When Mark's kids were in high school, he trained his son and eldest daughter for the cattle cutting competition in the High School Rodeo events. They each won their division at the state level to become the South Dakota high school champions in 1979. It was the first time in state history where a brother and sister won the same year on separate horses. A big accomplishment in that world.
Below is a picture of Mark's son's saddle that was the first prize trophy for winning the State title.
Check out this video to get an idea of what cattle cutting is if you are unfamiliar. It's a timed event where the rider has to select one cow out of the herd and then must keep that cow from reentering the herd. It's a difficult event because you never know what the cattle will do...so a great horse is helpful. Watch the horse in the video --- it knows it's job.
When Mark was asked to train our friends grandkids here in our community he was thrilled and has been having the time of his life until May 12 when he had an accident after cutting practice while loading the livestock into the horse trailer. Three steers turned around and charged a gate behind which Mark was standing. The gate hit him and threw him to the ground, breaking his hip. His hip was replaced in surgery the next morning and we were grateful that his accident resulted in a surgery that is commonly successful. So we're working hard on recovery and I am confident that he will be 'back in the saddle' again.
In the mean time the kids continue to practice and to talk with Mark about what they are doing, getting pointers etc. He loves their company and they are the best medicine for him. All three have placed first in their event at different competitions so they are gaining the skills to be contenders next year.
This, dear readers, is the reason I have been sporadic writing posts for the past few weeks.