What is the most expensive kind of maintenance? Deferred. The cheapest? Preventative. The easiest to put off? Regular. The most ignored? Ourselves. I am tired of being serious. Pay attention.
I write this column a month in advance of its published date so, I can only guess at the outcome of the upcoming American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) Convention. By now, all of you will have heard the news as to who has been elected to serve AQHA’s membership on the executive committee, board of directors, changes in the rules and other pertinent information that has been decided on during this annual meeting.
As a community, we are all in this together. In truth, the whole world is in this together. It’s hard to understand how one fool on the other side of the world can pull off one stunt and we all go barefoot in the airport. Or it can be one hero and the change is for the better. The world of cutting is no different.
Buttermilk is always good for a column subject. She thought I should tell you about the work involved at shows – in particular, aged events, and even more specifically, the National Cutting Horse Association Futurity. Given that she is smarter and more observant than me, and the keeper of the TV clicker, I agreed. I could make this the shortest column ever. Easily. It is a lot. But that is too easy, so...here it is.
The National Cutting Horse Association Futurity Non-Pro starts as I write. Horse shows have a “feel;” this one is very good, like it should be and what we want. I’m driving in from Whiskey Flats, listening to Norwegian Symphony tunes, to meet a Swiss snowboard racing lady, a man from Venezuela and a Ukrainian truck driver. I have run video feed for a Canadian. I have made a loper from Israel laugh. I helped “Fish,” the Eritrean parking attendant, help a girl from Wisconsin find her car and a cutter from Peaster, himself. Facebook has given me cutter friends from all over the world. These global connections are fascinating. This is old in the world of horses and cows.
This column comes out deep into the National Cutting Horse Association Futurity. Even though I am writing before it even starts, I know we have seen some great runs. I am clairvoyant like that. Everybody has seen old friends, made some new ones, told each other Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukah or such. It’s all good. We are going to get down to the end and start passing out trophies, buckles, swag and most importantly, checks – big ones in some cases.
The NCHA Futurity starts this month. Our biggest deal. In today’s world of war, pestilence, drought, non-functioning politicians, earthquakes, rampant crazy and such, we are tiny. I’m guessing Mr. Putin has never even heard of us. Too bad, we could fix him. We could fix a lot of oversized egos, given a half a chance. During this Futurity thing, we ain’t knowing much about him, either. It is all consuming. Because all it takes is all you got and, unfortunately, that is sometimes still not enough.
Embarrassed here. I am used to it though. Been doing it to myself for a while. I talk about cutting being all about quality. Buttermilk brought it to my attention (of course she did) that I have never really defined “quality.” So, I am going to have a crack at it.
Semifinals at the National Cutting Horse Association’s 2014 Summer Spectacular, sitting in my and Buttermilk’s box. Tom Holt just said the prayer and played the anthem – a grounding moment. There are five sets of Derby semifinalists; it’s do or die. The big money and fame are for the taking. It’s about getting one shown. Putting a run together.
I would like to visit with you about a hot topic in the reining industry – the National Reining Horse Association’s proposed drug rule. Whether you agree or not, I ask that you please consider what I share with you, based on my more than 40 years of experience in the horse business. This is my opinion and only mine. I have thought long and hard about sharing it, because there are people who feel very strongly about drug rules, and I know I am exposing myself and my family to criticism. I ask that you read with an open mind, and not resort to personal attacks on Facebook or other social media sites.
Let me start by saying I do not agree with any horse trainer, owner or vet who drugs an unsound horse and blocks them to the point that they cannot feel their limbs, feet or otherwise. I am first a horseman and firmly disagree with this type of doping. You can ask any client of mine in the past 25 years of my professional career; I will not do this. I believe my horse is my teammate and I do not want to cripple or damage one for life. I know there are owners and trainers in this industry who want to win at all costs. I am not one.
However, what I can tell you is no drug rule will stop that type of individual from doing what it takes to win.