There’s no doubt, I love spending time with my two granddaughters. Emery is 3 and Harper is almost 2, and watching them play or listening to what might come out of their mouths next is entertainment at its finest. When Emery has an announcement to make or wants to get your attention she cries out, “Hey anybodys!” (And believe me, she can always get her Pop’s attention!) One of my favorite things is watching how Emery and Harper love their horses. I see them and I wonder: Is a child’s attention and focus on horses caused by environment or parental direction? Is this “horse bug” actually inherited by a recessive gene no one has identified as yet? You might laugh at such a notion, but sometimes a child’s love for horses seems to pop up out of nowhere.
Breeding season is full on, with lots of time left. There is a special thrill to winning on a horse you raised. You own the mama; you won on her. You earn respect as an astute horse person. People want your advice. Justin Bieber wants your autograph. The President is offering you a cabinet post. Angels sing when you pull the rig into Will Rogers. Life is good.
In this modern day and age of advanced technology, with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and email, most of us have become so connected that our lives start to appear like an open book. I’m on the side of those who say, “It’s a good thing.” But I know many of you share a different feeling about “baring one’s soul” in such a public forum.
The world is turning green again, in this hemisphere, anyway. Mares are foaling, cows springing. Tender grass is showing. The Super Stakes is right now in a minute. Our clock for the year has started, just as it has done since the mid-1800s, at least in the world of horses, cows and our sport – cutting.
The threads in this make the cloth of the sack that holds the why of the way we do things like we do. Timing is based on God and Mother Nature’s schedules, not ours. We use theirs because it is so much easier. Stuff just meshes up, like a six-speed transmission. Low gears lug us slowly, but steadily, out of the inactive winter into the higher gears of spring as we break loose the grip, shifting up as we gain traction and momentum.
I don’t usually write toward trainers; I write about them a lot, them being easy targets and all. Plus, I use way too many big words. But, after watching a lot of the Amateur and Non-Pro during the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Futurity, I saw a need. There seems to be a big gap between what a trainer thinks we know and what we really know. Some are actually surprised at how dumb we can be. Even though they never taught us that “thing,” since they have known that “thing” since they were 3, they just assumed we had downloaded that “thing” when we shook hands the first time.
Buttermilk and I have been going to some “weekend” shows. It has been like high school homecoming – a comfortable thing, seeing old friends and making new ones. There are two and one-half minutes in the herd, but 24 hours in a day. It is all about the two and a half, but it would be not near as much fun without all the rest – loading before daylight, watching the sun come up, Allsup’s coffee, saddling, hanging chaps, bridles and war bag on your horse. Once your feet are on show dirt, all is right with the world.
Last month I addressed the sales model of the show/performance industry and how lowering the standard commission would help producers and encourage growth. That’s one step. But there are many more steps we need to take along the way, as we continue along a road where we are constantly sideswiped by the marketplace’s shrinking base.
Economically and demographically, we’re not where we were 10 years ago. And yet our business model is still chugging ahead as though it’s a decade back.
We are approaching the halfway mark on this year’s National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Futurity. If you have been here, you have seen a lot of horses work – outstanding ones, good ones and some embarrassingly bad. What everyone is looking for is the future, which is kind of why we call it the “Futurity.” Last month, I mentioned the 600 or so days a trainer has to get a horse ready for the Futurity. Not a minute is wasted or rushed. Everything is done just right, in order and in time.
This month, the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Futurity starts in Fort Worth, Texas. It is one more very big deal, the pivot point of our world. It is the first time these 3-, coming 4-year-old horses have a hand dropped in real competition, in front of real judges.