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|Jason and Rachel with one of their favourite horses, NCHA Futurity winner, Whiskey Cat (photo: Australian Horseman)|
Talented horseman Jason Leitch has long been passionate about horses and now, together with wife Rachel, he is focusing on that passion by breeding and training great cutting, campdraft and challenge horses - great types and great pedigrees.
A very successful trainer in the cutting pen, Jason will become a member of the NCHA Trainers Hall of Fame this year, with earnings of over $605,000. A fantastic achievement that shows Jason is a serious contender in the world of cutting.
Jason and Rachel own and manage JRL Stud, located in Springsure North Queensland, where all horses bred and trained get the start in life that will go on to make them enjoyable horses for any discipline. The philosophy at JRL Stud is to provide a training, breeding and selling service of the highest quality.
2012 is looking bigger than ever for this enthusiastic and dedicated couple, so Jo Johnson caught up with Jason to find out more…
Jason, you’ve been involved with breeding and training horses for a long time. How did you first start out?
The family had horses, so it was a natural progression I guess - I’ve always been around them.
When did you become hooked on cutting?
About eight years ago.
What do you enjoy most about training and competing cutting horses?
I enjoy the fact that on show day, you have to turn your horse loose, and your work at home is ultimately judged at that point in time. It is an unbelievable feeling, when you feel a horse give it’s absolute all both physically and mentally to trap a cow.
What makes a great cutting horse?
They have to have good strong conformation behind. They must have an athletic manner, and most importantly cow. Cow being the inner desire, which comes from the horse to want to hold the cow. None of which can be trained.
Do you have favourite horses?
Yes. Whiskey Cat - because we won the (NCHA) Futurity on her, second in the Derby and won over $100,000 in only five shows. She also won the Paradise Lagoons challenge as a four year old. Other favourites are Oaks And Ashes, former NCHA Open Classic Champion and Open Horse of the Year, also Oaks Unchained Melody, who was Novice Horse of the Year, Open Horse of the Year and high point mare of the year- all in the same year. Finally, Cat N A Hat, who we have just purchased half shares in and imported. I followed this horse through his short show career from a two year old. Despite injuries, he is one of the most athletic and cowy horses I have been involved with.
What achievements in your horse life are you most proud of?
One of the first things I ever won was the Man From Snowy River challenge, I attended it three times, was second the first time, and won it the next two years. Then King of the Ranges after that, before I went cutting. This was one of the first things I ever competed in, and I remember it as one of the most rewarding. The biggest win in relation to what I have worked hard at (in cutting), is the NCHA Futurity.
Which horse would you like to own or show?
The one that makes the most money! Probably Don’t Look Twice of Phil Rapp's - she is pretty amazing.
Is there an early cutting horse that you would love to have had the chance to sit on?
Royal Blue Boon. She looked like a phenomenal mare.
Is there another horse sport you'd like to try?
At the moment no. Campdrafting, challenging and cutting is plenty to keep my horse calendar very busy!
Any tips for someone wanting to succeed in the world of cutting?
If your lifestyle allows it - or if you’re willing to change your lifestyle to allow it - you need to find a trainer you would like to follow in relation to their training, either work for that trainer or be around them as much as possible. If you simply want to dabble in the sport, you need to find a trainer and get as many lessons as possible.
Item in your tack/grooming box you can't live without?
Not much. We only have a few basic things here and they’re all very important.
Tell us a bit about the horses you are showing this year and the events you'll be competing in?
The major event we are working towards is the NCHA Futurity, where I will be showing about 14 horses. One of which will be Present a Playboy, who was last year’s Classic Champion.
Goals for the future?
Breed and train another futurity champion.
If you have spare time - how do you relax?
We don’t have spare time. Breeding and campdrafting are our closest things to relaxing!
Thank you so much for your time Jason and best of luck for the NCHA Futurity this year.
- Visit the JRL Stud website for more information
- View cutting horses for sale on Horsezone
- List a cutting horse for sale on Horsezone
Watch Jason and Whiskey Cat in action during their winning run at the 2010 NCHA Futurity
Watch Phil Rapp on Don't Look Twice, cutting bridleless to see how much good cutting horses love their job!