priority is family. When asked how he balances family and business while still being on top, his answer was simple: the McCutcheon’s are competitive.
“Competition is our business. Unfortunately, it’s hard to make a large impact in the business if you're not competitive. To get to where we have, competitiveness is kind of ingrained in all of us, whether its showing reining horses, playing ping-pong, playing poker, playing basketball – it just doesn’t matter. We are all competitive all the time. It's just in our DNA,” explains Tom. “So I think what is kind of the glue that holds us together is the competitive spirit and nature, and what makes it so much fun for all of us. It really makes us support each other so much – the fact that you want to be competitive, and not be the least competitive one in the family.”
Feature photo by McKinnon Larcombe.