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Trainer’s Corner – Tommy Marvin

June 4th, 2019 by Sophia Skeith

Tommy MarvinMoney Won: $2,202,721

Titles/Finals: 2005 NCHA Open Futurity Champion on Highbrows Supercat,

2 x Arbuckle Mountain Open Derby Champion on CP Jesse Cat and MK Reymate

1990 NCHA Derby Reserve Champion on Hickorys Prescription.

Top Three Horses Trained:

Highbrow Super Cat, CP Jesses Cat, and Catsa Movin

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Russell McCord- A Quest For Fairness

June 4th, 2019 by Sophia Skeith

Being judged is always emotional, even when you choose to be judged in the name of competition. Subjective sports are often rife with controversy, because let’s face it, everyone has an opinion. Cutting is no exception.

Judging only works when there is a clearly understood system governed by rules, enacted by experts, and most importantly, is delivered consistently. You could say, this has been the overriding mission of Russell McCord for more than 30 years!

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Member Spotlight: Cody Lamont

June 4th, 2019 by Sophia Skeith

From northern Queensland, Australia, Cody Lamont has quickly made a name for himself in cutting. Growing up in the saddle, Lamont roamed his family’s cattle stations on the back of a horse. As a young man, Lamont had a passion for rodeo where he competed as a roper.

In 2009, Lamont landed a job with the great Al Dunning. And so his intrigue for cutting horses was born.

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Morgan Cromer- Woman On Fire!

June 4th, 2019 by Sophia Skeith

Morgan Cromer

Winning three million dollars in cutting is an accomplishment many aspire to but few achieve. Yet, Morgan Cromer from Templeton, California, just surpassed that mark, joining an elite group of trainers after picking up a check at the 2019 NCHA Super Stakes. In fact, Cromer has been earning checks at an astonishing rate. In the past three years, she has doubled her prize money. That’s $1.5-million!

Cromer fell in love with cutting as a young girl. She has now made waves as an accomplished trainer and is one of only 3 women who have achieved this incredible feat. She now stands side by side with Kathy Daughn and Lindy Burch, two trainers she has looked up to her whole life.

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Trainer’s Corner: Turner West

May 3rd, 2019 by Nevada Huffman

We welcome talented two year old trainer Turner West to the CHTO fold! Based in Weatherford, TX, Turner operates a thriving business out of Chris Johnsrud’s Cutting horse facility that employs several assistant trainers.

With 14 years of experience, Turner has worked for Phil Rapp, John Mitchell and
David Costello. His wife Lauren also assists Turner as well running her own baby clothing company called Cowbaby Gear. The busy couple has two young boys.

Turner has started numerous NCHA and NRCHA Champions such as Crey Zee, Tornado Watch, One Shiney Metallic, Metallic Chrome Cat and many more. He has also trained some of the top selling horses in the Western Bloodstock NCHA Futurity Sales that have gone on to have
successful careers.

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Bringing Back Cutting To NY State

May 3rd, 2019 by Nevada Huffman

Staff Sargent Amber Roberts has poured her life into honorably serving her country. Now her mission is to grow the sport of cutting in the New England and help others develop a passion for it like hers. This feat hasn’t proved easy as cutting horses have been slim
to nonexistent in her region. Predominately in New York State, disciplines consist of

Amber Roberts

dressage, and hunter jumper and some ranch sorting.

Roberts grew up in Wisconsin. Her parents bred someof the top Buckskin all-around performance horses in the mid-west including an International Buckskin Horse Association (IBHA) Supreme Champion and multiple IBHA Congress Champions.

However, Roberts shifted gears and joined the United States Army. Being stationed and deployed overseas for 10 of the 14 years of active duty, Roberts longed for the adrenalin rush of riding a horse. On a short visit home, she rode her first cutter and was instantly hooked!

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Discovering Cutting In South Africa

March 13th, 2019 by Nevada Huffman

We all know that cutting is practiced in many countries around the world, but it may surprise you to learn there’s a burgeoning cutting scene in South Africa. A small number of passionate riders have created an informal but fun cutting group according to Anthony Galliers, who discovered CHTO as a learning tool. He is from Rosetta in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.

