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☛ NRCHA Judges’ Seminars – 12-11-14

Posted by on Dec 11, 2014 in BREAKING NEWS, COW HORSE NEWS, WHO, WHAT & WHERE | 0 comments


Interested in becoming a National Reined Cow Horse Association Judge? Are you a NRCHA Judge who needs to renew your card? Do you want to learn more about what a judge is looking for when scoring your cow horse in the show pen? If you said ‘yes’ to one or more of the above, then a NRCHA Judges’ Seminar is for you!


Sign up now for a seminar in 2015. Click here for more NRCHA Judge information!


January 3-4
Paso Robles, CA Fairgrounds, Contact Bill Enk  (805) 610-2462, or sign up at door.  Sign up at 8am, start at 8:30am.


January 10-11
Minnesota, contact Deb Matko  (612)  860-6371


January 24-25
Magic Valley, Idaho
Place: Best Western Sawtooth in Jerome, Idaho
Special Rates available if you mention MVRCHA Judge’s Seminar when you reserve your room.
Phone: 208-324-9200
Address: 2653 S Lincoln, Jerome, Idaho 83338
Audit: $175/Test:   $200
Start time: 8:00 a.m. January 24
Lunches are available for only $10 each. Sign up at registration.
Evening of 24th is MVRCHA Banquet-One ticket included in your registration fee.
Call or text: 208-420-0548 to reserve your seminar spot.


January 31-Feb 1
Denver, Colorado, contact Jill Cook  (303) 709-0276.


February 28-March 1
Alberta, Canada,  contact Jim Dobler  (403)  350-8140.


March 11-12
Las Vegas, Nevada
Contact Dawn Coons  (979)  942-0131 or
Gold Coast Hotel and Casino
Register before Feb 15: Audit – $140/Test – $180
Register after Feb 15: Audit – $175/Test – $225
AWCHA Members get $40 discount.

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☛ Brunzell court hearing scheduled for Dec. 17 – 12-1-14






By Glory Ann Kurtz
Dec. 1, 2014

It is now only 16 days before there will be a court hearing scheduled for Dec. 17, 2014, in El Paso County, Colo., for custody of the horses seized from Sherry Brunzell, Colorado Springs, Colo., on Friday, Sept. 19, 2014, when an undetermined number of decomposed horse bodies and up to 10 live horses were discovered in a barn in Black Forest, Colo.  The 10 included a thin and malnourished Dual Peppy, a well-known stallion in the Western performance industry, who had been purchased by the Brunzells for over $600,000.  According to American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) records, the 22-year-old stallion has earnings of $88,000 and has sired offspring winning over $531,000. Even though there was a huge public outcry, the horses were not removed from the barn until Monday, Sept. 22.


In local television interviews, Sherry and her husband Rick, said the horses died of colic over the winter; however, the bones were gathered and sent to Colorado State University (CSU), where it would be determined if the horses (which are now estimated at 17 by Justice For Dual Peppy on Facebook) died from colic or from starvation. At press time, I have not heard whether or not the results of such tests have been made public by CSU.


Brunzell had a hearing at the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office in Colorado Springs on Oct. 9, 2014, where the judge ruled “there was probable cause for the search and seizure of the abused and dead horses, covered with lye and tarps, and that the misdemeanor 1 charges will stand and the 10 abused horses will remain in the care of the special law enforcement horse facility outside of Denver until her trial on Dec. 31.” Also, the AQHA also revoked the Brunzells’ membership, horse registration papers, participation in AQHA events and their presence on any AQHA show grounds.


Brunzell was given until Sept. 29 to file a petition and post a bond to try to get the horses back, which she did; however, she would not get her horses back unless she wins them at trial. At that time she would also receive her bond back. She was ordered to pay $3,600 a month for the care of the 10 horses and $1,800 to care for the four lamas that were also seized – for a total of $5,400 per month. The horses are currently being rehabilitated at an undisclosed facility specializing in equines where they will receive the care and management needed. The llamas are under the care of the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region (HSPPR). on Facebook reports that the care costs are “being paid by someone.”



The national public outcry was unmatched as a web site, Justice For Dual Peppy, created by Keleen (Kellie) Bliss and C. T. Babcock, the son of well-known horseman Jim Babcock, which they claim have reached over 1.5 million people worldwide and have received calls and e-mails, online petitions and social media comments from thousands of individuals nationwide. Many blamed Sheriff Terry Maketa, due to the three days it took to remove the horses from their Black Forest pens, perceived as disinterest in the case, with numerous calls and letters regarding the horse abuse case coming to the Sheriff’s office and the District Attorney’s office. It wasn’t long before he was MIA, with rumors abound that he was in Alaska.


