The National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) responded to member criticism surrounding a pending amateur exception rule change with a letter from Preident and Interim Executive Director Chuck Smith on Sept. 28. The controversy began after the NCHA Executive Committee approved a rule change during its meeting on Aug. 22.
While some were in favor of the changes, others were adamantly opposed and question whether proper parliamentary procedure was followed. Read Quarter Horse News Managing Editor Kelsey Pecsek’s article about the social media backlash here.
Smith’s letter was posted on the NCHA’s website and emailed to NCHA directors. It states, in part: “There appears to be some confusion concerning the action taken by the Executive Committee at its August 22, 2016 meeting to adopt a recommendation from the Non Pro/Amateur Review Committee relating to the modification of the existing amateur exception rules effective in the 2017 point year.
“The Amateur 10yr/$15,000 Exception Rule, which is currently in the [NCHA] Rule Book, allows past trainers who have trained astride in other equine disciplines to return to the Amateur division if certain requirements are met. That exception was recommended in 2009 as part of the Non-Pro Amateur Task Force Proposal, was vetted by the Amateur Committee, was recommended to the Executive Committee by majority vote by the Amateur Committee and has been in the Rule Book since 2010 (See page 152 of the NCHA Rule Book).”
Smith explained that the recommendation that was approved was a modification of time and monetary limits already contained in the current exception rule. He also indicated the NCHA Executive Committee strongly endorsed the changes, which will go forward as approved. The updated rule is expected to be included in the 2017 NCHA Rule Book.
The letter went on to give a long and detailed history of the NCHA’s Amateur division and its exception rules, as well as the formation of the non-pro amateur review committee in 2009. It ended with the statement: “Only past presidents have ever served on this committee. That committee makes recommendations it feels best serve the association as a whole. Without the developments that have come from that committee, many who are now competing in the amateur, unlimited amateur and non-pro divisions would not be eligible.”