We found it interesting to hear how cutting was structured in South Africa, as well as some of the challenges they face to get quality 

How long have you been involved in the industry, and what brought you into it? 

“My wife and I come from jumping and Polo Cross back grounds. We dairy farm so [we] don’t get out much. So we were looking for fun activities to do on [our] farm. We had luck when we stumbled on a western disciple show in 2014, this lead to our daughter falling in love with reining. This lead to the sale of all things English (tack and horses) and to us sourcing western tack and quarter horses. 

The whole family soon got hooked. My wife, daughter and son compete in reining. It left me to find my thing. I started to look up what else was out there and came across cutting via you-tube about 2 years ago. So we built a sand arena which allows us to ‘play’ in between milking cows.”

 What is the cutting industry like in South Africa? 

“It is just a few of us committed folk getting together every six weeks and to see where our horses are at. We have a lot of laughs and we share the little we have learnt between meetings, you tube videos and videos brought over from the States. This is 1000% hobby but hell we are having fun.” 

How often do cuttings take place, and how far do you have to travel? 

“As mentioned we try to meet and hold fun cutting days every 6 weeks, work and season depending. The six of us farmers are all located in our province (state) known as KwaZulu Natal. What is great is that we are all located in a 100 km (60 mile) radius of each other so we travel to one of the two farms where cutting pens have been made.” 

What are the challenges with importing horses/genetics to South Africa? 

“Importing horses is an option but a very expensive procedure, especially with the weak Rand to Dollar [conversion rates]. There are horses here in South Africa that have been imported mainly for reining and pleasure work. As a result the studs here are reining and pleasure genetics. We have however had a bit of Colonel Freckles, Smart Little Lena, a Highbrow Cat great grandson and Peppy San Badger genetics brought into to our gene pool. And that is what we have focused on for our cow horses. Regarding semen imports we have major governmental barriers in place that prevent us from importing semen at present which is a massive hurdle. We are working through this, however in Africa this requires governmental intervention so we can’t hold our breath for this to happen quickly.” 

What is the most popular horse discipline in South Africa? 

“We have a large race horse industry which feeds horses into various sports. Polo and Polo Cross are big team horse sports here. South Africa is the current holder of the World Cup Polo Cross trophy. 

Thoroughbreds have been the main horses used for many English disciplines. The Aussie Stock horse crosses have recently come into their own, for polo cross, via a breeding program that has been going on here for some 10 years. Then jumping, dressage and eventing is well set up with good followings, warmbloods and thoroughbreds are mainly used. Gymkhana events [similar to a 4H show] are held under the banner – Mounted Games and this is very popular.” 

What is the cutting horse market in South Africa like? 

“Cutting specifically, it is still very small, however there is a demand for the ranch type horse. But we like to believe we will attract folk to the sport as more horse and rider combinations are able to showcase the sport. 

We rely on CHTO DVDs and you-tube for some kind of direction. As well as investing in trips to the US. In June, our family spent time with Uwe Roeshmann and Cody Lamont which was an awesome learning experience and we have tried to implement what we have learnt here in SA. 

Recently we had Mark Lyon from M&M Horsemanship take a trip to South Africa, who taught us a lot. Mark is a colt starter and horsemanship clinician by trade. However he knows enough about cutting and ranch roping and was able to add massive value to us as a group as we got to work on our own horses.” 

 


Kobie Wood – Part 1: Keeping Their Feet To The Fire

February 19th, 2019 by Nevada Huffman

Positioning your horse with the cow is one of the most important things when it comes to cutting. It’s a challenge to all cutters, and one that Hall of Fame Rider Kobie Wood can help you with.

Wood has won more than $5.3 Million in the show pen, and holds an impressive five World Champion titles. His most recent success came after campaigning Cool N’ Hot, one of the industry’s hottest young sires, to become the 2018 NCHA Open Horse of The Year.

