A Swiss oil trader, his cowgirl daughter and the rodeo art of 'cutting'

Thu Jul 3, 2014 9:59am EDT
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By Nia Williams

CALGARY Alberta (Reuters) - Nine years ago, Swiss oil trading billionaire Daniel Jaeggi was looking for a new place where his 14-year-old daughter Constance could learn to ride horses. She loved riding, but was afraid of the "shouty" teacher at the nearby stables.

So dad found a place across the border in France that happened to teach Western riding on American quarter horses - setting in motion the unlikely partnership of a vast commodity trading company based in austere, alpine Switzerland and a niche sport invented by Wild West cattle ranchers.

Constance quit English-style riding, learned to sit a Western saddle and fell in love with a rodeo event known as "cutting", a sport borne out of routine ranch work that involves separating a single cow from its herd.

Mercuria, the upstart trading house that Jaeggi co-founded a decade ago and now rivals global giants such as Glencore, is the lead sponsor of the National Horse Cutting Association World Series of Cutting, and has invested more than $2.5 million over the last six years.

"I got into it as a way of sharing an activity with the children but pretty soon got the bug," Jaeggi told Reuters by email. He is anxious that his own trading fame doesn't overshadow the sport but is unabashed about his passion.

"It is definitely addictive."

Constance now owns a ranch in Texas and is considered one of the best non-professional riders in the sport, which combines a rider's skill and a horse's training.

Jaeggi shies away from talking about his own aptitude for cutting, but Chubby Turner, resident trainer at the family's Texan ranch and a leading competitor in the Open World Championship, said he and Constance have "natural ability".   Continued...