Doc’s Drifty Chex—a.k.a Woody—recently died in Blaine County at 36.
The gelding was probably the oldest horse in Blaine County and took its rider, Lynn Campion-Waddell, to multiple championships in the high stakes world of cutting horse competitions.
“Woody was just two years old when he caught my eye,” said Campion-Waddell, a Blaine County resident and noted philanthropist. “That was way back in 1986. I had been looking for a young horse to train for a high-paying horse competition called cutting.”
According to Campion-Waddell, who authored a book on the subject in 2000 titled “Training and Showing the Cutting Horse,” cutting horses are “extremely athletic” stock horses that have the ability to “read” a cow’s intentions and respond quickly to counter its moves when it tries to return to the herd. Therefore, cutting horses have been used professionally by cattlemen to “cut” a cow away from the herd.
Cutting competitions are held all over the country, said Campion-Waddell, with cutting horses making their debut at three years of age.
“The stakes can be extremely high,” Campion-Waddell said. “Sometimes a million dollars.”
Woody was trained in Medford, Ore., by Bobby Nelson.
“Bobby had a good eye for an athlete,” Campion-Waddell said. “He was trying to get me interested in a feisty little filly, but every time I rode her around the arena, I kept watching this big bay gelding that was learning how to accept a bridle in his mouth.
After another long drive to Medford, Woody was her horse.
“We went together to California where Woody learned how to be a cutting horse and I learned how to ride what felt like a Ferrari,” Campion-Waddell said.
By spring of 1987, Woody was prepared to compete in the three-year-old futurity classes. Because he seemed to have promise and a big heart, Campion-Waddell decided to take on the big West Coast competitions instead of bringing him back to Idaho for summer cuttings.
“The first major show was in Seattle, and we had good luck,” Campion-Waddell said. “Woody carried me to two titles that week. Oregon was next, where we had another two big wins. Then on to Reno. I was lucky to earn seven straight titles on that young horse before bringing him home to rest up until the early winter, when we would go Las Vegas where the Tropicana Hotel turned their entire inside tennis pavilion into a cutting arena.”
Woody carried Campion-Waddell to more titles in the next few years, but by then she was riding and training on younger horses in Texas and Oklahoma, and there was just not enough time to do it all and raise a family in Idaho as well.
“So Woody stayed at home with my daughters’ horses and enjoyed a lot of well-earned time away from competition. He taught everyone in my family so much over those years, and he helped raise a myriad of other horses that came to us in Hailey. He was responsible for me becoming a writer as well as a rider.”
Campion-Waddell said Woody came from very good breeding lines, but he was a bit bigger and sturdier than most cutting horses.
“He was an easy keeper and never had any physical problems typical of these young athletes, which is maybe why he lived such a long life. He was an amazing horse, and he sure outlived his competition,” she said.