CHTO was excited to add Wood to our featured trainer line up on the website. In his popular video series, one of his most important tips is how to position your horse with the cow.

“I don’t like to cut a cow straight up,” Wood said. “I like to cut a cow parallel if it’s at all possible. That way I get my horse [to] where he’s not standing still, and then I want him to find his way in there.”

“Position is everything and that’s all I want to do is get positioned so they can’t beat me,” said Wood.

One of Wood’s main goals when working a horse is getting them to stop where he asks them to, and to keep them free and willing while listening to his feet. Before working cows, he works the freshness off them on the flag.

His next step is “keeping their feet to the fire.” “A lot of [those] horses you let them go over there and stop and they just get to where they don’t come out of there and get ahold of the cow. Well, I want him stopping, backing up and wondering where he’s going next. I don’t want him to blow off and get back off the cow. I want to hold his feet [and] hold that cow,” explained Wood.

During this demonstration on the video, Wood didn’t have turn-back help. When asked why, he explained it as a training tool. “Turn-back help can make you or hinder you. At the cuttings with our cows today, those guys [have to] get outside and just kind of show that cow back to me. I don’t like that when I’m working a young horse or just trying to get the edge off. I want just this.”

“The other thing it created is you get to do more.” “You get to work both sides of the cow” he explained. “I don’t have to stay on the inside of the cow. I can work the outside of a cow working like this and then when it tightens down I can stay to the inside [of the cow].”

Wood described how turn-back help can take away from the cow, and tend to make it unnatural.

Kobie Wood on Cool N Hot

“There was nobody hindering what the cow was thinking and if you can cut a cow and nobody hinders that thinking, you can get a lot more out of it with it not being scared, [and] you could work a lot longer and you can usually get [closer to] the winner’s circle.”

“I train a horse for the feel of what I need him to do,” Wood said. “You can’t just write it down on a piece of paper.”

Watch the entire video of Kobie Wood on www.chtolive.com. 


Get Your Barn Humming – Work Flow Tips For 2019

January 14th, 2019 by Nevada Huffman

 

Duncan interviewing Kellee

Does every step you take around the barn have purpose? Do you have an efficient work flow? Does your staff know what they should be doing at any time of the day? Do you have a maintenance schedule, a vet schedule, an organized work space? Do things get put back after use? These are simple questions that can have a huge impact on how efficient your day to day operation is! 

We recently visited Slate River Ranch in Weatherford, Texas. Slate River is one of the most recognized cutting operations in our industry. Barn manager, Kellee Clarke, has been with Slate River for 9 years. She walked us through her routines that help keep everything organized and everyone on track. 

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Climbing To The Top – Kody Porterfield

December 18th, 2018 by Nevada Huffman

Kody during his winning run at the Futurity. Photo Credit: Quarter Horse News

He’s a gentle giant making a name for himself in the hallowed Will Rogers Coliseum! Kody Porterfield won his second Limited Open Futurity title in Fort Worth when he rode Cat Gethr and marked a 223.

“It feels great. It feels real good,” he said humbly.

It’s been a big year for trainer Kody Porterfield. He notched up a win in the PCCHA Intermediate Open Classic Challenge, purchased his own training facility near Weatherford TX and of course capped off the year with his Limited Futurity buckle. He also made the Open Futurity Semi Finals on the same horse.

Kody won his first Limited Futurity title in 2015 aboard This Isa Third with a 222. To put Kody’s success into perspective, he more than doubled his earnings with his first win in the Will Rogers three years ago taking home almost $17,000. Since then, the 29 year old trainer has earned approximately $265,000.

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You Don’t Have To Be Born A Champion

November 19th, 2018 by Nevada Huffman

Simone & Blake & Lori Patillo

Cutting hasn’t always been a way of life for the Patillo family. In fact, they had never even owned a horse until a few years ago. Even that was a spur of the
moment decision that they had no idea would
completely change their lives.

