Most folks will say you can’t have a rodeo without horses. But Andra Wisian says you can’t have a rodeo without horse cutting.

“Cutting means ‘separating,’ so to cut one cow from the others and try to keep it away from others,” she explained. “It’s kind of like guarding in basketball.”

Andra’s a horse cutting competitor, so of course it’s her favorite event at the rodeo. And it’s also one of the rodeo’s oldest events, dating back to the days of the wild west.

“It became fun for cowboys working outside to work their horses, and you’re trying to pull a cow out from the herd and that’s how it all began,” said Jason Taylor, one of the judges at this year’s rodeo.

His job is to watch the runs, which last two and a half minutes a piece. Over the next few days, he’ll watch hundreds of horses, choosing the top competitors to take home a cash prize.

“The No. 1 thing is how the contestant goes into the herd and cuts that cow,” he said.

And, as Andra points out, the key to victory is being one with your horse.

“These horses have no reason to do this,” she said. “They do it because they are bonded.”

It’s one of the many competitions highlighting the start of the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo.