FROM THE EDITOR
A GREAT AMERICAN WEEKEND WITH CONTESTANTS WHO ARE PROUD TO BE AMERICANS!
By Glory Ann Kurtz
Feb. 25, 2017
I seldom write an opinion piece in a Letter From The Editor; however, last weekend I watched two Western events at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, with an announced close to 40,000 spectators, and heard about two other major horse events held during the same weekend, including the NRCHA’S World’s Greatest Horseman and Celebration of Champions held at the Will Rogers Equestrian Center and the Mercuria cutting held during The Mane Event, a cutting competition held at the South Point Equestrian Center in Las Vegas, Nev. After attending and hearing about these four events, I was moved to write how these events affected me and I’m sure a lot of others, due to the obvious patriotism of the contestants as well as the spectators.
I attended the PBR’s “Iron Man” and watched RFD-TV’s “The American” on television that awarded millions of dollars to contestants in the Western industry at AT&T stadium in Arlington, Texas – home of the Dallas Cowboys.
None of these contestants in any of these events refused to stand and take off their hats during the National Anthem or put their hands over their heart during the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. No one took the microphone and spewed hatred toward others, regardless of their color, country, age or association affiliation. No contestants took a knee. No protestors stood outside carrying signs and chanting hatred.
From the huge American flag that took up one whole end of the arena in AT&T stadium, held by youth and competitors, while the National Anthem was being sung, to the introduction of a veteran who had lost his legs while doing his duty to protect this country, they brought a huge lump in my throat and a tear to my eyes, as I’m sure it did to many others.
Contestants helped each other and cheered them on – regardless of their color, religion or the city, state or country they came from. Millionaire cowboys competed on a level playing field with dead-broke cowboys and teenagers. There were competitors from most of the United States, Brazilians, Blacks, Mexicans, Indians, Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders, with many members of various associations across the world – and some were just individuals who loved rodeo. There were World Champions, past World Champions, college students, newcomers, teenagers and even brothers who were all excited to be in the same arena. Obviously, their most prized possessions were the horses they competed on.
One of the most spectacular exhibits of patriotism was held just prior to the NCHA Mercuria cutting Finals held that same weekend during The Mane Event aged events held at the South Point Equestrian Center in Las Vegas, Nev.
Although I was not able to be there, I heard it was above spectacular, so I called Paula Gaughan and asked her to tell me what went on there. I was truly impressed by her response:
“We emptied the main arena and loping end for an hour after the regular show ended. After we got all our opening props in the arena, we opened the doors and people were let into a dark house with very minimal lighting.
After all were seated, the voice of Tom Holt came out of the dark. He opened with a prayer and asked everyone to direct their attention to the loping area. He began with, “I was born in 1777 and went on to describe the places he had been and the battles he had seen, the children he saw every day in their classrooms and the soldiers he had buried and honored. The arena is still dark and at the end of his monologue, he says, “I am your American Flag!”
At that precise moment, a 50-foot flag that had been concealed in the rafters in a piece of equipment, dropped in all its glory, with glitter coming out of it and was lit up with tons of lights – all on the flag!! There was amazement and pride on all the faces of those in attendance. Then another set of lights lit up a 20-foot tall red, white and blue cowboy boot in the cutting pen. Music played with the voice of Tom Holt describing the role of the cowboy boot in the American tradition of the American cowboy – its history and the history of the American Cowboy, who were American heroes.
Then a military version of the National Anthem played and a girl came out of the back of the boot with a huge American flag on a big black-and-white Paint horse and took a lap in the arena. She and the horse had been concealed in the boot during the entire seating,
Holt then introduced the Mercuria finalists who walked out to a red carpet in front of the boot with spotlights on them. To cap it off, we then introduced Brigadier General David Hicks (nicknamed Trashman) who was the Air Force Commander General in Kabul, Afghanistan. He carried the Crown Royal Whiskey bag with the numbers in it for the draw and shook hands with every contestant as he went to each one and they drew their number. It was all very moving and special!
Now, even though that was all very cool, there was a minor problem in the hydraulics had happened with the girl on the horse. As the National Anthem was playing, they were supposed to slowly rise up out of the boot. You would have first seen the tip of the flag peeking out until the entire flag, girl and horse were atop the boot , where they would revolve through the end of the National Anthem. Even though it didn’t happen that way, no one knew the difference, and it was still spectacular!
The whole opening was possible because of Cotton Rosser of the Flying U Rodeo Company. His son, Reno, and granddaughter Lindsay, who was the girl on the Paint in the boot, have performed this thousands of times and I have had the privilege of seeing it and asked him if he could bring it to us.
But honestly 90 percent of the people there did not have a clue it did not go as it was supposed to. It was meant to be a salute to America – our great country – and honor things we hold dear. I really think we accomplished that. Paula continued, saying that the patriotic show was also to showcase the amazing horses and riders that made the finals of the Mercuria event, especially since there had been eight sets of horses in the go-rounds.
