High honour for CQ cutting maestro
CUTTING: It's a decades-long labour of love that has earned Stanwell's John Howe a much-deserved honour.
The 70-year-old has been inducted into the National Cutting Horse Association of Australia's Heritage Hall of Fame for his outstanding contribution and promotion of the sport.
"It's quite an honour,” Howe said.
"I've joined a list of top horsemen that I've known all my life and looked up to from when I started in the industry.
"There are nine people on the NCHA board and my nomination was a unanimous decision.”
Howe always had an "innate connection” with animals and despite his family not being any way horse-oriented, he yearned to ride.
Growing up in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, a young Howe fell in love with horses on regular visits to a friend's property at Tullamore, NSW.
His passion for cutting was ignited when he saw Max McTaggart show El Grando at Penrith in 1969.
He was hooked and an incredible career was born.
At 19 and while still in Sydney, Howe bought his first horse from a riding school. He spent three years riding with a wheat bag and surcingle, which helped his balance.
Six years later, he decided his career was in horses.
He resigned from his management position and started training horses full-time.
Howe's "big break” came when he started work for King Ranch, an American company that brought quarter horses to Australia.
"That was the highlight of my career because it gave me recognition in the industry,” he said.
"If you wanted to be a cutting horse trainer that was the top job in Australia at the time.”
Howe moved to Rockhampton in 1989 to take a job with Stockman's Corner and Valle Del Verde Quarter Horses.
"I've enjoyed being up here ever since.
"A lot of the horsemen up here and the fellas interested in my industry had a day-to-day full-time job with cattle and they were great to work with.
"I learnt a lot up in here.”
In 2004, Howe started his 10-year tenure as horse instructor at Emerald Agricultural College, where he introduced countless students to cutting.
He retired to his property at Stanwell, where he continues to run clinics and train a smaller team of horses.
Howe's story is one of commitment and contribution and there are plenty more chapters yet to be written.
"It's a big flywheel I've started in my life and it seems to keep turning,” he said.