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.
From the Editor,
IS TODAY’S QUARTER HORSE BEING ABUSED IN THE SHOW PEN OR WORK-UP ARENA?
By Glory Ann Kurtz
March 8, 2016
Rugged Lark and Lynn Palm
The AQHA convention in Las Vegas, Nev., will be held March 11-14 at the South Point Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. There will be AQHA Awards Presentation, AQHA Hall of Fame inductions and banquets. There will also be a business workshop and industry town hall meeting. If you are planning on attending, I’m sure you have already got all your reservations scheduled.
Over the years, Carol Harris has been a staunch supporter of the AQHA and has written many articles to encourage changes that might produce relief for the horses and bring in new members. Largely, all Carol’s suggestions along with others can be researched in AQHA’s favorite waste paper baskets. Membership has sunk very severely and no changes as yet have been announced.
Because she cares, Carol was the force behind the rule that was passed that banned the use of lip chains on stallions in halter classes. However, the new rule had barely passed when, before it went into effect, the trainers objected. With the number of trainers working within the walls of the AQHA office, the rule was reviewed and an alternative – the lip cord – was made a rule by the Executive Committee and began taking effect on Jan. 1, 2016.
The article approving the lip cord and the description of the rule SHW 355 was published in the February 2016 issue of the Quarter Horse Journal. Within that same article, was a paragraph saying that the Executive Committee will take a “firm stand on animal welfare for the protection of the horse and for the future of the breed.”
Even though Carol has been very vocal about horse abuse, especially targeting the warm-up pens at horse shows, it will be interesting to see if AQHA leadership has made any headway in the last 8-9 years for protecting their horses’ abuse at the shows.
I recently talked to Carol about her desire to inspire protection against AQHA’s horse abuse. She and the 2015 Protect Them Coalition feel that nothing other than a Tornado, Missile Strike or ISIS Attack will stimulate AQHA to make any beneficial changes to ensure their horses a little relief from excessive and abusive training.
Carol has sent me a letter from a past prominent member of the AQHA, Gale Midwood, that she wishes to share with the AQHA leadership and membership.
The following letter explains how she was very active in the AQHA and showed professionally; however, she soon became “horrified she was to see Quarter Horse trainers and riders beginning to pull horse’s heads back behind the vertical and then continually jerked down. She continued that all kinds of extremely cruel and misguided methods were beginning to be used to achieve an unbalanced way of moving and incredibly these began to be the horses who were being pulled in to win blue ribbons!”
Following is the complete letter:
“Thank you Carol Harris, Rugged Lark and the entire 2015 Protect Them Coalition. You have articulated all I have said and thought for 40 years. I started showing AQHA shows with my then husband, Bill Haggis in the late l960’s. We both came from a background involved with horses. I remember a wonderful horse called ‘Illini Duke’ winning Western Pleasure at the first Congress in l967. He had the most wonderful free flowing lope and trot that made us feel like we could ride him forever.
My husband, Bill, and I ran the first AQHA show in Rhode Island. We hired a top judge and pulled in horses from all over the East Coast. I went on to begin writing and eventually became editor of the Eastern Quarter Horse Journal with my husband and Tom Esler, who became one of the top Quarter Horse photographers in the business. We all began to notice many changes in the world of AQHA showing. I eventually went back to full-time teaching equitation and training and showing Quarter Horses professionally.
Times continued to make changes and as a life-time rider with a foundation in dressage, I was horrified to see Quarter Horse trainers and riders beginning to pull horses heads back behind the vertical and then continually jerked down. All kinds of extremely cruel and misguided methods were beginning to be used to achieve an unbalanced way of moving. Incredibly these began to be the horses who were being pulled in to win blue ribbons.
Since I, like others was unwilling to participate, I made a sad decision to leave the world of my beloved breed behind. I was very capable of training a horse to do just about anything but was unwilling to do to horses what had to be done to win at AQHA shows. It broke my heart, so I just left. Little did I know that things would get even worse, which ensured that my departure would be forever! I had a good clientele, and they went with me back into to world of AHSA. We had bred a few nice Quarter Horses but that stopped also!