Recently, another abuse case arose in El Paso County raised its ugly head when Rachel Fleischaker, Calhan, Colo., was found guilty of animal cruelty when she failed to provide adequate water to horses on her property, after she was already involved in another horse-neglect case involving a mare. It was said by animal abuse activists that her husband had posted numerous times on Craigslist offering to house unwanted animals. Activists started monitoring Craigslist for new advertisements and at one time they counted 33 ads posted under baby and kids stuff, DVDs, antiques, boats – all in different sections thinking those monitoring them wouldn’t see them. However, they claim they found all of them. Statements regarding that case were not made by the El Paso County Sheriff but rather by Sgt. Greg White, an El Paso County Sheriff spokesperson.


When I first reported the Dual Peppy story, I was astounded to find numerous articles regarding Sheriff Terry Maketa, with the FBI and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation already investigating him on Federal and State criminal charges. El Paso County commissioners, as well as former employees made allegations of budget improprieties, violating the civil rights of those working for the sheriff’s office, using intimidation to keep quiet about his misdeeds and removing almost all oversight of the Sheriff’s budget. The commissions asked him to resign, he refuted all allegations and residents launched a recall campaign. His term is ending in January 2015. However, it was interesting to note that the married Sheriff’s staff consisted of all females: the undersheriff, the head of training for dispatchers and the controller.


The irony of his case may be that the Sheriff’s perceived non-action and non-involvement regarding the dead and starving horses could be his demise. It didn’t take long before reported that an employment investigation by the FBI and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) into employment allegations levied against the El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa. It was ultimately found that many of the allegations were true, including: 1) Sheriff Maketa engaged in inappropriate relationships with three female subordinates resulting in preferential treatment that allowed those individuals to disregard El Paso County Sheriff’s Office Policies and Procedures, abuse leave policies, ignore use of county property policies, chain of command procedures and the internal affairs process; 2) Sheriff Maketa and Undersheriff Pressley inappropriately attempted to influence internal affairs investigations and failed to follow EPSO policies for initiating and conducting internal affairs investigations; 3) that Maketa and Presley, without good cause, into an alleged missing internal affairs file on a former EPSO employee, and 4) that Undersheriff Pressley refused to cooperate with investigators and declined to be interviewed.


It’s ultimately up to the District Attorney’s Office to decide if charges are filed against Sheriff Maketa. District Attorney Dan May said he is waiting to review the results of an investigation by the Colorado Bureau of Investigations before making a decision.  A lawyer representing the employees who had filed Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaints against Maketa, said his clients said, “The battle isn’t over.” A spokesperson for the agency said it’s not issuing a statement because of other impending investigations.


El Paso County spokesperson Dave Rose said the first two bills for the investigation totaled $175,000. The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office will cover the costs; however, the fund it will use to pay for the investigation is funded by taxpayer dollars.


Recently a gag order was put on the sheriff’s Department and District Attorney’s office, stating they could not reveal any further information to the press, but there was no gag order on the media. Following the court hearing scheduled for Dec. 17, 2014, in El Paso County, Colo., for custody of the horses seized from Sherry Brunzell, her trial is scheduled for Dec. 31, 2014; however, there have been statements made that the trial may be moved into 2015. She is currently charged with misdemeanors.



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☛ A Christmas Wish List 11-24-14






By Rick Dennis
Nov. 24, 2014

At the end of each year, my annual tradition is to reflect on the progress and accomplishments made by the Wind River Company LLC but more importantly, I reflect on the individuals: my clients, who have made our business endeavors a reality.  Without clients supporting the company, the company and its staff would cease to exist. This rule of business not only applies to my business but the business community in general as well as the nonprofit horse organizations. Much too often, humans tend to take a lot of things in our life for granted and perceive these special happenings as never-ending opportunities of prosperity.


However, any business relationship will soon subside in a sea of memories unless it is nurtured, respected, adjusted and continued by providing the client with the best business services available at a fair price and fulfilling the clients requirements. This same business philosophy also applies to equine nonprofits. After all, the members of these organizations should be considered, and rightfully so, as they are the association’s clients but it has been my experience, as well as the opinions of others in the industry, that often times this sound business philosophy is not the case, is ignored and is not readily exercised.


The year 2014 has been one of change in the horse industry among certain nonprofits. Change has been predicated by a myriad of reasons but some of the most important have been identified by a loss in membership, membership participation and generated revenue, as well as operating losses in the millions of dollars. This decline has prompted various nonprofits to investigate and conduct a root-cause analysis of this phenomenon to determine a specific cause as well a remedy for future survivability. A unique manner of addressing this problem is asking members for their input for improvement.


To capitalize on this opportunity, I formulated a list of topics that I would like addressed, and perhaps changed, during this reconstruction period, which experience has taught me, both as a business professional as well as a professional in the horse industry, as not being amiable to the general membership or conducive to exemplary business practices.


