‘Yellowstone’ TV: Meet the Real Cowboys & Horse Trainers Featured in the Show

by Kayla Zadel

The smash-hit TV series “Yellowstone” is full of layers. Making up these complexities are inner and outer feuds within the Dutton family, but also an effort made by the show’s creator, Taylor Sheridan, to pay tribute to the western way of life.

One way Sheridan does that is by including real equine athletes, both human and animal alike, in the hit series. This first comes during season 1, but you might remember during season 2 when Jimmy Hurdstrom (Jefferson White) tries his hand at the reining competition that also includes Sheridan who’s playing the role of Travis Wheatly. Then these cowboys and equine athletes make another cameo when John Dutton (Kevin Costner) is looking to buy a working cow horse.

Meet these star-studded horsemen and women who are royalty in the equine world.

Meet the Real-Life Cowboys in ‘Yellowstone’

From the start of this modern western drama that’s set in the valleys of Montana, horses and their riders play a major part in Sheridan’s storytelling.

In the first season, some big-name horsemen, like NRHA $5 million rider and trainer Andrea Fappani and NRHA $3 million rider and trainer Tim McQuay make appearances showing off their riding skills. Fappani is riding the AQHA reining world champion and NRHA Futurity champion Lil Joe Cash. Meanwhile, McQuay is aboard Custom Made Gun, The Run for a Million co-champion, and World Equestrian Games medalist.

What’s more, McQuay’s grandson, Cade McCutcheon, along with his parents NRHA $1 million rider and trainer Tom and NRHA $2 million non-pro rider Mandy McCutcheon, also get their time in the spotlight in the second season. The McCutcheon family owns a full-on reining operation in Aubrey, Texas. So it would only make sense that Sheridan recruited the McCutcheon’s for “Yellowstone” season 2, episode 5 “The Last Cowboy.”

NRHA Professional Trainer Matt Mills / Photo Credit: Yellowstone Gallery, Paramount Network Press Center, Viacom

NRHA professional trainer Matt Mills shows off his talent during the sliding competition, too. Mills also appeared in Sheridan’s reality show “The Last Cowboy.”

As a matter of fact, Sheridan’s personal horse trainer, Tom Foran, also makes an appearance in the hit TV show. He’s in three episodes and acts as one of the ranch hands. Furthermore, Walla Walla Starbuck is Foran’s mount in season 1, episode 5. This 2012 red dun stallion with more than $50,000 in NRHA earnings is owned by Sheridan.

Taylor also includes another one of his horses, Dun It Chexinic, a 2007 bay gelding with more than $32,000 earned in reining.

Working Cow Horse Riders and Horses

As season 3 comes to a close, John Dutton takes a little time away from the ranch to watch the working cow horse competition. He tells his grandson Tate (Brecken Merrill) that he’s looking to potentially purchase a show horse to represent the ranch.

Once again, the competition list is star-studded with well-known horse trainers. Kelby Phillips, Todd Bergen, Bob Avila, Corey Cushing, and Tracer Gilson all bring their talents to “Yellowstone” in season 3.

They show off some serious horsepower during the working cow horse competition. The legendary stallion Metallic Cat is one of the highly-anticipated cameos of the third season. Alongside one of the most successful sires is Smartly Starstruck and Nineteen Ten. These are two very successful show horses, as well.