Vice President candidate Chuck Smith

Reasons why I am interested in serving as NCHA Vice President: I think there are three components to being an effective association leader.

  1. Know the history of the association
  2. Have a vision of what it takes to make it better.
  3. Know how to work within the system to accomplish established goals.

I have made a living in the cutting horse business as a trainer, show producer, director, judge, and teacher of cutting over the last 30 years.

Here at my cutting facility located just outside Columbus, Ohio, I have introduced hundreds of new people to our sport. Many have stayed with me for over twenty years. I have produced over 150 weekend shows at my location and 35 limited aged events at the Ohio Expo Center. I have been a director for 25 years and am also a AAAA judge. I am serving my fourth term on the Executive Committee, and have chaired the Long Range Planning and Limited Aged Events Show Producers Committees. Therefore, I have a thorough knowledge of our association, its past, and how it works.

My vision is to help our entire association maintain stability and grow.
I see the association basically in three parts; major limited aged events, seasoned hard-core weekend cutters, and others doing it just for fun (where most new people enter the sport). Each group is motivated by different goals, but all three must be functioning well for the association to grow. I think we are currently out of balance. The first two groups are solid but the third group (the new people and those doing it for fun) need attention. This group is where our future riders and horse owners come from.

A lot of work has gone into creating the great association we have. Let’s not tamper with the parts that are working. Triple Crown events, Major Events Trust Fund, Premier LAEs’, Mercuria events, and World Finals at Fort Worth during the Futurity have all been great successes. Let’s make sure we continue with their improvement and needs, but let’s now focus on our affiliates who are struggling to stay solvent and who need help in maintaining membership and recruiting new members.

Each area and even affiliates within the areas deal with different sets of problems. A few of the problems range from cattle availability and cost to show facility availability, and distance to shows. We need to listen more to the affiliate needs and try to become as flexible as possible without giving up the standards that set us apart from other associations. I think the grassroots program we started last year is a step in the right direction, but is by no means the only step.

We should do what ever it takes to give new people a good first experience, make them feel like there is a welcome place for them in our organization, and that we recognize and reward achievement and advancement.

My proudest moment in NCHA was back in 1998 when I spearheaded the Achievement Buckle program and it became a reality. Winning a buckle seems to define us as a true cutter whether at the Triple Crown level or as a grassroots cutter. The achievement buckle has been the first step for many in a long cutting journey and hopefully a first step for many yet to come.

I would appreciate your vote for Vice President and will do my best to help keep us in balance.

–Chuck Smith

NCHA takes additional steps for animal welfare

The National Cutting Horse is investigating new measures at shows it produces in Fort Worth in 2014 to protect the health and safety of cutting horses. The steps the horse and cattle welfare committee are looking at include having an official veterinarian on-call during the shows, setting up an emergency treatment area, and having an equine ambulance readily available.

Plans for these new measures were advanced following an incident at the 2013 NCHA Futurity where Miss Callie Cat, ridden by Tarin Rice, colicked during her run in the Open Semi-Finals. Rice immediately ceased working the horse once he recognized her signs of distress, and walked her to the back of the arena. Numerous friends and fellow equine professionals rushed to the horse’s aid, according to Rice, for which he was grateful. The mare was promptly transported to Equine Sports Medicine and Surgery, and she immediately underwent colic surgery.

“Evidently, her gut twisted during my run in the Semis,” Rice said. “I knew something was wrong, and when I walked out, she immediately started having trouble. As soon as we got her stable, we got her in the trailer and to the vet clinic. They did surgery and from the time they woke her up, everything has been right on plan.”

The surgery was done by Dr. Ty Tipton who, according to Rice, expects the mare to make a full recovery.

“The cutting horse community rallied to help the mare and make sure she was well cared for,” said NCHA Executive Director Jim Bret Campbell regarding the mare’s colic. “NCHA’s drug testing veterinarian arrived as quickly as possible, and we were also prepared to evacuate the mare from the arena within minutes, but unfortunately the mare wasn’t in a position to be loaded. From a medical standpoint, we were doing everything we could to take care of the horse.”

Lindy Burch, chairperson of NCHA’s Animal Welfare Committee, concurred that the horse’s well-being was top priority throughout the incident, and added that the NCHA is doing everything possible to ensure any future injuries can be treated promptly and efficiently. “Everybody was very concerned about the incident, and it highlighted the fact that we must always be prepared for illness or injury,” she explained.

“We’re fortunate to have some of the world’s best veterinary and surgery facilities within 40 minutes of Will Rogers Coliseum,” Burch said. “Our main goal is to have the best possible way to stabilize and transport a horse to one of those facilities.”