For some unknown reason, various nonprofit horse organizations powers-that-be have adopted an arrogant and sometimes callous philosophy when it comes to member-client relationships, by exhibiting an overbearing dose of totalitarianism authority to some, while coddling, excusing and sometimes justifying other individual actions because of “who or what they are.” This class distinction or discrimination among the rank and file usually ends up causing dissension among the membership and rightfully so! This action also establishes set-precedents within an organization that can be repeated at the whim of the disciplinarians using this criteria as a basis of authority.


Therefore, the regimental treatment of members with fines and suspensions for menial circumstances should be re-evaluated for its productivity factor as well as discontinuing the irrational behavior of fining nonmembers of the association. This type of behavior is usually exhibited by an inexperienced authority figure with limited or nonexistent business management experience whose actions are usually vilified by members of the association. Just because an individual likes steak doesn’t mean he or she is a butcher!


The rules of a nonprofit should be structured to govern the actions of the group while preserving the ethics and integrity of the whole. These sound business principles should be the proverbial corner stones or building blocks of any nonprofit horse organization or any business organization for that matter. In order to justify the actions of committee members doling out this discriminatory practice, a rule is usually cited which states they have the authority to address each rule violator on a case-by-case basis. I wish this to be the case the next time a law enforcement officer is writing me a speeding ticket!  The main criteria of establishing rules is for the executive branch to adhere to the same rules imposed on the general membership without favoritism being a motivating factor.


Just as laws have been enacted to govern the actions of society members, rules of a nonprofit should be established without including what I view and interpret as rules causing discriminatory practices among members. If rule violators were dealt with on an even measure then this would remove all inference of preferential or discriminatory practices by the nonprofit.  Another rule that I find arbitrary and ambiguous is the rule citing, “Membership is a privilege and not a right of passage.” Certainly this may be the case but by the same token the nonprofit should view each member as a client and a valuable asset of the organization and that organization should be excited to have them, especially with the recent decline in memberships in the horse industry.


After all, on an individual basis, each member contributes something unique to the organization; however, the most important contribution by all members is the re-occurring annual infusion of cash generated by new memberships as well as membership renewals This cash infusion is added to the general fund coffer and used to operate the nonprofit. Another important contribution members provide to horse nonprofits is the infusion of money to Foundations of these organizations which in-turn are used for scholarships, research, etc.


Members also contribute cash infusions to the association by show participation, horse purchases, horse transfers, breeding revenue and retail outlet purchases as well as their purchasing ancillary products offered by the nonprofit. However, the most important contribution a member contributes is promoting the association on its positive merits to individuals who may be future members of the association. On the other hand, members also disseminate the negative aspects of the association, which may diminish the opportunity for a horse nonprofit to capitalize on acquiring a new member.


Either analogy is directly dependant on the actions of the powers-that-be which sets the stage and tone for a perception by a member, the general public and the manner his or her perception is translated to a member prospect. Maybe this rule should be changed to read, “being a member is a privilege and not a right of passage, but we’re sure glad to have you and welcome you into our family.”  Clearly the horse business is just one big family no matter what breed of horse or discipline you’re engaged in. A horse is still a horse!


If I were coming in as the Executive Director of a horse nonprofit, I would certainly want to review the rules of an organization to make a distinction as to which ones are detrimental to a loss in membership as well as the ones that could be tweaked to improve upon for the benefit of keeping members from leaving the association. One of the curiosities of an individual is that being a member of a horse nonprofit, certainly might “be a privilege” but equally, it’s the right of the member to determine whether they want to participate or not.


Another rule that I feel requires scrutiny is the one requiring a member to subject his or herself to a “Lie Detector Test”.  For the record, past laws pertaining to requiring an individual to subject his or herself to this truth serum “so to speak” has been delegated to law enforcement, the private security industry and financial institutions. In my opinion, as a Risk Analyst, I would have to subject this rule to scrutiny by a legal authority for an opinion whether or not this mechanism would withstand a legal challenge in a court of law as well as determining whether or not a nonprofit horse association has the right to introduce this type of rule in its manuscripts at all. The curious nature of a lie detector test is that it’s inadmissible in a court of law as relevant evidence in a case. So why have it? If an association has to be run on the premise of threats and fear to the membership, then it’s lost from the onset. As the general rule states, “Respect is earned and not demanded”.


Transparency is another area I would significantly address. In recent months, I authored an article entitled, “Who Owns A Nonprofit?” Since no one owns a nonprofit, why do some members among the powers-that-be charged with running some nonprofits insist on the organization being operated in a shroud of secrecy? Their specific job classification and job description simply relegates their authority and power as a trustee of a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit, nothing more. In my opinion, every member of the association is entitled to this information by passage as a member.


Even the IRS agrees with this philosophy by requiring nonprofits to file a form 990 with their regular annual tax filings and which are displayed for public view on As my grandmother use to tell me, “If what your doing is a secret, then you shouldn’t be doing it or your up to no good.” One nonprofit in general allows the members to view their financial records only after the execution of a non-disclosure agreement being signed by the individual, prohibiting him or her from disclosing or sharing the results of the disclosure to other members of the organization.