Now, the next problem. How the heck do we top that next year??? It’s back to the drawing board.”
This was the horse world I grew up in; however, when I and my children competed in playdays and rodeos, it was for hundreds of dollars and trophies – not millions of dollars, ruby-studded belt buckles, 100-pound trophies, television cameras, sky cams, monster screens and an audience of thousands of spectators who paid hundreds of dollars to attend and park at the event. But our love of the event and resolve to win in this wonderful country was the same.
For a short time I was back in a world of competitors who had love and respect for their peers, their animals and their country. Although competition and winning was the object, they were all friends and helped each other – and honored our country during the rodeos by the cowboys taking off their hats and cowgirls putting their hand over their hearts while standing and singing the National Anthem and saying the Pledge of Allegiance. God Bless America!!!
Click for Las Vegas video>>
DUAL PEPPY RECEIVING LASER THERAPY ON STEM CELLS
THE STALLION’S NUTRITION IS BEING MANAGED AS WELL AS MEDICAL ISSUES
By Glory Ann Kurtz
Oct. 28, 2016
Dual Peppy at the Blue Rose Ranch in Colorado. Photo was taken in July 2016.
There has been some controversy about the movement of Dual Peppy to the Babcock Ranch in Sanger, Texas. However, after talking with Patricia Woodrick, who lives close to the Babcock Ranch and visits with the stallion daily, I feel Dual Peppy is not only getting help but the latest and best help that a horse can get. Since Woodrick has become involved in the stallion’s recovery, I felt the public needed to know who she is and what she is doing for Dual Peppy – free of charge.. She has headed several studies including the effects of laser therapy on stem cells and is currently working on a study for a new equine therapy device using lixels instead of pixels to increase the delivery of photon magnetic wave therapy.
According to Woodrick, the stallion’s loss of weight and muscle is tragic and his current condition is not indicative of the pictures taken when he left Blue Rose Ranch in July. She said that Jim Babcock reached out to her to provide Dual Peppy every opportunity for recovery that is available.
Woodrick knows about this kind of trauma as she has experienced the same type of trauma in her own health resulting in her own body clinically eating itself, “0” fat content and a huge percentage of muscle loss. She states that because she’s human, she has her own ability to seek help and Dual Peppy now has someone who is taking care of the same critical medial issues that end the lives of people and animals alike.
Woodrick also addresses nutrition, saying “His nutrition has to be managed as much as his medical issues. Adding full body class IV therapy treatment will trigger the natural component of his body to stimulate stem cell production, accelerate tissue and muscle regeneration in addition to providing pain relief.”
Following is the full letter from Patricia Woodrick:
You may remember me from many years ago. Due to some injuries, I no longer show, train or breed pleasure horses.
I have been very involved in equine therapy working first as a salesperson and educator for major therapy manufacturers of equine medical therapy devices, including modalities such as *photon, acoustic wave, sound wave, and magnetic wave therapy. Basically laser, shock wave, ultrasound and magnetic stimulation.
I also have headed several studies that have included the effects of laser therapy on stem cells and I am currently working on a study for a new equine therapy device using lixels instead of pixels to increase the delivery of photon therapy. It’s been really interesting and a growing educational experience.
I have become involved with Dual Peppy’s recovery. I am aware of some of the controversy about his move to the Babcock ranch. I posted on the Blue Rose Ranch Horse Rescue and adoption page about Dual Peppy’s condition and treatment. There are two different posts. I had two thoughts I wanted the public to understand. I wish I would have combined them.
This horse has a very long way to full recovery- if that is possible. His current condition is not indicative of the pictures taken when he left Blue Rose Ranch. They should be commended for his care and I only wish he was in the same health as the pictures represent.
His care after his departure from Blue Rose Ranch and Horse rescue and before he arrived at Jim Babcock’s ranch early this month is what should be questioned by those who are so worried about the care Jim Babcock is providing for this animal!
The regression that has taken place in just his weight and muscle loss is tragic.
Jim Babcock reached out to me to provide this animal EVERY opportunity for recovery available. As I said in my second post on Blue Rose’s Facebook page, I have experienced such trauma in my own health, resulting in my own body clinically eating itself, a “0” fat content, huge percentage of muscle loss and the decrease of my T level to near non existence!
Luckily I am human and have my own ability to seek help. Luckily, Dual Peppy has someone who is taking care of the same critical medical issues that end the lives of people and animals alike!
There are many technical aspects of the treatments Dual Peppy is receiving. The atrophy of his muscles create body pain. It’s a vicious cycle. Doctors tell you “protein, protein, protein.”
For Dual Peppy, too much is as dangerous as not enough. His nutrition has to be managed as much as his medical issues. Adding full body class IV therapy treatment will trigger the natural components of his body to stimulate stem cell production, accelerate tissue and muscle regeneration In addition to providing pain relief.
Everyone should know that this amazing animal survived because he had the will and the heart to live. If he had not been rescued, it would not have been enough.