While traveling through the “Cutting Horse Capital of the World” during a family holiday, Blake decided his Illinois-based family needed a horse.

Amazed at all the training facilities around Weatherford, Blake, his wife Lori and their four kids drove around the area, when an arena off FM 1885 that caught their eye. Not knowing who it belonged to or what they were looking for, they decided to drive in. “If we pull in here and tell them we want to buy a horse they’ll let us in,” he told his wife confidently at the time.

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Todd Graham – A League Of his Own

September 19th, 2018 by Simone Cobb

On June 10 this year, Australian trainer Todd Graham created cutting horse history. He became the first and only rider to win six Futurities! The legendary Buster Welch has won five in the US and while Todd has won Australian NCHA Futurities, it’s an astonishing feat to win six of any title no matter which country or what sport! Think Roger Federer who is the only player to have won the Australian Open and Wimbledon at least 6 times (Wimbledon is actually 8) or even the greatest Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps won the same event just four times, to show how difficult it is to claim multiple victories in one event.
Last out in the final, Todd rode Duplicity owned by Lloyd Nielson. He marked a 223 to scoot past leader Linda MacCallum’s 219 to win.
“Any Futurity win is good and this last one was special. The guy that owned the mare has been a mate of mine since we were kids,” said Todd.
“We cut the first two cows we knew [were fresh] and we were putting a pretty decent run together…It just felt like it was building. We went back to cut the rerun…and I wasn’t fussed on that. It was kind of numb and wasn’t going to do too much and as I stepped into the herd, out behind me came this other cow…I again knew it was fresh but I didn’t know if it was any good.   Anyway I took a risk and cut it and it was ok, it wasn’t great but it was good enough to finish on without a mistake.”
“Every Futurity I’ve won, you know, as you’re coming along you can feel it building. It’s a big thing I learnt probably years ago, you got to build on your run. You won’t win it in the first 20 seconds.”
“Yeh it was a great feeling, to prove to yourself you could still do it and to do it for Lloyd,” he said.

Todd Graham on Spins Gypsy Queen

Todd Graham on Spins Gypsy Queen

Todd and his wife Jackie were in the States this month looking at horses and cutting facilities. Jackie was also competing in the International Non Pro Cutting Challenge at the El Rancho Futurity in California.
After 25 years running his own training business and working for the public, Todd relocated to Goondiwindi, Queensland to work full time for Andrea McCosker, a wealthy cotton grower and owner of SDM Quarter Horses. Andrea took over the reins from her mother Sue who died a few years ago. Sue had started a breeding program centered around One Time Royalty which stands at Oswood Stallion Station in Texas.
“We were looking for a change just to get away from the grind of working for ourselves and managing all that and it just seemed like a good challenge,” said Todd Graham.
The change couldn’t have come at a better time, with much of Queensland and all of New South Wales suffering one of the worst droughts on record.
“You’re buying horse feed, cow feed, you know paying staff, whereas now, we don’t have any of those worries, so that’s good, “ he said.
It’s been 3 years of well below average rainfalls. Feed costs have more than trebled and hay has had to be shipped from 20 hours away at a cost of $7,000.
“Bare, there’s no grass, it’s just dirt. If you drive around New South Wales or even around our place at Goondiwindi, it’s just dirt, there’s no grass. It’s desperate. It’s just really desperate. There’s towns running out of water, it’s affected the whole country,” said Todd.
While it’s been an adjustment going from boss to employee, Todd said he is excited about establishing SDM Quarter Horses as a major, if not the major, cutting horse and camp draft breeding enterprise with a proven show record.
“She [Andrea] is committed to seeing the Royalties go through and be competitive and sought after” which he said, they look like they will be in the next 12 months. “They’ll suit the camp draft market, they’ll suit the cutters and it’s good to be a part of all that, the developing of that, the promotion of all that.”
Todd and Jackie visited cutting ranches around Weatherford, TX, like the architect-designed Rocking P Ranch owned by Bobby Patton, Slate River and Winston Hansma’s to get ideas for developing their facilities at Goondiwindi.
“We’re building indoor arenas and barns and all that. There’s a lot of horse facilities there but not set up to train cutting horses so we’re redoing the whole thing.”

