Redfield man loves breeding and training horses

Proud of accomplishments of home-raised, home-trained animals

Connie Sieh Groop
Special to the Farm Forum
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On a farm south of Redfield, a man saddles up and rides horses every day. Right now, he’s high on training a 3-year-old, getting ready for the fall futurity.

Gilbert Lutter, who is 80 years old, has raised halter and performance horses all his life. “It was 1957 when I bought my first registered quarter horse. It was an American Quarter Horse stallion, Rudy Mount from Joe Schomer of Ft. Pierre, SD. I’ve always had horses since then. We’ve always used horses with our cattle. We’ve shown some. At first, we were interested in halter horses and as the kids got older, they were in 4-H and high school rodeo. Eventually, our interest changed from halter to performance horses and we specialized in cutting horses.”

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Gilbert explained, “A cutting horse works cattle. To show them, you have a group of cattle in an arena. The rider has to sort out one calf or yearling. The rider has to turn the horse loose and let him work. Anytime the rider uses their hands to rein the horse, they are penalized a point. It takes about two years of training to make a cutting horse learn how to do that.”

That training provides great rewards. “The first time you ride a cutting horse in a show and it stops, turns and matches the moves of the cow, that’s a high thrill,” Gilbert said. “I don’t know why people take drugs when you can get such a high working with horses and watching them progress this way.”

In breeding horses, pedigrees are important. Some bloodlines are superior to others. Training is key. Gilbert explained that the horses he raises are pretty diverse, very athletic with an amiable disposition and ability. Two stallions provide impressive breeding. SDP TR TARI REY is a 2005 Sorrel AQHA Stallion and a son of TR Dual Rey (NCHA earnings $353,174). They bought him as a yearling at Fort Worth. General Pepto is a 2008 Red Roan Stallion that they raised and trained themselves.

Zelda, Gilbert’s wife, keeps track of the broodmares and the colts as well as to which stallions are bred to which mares. The National Cutting Horse Association tracks how much money the horses earn. Gilbert said they don’t compete for ribbons or prizes. Cutting horses compete for money in events for jackpot or added money. In places like Fort Worth, Texas, the purse can be over $1 million.

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Competing on the state level, some of the Lutter animals have done well. They have had a 3-year-old that was a champion in the Non Pro classes in South Dakota and Minnesota. They had the winner of the Dakota Classic, where a win could net between $3,000 and $6,000.

“It takes a lot of skill for the rider, it’s almost like training a hunting dog to point to a pheasant,” Zelda said. “When they are really good, they are right on the calf. We find it really interesting. I like to watch the colts as Gilbert teaches them, as they learn to bird dog a calf.”

Gilbert added, “We train them for the enjoyment of working with the animals. But the payback is always in the back of your mind.”

Gilbert ran the sale barn in Redfield for 40 years and they would market a few horses through there. The Lutters sell quite a few animals with four horses recently consigned to a sale in Nebraska. They had two horses go to Hawaii as well as several other states.

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Those who go to shows become one big family. The Lutters used to go to 25 to 30 shows a year. Now there are only about six they go to. Zelda said it is partly because of their age, but things have also changed in the state associations. “We’ve put on a few shows and helped with a bunch of them. It costs a lot to put on a show. Many people don’t want to show outside, so you have to rent an arena and hire an approved judge. The economics make it hard to pencil out.”

Family is important to the couple as their children enjoyed rodeo events like running poles and barrel racing, cutting cattle and goat tying.

The Lutters have four children. Wanda Watson at Rochester, Minn. was Miss Rodeo South

Dakota of 1983. She is a registered nurse. Joe lives at Zell and raises Belgian horses and American Quarter Horses. He is a real estate agent. Marsha Wieting at Milbank was great at roping and does team sorting. She is a crop adjuster. And Barb Lenocker , who is an insurance agent, made it to the National AQHA at Tulsa, OK, in her junior and senior year of high school. She lives at Tulare, still rides every night after work and is in cutting competitions.

Many of the 15 grandkids and 20 great-grandkids climb into the saddle and learn to love the sport. Some ride, some don’t. A 26-year-old red roan gelding named Richie educated many of the youngsters.

With emotion in her voice, Zelda said, “It’s a thrill to watch the grandkids compete in high school events using horses that we have bred, continue to breed and have broken to ride. It takes a lot of time, but we have a real sense of pride that these home-raised and home-trained animals do so well.”

Zelda said it makes grandpa proud when the grandkids want to know Gilbert’s ideas about how to improve. Gilbert is a willing teacher and said, “We’ve done it from scratch. In our breeding operation, I always like to see improvements in quality. What we have done shows in the quality of our herd.”

Following her grandpa’s love for horses, Joe’s daughter Emma built a training barn, and is training horses and still competing in barrel racing and other events.

“I really enjoy working with the young horses. When a horse starts moving with the cow, it is like a light bulb comes on for the horse. It’s a thrill to feel that the horse is finally getting what I have been trying to teach it,” Gilbert said.

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