Immediate access to veterinary care, a treatment area stocked with veterinary supplies, and an equine medical transport vehicle are changes being made that Burch said will more than likely be in place for the NCHA Super Stakes, which begins in March. Burch said her committee is also working to develop protocols for a horse to be cleared for competition if it appears to be unsound or in distress, similar to the procedures that are commonly used at racetracks, but putting those procedures into place will take a little more time.

Miss Callie Cat’s colic was the second unfortunate incident for the horse, who had also cut her tongue on baling twine the day before. As Rice explained, the mare was tied outside of her stall while his helpers blanketed her when she grabbed the twine that held up the blanket bar with her mouth. Rice said he’s not sure how it happened, but somehow it caused the horse to cut her tongue.

“It was a very freak deal,” Rice explained of the injury. “I’ve dealt with horses my entire life and I’ve never seen anything like that. I don’t know if it got around her tongue; I don’t know what happened.”

Rice called upon Dr. Chris Ray, also of Equine Sports Medicine and Surgery, who was on the show grounds at the time. According to Rice, Ray examined the mare’s tongue and said no further action was needed for treatment. The injury required no stitches, and Ray approved the horse to continue in competition as long as she was drinking and eating properly.

“There was no bleeding on the tongue when I got there,” said Ray of his initial examination of the horse. “I told Tarin that as long as she was acting herself and eating and drinking, that she would be okay to show. She was eating and drinking within hours, and it was our opinion that she was healthy.”

Ray added that the team at ESMS did not feel that the mare’s colic was in any way related to her tongue injury.

“She had a displacement [of the intestine], which is not associated with any sort of injury to the mouth. She was fine before he showed her that night. To have that much displacement that quickly, we believe it happened during her run.”

The injuries that Miss Callie Cat suffered from during the NCHA Futurity were a series of unfortunate occurrences, none of which were a result of lack of care on Rice’s part, he assured. Rice recently reported that the mare is back at his barn and is well on her way to a full recovery.

“We haven’t started riding her yet, but there’s no reason to believe she won’t come back one hundred percent and be able to show this year,” Rice concluded.

“These animals are our whole life, so we take the very best care of them that we can.”

Denver to host 2013 NCHA Western Nationals

On Sept. 27, NCHA and the National Western Complex of Denver, Colo., reached an agreement to host the NCHA Western National Championships presented by 6666 Ranch in Denver, April 28-May 9, 2014. It has previously been in Reno, Nev., and Ogden, Utah.

While NCHA did not solicit bids for the Western National Championships, Denver and Nampa, Idaho, submitted bids along with Reno.

After analyzing the bids, the final contenders were Denver and Reno, and NCHA appreciates the hard work by the committees representing those two sites. It was a very difficult choice for the Executive Committee because of the impact the selection has on so many members and the challenges they face because of the sheer size and mountain ranges of the West.

After reviewing the very competitive bids, the Executive Committee requested staff investigate the potential for having championship shows in both locations. After thoroughly reviewing the financial impact of two shows, available dates at the facilities and access to cattle, it became clear that having a total of three championship shows per year is not feasible at this time.

However, the NCHA Executive Committee has established an outstanding compromise plan that addresses the needs of the greatest number of members by rotating the event between Midwestern (Denver or similar) and Western (Reno or other) locations on an annual basis through at least 2017.

For the 2014 site selection, the committee voted to go to Denver because of the city’s competitive financial bid, number of anticipated entries and drive time. Substantial numbers of NCHA members called and/or emailed in support of both Reno and Denver.
That is why the Executive Committee has made a commitment to rotating the Western Nationals to accommodate the largest number of NCHA members on an annual basis.

NCHA members have until November 10 to qualify to compete in the Eastern Nationals to be held in Jackson, Miss., and the Western Nationals in Denver. Qualification requires that an entry fee be paid and the rider rides to the herd in the event in which they wish to qualify. A total of $200,000-added is offered at each event, along with a significant prize package that includes RooHide saddles, Gist Silversmith belt buckles, Joey Jemison chaps, 5 Star Equine saddle pads and Platinum Performance and Lubrisyn products.

NCHA receives latest payment from Texas Major Event Trust Fund

The National Cutting Horse Association, in partnership with the City of Fort Worth, received $2.1 million from the Texas Major Events Trust Fund on September 25. The payment includes funds derived from the 2012 NCHA Futurity. The funds are the final payment of more than $4.1 million received from the METF for the NCHA Triple Crown events held in 2012.

“NCHA and the City of Fort Worth had a very productive meeting with the State Comptrollers office September 23 in the association’s continuing efforts to meet all requirements of the Texas Major Events Trust Fund,” said NCHA Executive Director Jim Bret Campbell. “Through the process of the last year, NCHA is grateful that it has been instrumental in changing legislation that will ensure even greater accountability for all groups applying to the Major Events Trust Fund.”