Todd Graham with kids Addy and Aiden

Todd Graham with kids Addy and Aiden

While building costs are much higher in Australia, a standard indoor arena with no walls costs $120,000, Todd said Andrea plans on creating a show piece.
“We will build one [arena] big enough to hopefully hold a show in it, some competition, some pre-works. Probably put 40 stalls in it, horse walker, try and put it all under one roof. Also want to put in some rehab facilities, state-of-the-art type stuff.   Andrea’s pretty committed to it, if she does anything, she does it right.”
Todd said the breeding adds a new challenge for him as he explained his new goal for SDM Quarter Horses: “I don’t really want to you know go along and just cruise along, I’d like to, I’ve always wanted to be the best so you kind of want to do that too.   You know when people want to buy a horse, they ring (call) us, when people want to breed a mare they ring us, when people want a job, they ring us,” he envisioned.
Always on the lookout for new mares and bloodlines to import, Todd said so far they’ve bred to some Metallic Cats, and Smooth Talking Style. They also currently have a few horses in training with Lloyd Cox.
With camp drafting the biggest market in Australia, the horses also need to be good at running. Camp drafting is an Australian sport that includes a snaffle bit component before riders then guide the cow in a figure eight at speed. It has many similarities to cow horses in the States.
“They are really starting to source them now [from the cutting industry] because of the training that we do on them, they’ve got a great foundation…so they can get on them a lot earlier now than they used to 10 years ago.”
“They need to be soft in a snaffle, they need to rate a cow at speed without getting too hot and be able to run a tight circle.”
But if you think Todd is slowing down in the show pen, think again. Ever ambitious, he said he’d love to also have success in the States. He said Lloyd has a good 3-year-old for the Futurity.
“I said to him the other day if it’s good enough for him to show it, he should show it, but if not I’d like to come do it.”
“It’s more personal pressure because you’ve done it at home and you want to come over here and do it again, not necessarily win but just be there and be competitive,” he added.
It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Todd. He dominated in Australia in the mid 90s when he won his first 3 futurities in a row in 1995, 96 and 97 when Roger Wagner and John Mitchell were on his turn back team. He won again in 2002 but then went 12 long years before returning as Futurity Champion in 2015 and again this year.
While he was still making finals and placing over that 12 year gap, he said he wasn’t able to put it all together, a time when he was going through a divorce.
Now married to Jackie, Todd said being happy helped him get that winning finesse back.
“When you’re content and you’re happy, that’s when your mind’s a bit clearer and you can do the right things and get your focus on what you need to do…I guess your mind’s clearer and more comfortable, you do the right thing, you cut the right cow at the right time.”
“You need that support…it’s long hours, it’s demanding, you know the pressures and all that sort of thing but Jackie’s always there…when you need her and that’s a huge help.”
They are a winning team. Jackie herself won the Non Pro Futurity this year.

