Deadline for May issue is April 23
Zeke Entz Family Enjoys Cutting by Nancy Brannon Dennis "Zeke" Entz has been riding horses as far back as he can remember. In fact, he can't remember a time when he wasn't riding horses. Now he's third in the World in the Open Division on ONE SMART LAD and has achieved so many honors in the cutting horse world that it is obvious his lifetime of riding has paid off. Last year Entz was in the top ten in the NCHA $10,000 Novice Division on OH CAY SHEZ SNAZY and was Reserve Champion at the World in the $3,000 Novice competition, missing the championship by a mere $127. And currently he's fourth in the nation in the $10,000 Novice Division on CAT'S MAGIC MAGGIE. Entz grew up in Kansas, doing a lot of ranch work for his dad. "Dad always had lots of horses and cattle. He traded cattle and taught me initial horsemanship. Ranch work was our life," but he really did not ride cutting horses specifically. At age 20, he saw his first cutting horse workout and really loved what the horses could do. From that experience he got a riding job and that is how he got started in the cutting horse business. He got his first cutting horse job in Maryland, just outside of Washington, DC, and it has been his life ever since. "I've never thought of doing anything else," he reflects. Growing up, Zeke's summer job was riding ponies. "My dad would buy ponies at the sale and bring them home for me to break and train. Then he would sell them at the end of the summer." The thirty four-year-old trainer recalls the first time he was actually paid to ride a horse: "I was six years old. Marlin Berger, Bobby Berger's dad, paid me to ride a pony." (Bobby was the 1979 World Cham-pion Saddle Bronc Rider at the National Finals Rodeo.) "He had bought a pony for his grandson and wanted me to ride it and train it for his grandson. He paid me to ride it because I was known for riding all the time." "The first time I rode pens at a sale barn I was 13 years old. I think I made about $3.15 an hour and my horse made 75 cents an hour. They would sell thousands of head of cattle. Though I started cutting later in life, I was always on horses around cattle," Zeke said earlier. He started showing horses around age 21, "but was much older than that before I got good at it." Zeke is not the only one in his family to succeed in riding cutting horses. His wife and fellow trainer, Hope, has a lifetime of riding experience and his daughter Katlyn, 12, has won her share of honors at cutting horse shows, too. Entz tells an interesting story about how his daughter's natural horsemanship talents really emerged at a cutting horse show. "She showed two horses that she had never shown before; in fact, she had never ridden them before on cows. But on one horse she marked a 74 and on the other horse she marked a 77. She's an exceptional little rider; very talented." Zeke says his daughter "has a good feel for horses. If I have a colt, the kind that wants to be a pill," she's good at dealing with them. "I had a 2-year-old who wanted to frog around a bit, feeling fresh. She always wanted to ride him to see if she could get along with him. She rides a lot and works hard at it." Katlyn was in the top ten in the Youth Division last year. Hope has an equally interesting story about how she met Zeke. She was riding in Maryland and "broke a horse for a lady who worked with his ex-wife. Her friend, Linda, who was 50 years old at the time, told Zeke I know a person you've got to meet!' Zeke must have wondered what kind of person a 50-year-old lady wanted to introduce to him. But when I turned out to be 30 years her junior, he was pleased!" At that time, Hope was riding equine rescue horses and was a volunteer with the equine rescue facility. Prior to that she had ridden hunters in Virginia, but that job went away. She didn't have a horse at the time, but when Zeke told her, "I've got horses and I need help" it was the beginning of their partnership. In February, 2002 Zeke and Hope moved from Ocala Florida to the Piperton, Tennessee area, where they hooked up with Brad Spence. Piperton is located in the western edge of Fayette County and adjoins Collierville. He trains cutting horses for Spence and for the public and has settled in comfortably to the Tennessee lifestyle. Hope had not been paid to ride and train horses until she moved here; she had always worked in the white collar industry. But now that the two of them, and three of them in the summer and during school breaks, are riding cutting horses together life is a lot more enjoyable. Hope gets to show some of the cutting horses, too. Two years ago Hope was in the top ten in the $2,000 Limited Rider Division for the World. The Spring Spectacular winning horse, CAT'S MAGIC MAGGIE used to be her horse, "but we just sold her." Now she has a new horse, DOC PERS DODGER, who used to belong to Mel Blount, "the horse's claim to fame," she adds. Ironically, Hope is from Pittsburgh, as is Mel. "That horse was just meant for me," she quips. She plans to show him a little this year, but more regularly next year. Hope grew up doing 4-H and "learned to ride horses the 4-H way." Another bit of irony in her life is that 4-H leader and MTSU Equestrian Team coach Anne Brzezecki gave her a riding lesson on her 21st birthday and first taught her how to do roll backs. When it comes to training techniques, Entz modestly says he "didn't reinvent the wheel; I just followed good advice from other trainers. One of the neat things about this business is that good trainers are always glad to help others out and give advice." He has learned many of his training techniques this way and from "stuff I've picked up along the way. Zeke's training techniques spill over to the riders he works with as well. Recently he went to the Youth World Show in Ft. Worth, Texas. "We took Jodie Hatchett with us. She bought a horse from Brad Spence and started cutting in May. She won her division on that horse - the AQHYA Youth World Cutting." The horse, HANNAH'S GOLD LENA, had performed quite well for Brad as well, finishing in the top ten in the country in the $10,000 Amateur Division and in the top 15 in the $50,000 Amateur Division. When training his horses at home, Zeke "tries to mainly work cattle" and uses training devices such as "The Flag," "Cutting' Critter" or a bicycle flag only occasionally, "just to work on mechanics" or when it's too hot to work the cows. "I try to get a horse reading the cow and to control that cow. I want the horse to stop straight on his hind end, bring his nose in first. I like a horse that has enough ability to stop on his hind end, get across the arena, and control the cow. Since it is a cow-oriented sport, you have to give horses a lot of time on cows to teach them to understand them. A really good horse can read what a cow is going to do and act accordingly to control it." Zeke likes a horse to be "well-broke, with a lot of bending and flexing ability." When they catch on to the game of cutting, "some horses really crave it; there's nothing they'd rather do. That's one thing about this sport - horses like to do it. You can see in their expression that they're doing something they want to do." Hope enjoys cutting as well as the horses. "Cutting gives the same adrenaline rush as riding jumping horses, i.e., hunters, when you ride the course and everything is perfect. Cutting gives the same feeling of accomplishment, self-satisfaction, when you get through a good run." Zeke and Hope are preparing now for the fall futurities and the winter circuit in Tunica, December 28-31. "That kicks off the year for everybody." They also look forward to Katlyn's school vacation during the Christmas season, when she can be riding with them. Katlyn has her own horse, but "it's not a cutting horse. She's starting to teach it to jump. And she sure doesn't like roping!" remarks her dad. So Hope's background as a hunter rider may come in handy in helping Katlyn teach her own horse to jump. That's the thing about a horse-riding family - talent in one area of riding usually carries over to other riding disciplines.
Go Back »