Yogi Berra once said, “It’s not the heat, it’s the humility.” That about sums up the National Cutting Horse Association Summer Spectacular so far. It has been hot, but it always is in summertime Texas. The difference is the humidity, very high. Horses and people sweat for the cooling of evaporation. The more water already in the air, the less it can take up. This makes us produce even more sweat, which means you have to drink lots of water. The trick is to stay ahead of water loss; it takes 24 to 48 hours to replace water if you get in deficit.
The National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Convention took place in June, and since then I’ve been thinking of several things to share with all of you. During the course of the convention, as there always is, there was conversation that circled around the subject of the ineffectiveness of our governance and the apparently broken system of implementing change.
The first day of the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Convention is about over. I have gone to two meetings and nobody has even pulled a knife. Kinda boring.
Sitting in my new studio writing this, a month ago now, and it’s raining. It’s been raining often this year. Got our first cutting baled a month ago and can’t get it out. Not far from being able to cut again. Nothing to do for it but to be patient. If you have done any farming, you know to never, ever put a rut in a pasture. If you haven’t, let me save you the trouble of learning the hard way. Those ruts cannot be fixed. That spot is changed forever. You will never quit banging your head on your truck roof. The equipment will always bump there and leave a raggedy spot. It will always hold water differently, and grow weeds and mosquitos.
We all go “work” our ponies. “Work the flag.” “Work some cows.” “Practice cuts.” Most of the time these are short sessions. Show up early, often right after breakfast, which was right after last call. Saddle up, lope a little, work, put up and leave. In some cases, your horse is ready and you step on, work and leave.
If you sent invites to people to get up at 3 a.m. to meet you at a trainer’s barn an hour away when the temperature was either below freezing or close to 100 so y’all could spend two hours waiting to ride five minutes, all in the hopes of getting a little praise from that trainer, my suspicion is very few would accept. The kindest of your friends would suggest you seek counseling, assuming you still have some friends in the real world who haven’t already written you off as bat guano crazy. Most regular people’s goals involve having enough success in life that they don’t have to get up at 3 when it is so cold Huskies won’t go outside. Not us. Our goals are to earn this privilege; we can hardly wait.
I am sure that most of you are aware of the many and varied opinions on recent drug policies that involve the horse racing industry, as well as those that concern our show and performance horses. After much thought on this subject and especially after the American Quarter Horse Association’s (AQHA) suspension of the Multiple Medication Violation System as it pertains to Quarter Horse racing, I think our equine industry’s efforts should be pointed in a concerted direction.
We all know one. Most of us have had one, to our regret. The “pet” horse, pony, or the equine world’s version of the devil incarnate, a Shetland pony. It was a gift for the chil’ren, most often a girl child so she could play “doll dress up” – lovingly leading, washing, brushing, feeding treats, weaving ribbons in manes and tails, sometimes even riding them. Indulging them in every whim imaginable till they become the sorriest, most aggravating, vexing things to ever set foot on your place. They became the worst of all things. A “pet.”
“Tack” is all our leather goods for horses, mostly bridles and saddles. Stuff you keep in a “tack room.” That half pint of whiskey hidden on a rafter is not tack, though. “Tact” is the skill of saying what needs to be said, when it needs to be, by the person who should, to the person who needs to hear it – without malice and hurt. You can never have too much of either.