Jackie Graham at 2018 Australian NCHA Non Pro Futurity

Jackie Graham at 2018 Australian NCHA Non Pro Futurity

Todd Graham is Australia’s top money earner in the sport with $2.4-million. While you may think it doesn’t compare to the top US trainers like Phil Rapp, Matt Gaines and Lloyd Cox at $9 and $8-million, the prize money offered and the number of cutting shows is far lower. The Futurity pays $75,000 to win and trainers there typically take home a smaller percentage. Todd said the first Futurity he won in 1995 paid $17,000.
“I’ve showed a lot of horses to win $2.4 million,” Todd Graham said.
Todd said cutting has changed a lot in that time, becoming far more technical.
“The mare I won it [1995 Futurity] on was cowy and a little wild and was a little out there and now you can’t do that. You get stung for a small miss or a big miss… the judging’s changed heaps and that’s changed how the horses work…you can’t expose them as much as you used to,” he explained.
Todd said winning is not more difficult now, just different.
“Winning is always difficult, I wouldn’t say it’s any better, I wouldn’t say the cutting is any better now. The horse training’s changed a lot, there’s a lot more control, sometimes it’s a little more bland. Not all horses are bland but the majority of them, it’s taken a lot of style out of them,” he said a little wistfully of the way cutting used to be.
So what’s his secret? Todd said it’s a combination of his mental preparation and a natural talent for the sport.
“Sometimes it just happens, but most of the time you’ve got to make it happen. You’ve got to clear your mind about what you’re doing…here’s my job tonight and this is what I need to do and sort of clear your mind so you can remember the cows and think about how you’re going to work your horse and do all those little things right,” said Todd Graham.
“I’m pretty lucky I’ve got a good feel for a horse and a good feel for a cow…I probably haven’t had to work at the basic stuff. But I guess I’ve developed over the years, my timing is pretty good on a horse and I’ve tried to relate that to the cow. Don’t worry when I was younger I made plenty of mistakes…so you’ve got to wait to the next show and do it again. And that made me get smarter when I show and I guess I’ve got this thing that apparently I don’t look flustered when I’m in there. I can be really nervous but I don’t look like that. I guess I’m lucky in that department and lucky that I found something that I was good at,” said Todd.

Watch Todd Graham’s popular videos on CHTO where he teaches you how to train and show like him! Click here to watch Todd Graham’s previews or login and watch them in full. If you’re not a member yet, get Free Access for 7-Days by clicking here now.

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Sammy Broussard – Member Spotlight

September 6th, 2018 by Simone Cobb
Sammy Broussard

Sammy Broussard

Sammy Broussard has always had his hand in the horse business. His family was one of the first families to bring cattle into the state of Louisiana. Ranching was done on horseback for the Broussard family. In addition to their cattle operation, they also had race horses.

Broussard, from New Iberia, Louisiana, then found himself competing in team penning and working cow horse as a young man. He went to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in 1999 to compete, and that is when he got to watch his first cutting horse competition. “This is the real deal! This is ultimate horsemanship!” Broussard remembered thinking to himself.

A few months later he entered a team penning that was followed by a cutting. He then found himself entered in the cutting as well. His first impression of the cutting horse industry he describes as “Great,” because of how willing everyone was to help turn back for him, even though he didn’t know anyone.

That following week he went to trainer Bob Bouget after being introduced by Bob’s son Boe. Every Wednesday night for the next three years Broussard found himself at his trainer’s house practicing.

He said it is hard to pick the most memorable show moment because, “Every time you have good cattle, your horse works good, and the judges mark you, it’s a good day in the show pen.” His most memorable moment is making the finals in the Will Roger’s Coliseum, after showing there for the first time on a horse he had trained.

MR DAGWOOD is the horse he credits for his success. Sammy Broussard said, “He always finds a way to win. I can count on him at any time.”

WHY SAMMY USES CHTO: “I find that it is a great place to get information from people who know so much and are so willing to share it. If this would’ve been around when I first started, I would’ve been able to learn certain things a lot quicker. This is a tremendous tool for people who are just getting into the industry and keeping them in it.”

Want to enjoy more success in cutting? Get access to the best trainers and showmen/women in the business. It’s the best dollar you’ll ever spend in cutting! So if you’re not a member yet – Click HERE to get a free week and access our entire video library!!!

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Two Ladies And A Plan To Save Cutting – Class Restructure Proposal

August 16th, 2018 by Simone Cobb

There was a buzz at the NCHA Convention in June. Members were excited about the sport’s future for the first time in years. A new plan had been announced to help level the playing field for competitors, eliminate complex rules and encourage cutters to come back in from the cold.
It’s called the Class Restructure Proposal and it’s the brainchild of two passionate cutters, Ora Diehl and Denise Seiz, who have been working on the plan for four years.
“People just did not feel like they had a level playing field and when they felt that way, they just wouldn’t compete and so the entries were going down,” said Seiz.
In fact, in the last 10 years, Seiz said the NCHA’s membership has fallen dramatically from 20,000+ to around 13,000.
“It’s all due to the fact that people didn’t feel like they had a place to play. It all got too costly,” added Diehl.
Diehl said other issues like scheduling classes late into the night and complicated exceptions to the rules were driving people away.
The new system does not completely rewrite the current structure. It proposes three levels to be created within the three main divisions of the Limited Age Events; the Amateur, Non Pro and Open. Below is the breakdown of the levels in the class restructure proposal by lifetime earnings (LTE):