The only way a member usually finds out about the existence of this alleged rule is when he or she requests to view financial information. In fact, recently the association filed a lawsuit against a member of the media for asking for financial information and refused to sign the disclosure agreement.  When the media representative told the association to keep their financial information as they already had what they needed, the NCHA immediately dropped the suit. I wonder what that scare tactic cost members?


Again, as a Risk Analyst, I would have to appeal to a legal authority to determine whether or not this type of clandestine activity is legal in a federal court of law. In my opinion, the financial records of a nonprofit should be on full display for viewing by members of the association or public inquiries and the financial records on display should match their tax returns. A member shouldn’t have to read in a publication whether or not their nonprofit is solvent or if it’s losing millions of dollars by mismanagement of the powers-that-be or if it’s being sued in a court of law.


When it comes to rule adoptions, I would suggest the nonprofit evaluate the proposed rule on the basis of equality among the general membership and not adopt rules on the basis of what friend they’re helping out, or adopting a rule only the rich and affluent can afford and benefit by. Politics is an area I would strictly not become engaged in.  A horse nonprofit should delegate its authority to making the association better and further the breed of horse being represented, not filling a politician’s pockets in hopes of a favorable decision on a topic which may or may not be in complete agreement with its members.


I would also suggest term limits for all members of the Executive Committee without benefit of future return.  Executive Committee members should be picked and elected by the members and not hand selected by existing board and committee members to carry on mutual philosophies or based on personal acquaintances. Equally important is that members of the Executive Committee shouldn’t be profiting in any manner whatsoever from occupying this prestigious, allegedly free position. All goods and services should be put out for bids. I’m quite sure there are plenty of vendors readily available to fulfill any contract requirement the nonprofit should have.


There are plenty of resources available pertaining to the reconstruction of large corporations.  One book of particular interest that has great recommendation is “How to move associations of the last generation forward to today.” The book says, “For anyone who is part of a governing board of an organization started a generation or more ago, this is the book for you. It continues to say that “organizations that have huge representative boards to please a broad client base with an untenable menu of services, will be passed up by nimble, focused organizations giving high-quality services to a specific membership profile.


To back those statements up, the book lists five radical changes for associations in the “Race for Relevance.”


They include: 1) Start with governance: Any decision-making board with over 5-7 members sacrifices decision-making effectiveness for an illusion of being “representative.” Associations should quickly drop their unwieldy, inefficient and expensive large governing boards. 2) Overhaul committees: committees should be few, focused and led by staff rather than volunteers who spend massive hours creating recommendations unconnected from those immersed in the day-to-day life of the organization: the staff. 3) Empower CEO and enhance staff: The staff should be carefully selected and then fully empowered to move the organization forward based on the vision and guidance of the governing board. They should not be micro-managed by the board. 4) Rationalize Member Market: This one recognizes that availability of widespread communication today requires specialization. Organizations need to narrow, not broaden, their membership criteria so that they can better serve the members they have and 5) Rationalize Programs Services and Activities: Instead of adding a long menu of low-impact services for members, associations should offer a narrow list of “home run” services members can’t live without


This could mean that today’s major equine nonprofits are quickly becoming “irrelevant!”



My last area of concern would be analyzing the nonprofit’s drug policy.  An astute manager would realize that times in the horse industry have changed dramatically in recent times concerning drugs, horses and animal abuse.  Never before in our society has this behavior been more recognized than today. As with changing times, the astute manager changes with them to adjust accordingly to ensure future growth and profitability of the organization.


These are my areas of concern and my Christmas Wish List.  If you have similar or other concerns please contact your nonprofit and express these concerns with them while this reorganization is underway. I’m sure they would like to hear from you. Until 2015, have a very Merry Christmas and a most safe, prosperous and Happy New Year!!


Until Next Time, Keep ‘Em Between The Bridles.


Rick Dennis
Managing Member
Wind River Company LLC
Web Site:
Office/Mobile: (985) 630-3500






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☛ The New Senate and Tax Reform 11-17-14