The intervention of all involved should be commended. Everyone should know that the story has not ended and his fight is not over yet. For those concerned, knowing if this animal will ever breed again is a question that will not and cannot be answered in the near future.
The main concern at the Babcock Ranch is the comfort, care, dignity and recovery of this unique, magnificent animal.
I have been involved in many aspects of the horse industry. I am proud that it has brought me to a place of involvement, which allows me to be a part of his recovery and life.
Thank you for your time and warmest regards.
It’s been a very long time.
Photon therapy: A type of radiation therapy that uses x-rays or gamma rays that come from a special machine called a linear accelerator (linac). The radiation dose is delivered at the surface of the body and goes into the tumor and through the body. Photon beam radiation therapy is different from proton beam therapy.
BLM RESPONDS TO AAC ARTICLE AND PETITION REGARDING KILLING 45,000 HORSES AND BURROS
AMERICAN WILD HORSE PRESERVATION CAMPAIGN SAYS BLM HAS RELEASED STATEMENT THAT THEY ARE REJECTIING ADVISORY BOARD RCOMMENDATION
By Glory Ann Kurtz
Sept. 18, 2016
Wild horses being rounded up by helicopter.
Just hours after my article was published on Sept. 15, the BLM is having second thoughts about the wild horse population on public lands and has said they “won’t kill wild horses.”
Also, the morning after my previous article was published, Rick Dennis, who wrote a lot of the articles published again yesterday, had a phone call from the BLM this morning in response to the article. They are listening.
Following is a response from the BLM published by Reuters.
THE U. S. GOVERNMENT SAYS IT DOES NOT PLAN TO KILL WILD HORSES
The US government said on Wednesday (Sept. 14) it has no plans to euthanize a large share of the more than 45,000 wild horses and burros removed from lands mostly in the U.S. West, after an advisory panel’s proposal to kill some of the animals sparked outrage.
U.S. Bureau of Land Management officials said they struggle to find people to adopt the growing number of wild horses and burros, which costs the agency millions annually to maintain in corrals and pasturelands.
The National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board on Friday recommended the bureau consider euthanizing the animals that cannot be adopted, or selling them to companies that might slaughter them.
But Tom Gorey, spokesman for the bureau, said in an email that the agency will “continue its current policy of carrying for unadopted or unsold wild horses and burros” and will “not sell or send any animals to slaughter.”
The bureau is expected to formally respond to the panel at its meeting within months.
The panel’s recommendation created an uproar among animal rights activists and highlighted the challenges ahead for the U.S. government as it seeks to control the population of wild horses and burros.
Gillian Lyons, wild horse and burro program manager for Humane Society of the United States, said members of the public were quick to criticize the idea of killing the wild animals.
“It’s something the American public just doesn’t know about, you don’t think of wild horses being held in facilities all across the United States,” Lyons said.
She added that the bureau has a responsibility to the animals because it captured them.
Even after decades of round-ups of wild horses and burros, 67,000 of these animals roam the United States, mostly in Nevada and California, according to government estimates.
Without natural predators, they have proliferated far beyond the roughly 27,000 animals the U.S. government says would be a population low enough to prevent overgrazing and preserve land for other animals. The bureau spends nearly $50 million a year in upkeep for captured horses and burros, Gorey said.
The Humane Society alleges the bureau spends so much paying private contractors to hold the animals that it cannot afford to expand its program to administer birth control to the animals on the range, which it contends would be more effective for population control than round-ups.
But the bureau counters fertility control is difficult in part because the birth control drug wears off in less than two years.
(Posted by Reuters, reported by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; editing by Marguerita Choy)
Some of the facts in the above response from the BLM don’t make sense, with of them being that they claim above, “Without natural predators, they have proliferated far beyond the roughly 27,000 animals the U.S. government says would be a population low enough to prevent overgrazing and preserve land for other animals.”
The BLM is the government agency that spent over $80 million a year to kill the predators, 10 times more than what they spent to get rid of wild horses and burros. If they left the predators alone, nature would take its course and keep the horse population sustainable – as well as the cattle population.
An article published by The Daily Pitchfork entitled “Sustainable Cowboys or Welfare Ranchers of the American West,” contains many more interesting statistics, including the fact that 21,000 ranchers who graze their livestock on Western rangelands are estimated to have cost the taxpayers $500 million in 2014 – and every year for the past decade and that a large number of them are millionaires, billionaires and multi-billion-dollar corporations.
The fee that livestock operators paid a month for an AUM (animal unit month) in 2014 was $1.35 – the lowest price that can legally be charged. The market price to graze on private land is $21.60. Fees set by other federal agencies and individual states on public property are also significantly higher. The majority of this money is spent on range rehabilitation, leaving only approximately $7.9 million going into the Treasury.