It all broke my heart because I loved being a part of AQHA and had seen my entire life with Quarter Horses as forever. The big problem was I would not condone being part of the whole travesty of the constant lowering of head carriage and the artificial robot pace the AQHA shows were permitting and rewarding.
I sometimes wonder how many of us left rather than stayed to dance to that horrible tune of inhumane treatment inflicted on the best-natured breed in the world. I’ve worked with many types and breeds of horses and sometimes think the Quarter Horse’s wonderful calm temperament was their undoing. These poor horse’s faces with their sad eyes and dead tails remind me that today’s youth will never get to see them as they once were.
Thank you Carol Harris and all others for continuing to shine a spotlight of care and reason on this issue. Shame on you American Quarter Horse leaders, trainers and judges for falling so low by IGNORING THE OBVIOUS. You have taken a beautiful versatile horse and turned it into an equine freak.
I’ve written countless letters and spoken to judges and Association officials, but all in vain. With Carol and all the others like us, I’d like to have hope but the slow way in which our Association moves makes me continue to cry for our horses right now and also for their future.
One of Original Founders of Rhode Island QHA
Past Editor of Eastern Quarter Horse Journal
Past Member of AQHA”
The AQHA Mission statement includes the statement: “To ensure the American Quarter Horse is treated humanely, with dignity, respect and compassion at all times.” I don’t know how many AQHA members, who believe in that portion of the AQHA Mission Statement and stand behind eliminating the abuse of the Quarter Horse in the show pen and make-up arena, will attend the convention. How can a breeder and lover of the American Quarter Horse not stand behind eliminating horse abuse in the show pen and make-up arena? Or will most of those members simply stay home? Or worse yet, could many of those disappointed members no longer be members?
FROM THE EDITOR
RESPONSE FROM NCHA ED REGARDING TRAINERS’ WIVES AND KIDS SHOWING IN THE AMATEUR
By Glory Ann Kurtz
Sept. 18, 2015
On Sept. 15, I wrote an editorial titled “Trainers’ Wives And Kids In The Amateur?”
An Executive Committee meeting was to be held the next day to respond to the Non-Pro Committee’s recommendation to replace the two existing Non-Pro Exception Rules with a 3yr/$100,000 Exception Rule which would require past trainers to wait 3 years since they last trained and have a combined lifetime earnings of less than $100,000. The committee currently has 21 applications from previous trainers that have indicated their desire to return to the Non-Pro. The committee would also like NCHA and the Executive Committee to incorporate verbiage that would allow the previous trainers’ wife and children to regain their Amateur status.
Following my objection to this rule change and a host of responses from readers disagreeing with changing the rule, today I e-mailed Jim Bret Campbell, Executive Editor of the NCHA, asking what the position of the Executive Committee was in regard to this rule change. His immediate response was as follows:
“The Executive Committee reviewed multiple recommendations regarding the current non-pro exception rules. However, after much debate and consideration of the topic, the Executive Committee asked that the Non-Pro and Amateur Committees continue to study the implications of any rule changes, especially as it applies to any amateur exceptions and bring any recommendations back to the Executive Committee at a later date.
“The Executive Committee is committed to providing a fair and level playing field for all cutters and strives to ensure that every issue is thoroughly vetted and is in the best interest of the sport and the organization, and have asked the committees involved to spend more time reviewing the implications to any changes of the current exception rules.
“We will have an update of the EC’s actions up on the website later today. We will have the minutes of this meeting with all of the recommendations in the November Chatter. We distribute the rest of the minutes electronically to the directors.”
Click for e-mails>>
FROM THE EDITOR
TRAINERS’ WIVES AND KIDS IN THE AMATEUR?
COULD THIS BE NCHA’S ROAD TO DESTRUCTION?
By Glory Ann Kurtz
Sept. 15, 2015
Updated 2:30 PM
In my opinion, decisions by the Executive Committee meeting tomorrow could mean the certain destruction of the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) if they vote for the suggestion on the agenda: to allow trainers’ wives and children to show in the Amateur.