By John Alan Cohan, Attorney at Law
Now that Republicans will control the Senate, the question arises whether this will result in tax reform, or at least impact how the IRS conducts its business.
     Top aids to the President have made the IRS hostile turf to honest taxpayers.  The IRS has targeted individuals and organizations.  IRS bureaucracy has demanded agents to lead no-change audits, to make greater demands for documents, and to disfavor settlements.
     Senate committees are likely to investigate IRS abuses with fervor, and there may well be tax reform of some sort, in an effort to boost business and to create more jobs.  Amending the Tax Code to any degree is a daunting challenge.  There are invariably partisan political questions when it comes to cutting overall tax revenue.
     The Tax Code is extremely complex.  In the last ten years almost 4,500 changes have been made to the Tax Code.  Many elements of the Code help subsidize activities tied to policy objectives such as economic growth or “socially desirable” economic behavior (e.g., home ownership).  Some policies are static and may become ineffective or counterproductive as circumstances change.
     It is unlikely that tax reform will do much to change personal income tax rates, though there is a good chance corporate income tax rates will be modified in an effort to discourage outsourcing.  The top corporate income tax rate is considerably higher than that of other countries around the world.
     Any tax reform is complicated by the fact that there are both winners and losers, and the losers will resist efforts to change tax breaks they might presently enjoy.
     A key to real tax reform actually consists of changing key personnel in the IRS.  Many policies that impact taxpayers consist of policies generated by the senior bureaucrats and IRS regulations.
     A significant segment of audits will continue to be in the hobby loss area.  Taxpayers in all income segments continue to be targeted for such audits.  Many farmers, ranchers and horse owners invariably have “day jobs” that constitute their main source of income.  The ranch or farming activity usually incurs losses for a number of years, and these losses are used to offset taxable income.  Taxpayers want to ultimately make a profit in their venture, but in the meantime they are entitled to take tax deductions so long as the horse, livestock or farming activity is operated “for profit,” that is, the taxpayer has the “intention” of making a profit despite the fact that there are losses.
     The best way to convince the IRS that your horse, ranch or farming activity is not a hobby is to show profits (2 out of 7 years for horse activities, 2 out of 5 for other ventures).  Most cases involve taxpayers with no profit years, in which case it is important to have substantial documentary evidence and excellent books and records.  The IRS will want to see cost projections, a business plan, evidence that you have relied on experts or have become an expert yourself, professional appraisals of bloodstock and land, and many other items of information.
     Often the IRS agent will obtain damaging information directly from the taxpayer, or the taxpayer will not provide solid enough answers to the questions raised.  In most instances it is helpful to have a representative ineract with the revenue agent (either a CPA or tax attorney), as this helps protect you from falling into traps.
     Professional representatives are in a better position to convince the IRS that your activity is operated “for profit” within the meaning of IRS regulations.  Moreover, often enough revenue agents need to be educated on particular elements of the industry and to learn why it may take a significant period of time until profits are forthcoming.  Remember that for almost any tax problem, there is a solution.
     [John Alan Cohan is an attorney who serves the horse, livestock and farming industries.  He can be reached at:  (310) 278-0203, or email at  His website is]
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☛ Executing and Mastering Lead Changes 11-16-14




By Rick Dennis
Nov. 17, 2014



Rick and Dualin Dude, 2005 AQHA chestnut gelding by Dualin Oak out of Stella Peaches (a Blondys Dude granddaughter), the 4-Year-Old  Reining Champions and money
earners at the MSRHA/NRHA Reining, Forrest, Miss.

At this point in your training and if you’ve been training inline with the preceding training segments, you and your horse should negotiate the following round-pen maneuvers with ease:


  •     Walk, trot, canter and stop in each direction.


  •      Back ups and rollbacks on the wall with ease.


Move the colt’s shoulders and front end out of the way with each rollback and direction change, The most important lesson to learn from these training segments is, “There is no substitute for learning proper horsemanship,” in an equine training environment! Therefore, the next phase of training is to build on the success of the above training exercises and learn to control the colt’s body from the tip of its nose to its hindquarters as well as all locations in between.


Before attempting this training segment, the colt should have been on a progressive training schedule with each successful phase of training being the building platform for the next one. In this article, it’s the lead departure and the lead change that some students find very hard to learn and almost impossible to execute. However, the correct and effective lead change can be a very rewarding experience once the training exercise is learned and the execution is properly performed.


Step 1 – Disengaging the front shoulders and hindquarters.


Begin the next training exercise by facing the wall of the round pen and decide whether you want to move the horse’s hindquarters to the left or right. For this lesson, let’s decide to move the horse’s hindquarters to the right. To accomplish this maneuver, pick up the right rein and lay it on the right neck of the horse while using the off hand and rein to keep the shoulders in place and prevent any movement to the right when the hindquarters are disengaged and moved.


To move the colt’s hindquarters to the right, simply put your left leg toward the rear of the horse’s ribcage, but not in the flank area, and apply leg pressure to disengage the hindquarters and move them to the right. Be careful not to let the horse’s front end, move in unison with the hindquarters.  Once the hindquarters are disengaged and moved out of the way, move your left leg to the left girth area, apply enough leg pressure and left neck-rein pressure to move the colt’s front end to meet the hindquarters.


Complete this training exercise in three repetition stages and then walk off and make a few turns around the round pen in the same direction you just moved the horse in to allow the colt to relax. The main point to remember is only use enough leg and spur pressure to move the colt’s front end over and disengage the hindquarters to move them in the desired direction, with the direction being determined at the discretion of the rider.