It also costs the BLM over $80 million a year to kill predators, that’s $380 per rancher and 10 times that much ($3,809) to get rid of wild horses and burros – with most of them going to slaughter. In the end, special interest welfare (money going to ranchers, EPA, USDA, Dept of Justice and US Army Corp of Engineers) is estimated between $500 million and $1 billion a year.
In 2014, BLM and USFS permit holders paid an estimated $18.5 million in fees to graze 1.14 million livestock units on the 229 million acres of federal land used for grazing. But only a fraction (between 1/3 and ¼) of that actually went into the Treasury. In other words, 2/3 to ¾ of the low fees ranchers pay go back into their pockets. Public land ranchers were paid $376 for what cost taxpayers $6,838 last year.
Click here for article>>
WHY IS JIM BRET CAMPBELL OUT AS NCHA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR?
An editorial by Glory Ann Kurtz
Aug. 26, 2016
Jim Bret Campbell
An announcement made on the NCHA’s website on Aug. 25 stated, “effective immediately, Jim Bret Campbell is no longer serving as the Executive Director of the NCHA.” It also stated that NCHA President Chuck Smith would be the interim Executive Director until a new Executive Director is hired. The statement, signed by the NCHA Executive Committee, left many questions unanswered.
Click for NCHA press release>>
Why was Campbell leaving without serving out his five-year contract that had previously been told to me was a 5-year, million-dollar contract that started on June 10, 2013? The 2014 NCHA 990 had Jim Bret Campbell receiving $224,827 plus $8,400 from other organizations.
Click for NCHA 2014 990>>
Rumors have been running rampant, and I will attempt to find some answers in the days to come. There has also been some word that some members of the Finance Committee have also resigned. I tried to contact Jim Bret for a statement; however, his wishes are to not talk to me for a couple of days. I also put in a call for Lach Perks, vice chairman of the Finance Committee but so far, no response.
Click for NCHA announcement of Campbell’s hiring>>
I hate to see Jim Bret leave the NCHA as he was the first NCHA Executive Director that had some transparency. Jim Bret was the first Executive Director who was willing to take my phones calls, return my phone calls and answer my questions. I was even invited to go to the NCHA office to go over their tax returns with Jim Bret and the accountants. Jim Bret even held an open meeting for all members when trainers were complaining about the payout at the major aged events.
The only other Executive Director I could also communicate with was the short-lived Executive Director Alan Steen, who lasted 11 weeks on the job and when he left in August 2012, from a lawsuit he filed against NCHA, he received the amount of money that he had invested or lost during his short-term employment in 2012. Steen replaced long-time Executive Director Jeff Hooper, who wouldn’t take or return my phone calls.
Click for Alan Steen article>>
Perhaps some of this upheaval came from finances, but I would think that fault lands with the Finance Committee or Treasurer. The latest IRS 990s that I could get from most of the Western horse organizations was for the 2013-2014 years, as 2015 would not have been filed yet. The NCHA finances were near the bottom of the list, showing a loss of $1,071.447 in 2013 and $484,711 in 2014, up $586,736. However, their net assets were down $493,168 from $6,243,541 in 2013 to $5,750,373 in 2014.
Click for chart of Western horse non-profits>>
Over the years, the NCHA has received millions of dollars from the State of Texas and City of Fort Worth; however, that money, coming from the state’s Major Events Trust Fund, has moved from the State Comptroller’s office to the Governor’s office and according to news reports is being carefully looked over.
Click for article on Texas METF>>
I will try to keep informed if I can find someone who will talk to me.
FROM THE EDITOR
ARE AQHA AND NCHA REALLY TRYING TO CHANGE?
AQHA SUPPORTS ANIMAL WELFARE; NCHA TALKS TRANSPARENCY
By Glory Ann Kurtz
May 17, 2016
With alarming drops in membership numbers and as a result finances, could it be possible that horse organizations are changing their course by trying to get members back who have left, woo new members and increase their dwindling youth participation and they are trying to figure out how to do it?
Two major associations in particular have made major changes to their rules, regulations and have published efforts to change or have renewed focus on their members and what they want. The major one is the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) who just held their convention in Las Vegas, Nev., and announced many changes. The other is the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA), whose Convention is on tap for June 24-26 in Grapevine, Texas.
The AQHA recently published a release from their new Executive Vice President Craig Huffhines, sharing some of their highlights from the AQHA Executive Committee meeting held April 26-28. Huffhines said, “Ensuring the humane treatment of the American Quarter Horse remains a priority for this Executive Committee, and much discussion occurred this week on continuing to improve upon monitoring at competition and the enforcement of an effective violation system. Another item included supporting and the advancement of their ranch programs and youth development.”
They recently published their financial statements that showed a lot of downs, including net assets that decreased from $102,425,786 in 2014 to $96,632,667 in 2015.
