According to Wikipedia, “six degrees of separation” is the hypothesis that anyone on Earth can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances with no more than five intermediaries.

Sometimes, it takes less than five. And when horses enter into the equation, the whole world can become closer.

Take the case of my daughter and son-in-law, Christy and Brad Genung, who own a winery in Cobden, Illinois. They’ve never been involved with cutters or cutting horses. Yet they have ties to three of the 29 entrants from Illinois at this year’s NCHA Summer Spectacular in Fort Worth.

Brad’s father, Jack, worked for Bob’s Parsons Manufacturing Company in Eureka, Illinois for 25 years. Bob Parsons and his son Bret both competed in the non-pro division at the Summer Spectacular and Bret was a Non-Pro Derby semi-finalist on Fletches First CD.

Kristen Cameron, who taught with Christy at Cobden Elementary School, is the mother of senior youth cutter Matt (pictured with his father), who made his first trip to Fort Worth, Texas, to show in the Youth Scholarship Cutting. Kristen and Matt’s father, Elvis, a beginning cutter, also came to Texas, along with Kristen’s parents and sister.

Matt had some tough luck in the go-round, but when he returned home, he received news that he had been awarded a $5,000 NYCHA scholarship. This fall, he’ll be attending Southern Illinois University as a freshman to study animal science.

Matt and Elvis loved the action in Will Rogers Coliseum, but the highlight of their trip was the opportunity to meet legendary trainer Buster Welch, who pointed out that a lot of good horsemen came out of Illinois, including two of Buster’s heroes – Charles Goodnight and Boley Brown.

Can cutting take you to the top of the world? Matt, Elvis, and all members of the NCHA are not so far removed as they might think from Sir Edmund Hillary and his climbing partner, Tenzing Norgay, who were the first men to set foot on the summit of Mt. Everest back on May 29, 1953. Hillary is pictured getting some muscial instruction from Dale Gold, a concert musician who is the brother of NCHA Director of Publishing Alan Gold. So if you read the Chatter, you’re just a few steps away from the ceiling of the world. There’s an interesting interview with Hillary, who lives in Auckland, New Zealand, in a Life publication now on newsstands titled The Greatest Adventures of All Time.