Youth have been competing on cutting horses probably as long as there have been competitions.
Youth have been competing on cutting horses probably as long as there have been competitions. However, it was not until 1971 that separate youth records were kept. Several of the NCHA Areas (there were ten areas at the time) listed year-end youth leaders. Area 3, Iowa and Missouri, was won by Tom Shaw Jr. aboard Leo Van Reed.
The first NCHA Youth World Champion was crowned in 1973. Skip Hobbs won the title on Dolly Brian II. The following year Larry Shearin took the title. Larry went on to become a four-time NCHA Youth World Champion. He won the title in 1974, 1975, 1976 and 1977. There was only one youth division at that time.
The NCHA Youth program experienced an incredible increase in membership and participation in the 1980s. Youth leaders during those years included such great competitors as Merritt Wilson, Cathy Curtis, Dick Cogdell, Wayland Long, Kristi Johns, Cassye Carter, Paige Alexander, Lisa Long, and J.V. Cox III among others.
In 1986, Paige Alexander, riding Lucky Bottom Pine, became the first NCHA Eastern National Championship Youth Champion. In 1988, the Youth class was split into Junior and Senior divisions. Dustin Johnson, from Louisiana, riding Hot Shot Colonel was the first Eastern National Championship Junior Youth Champion.
The NCHA Summer Scholarship Cuttings began in 1990 in conjunction with the NCHA Summer Cutting Spectacular. Millie Kay Bouget won the first Senior Youth scholarship riding Especials Lady and Wade Albright took the Reserve Champion title. In the Junior Youth division, McKenzie Merrill won the Championship aboard Royal Santana. Dawson Bums, Russ Carroll, and Lindy Merryman all tied for Reserve.
In July 1993, another milestone was reached for youth cutters. The NCHA Executive Committee officially recognized the National Youth Cutting Horse Association. Youth Directors from each of NCHA’s 25 Areas were elected by the youth membership at large. The Area Directors then met and elected National Officers.
The National Officers and Area Directors make up the leadership of the organization and work to improve and promote youth cutting. The National Officers and Area Directors also work to provide better opportunities for the youth membership to excel in all aspects of their lives.
In July 1994, the NYCHA celebrated its first National Convention and Awards Banquet. During the next year the NYCHA created the National Youth Cutting Horse Association Hall Of Fame to acknowledge outstanding youth achievements in the sport of cutting. At the 1995, NYCHA Convention, eight individuals were inducted into the Hall Of Fame. Larry Shearin, Debbie Shaw, Tom Shaw Jr., Carrie Curtis-Kessler, Joey Milner, Mark Harden, Melissa Hodges and Terese Beutenmiller-Carter were active as youth cutters in the 1970’s and demonstrated superb sportsmanship in and out of the cutting arena.
Programs adopted by the Association since its first year include the Levels of Excellence Award Program (LEAP), the NYCHA Stallion Service Program, and the NYCHA Newsletter Cut & Chat. Membership has increased from 136 members to a strong 1,300 and growing. The scholarships awarded at the annual Scholarship Cutting and the Eastern and Western National Championships have increase to an amazing $30,000 annually. In addition, the NYCHA has been awarded a grants from two foundations allowing us to award $150,000 in scholarship to members based on their participation in the NYCHA.