If you use too much pressure, you could hurt the colt or make the training exercise unpleasant. The colt will stiffen up and the maneuver will become more and more difficult to perform. The object is to gain complete control of your horse’s body movements with hand and leg cues that will allow a controlled, fluid and correct movement later on both the lead departure and the lead change.


Once the horse is fully relaxed, face the round-pen wall and execute the training exercise in the opposite direction or in this case to the left.  The main point to remember is to gradually increase the amount of training exercise routines until the colt’s body can be moved in each direction with ease by applying the correct leg pressure and rein cues. If the colt makes a big fuss over the exercise, just get the horse to perform one, then relax the colt and execute another one and so on.


Another point to remember is to gradually decrease the amount of leg pressure with the spur over time until the maneuver can be accomplished with light calf and foot pressure (only). Bear in mind that once you and your horse become proficient in this training exercise, teaching the horse to side pass would be the next logical step in training. Eventually, the rider should be able to disengage the colt’s hindquarters and move the colt in a 360-degree circle by disengaging and moving its hindquarters.


Step 2 – Performing Figure 8′s At An Extended Long Trot.


Once you’re able to move the colt’s body with subtle leg and hand cues, including moving the ribs in and out on each side, I like to reinforce my hand and leg cues by performing figure 8s in an open arena at an extended long trot. In order to complete this training exercise, move to the middle of the arena, pick a direction and move off at a walk while maintaining a proper head collection, with the colt’s body framed up, and perform a complete figure 8. The initial direction should be determined at the rider’s discretion. Once accomplished, hold a little back pressure to maintain a proper head collection while using both legs simultaneously to apply proper leg pressure to encourage a forward propulsion and proper speed to enter an extended long trot, without the colt’s headset coming out of collection.


While in the extended long trot, negotiate the figure 8 using proper rein-hand and leg placement to maintain a complete circle until you reach the diagonal or center of the arena entry point. Upon entering the diagonal, slow the colt down and use proper rein-hand position on both sides of the colt’s neck while simultaneously applying leg pressure with both legs to move the colt’s ribs in, effectively framing the horse up while coming through the diagonal. Once you are through the diagonal, resume the correct speed to regain the extended long trot. This framed-up position and speed transition through the diagonal will be used later to negotiate a successful lead change. So practice for proficiency and with as light a cue pressure as possible. Maintaining a proper head collection is essential to a successful maneuver.


Step 3 – Performing High-Speed Figure 8 Lead Changes.


When I have the colt proficient in the figure 8, I simply walk off, negotiate a lead departure, either on a right or left lead, and begin building speed with each complete turn in the circle. At this point, if you’re on a right lead, most of your weight should be on the inside legs of the colt (the legs in the inside of the circle), leaving the outside legs with less weight. Your horse’s nose should be tipped to the inside and your inside leg should be applying a little pressure as a direction and bending of the rib cage cue, with your outside leg laid on the colt to keep the horse from drifting out of the circle. If you’ve ever watched a group of horses playing in a pasture, they execute lead changes at will with each direction change, which is a natural movement for the horse.


In order to capitalize and build on this natural movement, I simply have the horse moving as fast as possible in the right circle, without a speed transition in the diagonal. Before reaching the end of the diagonal, I shift my weight to the left, tip the horse’s nose to the left, release my inside or left-leg pressure and apply outside or right-rein and leg pressure while turning the colt in the opposite direction, or to the left, to produce a natural lead change transition.  If for some reason the colt misses the lead change, just allow the horse to travel around the circle on the wrong lead for a few turns and then slow the horse down, execute the lead change to the left and continue through a 360-degree circle while traveling and building speed all the time.


When you’re ready to execute the lead change to the right, just repeat the process. Eventually, and with enough practice, the colt will learn these high-speed, flying lead changes with the aid of proper weight distribution, hand and leg cues and the proper pressure. At the conclusion, you should be able to complete a 360-degree circle, come through the diagonal, frame up, and swap directions on the proper lead change and complete the figure 8. The main point to remember in this exercise is not to become frustrated when and if the colt misses a lead change. Simply make the proper correction until you and the colt become proficient in the maneuver and the colt learns what you’re asking him to do.


Step 4 – Inline Lead Departures and Lead Changes.


To clean up the lead departure and the lead change, I next incorporate inline lead departures and lead changes in a straight line. I like to conduct this training exercise on a racetrack or in a long field if the arena I’m working in isn’t long enough. If you choose to use the latter method, make sure the field is mowed properly and walk the field to make sure it doesn’t contain any holes, obstacles or trash that could cause an injury or harm to you and your horse. The main point to remember is that you’re working on grass and use precaution to prevent slipping during the maneuver.