Open Division                    Rider Total Lifetime Earnings
Open                                    $750,000 or more
Intermediate Open           $200,001 – $749,999
Limited Open                     $0 – $200,000

Non-Pro Division              Rider Total Lifetime Earnings
Non-Pro                              $500,000 or more
Intermediate Non-Pro     $100,001 – $499,999
Limited Non-Pro               $0 – $100,000

Amateur Division              Rider Total Lifetime Earnings
Amateur                              $100,000 or more
Intermediate Amateur     $25,001 – $99,999
Limited Amateur               $0 – $25,000

“We looked at the database and how big the spread was in LTEs in the various divisions and tried to figure out if we made certain levels within those divisions, would the player then decide to enter like they used to,” said Seiz who is a CPA and adept at crunching the numbers.

The NCHA Class Restructure subcommittee on which both women sit (Seiz is the Chair) made a case study to test the soundness of the plan. It looked at entries in the top 10 shows from last year including the Triple Crown events.
“We wanted to test whether the payouts worked and whether the class size worked and it did,” Seiz said.
The class restructure proposal recommends a graduated entry fee schedule where limited riders will pay the least, increasing for intermediate cutters and again for the top level riders of each division. The same principal is applied to prize money.
“We recommend the added money is concentrated at the top, with some in the intermediate and at the discretion of the show producer, they could put some in the limited but again we don’t want the limited rider to ride out of that class sooner than they are ready to compete in the intermediate,” explained Seiz.
The plans also encourages show producers to discount entry fees when a competitor enters more than one level/class as anyone is allowed to ride in levels above their current earnings.
“The incentive is for people to ride up. But we want to encourage them not force them,” Seiz said.
“I can enter a horse that doesn’t necessarily have to mark what the top Non Pro level rider has to mark but I can bring it as a B student or rider. I can mark on my level but yet I might take a shot and enter up. It gives me choices which I don’t presently have,” added Diehl.
Both women said the proposal went over extremely well at the convention, creating a feeling of optimism among many members.
“It was the first year where I came away where people were excited! They are ready for some change…It was cool to see people excited to try something new,” said Seiz smiling.
“The open riders want to make sure that their purses are staying the same and what we have told them is that at the present levels, they are,” explained Diehl.
Diehl mentioned Casey Green as a trainer who has thrown his support behind the plan.
“Casey Green is exactly right. He said, “I have horses that can mark a 216 all day, but I need a horse that can mark a 218 if I’m going to compete against this level here (at the Will Rogers Coliseum in Fort Worth),” Diehl said.
The first show to trial the new structure will be the Cotton Stakes in West Monroe, Louisiana on September 2nd-9th. Diehl said organizer Robert Charles Brown asked for it after seeing declining entries over recent years.
“He is willing to do something to step outside the box and try something new,” Diehl said.
The Executive Committee will assess how well the class restructure proposal works at the Cotton Stakes before it approves any more shows to implement it.
With a decline of 60,000 entries between 2007 to 2017, weekend shows are still to be worked out in terms of its own class restructure proposal to help revive them.
“ The aged events were easier to fix because of the ages of the horse…but not so much the novice horse or the $2,000 limited rider,” explained Diehl. “That is another animal.”
“Those students that aren’t playing this game and those horses being left at the barn instead of coming to play hopefully they will show up,” said Diehl.
If the numbers swell, Seiz said the levels could go from 3 to 5, giving even more riders a better chance at picking up a check and with more riders competing, the purse is going to be bigger.
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Experiencing The Kentucky Derby!!!

