ncha regional circuit task force to explore new show concepts
The National Cutting Horse Association has appointed a committee to explore the concept of a regional circuit system for the organization. * Photo by Molly Montag

Task Force Exploring NCHA Regional Circuit Concept

A task force is expected to produce a report this year exploring the concept of a regional circuit in the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA).

The group, which was appointed by the NCHA’s Governance, Promotion & Growth Committee, was formed to investigate the design and implementation of a system of regional circuit championships. The concept of some sort of regional championship system drew strong support at the 2019 NCHA Convention, the association said.

Drawing on lessons from the success of similar “circuit” systems in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA), the goal is to attract and keep NCHA competitors by creating prestige and motivation for increased participation at the local level by cutters who are not interested in hauling, or cannot feasibly haul, for the NCHA World Championships, but who desire and are able to compete and achieve in a smaller geographical area. 

The basic outline of a circuit championships system involves annual circuit finals at some type of area or regional level, culminating in a National Circuit Finals Championship. Implementing such a system, however, will be a major undertaking. 

Concept Details & Plans

The job of the task force – called the Framing Task Force — is to give the Governance, Promotion & Growth Committee and, ultimately, NCHA directors, its membership, the NCHA Competition Committee and the association’s Executive Committee the information and options needed to create a full-blown, well-designed plan for a successful and ongoing circuits program. 

The Governance, Promotion & Growth Committee to decide whether to move forward with the concept, decide how to move forward or draft a plan and proposal. 

“It will eventually be up to our Committee to decide whether to move forward with the circuits concept and, if we do decide to go forward, to draft a full proposal and plan,” Dan Agnew, vice-chairman of the Governance, Promotion & Growth Committee said in a statement released by the NCHA. “But we need to do our homework first, and the Framing Task Force is helping us do that on everything from finances to administration and operational execution to sponsors to the actual rules for circuit championships.” 

Agnew said the task force exploring an NCHA regional circuit concept is made up of people with strong reputations for solving programs, as well as for strategic thinking and analysis. They are: Zeke Entz (TN), John Rutherford (TX), Kirby Smith (NE), Russel Elrod (OR), John Echeverria (NV), and Steve Starnes (TX). Organizational support will be provided by Dave Pilcher (IN) and Joe Kalt (AZ/MT). 

Further Vetting

Members of the task force are expected to issue a report detailing their findings by late fall of this year. The Governance, Promotion & Growth Committee will review the report and, according to the NCHA, likely form a Regional Circuit Development subcommittee comprised of representation from each region. This will allow for input from all regions. This subcommittee will further develop and recommend a finalized detailed proposal for discussion at the June NCHA convention.

This process will lead to presentation to the Competition Committee for final vetting and presentation of recommendation to the Executive Committee. The objective of this timetable is to target implementation of this initiative at the beginning of the 2021 earnings/point year. 

Circuit Opportunities

The NCHA said the Task Force has already sought and received input from the PRCA and NRHA. It learned that those organizations have found that offering regional circuit opportunities for annual achievement has proven highly attractive to rank-and-file competitors, while at the same time sustaining incentives and recognition for competitors who want to haul for the World Finals, according to the NCHA.

 “The goal of a system of circuit championships is to give all NCHA members the ability and incentive to rise to their desired and feasible levels of achievement,” Agnew said. “If we can broaden our base of rank-and-file Weekend cutters, every segment of our sport will benefit.”

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