“It is undeniable that enhancing the purses at the Triple Crown events has had a positive effect on the value of the cutting horse throughout the country,” he said. “Much like the Kentucky Derby drives the sales of Thoroughbreds, the NCHA Triple Crown provides for an economic incentive that drives the value of the cutting horse.”

Campbell also noted that a portion of the funds can be used to promote the Triple Crown events and encourage attendance by out-of-state visitors.

“NCHA’s participation in the fund is a partnership with the City of Fort Worth and the State of Texas, which means NCHA has a responsibility to honor its commitment by finding new and innovative ways to market and expand its events with the goal of bringing large groups to the state and city.”

The NCHA’s Triple Crown – the NCHA Futurity, the NCHA Super Stakes and the Great American Insurance Group Summer Cutting Spectacular – are the only equine events included in the Texas Major Events Trust Fund (METF). Other events in the fund are Formula One Racing, which earned $29.3 million and the NCAA Final Four Men’s Basketball Tournament, which earned more than $11 million.

Other equine groups are included in the Texas Events Trust Fund (ETF), which operates under a different reporting period, and includes such entities as the American Paint Horse Association, the American Miniature Horse Association, the Reichert Celebration, the National Reined Cow Horse Association and the American Quarter Horse Association.

NCHA Executive Committee Meeting

The NCHA Executive Committee met August 19-20 to review and vote on the recommendations put forward by the Association’s standing committees from the NCHA Convention.

The Executive Committee heard updates from finance committee chair Terry Strange. In addition, the committee heard an update about the Texas Major Events Trust Fund application and reimbursement process from the City of Fort Worth. Jim Short, who serves as the association’s lobbyist and legislative consultant, also gave an update on legislative activity.

Minutes from the meeting will be distributed to directors within 10 days, however, following is a summary of action taken by the Executive Committee of particular interest to most members. All rule changes will be printed in the October issue of the Chatter and online at

Amateur Payout at Triple Crown events
The amateur committee recommended a change to the percentages of added money between open, non-pro and amateur. The current payout distribution is:

53 % Open
3 % Limited Open
35 % Non-Pro
5 % Limited Non-Pro
2 % Unlimited Amateur
2 % $50,000 Amateur

In contrast to the amateur committee, the non-pro committee recommended no change to the payout distribution. After a lengthy debate, the Executive Committee approved the following changes to the added money percentages for Triple Crown events:

53 % Open
3% Limited Open
33% Non-Pro
3 % Limited Non-Pro
5 % Unlimited Amateur
3% $50,000 Amateur

The Executive Committee discussed and considered the recommendations of both the amateur and non-pro committees in making a decision that balances the needs of the widest cross-section of members.

Western Nationals
The committee also reviewed site bids for the location of the 2014 Four Sixes Western Nationals, which has been in Reno, Nevada, for two years. While NCHA did not solicit bids for the 2014 event, the association did receive bids from Nampa, Idaho, and Denver, Colorado, along with a renewal bid from Reno.

There are multiple criteria that the committee considers in making a site selection decision for any event, including the Western Nationals. The Western Nationals are especially difficult to accommodate all members because of the sheer size and geographic features of the West. The committee weighs the financial impact of the bids to the association, travel distances for members and the financial impact to members at the various facilities.

As the process should work, members in support of the two sites provided letters and/or emails recommending having the Western Nationals in either Reno or Denver as the leading sites based on support from members and the strength of the bids. The number of letters and/or emails ran almost equal in support of each site.

With that feedback from members, the committee has asked the NCHA staff to analyze the opportunity to hold both a Western Nationals in Reno and a Midwestern Nationals in Denver in 2014. Obviously, there is a wide range of needs to consider before making a decision. However, with the size of the regions, at least exploring the possibility of adding a show seemed prudent to the committee to meet the needs of the greatest number of NCHA members who desire to show at a national championship show. The committee asked for staff to provide the analysis by September 15.

If it is not possible to hold two shows in 2014 because of a lack of funding, available dates or other reasons, NCHA will finalize a single location for the 2014 event and investigate a third national show in 2015 and later.

Horse & Cattle Welfare Committee
The executive committee also approved changes to the medication rules that will clarify anabolic steroids as prohibited substances that includes guidelines for dosages and withdrawal times for members’ use.

The committee also approved increasing the drug fee charged at NCHA-produced events to $15 to cover the Association’s cost of drug testing and, more importantly, provide more education to members, trainers and exhibitors about the medication policy and procedures.