For a scene in “Yellowstone” that featured reining–a western riding competition style–creator Taylor Sheridan knew where to go to get himself a cowboy. He sought out the McCutcheon family of Aubrey, Texas for their help with the scene. The family owns the McCutcheon Horse Ranch in Aubrey, where they train 300 hundred horses.
The family trains the horses to spin, stop, and slide in a certain order, and the horses have to respond to their commands at the right time. The McCutcheons have it down to an art form, though. They’re all reining competition champions: Tom and Mandy McCutcheon, along with their son Cade and daughter Carlee.
“The rush of seeing a great horse executing a great maneuver is what keeps everybody going,” said Mandy McCutcheon to WFAA out of Dallas-Fort Worth. Horse reining is described as a lot like figure skating; there’s a routine the horse has to follow, given by various commands from its rider. There are spins, circles, slides, and stops, among other moves.
Real Life Texas Cowboy Family Trains Champion Horses, Teaches ‘Yellowstone’ a Thing or Two
The scoring is based on how in tune you are with your horse, and how well the horse performs the routine. The routine is judged by smoothness, precision, and finesse. Judges also assess speed and agility. The right horse is important for reining; something agile and extremely responsive to commands. The American Quarter Horse is the current favorite.
The most important aspect of reining is that the cue for the horse to execute the next move shouldn’t be noticeable. “My goal is to make it look easy,” said Cade McCutcheon. The cues are totally imperceptible; the McCutcheons have all perfected that skill. Tom, Mandy, and Cade McCutcheon have all won gold at the World Equestrian Games, and Tom McCutcheon has won over $2 million in prize money for his skills at reining, while his wife has won $3 million. So, it’s safe to say that this family knows what they’re doing when it comes to the sport.
Family Praises Horses Who Have Gotten Them Where They Are Today
“Without the great horses that we’ve had in our lives, we wouldn’t be where we are,” said Mandy. According to WFAA, Taylor Sheridan owns five horses at the McCutcheon ranch, and is also into reining (when he’s not busy reinventing the modern Western). The family even made a cameo in “Yellowstone” season 2.
“Taylor has taken us to the masses, and it’s great, ” said Tom McCutcheon. “And there’s a lot of people that have filtered into our business by seeing that and saying ‘hey, that looks fun.’”
So, business is booming, reining is becoming a household sport, and the McCutcheons are on top of the world. It’s in the family for all of them, and Tom and Mandy actually met at a reining event. “[We] feel very fortunate, very blessed,” said Tom, “that both of the kids have the same passion for the horse business that we do.”