Culture / Horsemanship

Living the Legacy: Jay and Cutter McLaughlin


The McLaughlin legacy now spans four generations with Jay’s son, Cutter.

Jay and Cutter McLaughlin after competing at the 2016 SRCHA Road to Reno Futurity in Fort Worth, Texas.

In order for a legacy to live on, one should spend some time planning ahead. That’s exactly what Jay McLaughlin, head trainer at Aaron Ranch, his wife Wendy and Tammy and Shawn Hays are doing by picking up the tab for all the youth entries of the youth bridle and the youth boxing at the Southwest Reined Cow Horse Rode to Reno Futurity. Their hopes of increasing entry numbers has worked with growth of quadruple proportions. Jay, a NRCHA million-dollar rider, clearly recognizes that for the cow horse industry to grow, we’d better start sparking some interest in the younger generation. He is contributing to the growth with a group of youth competitors under his tutelage- one of whom happens to be bearing his last name. The horse-loving McLaughlin legacy now spans four generations with Jay’s 13 year-old son Cutter McLaughlin.

“My dad was a horse trainer,” says Jay. I should tell you though too, it didn’t just start with just my dad, it started actually with my grandmother. She was very horsey. She never really rode much but she could tell you cover to cover of the Quarter Horse Journal. She knew what she liked to see and she was usually pretty right. My dad got her bug, and it was kind of the trickle-down effect. Horse training is a tough life. My dad pretty much begged me not to be a horse trainer but I just had to do it. I knew what I wanted to be when I was in kindergarten.”

He continues, “If Cutter wants to do it, he’s gonna do it and do it right. That’s the only way to do it. And if he doesn’t put in the work, we don’t go to the show. Competition is life and I don’t think you should get a trophy for just participating. I’m very much against that. You earn your rewards and you earn your respect.”

“We want him to be a kid, obviously, but he better look you in the eye and say ‘yes, sir no, sir and yes ma’am, no ma’am.’ That’s a big deal. Respect is a big deal. When someone talks to you, you better look them in the eye.”

That philosophy is evident when Cutter McLaughlin, a four-time world champion, speaks to adults. Through the course of this short interview, each and every response elicits a “yes ma’am.”

When I ask Cutter to if he can tell me about the $200,000 earning, CD Dee Vee Dee, he responds, “Yes, ma’am, he’s the best horse I’ve ever had. He’s 11 now. We call him DVD and he’s just awesome. I love riding him. Most of the time, well, all of the time he just makes it easy”.

I ask if he would consider DVD a part of the family? “Yes, ma’am. Definitely.”

CD Dee Vee Dee helped push Jay McLaughlin over the NRCHA Million Dollar rider mark and has partnered with Cutter to earn three consecutive AQHA world titles.

I end by asking Cutter if he feels lucky to have a 12-time world champion as his Dad? I receive a “Yes, ma’am. I feel very lucky because I love it and he loves it.”

This four-generation McLaughlin legacy is one that makes you think that maybe there really could be a “horse gene” one can inherit. Regardless, it’s always a treat to meet a polite teenager who loves his horse, loves his parents and whose demeanor shows that he is proud to be living the legacy.  

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