I start this training exercise by walking the colt forward a few steps, pick up the desired direction hand as a cue by moving the colt’s jaw, move the horses hip and front shoulder in the direction I want to depart in and lope off in the correct lead. After I’m in the desired lead departure and traveling in a straight line, I frame the colt up and make sure proper head collection is incorporated in the maneuver before attempting the next phase of training, which is stopping the colt and repeating the entire exercise to depart on the opposite lead. I usually allow the colt about 15 to 20 full strides before I stop him to negotiate the next maneuver, which allows the horse to relax.


When I’m ready I stop the colt, allow the horse to further relax and repeat the exercise on the opposite lead. Always allow the colt to relax and think about what’s happening before you initiate the maneuver again. I’ll execute this maneuver in repetition until I reach the end of the arena, the field or my starting point if I’m working on a racetrack. The main point to remember with this training exercise is that you’re working on a lot of maneuvers in one exercise: lead departures, framing the colt, disengaging the hindquarters, head collection, leg cues, rein cues, stops and traveling in a straight line.


When and only when I have the colt performing this training exercise with ease, do I move onto the next phase: performing simple inline lead changes. The main point to remember is to not exhaust your colt during this training exercise. I’ve found a good starting point is to perform three or four stops and starts in each direction and build endurance accordingly.


Click for right lead>>


Click for left lead>>


Step 5 – Simple Lead Changes


This next phase of training is quite simple if Step No. 4 is an accomplished training exercise executed by horse and rider. To begin the exercise, begin at a starting point, walk the colt off, execute a lead departure in your direction of choice, frame the colt up and after 15 or 20 full strides, break the colt down to a trot instead of a stop, all the while keeping the horse properly framed and properly collected. While trotting a few times, pick up the rein and cue the colt in the lead you wish to pick up by moving its nose in that direction, just as if you were executing a lead departure.


Next release the leg pressure in the direction on the lead you wish to change to and use the opposite leg to apply pressure to facilitate the lead change.  This is not a hard exercise to execute! All that’s happening is that you’re executing a lead departure from a trot instead of a walk; however, this will accustom the colt to listening to your hand and leg cues and will prepare the colt for the next phase of training – the flying lead change. After about 15 to 20 full strides, break the colt down to a trot and repeat the training exercise for the opposite lead change.


A few main points to remember are to keep the colt traveling in a straight line at all times, framed up and with a proper head collection.  If for any reason this can’t be accomplished, return to stopping and starting the colt until the situation can be remedied. Another main point to remember is to become proficient in one phase before moving on to another phase of training.


Step 6 – Flying Lead Changes


To execute this maneuver of flying lead changes, I decrease the amount of trots I allow the colt to make before I move through the diagonal, pick up the colt’s nose in the direction I want to change to and ask for the lead change while at a trot.  A main point to remember is not to wear your horse out in practice. A tired horse will be non-responsive and tough to deal with. Always practice on a well-conditioned and fresh horse. The training will wear the colt out soon enough!


I only ask for the flying lead change after I can proficiently negotiate a lead change from one trot only. To accomplish this, I break the horse to one trot and immediately make the proper rein-hand and leg cues to execute the proper lead change. Remember, if the colt misses the lead change, don’t panic or become frustrated. Simply stop the colt and start the entire process over but in the direction he missed the lead change. This will teach him he missed the proper execution.


When the colt is proficient in the one trot pick up, I eliminate the trot, make the exact hand and leg cues and ask for the lead change at a lope. What works best for me is disengaging the hindquarters first and immediately moving my leg forward to move the front end over and into the proper lead.  If for some reason the colt refuses to give you the flying lead change, break the colt down to a stop and repeat the entire walk-trot-lope lead change process until the colt performs a flying lead change on request with sufficient rein-hand and leg pressure cues.


Rick and Dualin Dude, MSRHA/NRHA Jr. Reining Champions and money earners starting a left spin.

To eliminate the possibility of the colt anticipating the lead change while executing the figure 8 training regimen, I only practice the flying lead change maneuver in the inline training exercise. I perform more figure 8s at an extended long trot and save the lead change on the diagonal right before a show. The extended long trot will provide you with a training exercise that is actually better for getting the colt in working condition than any other exercise you may use to leg your horse up and maintain him or her in top physical condition.



As with all training, proficiency comes with proper understanding, horsemanship training, execution, practice, repetition and commitment.  With the proper training, the lead departure and lead change can be accomplished in a relatively short period of time by any committed equestrian enthusiast.



“Until Next Time, Keep ‘Em Between The Bridles!


Richard E. “Rick” Dennis
Managing Member
Office/Mobile: (985) 630-3500
Web Site:
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The above training article, Executing and Mastering the Lead Changes, is part of series of articles regarding 2-Year-Old Colt Breaking 101, Art of the Round Pen, Saddling, Riding and Training and Mastering The Turnaround or Spin.