I looked up the 2015 NCHA Convention recommendations, I found the Non-Pro Committee made the following recommendation at the Convention:
“1. Recommend to replace the two existing Non-Pro Exception Rules with a
3yr/$100,000 Exception Rule which would require past trainers to wait 3 years
since they last trained AND have a combined lifetime earnings of less than
$100,000. The committee currently has 21 applications from previous trainers
that have indicated their desire to return to the Non Pro. The committee would
also like NCHA and the Executive Committee to incorporate verbiage that would
allow the previous trainers wife and children to regain their Amateur status.”
I don’t agree that any professional cutting horse trainer should be allowed to show in the Non-Pro, as it compromises the level playing field in the Non-Pro. Prior to the Mercuria shows, if a trainer only rode in the Open in weekend shows, it took a long time to win $100,000. To allow the wives and children from those trainers’ to show in the Amateur would take away a real amateur’s level playing field and the opportunity to win. It also gives that trainer the opportunity to show in the Open and the Non-Pro at major aged events. I think non-pros would be outraged if a previous trainer won the Non-Pro Championship at the NCHA Futurity. (I’m old enough that I remember the outrage of professionals when a non-pro won both divisions at the NCHA Futurity and changes were made to try to alleviate that. They felt that running the Non-Pro first gave that person experience in the arena before the Open was held.)
Like other rules, it’s getting the proverbial “foot in the door” and pretty soon the 21 trainers riding under the 3 yr/$100,000 Exception Rule, would grow, number of years would advance and they would be able to have won $200,000 or $500,000. A litany of trainers would soon be showing in the Non-Pro after finding they can’t make it as a trainer, especially in today’s economy. They made that the big decision when they became trainers, knowing they could never show in the Non-Pro.
I feel this change would be a travesty for this association’s growth and financial health, especially with falling membership numbers. I looked up the latest major aged events produced by the NCHA and found that the Amateur class has grown to be larger than the Non-Pro. In the NCHA Summer Spectacular, the Non-Pro hosted 128 entries, while the Unlimited Amateur had 167 entries. In the NCHA Derby, the Non-Pro had 115 entries, while the Unlimited Amateur had 130 entries.
I feel the Amateur is growing due to a level playing field. The Amateur class is where the owners and breeders can show and have a chance of winning in a level playing field of a highly competitive sport. Those are the NCHA members with the most money and ability to pay for high-dollar horses, pay top trainers, buy real estate for their cutting operation, buy high-dollar trucks and trailers, pay the high breeding fees to the best stallions, keep paying the most expensive veterinarians, enter numerous horses in the major aged events, pay travel expenses … and I could go on and on. It is usually where the industry receives the most publicity due to the high-profile businessmen and other well-known individuals in our industry. This industry has already lost too many of those individuals. Several important sponsors have started cutting themselves. How long will they stay in a class they have little chance of winning?
I feel trainers’ wives have a much greater advantage in the cutting pen as they usually help their husbands and by having their own trainer in residence. Occasionally a trainer will marry someone who was not raised with cutting horses and is starting from step 1 if they are interested in showing. But if they really love the sport and want to cut, they have all the professional help they need on a daily basis. The businessman or woman does not have that advantage.
If their children are raised in the industry, love to ride cutting horses and have done it since they were old enough to climb on one, they also have an advantage. Also, kids have no fear and weigh very little. They can take the same horse their trainer parent rides and score higher, as the horse is much more free to run and turn. Today, there are several trainers’ children who have won more than most trainers.
Personally, I know what it is like to try to cut in a class where you are basically paying just for experience. Years ago, I showed in the $2000 Limited Rider Class, an entry-level class with an unlevel playing field – the same as it is today. I rode my own horse (which is not mandatory in this class) and showed against World Champion Youth contestants (the youth earn points and scholarships – not much money) riding World Champion horses (In the $2000 LR class, the contestant can ride any horse).
I rode against top riders from other countries, training horses in the United States. I showed against Roger Wagner riding for Jack Waggoner and a World Champion Youth riding World Champion Cash Quixote Rio several times. Unless the class was held at 2 a.m., I didn’t have a chance of even placing. I did manage to win a series buckle as I had the fortitude to cut every day regardless of how late the class was held, but that was not enough to keep me spending money with little chance of a return. I needed a level playing field to continue in this sport.
