Horses and cattle and Marines, oh my!

Inside Nova Horse cutting classic photo 7.29.11
Photo by Jeff Mankie/News & Messenger. Veteran Sgt. Lee Randles, team coordinator with the Semper Fi Fund, practices his horse cutting in the ring to at at the D & M Cattle Company in Nokesville. Horse cutting is the sport of corralling cattle to separate one from the herd.

By Julia LeDoux | Inside Nova | | July 28, 2011

MONTCLAIR, Va. — Cutting horses and working cattle, just what the doctor ordered for 10 wounded Marines from the Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment at Quantico Marine Corps base.

The Marines spent this week participating in the Semper Fi Fund’s new Jinx McCain Horsemanship Program for Wounded Warriors inaugural Wounded Warrior Cutting Horse Classic at the D & M Cattle Company in Nokesville.

“These guys are good,” said D & M Cattle Company owner Don York. “These men and women Marines, they’re good. They’re very impressive. They weren’t afraid of getting dirty, they weren’t afraid of getting beat up.”

The Jinx McCain Horsemanship Program for Wounded Warriors is a new facet of the Semper Fi Fund’s Team Semper Fi and will provide horsemanship clinics across the nation to wounded service members and their families.

“It’s not a one-time thing here,” pledged Semper Fi Fund founder Karen Guenther, a registered nurse and spouse of an active duty Marine.

Regiment Commander Col. John Mayer attended a couple of sorting events at the farm, said York, who introduced him to McDonough. The men all became very interested in what each of them did, and soon arranged to have a farm day at McDonough’s farm in Culpeper.

“On the farm day, they brought some wounded Marines,” continued York. “We saw them transform back into Marines, they had that spirit already, it was there, but they go it back.”

That farm day was the catalyst to this week’s event at York’s farm.

“My personal belief is that every person here had a good time,” he said.

The Marines practiced controlling their horses before cattle were introduced to the ring.

“It was a pretty nice experience,” said Marine veteran Lee Randles.

The Semper Fi Fund is a non-profit organization that provides financial assistance and quality of life solutions for Marines and Sailors, as well as members of the Army, Air Force and Coast Guard who serve in support of Marine forces, when they become injured in post 9/11 combat or training operations, or they face life threatening illness or injury.

Head trainer Jim McDonough worked with the Marines, teaching them to cut their horses in order to be able to separate cattle from the herd.

“There’s a ton of mechanics that are involved in this and the Marines need to learn how to be able to use those mechanics,” he said.

While at the farm, the Marines also had the opportunity to assist in proofing female cattle for pregnancy.

To learn more about the Semper Fi Fun, visit its web site at

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