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☛ NRCHA’s two new $1 million sires 11-13-14

Posted by on Nov 13, 2014 in BREAKING NEWS, COW HORSE NEWS, CUTTING NEWS, WHO, WHAT & WHERE | 0 comments




Press release from NRCHA
Nov. 13, 2014

Foals by Nic It In The Bud and Dual Rey have broken the seven-figure earnings mark in the reined cow horse arena, making them the 13th and 14th horses to achieve NRCHA Million-Dollar Sire status.



Nic It In The Bud
Photo by Cam Essick

Nic It In The Bud (Reminic x Genuine Redbud x Genuine Doc), a 1997 stallion owned by NRCHA Breeder Sponsor Silver Spurs Equine LLC, Scottsdale, Ariz., is a versatile performer with accolades in both reined cow horse and reining. Trained and shown by NRCHA Million-Dollar Rider Todd Bergen, Nic It In The Bud made his futurity

debut in Reno, qualifying for the Open finals in 2000. Less than three months later, he traveled to the National Reining Horse Association Futurity in Oklahoma City, again earning a berth in the Open finals.


In 2001, as a 4-year-old, Nic It In The Bud added to his NRCHA resume by winning both the Stakes and Derby Open Championships under Bergen’s saddle. He also was an American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA)  World Championship finalist in Junior Reining that year.


When he advanced to bridle horse age in 2003, Nic It In The Bud proved he could  to go the distance, earning the World’s Greatest Horseman Reserve Championship with Bergen aboard, and making the Top 10 at the AQHA World Show in Senior Working Cow Horse. He retired with lifetime earnings right at the $149,000 mark.


As a sire, Nic It In The Bud quickly established his credentials, becoming a NRCHA top 12 and NRHA top 30 Leading Sire in 2009. He climbed still higher in both associations’rankings in in 2011, becoming a top 10 reined cow horse and reining sire.


Nic It In The Bud’s reined cow horse performers have earned a combined $1,001,722. His top five NRCHA money-earning foals are:


$116,124    Nics Black Diamond (x Shinersdiamondjackie x Shining Spark)
$ 77,525     Nic It Smartly (x Shining Smartly x Shining Spark)
$ 73,641     Peppy Nicolena (x Chelsea Lean x Tejons Peppy Doc)
$ 69,826     Lenas Buddy Nic (x Dual Lena x Lethal Lena)
$ 49,627     Kickback Nic (x Desire A Chic x Smart Chic Olena)


For more information, go to their web site at:




Dual Rey
Photo by Cam Essick

Dual Rey, has been firmly established in the cutting horse industry for more than a decade. Since 2005, he has been ranked as the No. 1 or No. 2 sire in the NCHA, and his foals have earned in excess of $26 million in the cutting arena.


Now, with total NRCHA offspring earnings of $1,001,696, Dual Rey (Dual Pep x Nurse Rey x Wyoming Doc), owned by Linda Holmes, leaves no doubt about his versatility as a sire.


The 1994 stallion began his performance career at the NCHA Futurity,

where he tied for 6th place. Some of his cutting accomplishments beyond his 3-year-old year included the NCHA Super Stakes, where he split 5th place, and he won the Memphis 4-Year-Old Open Futurity Championship. Dual Rey retired from the competitive arena with $105,038 in earnings.


His sparkling sire career has countless highlights. In 2009, a Dual Rey foal won both the NRCHA Futurity Open and the NCHA Futurity Open Championships. The NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Champion was Reymanator, out of the Doc’s Hickory daughter, Savannah Hickory, shown by Zane Davis for owner John Semanik. On the cutting horse side, Rocking W (Dual Rey x Boon San Kitty x High Brow Cat), shown by Tony Piggott for breeder/owner Alice Walton, won the coveted NCHA Championship in 2009.


Dual Rey’s top five NRCHA money-earning foals are:


$175,549    Reymanator (x Savannah Hickory x Doc’s Hickory)
$143,529    Dom Dualuise (x Smart Little XX x Smart Little Lena)
$  62,653    Reygans Smart Lena (x Smart Fancy Lena x Smart  Little Lena)
$  56,973    Desire Rey (x Playguns Desire x Playgun)
$  52,105    Play Dual Rey (x Hiccup N Play x Doc’s Hickory)


For more information go to the web site:




Shining Spark $3,721,400.43
Smart Chic Olena $2,860,981.13
One Time Pepto $1,511,567.70
Grays Starlight $1,462,123.10
Peptoboonsmal $1,454,454.73
Reminic $1,408,638.16
Very Smart Remedy $1,330,595.37
Mister Dual Pep $1,242,255.81
Nu Cash $1,233,649.85
Chic Please $1,124,583.05
Smart Little Lena $1,120,707.66
Smart Little Pepinic $1,090,732.45
Nic It In The Bud $1,001,721.69
Dual Rey $1,001,695.94
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