Insights & Opinions: Industry Migration

As this issue (Sept. 15, 2016) was going to press, I received a letter from well-known trainer Bobby Ingersoll. He wanted to address the National Reined Cow Horse Association’s (NRCHA) announcement that its Snaffle Bit Futurity is moving from Reno, Nevada, to Fort Worth, Texas, in 2017.

The decision to change venues is potentially the most controversial issue the cow horse industry has ever faced and certainly the most polarizing in recent years. Horsemen either agree with the move or they don’t, and there are plenty of opinions on either side.

Bobby’s letter is not the first of its kind I’ve received. Every now and again, I’ll get an email or a call from a subscriber who is concerned about the direction, literally, the Western performance horse industry is taking. People from the West Coast lament the eastward migration of the industry’s major shows, such as the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity. People on the opposite side of the country decry the decreasing number of opportunities on the East Coast, citing an obvious shift west. In both cases, the migration seems to end in Texas and, more specifically, in Fort Worth.

The National Cutting Horse Association has long held its Triple Crown shows in Fort Worth at the Will Rogers Memorial Center, which is a short drive from the association’s offices on Bailey Avenue. The NRCHA set up its headquarters in North Texas in 2012, and moved its Celebration of Champions and World’s Greatest Horseman to Will Rogers two years ago. The National Reining Horse Association, based in Oklahoma City, hosts its Futurity and Derby locally, but recently announced its annual Winter Meeting would be held in Fort Worth next year. In every discipline, there appears to be an ever-increasing focus on Texas.

Bobby’s letter, printed below, outlines his reasons for opposing the relocation of the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity. Do you agree? Is tradition worth saving at all costs, or is the Texas migration necessary for our industry to remain viable in modern-day society? Are we adapting to changing times or turning our backs on the “little guy”? Send your thoughts to me at [email protected] or give me a call at 817-569-7145. I’d love to hear from you.

Dear Editor,

When the California Reined Cow Horse Association (CRCHA) was formed in the ’50s, it was all about the older horses, the hackamore and bridle horses. The association based most of training on working cattle and developing a horse to the light rein. The association at this time was all about the Spanish vaquero tradition. The tradition of the reined cow horse belongs to the West Coast, where it all started.

In the east, they have their reining futurities. In the state of Texas, they have their cutting futurity. On the West Coast, we have our Snaffle Bit Futurity for cow horses.

I am not against moving the Futurity if it makes sense for young horses, breeders and owners. One of the biggest attractions at the Futurity is the sale – the biggest and the best we have on the West Coast. In Texas, they have many sales and I believe that the Futurity Sale held in Texas will just become another sale. After talking with several breeders and owners out here, they have been clear they won’t be hauling their horses to Texas to sell them.

To keep the Spanish vaquero tradition alive, there will be another Snaffle Bit Futurity held in Reno, Nevada, in September 2017.

People and horse owners support the old CRCHA tradition because of what it stands for, where tradition is not forgotten. Today the NRCHA has lost tradition. They don’t understand how important it is to the horse or what kind of equipment to use at the right age to preserve him for the bridle.

It seems to me some young trainers are more interested in winning than what is in the best interest of the horse. To me, it comes down to the big money and purses.

There is tradition which must not be lost. In the two-rein class, this is the year we introduce the horse to the bridle, giving him time to someday hold the bit. The way they’re being shown today begs the question, “Why have a bosal or two-rein on him?” Tradition? I don’t think so.

Some of these horses, before they are of age, never see a hackamore. Tradition, when riding and turning in the hackamore, is about saving the mouth for the bit. Today’s trainers do it backwards, training in stiff bits and then going to the hackamore, which is not in the best interest of the horse. Tradition? I don’t think so.

If you are talking about saving tradition, maybe there should be some rule changes. Please listen, NRCHA – there will be changes here in this coming futurity on the West Coast. The futurity in September 2017 will be all about Spanish vaquero tradition, and we’ll make it affordable for people to enter their horses and have fun staying right here in Reno. They’ll be showing for exciting purses and awards. Let’s get back to having some fun. Let’s make this futurity for all, not just for the elite or biggest winners.

In the 1970s, the CRCHA went national. The name was changed to the NRCHA and its goal was to improve membership and horses all over the world. Today, we have 30 affiliates, which make the NRCHA what it is.

I don’t like the fact that the World’s Championship Snaffle Bit Futurity has been moved to a place in this world where it doesn’t belong. I do wish success to the World’s Championship Snaffle Bit Futurity in Fort Worth, Texas. I hope that owners and riders will support both the World’s Championship Snaffle Bit Futurity and the Snaffle Bit Futurity here in Reno.

Yours truly,

Bobby Ingersoll, a man of tradition and founder of the Snaffle Bit Futurity in 1970