Emerson owns, breeds cutting horses, competes alongside his father
There aren’t many ranches or stables in the Park Cities, so equestrian sports aren’t usually atop the list of recreational activities.
He grew up in a ranching family. As a child, Emerson spent his weekend on his grandfather’s 2,000-acre working cattle ranch about an hour south of Dallas. By 1987, his father and grandfather became involved with cutting horses, first buying and eventually breeding them.
“It’s just wide-open spaces. I’m running around in boots and Wranglers, riding horses and shooting BB guns,” said Emerson, a venture capitalist and co-founder of the outdoor furniture company CHAMA Chairs. “Coming back to Dallas, as life progressed, things got more serious. It allowed me to stay connected to the outdoors. It’s kept me well-balanced.”
Cutting horse competitions, derived from techniques used on working cattle ranches, require a horse and rider to separate a single cow from a herd of cattle and prevent it from getting back to the herd.
Emerson and his 77-year-old father frequently participate in the same events. Their crowning achievement came this summer at the prestigious Fort Worth Summer Spectacular when both made the finals in separate classes on the same horse. It was a homebred stallion named Motown Cat, which made the honor more special.
Emerson’s family stables about 20 horses with five trainers in Texas and Oklahoma. They’re especially proud of Motown Cat, sired by High Brow Cat — owned by Park Cities resident Darren Blanton — and the Emerson mare Royal Red Rosita.
“While it takes a lot of time, it’s important to me. I want to be able to continue to breed the right horses,” Emerson said. “There’s a little bit of pressure to keep the relationships my dad has made with the top trainers, but I’m excited to continue that and also to hand that down to my daughters.”
Plus, Emerson enjoys spreading the sport’s popularity during his daily coffee runs when neighbors ask him about his unique attire en route to the ranch. Emerson credits increased social-media branding plus the popularity of Western-themed shows like Yellowstone.
“When I tell them I compete, it goes to another level,” he said. “I’m seeing more influence in the sport and people gravitating to it. The notoriety is expanding, which is doing wonders for the sport.”