Faith Farris

Faith Farris
While on break from a busy world champion season on the road, Faith Farris of Midway, Texas took time to talk about her life as a world champion cutter, her best buddy Phil, and a life that is centered around all things equine – and guitars.

With her dad Mitch Farris being a cutting horse trainer and her older brother Kyle preceding her in the cutting ring, it was only destiny that she would also follow the family tradition. Little did they know it would lead her to not only one, but multiple world championship titles – in several different organizations.

“I’ve always enjoyed cutting and went to pretty much every single show my dad went to when he was hauling, but I guess the Lord hadn’t blessed me with the passion for it just yet. I enjoyed it and wanted to ride, but I just didn’t want to show yet,” said Farris. “Then it was kind of an overnight deal; I all of the sudden was just, ‘Okay Dad, I want to go at it.’ It was like a lightbulb went off.”

As they say, the rest is history.

A history-making year this has been for Farris and her four-legged partner Phil, as they have won multiple world champion cutting titles, in several different organizations, during 2021. Her dad Mitch Farris simply described it as surreal.

In the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA), she was the Senior Youth World Champion.

For the Texas High School Rodeo Association (THSRA), she was crowned the girls cutting state champion in June. Before the winning the THSRA world champion title, she won at the regional level, taking top honors for THSRA Region 6. Faith didn’t stop there. She went on to also win the National High School Rodeo Association world championship title in July.

In August, her success in the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) was two-fold as she took the youth world championship and the youth high point award.

Even though her accolades are many, this 17-year-old remains humble and grounded deep in her faith.

You seem to have done really well with your sorrel horse Big Shoes to Phil. Tell us more about him.

He came from Bar RR Ranches. They bought him as a yearling from Waco Bend Ranch. He is a full sibling to NCHA’s highest money earning horse Don’t Look Twice.

I don’t know what it is about that horse, but he is everything to me; he is my “prized possession.” I felt like we clicked even before I got on him for the first time.  

In 2018, Dad showed me a video of him when we were at the NCHA Cutting Horse Futurity, and when we get home, there’s a new horse in the barn. My dad says it’s his new show horse, aka Phil. After watching him work on the flag the second day he was here, I knew I had to find a way to get him from my dad.

The next time my dad ends up working him on our mechanical cow, and he said it looked like my mouth was watering after watching him work. I was like ‘Oh, I really want this horse.’ So then on Valentine’s Day 2019, Dad gave him to me, and I was named his sole guardian. All my winnings from 2019 on have been on Phil.

I just love my horse Phil so much. I feel like the Lord put him in my life for a reason, and I want him to know he’s appreciated. Yes, it had to be in the Lord’s plan for the world championship to happen, and I played a part too, but I really do give a ton of the credit to my horse for how hard he worked.  He is my partner and the best teammate I could ask for.

My friends even make fun of me, because he’s all I talk about. I hope I can squeeze another 10 years or so out of him.

How would you describe Phil’s personality?

Oh my, it’s something. He can be either the sweetest horse you’ve ever met or totally grumpy. There is no in-between, and you never know when it’s going to change. My dad calls him The Grinch.

He’s got a really big personality. When we win a trophy, he literally licks it, looks around, and poses for the camera.

“Yes, he really does,” said Faith’s mom Tracy Farris.

How long have you been competing in the cutting arena?

I’ve been cutting my whole life, because my dad’s a trainer, and I have been riding at home since I was about three-years-old and started showing when I was six or seven. I didn’t start taking it seriously until I was eleven.

In 2016, I made the top 15 in the NCHA for the first time. Then in 2017, I was crowned the NCHA reserve world champion for the junior youth and AQHA world champion for the all age show. Then I was riding Quite the Fat Cat.  In 2018, I won both the NCHA junior world championship and AQHA all youth world championship on my grandpa Jimmy Farris’ mare Smooth Serena Ray. Thankfully, he let me borrow her. I was third in the NCHA world finals in the senior youth for 2019. That was my first year being in the senior division. In AQHA, I was reserve world champion all youth. In 2020, I didn’t have any luck in the AQHA, but was reserve world champion in the NCHA senior youth.

Faith has also done well in high school rodeo. She was crowned as the girls cutting champion in 2020 for Region 6 and reserve champion in 2019.

After being around the cutting show ring your entire life and watching your family for years, what was it like when you were the one in the ring?

I knew what I needed to do; I was aware of it. It was just weird being the one in Dad’s place, because that’s when he decided he wouldn’t show as much and left it to me. Once I got hold of that feeling (cutting), I really wanted to continue. I loved the feeling you get from cutting, so cool.

Is there a way you could describe that feeling?

I don’t know (Faith says with a giggle and Texas size grin). It’s pretty indescribable. I think I like it because there’s so many variables that go into it. It’s not going to be the same every single time, and that makes you want to better yourself. It’s also pretty fun!

