Social media is abuzz with controversy after the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Executive Committee recently passed a motion to amend its amateur exception rules. While some are in favor of the changes, others are adamantly opposed and question whether proper parliamentary procedure was followed.
The NCHA Executive Committee meeting, which began Aug. 22 and lasted until Aug. 24 at the NCHA headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, addressed recommendations made to the Executive Committee following the NCHA Convention, held June 24-26 in Grapevine, Texas. The first proposal was brought before the committee by Lindy Burch, chair of the amateur/non-pro review committee.
According to the NCHA meeting notes, Burch presented the proposal because, “The amateur/non-pro review committee feels that changes to the current exception rules are warranted to provide greater consistency to the exception rules which allow people to qualify for amateur status.”
The notes went on to read, “A motion was made by Jeff Fisk, seconded by Lewis Wray and passed with one opposed (Jerry Louie) to approve changes to current amateur exceptions to allow the following persons to apply for amateur status: (1) former horse trainers from other equine disciplines (not cutting horse trainers) who have not engaged in training activities for at least three years prior to the date of application and who have lifetime open earnings of less than $15,000; (2) ex-spouses of professionals who have been divorced for at least three years prior to the date of application and have less than $50,000 in earnings in all breed associations and cutting competitions; (3) children of professionals who have not resided with the professional for at least three years prior to the date of application and have less than $50,000 in earnings in all breed associations and cutting competitions; and (4) spouses and children of persons who were formerly classified as professionals, but who have been granted a change of status to non-professional under NCHA exception rules.”
The first exception listed is the item gaining the most traction in online debates. Many amateur members have expressed their concern that the exception will create inequality in the division.
“My opinion is they’re opening up a broad door, and they’re opening it up to what I consider to be a pure group,” said Alice, Texas-based member Lica Pinkston, who is a successful amateur competitor with lifetime earnings of more than $230,000 according to NCHA records. “When I say pure, I’m talking about the $50,000 Amateur. Amateurs don’t make their living training and riding horses every day. There’s only a handful of them that even ride their horses every day.
“This is going to open it up to people who maybe have trained and showed and didn’t win very much money, and it will open it up to people who have trained 2-year-olds and maybe didn’t show at all. That’s what the Limited Non-Pro was created for.”
In response to the abrupt change, many amateurs have turned to social media to ask how this proposal made it to the Executive Committee when at the Convention, the amateur committee took no action on agenda item No. 12 – “Discuss Standing Rule 51.a.6; Member recommendation – Change verbiage to any equine discipline using cattle.” That discussion did not include any specifics of the new proposal, which was never brought before the amateur members in attendance at the open session of the amateur committee meeting in June.
Amateur committee chair Jaime Beamer, of Weatherford, Texas, directed Quarter Horse News to his public Facebook forum, “Jaime Beamer North Texas NCHA Director Discussion Group,” where he made a lengthy statement around 10 a.m. on Sept. 23. In that update, Beamer explained that Burch had met with the amateur committee during the closed session at Convention, and then conducted a 45-minute conference call with the members of the committee to further explain her proposal on Aug. 10.
“During that call, Lindy addressed the committee; I asked everyone if there were any questions, comments or concerns over what Lindy had proposed,” Beamer wrote. “Not one comment was made from the amateur committee. After Lindy left the phone call, I again asked everyone if there were any concerns or comments over what she had proposed. No one said a word.”
Eight days later, and four days prior to the Executive Committee meeting, Burch sent a written copy of the proposal she had discussed on the conference call to Beamer for dissemination among the committee members. According to Beamer, he forwarded that proposal on to the committee; however, he wrote in his Facebook post, “Committee members are saying they never received it. I will take full responsibility for not double checking with committee members to ensure they actually received my email.”
Chuck Smith, president and interim executive director of the NCHA, declined to comment on this matter at the current time. As of Sept. 23, the changes to the amateur exception rules were scheduled to go into effect for the 2017 point year.