I think to continue cutting, today’s Amateurs need that same incentive – a level playing field.
This editorial was updated after a conversation with Jim Bret Campbell, EC of the NCHA. Thank you Mr. Campbell.
THE BIRTH OF EQUI-VOICE.COM …
THE VOICE OF THE HORSE
From Glory Ann Kurtz, Editor
Sept. 3, 2015
It has been seven years since the beginning of www.allaboutcutting.com. As the years have gone by, www.allaboutcutting.com has morphed from cutting news and cutting horse associations, to news of other non-profit equine associations and individuals, show results and features – as well as investigative reports regarding the entire horse industry.
But I couldn’t have done it alone. With the help of my readers, I received many tips about what was going on in the industry, which I investigated and wrote about through the results of my investigation. My site soon became known as the monitor of the industry. Thanks to the Internet, I could link to documents corroborating my statements, as at first I was shrugged off as “a liar that didn’t know what she’s talking about.”
With the help of Rick Dennis, a horse trainer and a former policeman and drug enforcement special agent, articles on this site have moved into the abuse of horses, slaughter of horses, health of horses and legal matters in the horse industry including the American Quarter Horse Association, American Paint Horse Association, National Reined Cow Horse Association and National Reining Horse Association.
From my over 30 years as Editor of Quarter Horse News, I knew a lot about the horse associations, the horses, pedigrees, the competitors, the owners and the movers and shakers in the performance horse industry. I created Equi-stat (keeping statistics on horses, owners and riders) on one of the first IBM desktops, as well as the annual Sale Guide that Quarter Horse News still operates and publishes. However, Rick is a fountain of knowledge and has the judicial experience that I lack.
While we continue to write articles about performance horse individuals, associations and legal matters, I have gained a huge new group of readers interested in the welfare of the horse in general. I am gaining readers daily from other aspects of the industry who are reading millions of pages on my site each year.
Following a suggestion from Carol Harris, whom I greatly appreciate and admire for all of her contributions to the horse industry, that I change the name of my site for all those who are not just interested in cutting. I went to Pat Hall, my web designer, who suggested the name Equi-Voice.com, The Voice Of The Horse. She then did a wonderful job of designing a site-within-a-site to accommodate all readers with many interests from all parts of the world. Readers can now go to http://www.allaboutcutting.com or http://www.equi-voice.com. I hope you will enjoy the expansion of my site.
I have owned a horse ever since I was old enough to get a job and buy one. My husband, Bob, and I raised horses, owned stallions and broodmares, bought and sold horses for years. We made friends in the industry worldwide that I still stay in contact with today and even traveled to foreign countries with some of the horses we sold. Sometimes foreign buyers just showed up on our doorstep looking for horses. Bob also trained and showed pleasure and reining horses years ago and broke young horses. He showed cutting horses in non-pro competition for his entertainment. I just enjoyed horses, running barrels, riding pleasure horses, trail riding and even a little bit of cutting. Bob and I both loved horses. We were born that way!
When I lost him in 2009, we still had a few horses. I sold most of them, but kept my old Paint barrel mare and her companion, a donkey, and Cougarand, a champagne son of Peppy San Badger out of a daughter of Doc Bar. Since they were old, I knew they would go to slaughter if I sold them. My barrel mare was 31 when she had to be put down this summer, along with her 40-year-old companion the donkey, and they’re ’buried together in our back pasture, along with several other favorites we had. Cougarand is now 29 years old and I will have him until he dies.
This site survives because of our passion for the horse and “what is right,” and a few dedicated advertisers who believe in what I am doing. Because of that, www.allaboutcutting.com has developed into a force to be reckoned within the industry and www.Equi-Voice.com – the Voice of the Horse is born.
I’m hoping that in the future with the thousands of new readers that I have (close to 100,000 unique visitors since the first of 2015), that more advertisers will see it worthwhile to reach these horse lovers. If you’re interested in advertising or just want to contribute to the site, give me a call at 940-433-5232 or 940-393-1865 (cell). Until the end of September, I can be reached at 719-748-5229.