Besides your admiration for Phil and other horses, what is it you enjoy about cutting?

It has shown me what is possible if you really love something and work at it. Cutting and horses have taught me to accept results, be joyous in times of trial, and to lean on the Lord.

Cutting is a very humbling sport, because it’s not the same every single time, and there’s no being perfectly consistent. There’s always something that is going to happen in-between somehow.

What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome in cutting?

Probably my biggest thing has been my mindset, because I’m very sensitive. I can get to be very negative, and I have to change my mindset and tell myself ‘quit thinking that, quit thinking that, or you’re not gonna get it done.’

I’ve finally learned that I just have to stay positive and stay with it. No one wants to be miserable.

When you seriously started this journey at age 11, did you expect to have such great success in cutting?

No ma’am. Honestly, that first year we went every single weekend, and I ended up eighth. There were many rough patches that year, but it was one of those things where I hadn’t felt what it was like to win anything big just yet, so I was just having fun really.

It sounds like the cutting competitions are a family affair?

Yes. I feel like they (my family) are my best friends – more so them than any other actual people. My 14-year old cousin Riley, who ended up NCHA junior youth reserve champion this past year, and my cousin Reygan shows with us. My uncle, Mike Farris, also competes. My Pops (grandpa) also hauled with us when he was more able to do so.

Has having your cousin Riley go on this journey with you helped you in the arena?

Yes ma’am, I think so. At first, we didn’t know if Riley was going to do it at all. We are very different. I am more reserved; horses are just my thing, and I’m not amazing at being social. Riley is extremely social and super-duper smart. Then one day she was like, ‘Yeah, I wanna do this with Faith.’ I was like, ‘Thank goodness.’ I love it because we are happy for one another and cheer each other on. We want one another to do better.

What’s the longest you’ve been on the road?

At one point, we lived in the trailer for 24 days. I didn’t complain at all. I honestly don’t like staying home at all, I don’t get homesick. I get road sick from not being on the road.

What is it you like about being on the road?

I take the best naps and sleep better in the truck than I do in my own bed. I think it’s part of it being ingrained in my brain from hauling with my dad since I was little.

Cutting is what I’m passionate about, so I like to go after it.

Are there any road trips that stand out in your mind in particular?

Yes, we went to a cutting at the Eastern Nationals in Jackson, Mississippi one year, and we (all family members) were all together in one rig. It was a six-hour drive, and we had a blast joking around, laughing, and just being silly. Let’s just say the Farris brothers can be a lot of fun to be around. I also got reserve champion at that show in the finals.

What are some of the great lessons learned from the cutting arena and horses that you can carry over into daily life?

It has definitely shown me what I’m passionate about and, if you really love something, to work at it, so I would definitely say a good work ethic. Also, I’ve actually grown closer to the Lord in my time with showing, because it’s not always going to go your way. You have to learn to accept that, and I’ve actually grown closer to him in the down times. I always grounded myself when I went back to the Lord instead of just getting mad.

What advice would you give someone who wanted to seriously compete in cutting? 

I would say it’s mostly mindset. Yes, you have to work at it, but it’s not for the weak-minded. If it doesn’t go well, you just have to keep working towards it. It’s probably 70 percent mindset, not letting yourself get negative, and stay with it. Eventually the hard work will pay off.

So, when not cutting or in the practice pen what do you like to do for fun? I hear you’re multi-talented.

I like to play the guitar, sing and draw sketches of horses. The first song I learned was “Butterflies” by Kasey Musgroves. I am also a huge fan of Lauren Daigle. I play guitar when I’m on the road and like to play the soft, quiet songs. I also have an electric guitar that I’m learning to play.

I started modeling for South Texas Tack in July 2020. It’s a lot of fun. I’ve never done anything like it before, but I like it.

Now that you’re a senior, do you know what you want to do in the future? Does it involve horses?

I have this year and 2022 left to compete in the NCHA senior youth, so I would like to make the top 15 for my last years, and I love the experience of World Finals.

I have a four-year-old, Roses N’ Clover, I would love to start showing in some limited age cutting events. This is my last year of high school rodeo, and I will show in that again. I’ll use Phil some, but also try a new 16-year-old mare we have named Holly’s Pepto Lena.

Once I graduate, I would like to maybe go to cosmetology school first, and I want to go to college and get a business degree. Hopefully, I can still show in college. Once I’m out of the youth, I would love to start showing in the nonpro division and even try reining cow horse events.

Whatever I end up doing for a job will be something I enjoy, to pay for what I love most – cutting. Sadly, cutting doesn’t pay the bills.

Faith wanted to end the interview by making sure she could thank those who have helped her be successful along the way.

I would like to thank the Lord, first and foremost, for blessing me with the horses and opportunities, along with my parents for hauling and supporting me this whole time. Also, the rest of my family, my turnback help in the arena, and my friends for helping keep me positive.

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