Behind The Slide – When to Whistle 

When compared to the 20-seconds of mad cheering that occurs in a run through the barrels or an eight-second-ride on a bull, it can be difficult for a crowd to determine when they should whistle or cheer during a reining class. 

Surveying the crowd at the National Reining Horse Association Futurity and Adequan® North American Affiliate Championships at the OKC Fairgrounds in Oklahoma City, two particular individuals stood out for their whistles and cheers. 

“There were 400 horses in the go-round one year when I was like 12 or 13,” Mandy McCutcheon, an NRHA Three Million Dollar Rider, explained. “So, I stood at the back gate and learned how to whistle by going through it for 400 horses. Between Lyn Johnson, Andi Paul, Matt Lantz, Dave Belson, and all those other guys coaching me, I figured it out.”  

McCutcheon’s whistle is notorious for having a much louder sound than the rest and being recognizable anywhere in the barn. As for the timing of the whistles, it’s anytime she sees something she likes or someone seems to need encouragement in the pen. 

Monica Mathison is another recognizable whistle from the back gate, and she also offered the perspective of a competitor, “It is very motivating if you can hear the crowd. You know that you’re doing good, and it helps you keep up the momentum.” 

Mathison and McCutcheon even developed a ‘call sign’ of sorts for when a maneuver really strikes their fancy- the one at the back gate will let out three whistles, and the other in the stands will finish with one long whistle. 

The Futurity MS Diamonds TX Level 4 Open Finals on the last night of the event offer a special opportunity to cheer on a competitor. The pattern begins with a run-in, and the excitement of the crowd at that first stop is liable to set the tone for the entire run. 

“We try to cheer on whoever’s showing from the back gate, especially our close friends and loved ones. It just makes a difference,” Mathison said. 

To purchase a ticket for the finals, visit this link.