Culture / Sporting Life

Celebrity Equestrians Will Compete In An Elite Show in Fort Worth — Cheer On Bella Hadid, Adan Banuelos, and Taylor Sheridan

The NCHA Summer Cutting Spectacular Takes Place This July

BY // 06.06.24

Fort Worth is well-known for celebrating the tradition of ranching and Western heritage. It’s also home to the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA), which hosts many of its premiere equestrian events in town each year. The NCHA Summer Cutting Spectacular will bring big names and big money to the area this summer.

The NCHA Summer Cutting Spectacular will run from July 13 through August 3 at Fort Worth’s Will Rogers Memorial Center. It’s the third leg of the 2024 Triple Crown in this unique sport.

Yellowstone – Creator Taylor Sheridan has been on a wild ride with the ever-expanding Yellowstone franchise.
Creator Taylor Sheridan has been on a wild ride with the ever-expanding Yellowstone franchise.

Celebrities Competing in the Summer Cutting Spectacular

Writer, producer, and creator of the Yellowstone TV universe, Taylor Sheridan, with several series filming right here in Fort Worth, is also a noted horseman. His acquisition of the legendary 6666 Ranch made waves, and his Bosque Ranch located in Weatherford is outfitted for competitions as well. Sheridan will ride Mr. JJ Smooth in the Summer Cutting Spectacular.

Fort Worth transplant and mega-model Bella Hadid is a seasoned show jumper, who took a star turn in the cutting world at Sheridan’s Bosque Ranch back in January. Hadid entered the $50,000 NCHA Limited Amateur category. She rode Metallic Tito, by Iron Heart Trust (Iron Heart Performance Horses) and scored 132, “securing an impressive eighth-place finish,” as reported by Sports Illustrated’s Rodeo Daily. This amateur really stole the show.

Hadid will compete this summer, riding two different horses ― Imma Be Smooth owned by Iron Heart Trust, and Whippish, owned by Iron Heart Performance Horses. NCHA confirmed that both Iron Heart Trust and its breeding operation Iron Heart Performance Horses (which launched in 2020) are owned by Bella Hadid and her family. This makes sense because Hadid means “iron” in Arabic, and in an April interview with Vogue Paris, Hadid revealed that her new Orebella essential oil fragrance line combines her surname with her first name ― ore (iron) and Bella.

Of course, her boyfriend Adan Banuelos is already a superstar in the cutting world. Banuelos is an NCHA Hall of Fame rider, who has amassed over six million dollars in earnings (according to his own Instagram page). It seems horses aren’t the only competitors bred for the sport ― as Banuelos’ father, Ascencion Banuelos, is also a Hall of Fame rider, and Adan Banuelos Performance Horses is thriving ― breeding, training, and showing cutting horses. This rider will hop aboard seven special cutting horses throughout the competition.

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Another Hall of Famer, Jo Ellard, the owner of Fort Worth’s new five-star hotel Bowie House, will showcase two of the spectacular horses from her EE Ranches. Ellard told us that her frequent trips to town led to the creation of the new Auberge hotel.

“I spend 70 to 90 nights a year in Fort Worth,” Ellard told PaperCity Fort Worth. “I’ve been coming here for 3o years and I bought a cottage that was originally on the property. So, I was very familiar with the area,” Ellard said. Bowie House is located within walking distance of the competition. So, it’s a good bet, where you’ll find the afterparty this summer.

Mel Blount, a former Pittsburgh Steelers player is bringing his horse NRR Coles Lighting, to be ridden by his son Akil Blount ― who was himself a linebacker for both the Steelers and Miami Dolphins.

Look out for actor Jake Ream also from the Yellowstone series, country music artist Cody Johnson, and retired PGA golfer Tom Watson who might be in attendance as well.

horse and rider both agile athletes NCHA
The horse and rider are both agile athletes showcased at NCHA events.

What is a Cutting Horse?

Of course, the real stars of the show are the horses themselves ― their agility, athleticism, and determination are as big a draw to the sport of cutting as their big-name, award-winning riders. These horses are specially cared for by personal chiropractors, saltwater spas, and dentists.

“The first cutting horse competition was held in 1898 in Haskell, Texas,” according to NCHA. The sport that grew up on Texas ranches now boasts more than 15,000 members of the NCHA (founded in 1946) hail from 50 states and 20 countries worldwide.

Like roping, cutting is a Western-style equestrian competition. It’s a crucial skill for cattle ranchers, who need to separate a cow from its herd when they need to receive medical attention, or for transport. It’s a challenge because the “herd mentality” binds cattle together instinctively ― where there is safety in numbers. Cutting is a utilitarian, work-a-day activity on any ranch, which has been perfected over time. The skill of the rider who works together with their horse is simply mesmerizing to watch.

Communication, balance, trust ― it’s all in there. Both athletes synchronized in this beautiful equestrian ballet. These “work” horses are bred for this specific skill, and their lineages are traced and certified. Owners might know more about their horse’s pedigree than they do about their own. It’s big business.

The horse and rider work together to choose the cow and separate it from the herd. Then, the horse literally takes the reins, “Once the cow is separated, riders are no longer allowed to use their reins,” according to NCHA. “Trained cutting horses are required to think on their own and anticipate and react to the cow’s moves.” It’s a sight to behold.

cutting horse and rider Summer Spectacular.
Horse and rider perform as one in last year’s Summer Spectacular.

More to See at The Cutting Spectacular

This year also marks the second annual Military Cutting Challenge which will take place on August 3 ― the event where 10 to 13 military members are paired with industry professionals to learn the sport of cutting. Members will then have a chance to compete against each other during a real competition. Consider this the Pro-Am event of the Spectacular.

The NCHA Derby and Classic Challenge is for children four to six years old, who can compete for a prize, getting those completive juices flowing, and the NCHA Youth World Finals gives young participants the opportunity to win a scholarship for their riding skills.

Fans and celebrities will be flocking to Fort Worth once again for the Summer Cutting Horse Spectacular. Find the full schedule of events here.

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