An article by Katie Tims in the May 1, 2015 Quarter Horse News stated that the latest financial statement shows a $5.3 million decrease in the value of the AQHA’s investments. In an interview with Trent Taylor, AQHA Treasurer and Chief Operating Officer, he said about $2 million of that is explained by a dip in the stock market that coincided with the close of the AQHA’s fiscal year.” He continued that in the past decade we have relied heavily on our investments and our earnings from those investments to help offset some of our operational expenses. We have been using those funds to help keep operations going without having to have additional increases in fees or cutting out programs. It is standard practice for a nonprofit to have one year’s operating budget in reserve, so it’s important that we wean ourselves off of using investment money to cover operations. We need to build those reserves back to stay strong and healthy for the future.”
Taylor continued that the AQHA had spent a great deal of their reserves on the computer database system. “But this investment is absolutely required to move AQHA forward. Right now, we’re using technology that was put into place in 1992. We’re talking about millions and millions of records and they’re all related and they’re all tied back together.”
One big surprise in the financials was the fact that the AQHA has a $600,000 loan with the Amarillo National Bank, with monthly payments of $10,798, interest at 3%, maturing May 1, 2018, secured by Negative Pledge Agreement. Balance $331,281. Also, there is a $1,375,000 loan with Amarillo National Bank, monthly payment of $24,683, interest at 2.85%, maturing May 1, 2019; Unsecured. Balance $1,029,317.
Click for 2014-2015 Consolidated Financial Statements>>
Membership is also down considerably; however, Taylor said they had only a 1 percent decrease in membership this year, which is good news because it’s the smallest decrease we’ve had since 2007. The past three years have been almost level. To me, that’s a positive sign. It’s sure better than having a double-digit decrease.” Also youth membership is down 26% from since 2006. In a Town Hall meeting, AQHA Chief Marketing Officer Lauren Walsh said the youth membership, or lack thereof, is the 800-pound gorilla in Amarillo.
Click for AQHA membership chart>>
AQHA’s attention turns to animal welfare:
However, prior to the AQHA Convention, the AQHA issued a press release on the results of the AQHA Animal Welfare Grievance Committee’s list of violations, which would be forwarded to the Executive Committee. The Committee was established four years ago. It stated that AQHA’s utmost concern is for the health and well-being of the American Quarter Horse. Part of their mission statement says that the “American Quarter Horse shall be treated humanely, with dignity,, respect and compassion at all times.”
According to AQHA Executive Vice President Craig Huffhines, “AQHA’s goal is to educate both members and non-members on the issue of animal welfare. It is our responsibility to ensure the health and safety of our horse – the American Quarter Horse.”
Click for Animal Welfare violations>>
On May 13, 2016, two press releases from the AQHA went out. “Animal Welfare: A Continuing Effort” reported on the AQHA Executive Committee continuing to make strides for The benefit of the American Quarter Horse at their April meeting in Amarillo. The press release said that “Actions that will take place in 2016 based on the Executive Committee decisions include: 1) AQHA will develop a resource document outlining the steps members can take when they call AQHA with an animal-abuse complaint. 2) AQHA will work collaboratively with the American Association of Equine Practitioners, United States Equestrian Federation and the American Horse Council to develop biosecurity isolation protocol guidelines to include vaccination guidelines that could be implemented at AQHA-approved shows. 3) AQHA will amend its current rule that prohibits the use of dye or other substances to alter or hide natural markings to also include the prohibition of dye to hide abuse and 4) AQHA will prohibit the use of belly bands at AQHA events starting June 1, 2016.
Also, AQHA will continue to periodically publish news release on its website with the names of people and unsportsmanlike conduct, as well as recommendations approved by the Executive Committee. An article in Horse Talk, calls this the ‘Name And Shame’ policy.
Click for animal welfare release>>
The other release listed added show rules, including SHW 300.2 – AQHA judges have the authority to require the removal or alteration of any piece of equipment or accouterment which is unsafe, or in his opinion would tend to give a horse an unfair advantage or which he believes to be inhumane. AQHA judges will now have the authority to also disqualify exhibitors for any piece of accouterment or attire that would give an exhibitor an unfair advantage. The amended or new rules will be effective June 1.
Click for AQHa Show Rules Press Release>>
These releases from the AQHA are a step in the right direction; however, the question now is will the AQHA enforce these rules or will they will adhered to by the judges like the movement of the pleasure horse – and be ignored.
An example of this is even though the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is getting involved and plans to take their big step to strengthen the Horse Protection Act, since current regulations are failing to protect horses from a core group of trainers and owners who ignore them. A press release dated April 4, 2016 from the USDA, states that a segment of the Tennessee walking horse industry is showing no willingness to root out the abuse festering in its ranks – soring. The USDA recently revealed that a startling 87.5 percent of horses the agency randomly selected for testing at the 2015 Celebration, the industry’s premier event, were found positive for illegal foreign substances used to sore horses or temporarily numb them to mask their pain during inspection. Also 100 percent of the sampled horses’ leg wrappings tested positive for chemicals banned from use in the show ring by the USDA.
