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2002/03/08

Ray Smith Inducted Into National Cutting Horse Association Members Hall Of Fame Cutting horse trainer Ray Smith of Mantachie, Mississippi was inducted into the National Cutting Horse Association Members Hall of Fame in December. The induction took place at a special dinner during the NCHA World Championship Futurity held in Forth Worth, Texas. The Members Hall of Fame was created "to honor the individuals who have exhibited the characteristics set out herein; A high moral character; Good sportsmanship; Fairness; Extraordinary contribution or commitment to the Cutting Horses in the NCHA; and an exemplary contribution of time, effort and interest in the NCHA and its basic endeavors." The following article is reprinted with permission from Cutting Horse Chatter. Ray Smith, first and foremost, is known as a friend and mentor in the cutting industry. At his 40-acre training facility in Mantachie, Mississippi and at cuttings across the Southeast, Smith never ceases sharing his knowledge of horses and cattle nor his time. This quality is important to many who are making their start in the sport and Smith's influence has inspired many newcomers of all ages to succeed in the cutting arena. It has been said about Smith that he gets more enjoyment from helping others win than getting first place himself. Smith's career stretches back into the mid-60's when the cuttings in Mississippi were few and diesel fuel was ten cents a gallon. He was a new husband, and he and his wife Ann, would soon have two children. From the beginning, Smith was eager to make his mark and as difficult as it seemed to him in the early days of cutting in Northeast Mississippi, he persevered and created a career and lifestyle that has lasted. "I would read books and magazines or whatever I could get a hold of that would have something about cutting in it," remembers Ray. "There weren't a lot of cutters around at the time to help, but then as I started going and trying to show a little, everybody helped then. "It was tough for a young person to get started then. It's all for the better now." Mississippi is presently one of the top producers of cutting shows in the country. The Chevy Trucks/NCHA Eastern National Championships is held in Jackson, Mississippi, as well as the Southern Futurity, now in its 19th year, a major limited age event for which Smith has served as board member. Smith was an original member of the Mississippi Cutting Horse Association, Magnolia Cutting Horse Association and Mid South Cutting Horse Association (of Louisiana), which he still supports as a top competitor. In 2001, Smith captured championships in Mississippi CHA and Mid South CHA shows on four-year-old Abilene Acre. Though Smith has raised or trained horses at his own operation for most of his life, he spent nearly a decade training at Thaggard Farms and rode its mare Silver Baby Doll as the 1982 $1,000 Novice Horse Champion. Yet, in the span of nearly 40 years, Smith cites his most memorable moment as one in which he gave aid to another cutter. It was during the spring of 1997 at the area workoffs in Jackson where Smith was among the riders assisting Joe Caraway of Gulfport, Mississippi, mount his horse Jahabow to ride in the $20,000 Non-Pro division in the 1996 Eastern National Championships. "Mr. Caraway had terminal cancer and he stepped up and won the cutting. He passed away several days later," recalls Smith. "I think everybody that was involved or there was really touched by that experience." Ray Smith's heartfelt connection to his fellow cutters and his gifts of encouragement and enlightenment, especially for newcomers, can still be witnessed at every cutting he goes to. He is a man who gets to the cutting first and can always be counted on for the last class of the day. It has been a wonderful experience being inducted into the NCHA Members Hall of Fame in 2001, according to Ray Smith. "To be a part of it is a big honor for me," he says, "and always will be."

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