Cade McCutcheon has spent most of his 18 years aboard reining horses. His dad Tom McCutcheon, mom Mandy McCutcheon, grandparents Tim and Colleen McQuay, and numerous members of his extended family are all super-successful horsemen. But he’s already received an impressive number of accolades himself, including being the youngest competitor to win the Level 4 National Reining Horse Association Non-Pro Derby at age 15.
In 2018, he was the youngest-ever member of the United States Equestrian Team to compete in reining at the World Equestrian Games (WEG). Continuing a legacy, he became the third generation of his family to compete at WEG. Riding his favorite horse, Tim and Colleen’s Custom Made Gun, Cade earned a bronze individual medal. In part thanks to him earning the highest score of the team competition, the USA also won team gold.
Young Rider talked with the recent high school graduate from Aubrey, Texas, about his experience at WEG, his future plans, and what he enjoys doing in his off time.
Young Rider: What’s it like having your family involved in horses?
Cade McCutcheon: Most days it’s pretty amazing. I see my family with the horses every day. It’s pretty special.
YR: Tell us about your experience competing—and winning—at the World Equestrian Games.
CM: The team day was something I’ll never forget because it wasn’t just for me, it was for the team, it was for the USA, it was for everything. I was more nervous for that than I’ve ever been.
It was more emotional than I’ve ever been after a run as well. Winning the team gold medal at the WEG is my favorite memory of my life right now.
YR: Did you get any advice before competing at the WEG that stood out to you?
CM: Everybody said the same thing. They said I was there for a reason, not to try to do too much, and that Custom would take care of me. And he did.
YR: Who’s your favorite horse?
CM: Custom. We’ve been together three years. I like everything about him. He’s very good-minded. Lots of talent. He’s taken me more places than I ever thought I would go. He took me to a gold medal and a bronze medal, I won my first major on him—he’s always been a Steady Eddie.
He’s pretty relaxed. He has his ears up a lot. He’s easy-going, especially for a stud. He’s going to a new owner now, but I think I’ll get to show him next year a couple of times, so that’ll be nice.
YR: Who do you count as mentors?
CM: Everybody. Both my grandparents were big mentors early on, and they still are. Same with both my parents. Usually if I have a problem, I go to all of them until I hear an answer I like!
YR: What is some advice you’ve gotten that stuck with you?
CM: My dad says to keep working. Just because you won some stuff, doesn’t mean you’re going to win more later on.
YR: Other than riding, what activities do you enjoy?
CM: I played basketball all through high school. I played baseball and football until my high school career, as well.
YR: How much time do you spend at the barn and riding, and what do you do to unwind?
CM: Twelve hours a day at the barn, every day. Except on Sundays. When I get home, I always turn on [the TV show] “Practical Jokers” or try to find some sports on TV.
YR: In a movie about your life, who would play you?
CM: Kevin James. I think that guy is pretty funny, and I like to try to be funny.
YR: What are your future plans?
CM: I plan on giving up my non-pro card after the [NRHA] futurity this year and going pro next year.
YR: How did you get so good at riding horses?
CM: I just got on a horse as much as I could. I think that’s the key to being good at anything. Practicing, doing as much as you can. That’s what I try to do. I try to be on horseback as much as I possibly can, because it’s the only way to learn—the only way to get better.
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2019 issue of Young Rider magazine. Click here to subscribe!