Click for USDA article>>
THE NCHA AND TRANSPARENCY:
With the membership and financials of the NCHA going in the same direction as the AQHA’s, they have turned to their members and promised “transparency.” This all started when members and contestants evidently didn’t realize that the association was in a dire financial position as it had not received expected state money from the Major Event Trust Fund (METF) of the state of Texas – and that they may never receive it. (as a side note, I notice the NCHA is still requesting donations on their Triple Crown entry blanks, for the NCHA PAC, which gives donations to congressional members who might have a say on who receives the METF money).
When it came time for the Futurity, members didn’t realize until they received they win checks that the event was simply a “jackpot,” and there had been no money added to the NCHA Futurity purse, the largest event that the NCHA holds annually and is the first of the Triple Crown events.
Contestants, trainers and members were appalled and social media went crazy. However, Jim Bret Campbell, the new NCHA Executive Director jumped into action and decided that it was time for transparency – something that the Executive Committee had evidently never previously thought was needed.
A Town Hall meeting was immediately held in Fort Worth and since then, three other Town Hall meetings were scheduled at the NCHA Eastern National Championships in Jackson, Miss., the NCHA Super Stakes and the NCHA Western National Championships in Denver. During these meetings, Campbell informed the membership of another problem: they were close to losing all of their records due to their out-dated information technology (IT), and they desperately needed an upgrade, which they are currently in the middle of – and it’s not cheap!
According to an article in the May 15, 2016 Quarter Horse News, Editor Stacy Pigott, interviewed Campbell who said that membership is trending downward and the number of affiliates are shrinking. (Less than 10 years ago, there were 138 affiliates. In 2015 there were 103.) The number of horses that won money and the entries at regional affiliate championship shows are also dropping. He also said that while entries at the NCHA’s Triple Crown shows are up, it is a result of the same people entering more classes, rather than a greater number of people showing. There is also a decline in the entries at the Eastern and Western National Championship shows.
Click for QHN article on NCHA Convention>>
What Campbell didn’t mention is that other cutting associations are springing up and having successful shows, some with a different menu of classes based toward newcomers and those who have not won a lot of money. One association counts aged-event money won by horses as earnings; therefore, those horses that won money at the NCHA Triple Crown and other aged events, can’t enter their Novice Horse classes – making them true Novice Horse classes.
Also, a lot of members have drifted off to less-expensive horse events such as the fast-growing ranch horse competitions. Also, like the AQHA, the NCHA’s youth membership is also shrinking. If the parents leave the AQHA or NCHA, so do their children.
I commend the NCHA and Campbell for holding the Town Hall meetings; however, I think that they should inform ALL of their members about what went on in those meetings and how their Executive Committee has responded – and what changes are being planned. Possibly some of this will be addressed at the NCHA Convention scheduled for June 24-26 at the Hilton DFW Lakes in Grapevine, Texas.
FROM THE EDITOR:
COULD THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TAKE OVER DRUG POLICIES FOR ALL HORSE EVENTS?
By Glory Ann Kurtz
May 5, 2016
The thought of the federal government being in charge of the drug policies in the horse industry is pretty scary. However, that may happen sooner than we think.
During a Congressional Hearing on Thursday, April 16, it was reported by the Baltimore Sun that former Maryland Jockey Club chief executive Joseph A. De Francis told members that “the public’s dwindling confidence in American horse racing’s medication policies has reached a critical state, bordering on an industry crisis.” He said the industry has failed “to address on a national level,” the issue of abuse and misuse of racehorse medications.
Click for Baltiimore Sun article>>
This speech came only days after Jess C. Meche, a 21-year-old exercise rider at Delta Downs Racetrack in Vinton, La., died in a training accident on April 11. Meche, Church Point, La., was killed when a Quarter Horse, Czech Revolution, fractured both front legs, throwing the rider to the ground, landing on the jockey’s head and upper body. Sound like a terrible accident? And what did the death of a Quarter Horse exercise rider have to do to with a Congressional hearing on drugs in the Thoroughbred racing business?
Plenty. According to the Paulick Report, a top racing website, “Czech Revolution was trained by M. Heath Taylor, who in September 2012 was suspended five years and fined $10,000 by the Louisiana State Racing Commission for a Dermorphin positive at Delta Downs last May 25. Dermorphin, also known as frog juice because it originally came from a secretion from South American free frogs, is a powerful pain killer classified as a Class 1 drug by the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI). Class 1 drugs are considered performance-enhancing substances and the most dangerous by the RCI and serve no therapeutic use in horses.”
Pain killers obviously make horses run faster, even with legs and knees that aren’t sound, causing joints to give away when they are running either maiming or killing the horse and/or the rider.
ARE TOP TRAINERS GETTING OUT?
Another article in the Paulick Report reported that trainer Dale Romans, who has won major races around the globe, from the Group 1 Dubai World Cup with Roses in May, the G1 Preakness Stakes with Shackleford, to numerous Breeders’ Cup races, has become disenchanted with the state of racing in the U.S. (due to the use of drugs) and appears to be eager to make a major change as he nears his 50th birthday. He indicated that he would love to join the training ranks in Hong Kong, should a license become available.
