New competition takes over Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds

WATSONVILLE — The first-ever Outback Cutting western style horse competition is unfolded at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds. About 150 competitors from around California, Arizona and Nevada showed off their best skills in cattle cutting, a long-standing cattle-ranching maneuver of separating out a single cow from the herd and controlling the animal from there. “It’s all about the athleticism of the horse — it’s such a thrill,” said Joel Bethke of Gilroy, who has been competing the past 20 years. “When you think about it this sport is about three minds — the horse, the cow and the human. It’s a lot of fun and that’s the main thing. This is a good group of people to be with.” Kathy Cardon, secretary for the event, said she was excited about having the event at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds. “Everyone here likes the weather, they like the town, the ambience and the feeling of this place,” she said. “We’re glad to be here.” The event ran June 29 through July 2. Award-winning Morgan Cromer of Templeton, who is a horse trainer, said she loves the sport and has been involved with horses since she was a child. “I think I did pretty well today,” she said of opening day. “This is what I do — I love it.”