Bill CollinsNCHA Hall of Fame Member Bill Collins of Sherwood Park, Alberta passed away peacefully December 31, 2013 with his family at his side, at the age of 89 years.

Collins was born into a ranching family in Alberta, becoming a livestock dealer in the 1940s. In 1945, he started a successful rodeo career, winning four Canadian Calf Roping championships. In 1955, some ranchers asked him to help out with a cutting demonstration they were putting on.

“It started right there and then,” Collins recalled in 2001. “And I’ve been at it ever since.”

An all-around horseman, Collins offered English as well as Western training and by 1958, he had 70 head in his barn, half of each type.

“I used to ride jumping horses to help the kids and school them,” he said. “I was too busy to operate a place successfully, but it had to be done. I tried to hire people, but in the English field, you can find somebody who can teach well, but they couldn’t ride a horse very well. Then you’d find some who were good horse trainers, but they could not teach.”

Collins cut his teeth with another cutting/jumping enthusiast – and Hall of Famer – Don Dodge, and also spent time with Buster Welch, Shorty Freeman, Pat Patterson and Matlock Rose.

“With all of those people behind you, you can’t help but do well as far as being able to help people become successful riding and showing. They helped me get good horses for these people to ride. It takes the horse to make the person.”

By the 1960s, he was helping cutters across Canada, and in Australia, Germany and Great Britain. In 1962, he gave cutting instructions to England’s Prince Phillip which eventually led to the Royal Cutting Horse Tour in Great Britain in 1964.

He won the Canadian Cutting Horse Futurity twice and was inducted into the Canadian CHA Hall of Fame in 1987 and the NCHA Members Hall of Fame in 1995. He was also the first Canadian to be inducted into the American Quarter Horse Association’s Hall of Fame.

When Bill and Pearl Collins moved to Calgary in 1974, he vowed to have cutting included at the Calgary Stampede.

“She did the paperwork and the announcing, and I got the judges and the cattle and a place to do it,” he remembered. “After a couple years, the exhibition board got behind it and since then it’s just come on steady.”

Collins’ enthusiasm for the sport has helped cutting spread around the world.

“There’s a lot of people, men and women both, who have an interest and a little bit of cowboy to them,” he said. “Whenever you can spark that interest and help them along, it means a lot. When they’re getting started and they have a little success, then they’re on their way.”

Bill Collins is survived by his wife of 39 years, Pearl Collins; his children, Russell and Billie-Lynn of Vancouver; Philip (Shannon) of Calgary and their children, Liam, Declan, and Baillie; his sister, Martha Christie of Invermere and her children, Paula-Marie, Nat, Phillip, and Carla-Jo; his stepson, Gary Coleman of Sherwood Park and his children, Benjamin and Jessica; as well as numerous nieces and nephews.

Arrangements for a Celebration of Life will be announced at a later date. Donations in memory of Bill Collins may be made to a charity of one’s choice or to the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede Bill Collins Youth Scholarship Fund.

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