Romans said he was “sick of what’s happened to the sport in the U. S. I’m done with it. I’m a horseman and I think races should be won by the better horseman, not something else. I was very impressed with what I saw in Hong Kong when I was there and I know that, because the vet side of racing is so tightly controlled there. It’s the superior horseman who will succeed. They’ve never had an American trainer but if they want me, I’d love to train there.”
Click for Romans article>>
HOW ARE QUARTER HORSE TRAINERS GETTING OUT OF SUSPENSIONS?
Taylor, a leading trainer in the Quarter Horse business, obtained a stay of his Louisiana suspension, as did Alvin Smith Jr. (suspended 10 years); John Darrel Soileau (10 years); Alonzo Loya (five years); Kyi Lormand (3 years); Anthony Agilar (six years) and Gonzalo Gonzales (3 years. Only Keith Charles, among the eight trainers suspended in Louisiana for having a horse in their care test positive for Dermorphin, accepted the penalty without filing an appeal.
How are they getting away with this? According to the Paulick Report article, Quarter Horse racetracks in Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and California have used their private property rights to exclude trainers with recent Class 1 violations, including the Louisiana trainers with Dermorphin suspensions. The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) also announced sanctions against the trainers with Class 1 violations, suspending their AQHA memberships and disqualifying their horses from Racing Championships or year-end honors. (See below as the AQHA recently suspended this program.)
Click for Paulick Report on exercise rider’s death>>>
However, Louisiana racetracks have not followed suit. Boyd Gaming, a publicly traded company, who owns 22 casino entertainment properties in Nevada, New Jersey, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, owns Delta Downs and another Louisiana track, Evangeline Downs. Horses that suffer fatalities in Louisiana do not undergo post-mortem examination or toxicology tests!
In the meantime, Quarter Horse training accidents are killing horses jockeys and exercise riders at an alarming rate across the country. In his speech during Congressional hearing, De Francis said, “The erosion of public confidence has reached a critical state and I truly believe that we are just one catastrophic breakdown in a Triple Crown race away from destroying public confidence to the point where it would be decades before the sport could recover – if it ever would.” He continued, saying , “There’s no doubt that the horse racing industry is currently in a state of crisis.”
The hearing at the U.S. Capitol examined legislation requiring that a uniform anti-doping program be developed and enforced by an independent authority. Advocates of the bill say the sport, which is overseen by several dozen state commissions with varying rules, needs more uniformity to curb equine medication abuses. Opponents argue that such an approach would usurp states’ rights ad create an unneeded new layer of bureaucracy.
WHY THE SUDDEN CHANGE IN THE AQHA’S STANCE?
In addition, on March 7, 2016, the AQHA announced their new Multiple Medication Violation System (MMVS) was being suspended to more thoroughly evaluate the MMVS program. According to AQHA President Dr. Glenn Blodgett, “AQHA continually evaluates the cost and benefit of the program to ensure that AQHA resources are devoted in the most effective way for achieving the goals of the program.
“The creation by AQHA of a comprehensive database of drug violations across all racing jurisdictions has required tremendous resources and one that going forward would require AQHA to triple the number of staff assigned to the program These additional staff members would be needed to properly document violations, enter such violations in the database, and to provide notices of violations to both the racing jurisdictions and the violators themselves.
“The AQHA Executive Committee has determined that the time is right to conduct a thorough evaluation of the MMVS prior to allocating additional resources to the program,” said Dr. Blodgett. “In order to conduct the necessary evaluation, it makes sense to temporarily suspend the MMVS program so that the current resources and staff assigned to processing MMVS files can instead turn their attention and efforts to the evaluation process.”
Click for full MMVS article published by AQHA>>
My question is, “Is this costly endeavor being discontinued because the AQHA feels that the federal government will soon be controlling it and they can save their money, do they feel that state laws could override their penalties or is the fact they are involved in Quarter Horse Racing and each year a member of their Executive Committee is deeply involved?
HOW DOES THIS AFFECT THE PERFORMANCE HORSE INDUSTRY?
Frank Merrill wrote an interesting article in the April 15 issue of Quarter Horse News regarding the federal take-over of the drug problem in horses, saying , “A federal mandate governing equine medication and punishment for violations could very well be the answer to our welfare concerns. But it’s imperative that the feds are presented with our own set of rules and guidelines (by horsemen, for horsemen). If left to their own discretion, the feds will structure policies that none of us can live with and, as a result, our industry will suffer greatly.” I think he has hit the nail on the head!
Click for Frank Merrill article>>
A RE-RUN FOR RICK DENNIS:
Rick Dennis’s Certificate from the United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, dating as far back as 1973.
Rick Dennis, Wind River Company LLC, is a frequent writer for this website and has written several articles on drugs in horses, including one from Aug. 6, 2014 published on www.allaboutcutting.com, called “The Mechanical Horse – A Horse Under the Influence of Drugs.”
Click for “The Mechanical Horse”>>
Rick’s been there and done that. He has a Certificate from the United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, dating as far back as 1973, and his Drug and Alcohol interdiction Programs have been an industry leader in the private sector since Jan. 28, 1984. His modified drug-interdiction program, i.e. augmented drug law enforcement programs adaptable for private industry use, revolutionized private-sector drug and alcohol-interdiction programs. He is celebrating his 29th year as a Third Party Administrator (TPA) administering DOT employee drug and alcohol testing programs in the private sector.
More importantly, he’s been involved inn Congressional Hearings on drugs! He was the first security professional to provide consultation services to a U.S. Senate Subcommittee, U.S. Navy and Department of Defense referencing private sector drug interdiction programs for adoption and interphase with the U.S. Military; the first security professional to establish an employee drug-testing laboratory in Louisiana: Certified Lab Inc., in 1987 and the first security professional to author, implement and maintain a drug- and alcohol-testing program designed specifically for contractor application for Exxon Company, USA Mobile Bay Construction Project, Mobile Bay, Ala
Click for Rick Dennis experience and achievements>>
I asked Rick if these congressional hearings have any correlation with what he experienced in the problem of drugs within the military and for company employees. Following was his response:
“The recent Federal hearings on drug testing in the equine industry are reminiscent of how the federalism of drug and alcohol testing in the private sector began. Initially, the hearings were billed as, “looking for solutions to the drug and alcohol abuse in the private sector to reduce accident rates and provide a safer working environment for employees.” Opponents to drug and alcohol testing alluded to the fact the federal program would never come to fruition. However, after a series of congressional hearings in 1986 and 1987 the reality of federal drug and alcohol testing of employees became a reality in the private sector in 1988 and continues today.
“During the initial or embryo stages of the federal drug and alcohol mandate hearings, I was summoned to Washington D.C. and testified before a Senate subcommittee and was quizzed about the types of drugs my private company was seizing in the private sector as well as the job environment the employees were working in. In fact, my private sector Company specialized in designing, implementing and maintaining drug and alcohol prevention policies to prevent drug abuse among the workforce. The drug prevention program included employee and supervisor training as well as searches of employees, their personal effects, vehicles and company-provided housing (where applicable).
“The initial federal drug-testing mandate was designed by Mr. Rip Rippert in conjunction with the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA). The federal drug and alcohol testing requirements were included in the federal register under 49, CFR, Part 40 drug and alcohol testing rules and regulations. The program has a broad scope, as it does today and includes: The FAA, oil and gas pipelines, Federal highway, marine industry, nuclear industry, etc. The federal guidelines included laboratory testing and certification standards, sample collection, transport and retainment protocols, records retention, privacy, reporting protocols, drugs tested for and Medical Review Officer standards.
“The federal program also included fines and punishment for certain employees in designated positions. For example, ‘boat captains with U.S. Coast Guard licenses failing a drug or alcohol test are suspended after a confirmed positive, ordered to a disciplinary hearing before a Coast Guard tribunal and usually lose their licenses and their jobs. Subsequent to same, the employee is required to attend mandatory drug and alcohol rehabilitation at his or her personal non-refundable expense. After successfully completing mandatory rehabilitation, the employee is allowed to reapply for his or her license. However, there’s no guarantee the license will be reinstated. It’s essentially, a very expensive proposition for the violator.
“I see the same type of atmosphere brewing today in the horse industry. Overall, if the horse industry doesn’t want to experience the same federal takeover of their industry under a federally mandated drug-testing program, my advice would be to take care of their industry themselves. In essence, along with federal mandates comes a rapid vast expansion of government control and regulations as well as broad fines and penalties for the violator and non-compliant company or individual … or in the case of the horse industry, the non-compliant association and/or members.”
WHY SHOULD WE WORRY?
What does this possible federal intervention mean? If you are a horse owner and do something with your horse, other than feed it and look at it, you will be affected financially … even if you have no intention of using drugs. Whether you are a cutter or a reiner, or involved with the reined cow horse, mounted shooting, barrel racing, Western or English pleasure, halter, racing or even just trail riding, you will be affected. Your association, whether it be large or only 25-30 members will be affected. Your veterinarian will be affected. The sale companies will be affected. And the money will come from you.
The federal government has already gotten involved in horse abuse cases – and they will include horse-abuse cases with across-the-board penalties that will be very costly, not only to events, associations and horse farms but to individuals. It will no longer be a state’s decision, as it is today with the horse abuse laws. (Today, animal abuse is a felony, only if the state allows it to be.)
Instead of trying to figure out a way to get out of the penalties of using drugs, or ways to keep them from being detected, those in the industry – both individuals and associations or events – need to try to figure out a way to unite and keep drugs out of their horses and events. I just hope it’s not too late.