June 19th, 2018 by Simone Cobb

The orange glow of first light warmed the horizon. The morning dew spoke of a clear, fresh day as a gentle breeze cooled the sweat on the magnificent thoroughbreds limbering out along the famous track. Conditions were perfect for preparing an unknown Derby champion.

The 144th Kentucky Derby Race

It was two days before the 144th Kentucky Derby and morning practice had brought Churchill Downs to life. Those eager to get a close up look at the 20 horses running in the nation’s most popular horse race were milling along the track.

A mix of two years olds getting used to the track were being trotted out slowly by their jockeys while the three and four year olds were stretching out at a faster pace against the inside rail. Some horses rested at the outer railing in groups of two and three, so close you could touch their hindquarters or pet their nose. They all looked invigorated, happy to be out exercising in the crisp morning air.

As though heeding a call to join the fray, a chestnut horse standing right by us suddenly slid into a canter as the rider lifted out of her saddle pad, their pair moved so gracefully, Beau Galyean remarked “it’s like dropping in on a wave”. The athleticism, the balance, the power of this horse was breathtaking. Who was this horse? Non other than the event favorite, Justify!

Two presenters filled the gargantuan TV screen above the track to discuss the contenders, of particular interest was the import from Ireland, Mendelssohn who made his appearance later in the morning surrounded by a large entourage. The Irish horse had just come out of quarantine, and despite the fanfare looked a little uneasy having worked up quite a sweat. But by the end of the session, the second-placed favorite was appearing more settled and its paces more impressive.

Other horses making tongues wag amongst the group of cutters was Audible, who in comparison to Justify’s effortless movements, required quite a bit of urging via his jockey’s whip to get moving. While this initially put us off, we later found out, Audible was not a morning horse!

Cutters Hit Kentucky

At Oaks Day

Our group consisted of Matt and Tara Gaines, Beau and Ashley Galyean, Duncan Steele-Park and myself, with the trip hosted and organized by Gabe Reynolds and Lauren Minshall who live and train cutting horses not far from Louisville.

For many in the group, it was their first time ever to attend a horse race. Lauren grew up around thoroughbreds in Canada where her parents and grandparents bred race horses. Her step grandmother, Barb Minshall is a current well known trainer at Woodbine, Toronto. Lauren’s knowledge of the industry is extensive as was her patience answering our never ending questions.

Exploring Keeneland, Lexington

With our first impressions made, we headed out to Lexington for a broader look at the industry. Lauren took us to Keeneland, another renowned race course and the nation’s top auction house for thoroughbreds.

It’s a beautiful, tree-filled facility where many trainers work their horses, Barb included over the winter months leading up the Derby.

At Keeneland Stables

We visited with her and some of her racers, one of which had won a race on the Wednesday at Churchill Downs. Interestingly, these leggy horses with a reputation for being flighty and hot tempered were anything but as they were led quietly around and stood in their stalls.

The doorways had nothing but a simple crossed plastic-covered chain to keep the horses in, giving them more air and helping them to feel less hemmed in.

They appeared soft-natured and curious, keen for a pat. One playful two year old stallion had a large pink teddy bear hanging from its doorway to nuzzle. Matt Gaines couldn’t resist and got some close-up cuddle action himself. We also met Barb’s gelding, Admiralty Pier, that was racing on Derby Day in an earlier event.

Posing with American Pharaoh

From there, we drove to the esteemed Ashford Stud, owned by Coolmore Stud, the world’s largest breeder of race horses. The stately driveway lined with hundred year old trees, led onto an array of beautiful stone stables, offices and breeding facilities that over looked rolling hills carpeted with the famous lush green grass of Kentucky.

Tara and Matt Gaines With American Pharaoh

Our tour guide took us straight to the main stud stable which housed non other than American Pharaoh. Featuring a soaring cathedral ceiling, the stables held four massive stalls lined with varnished timber, filled with an overabundance of straw to soften the floor. Brass name plates announced the owner of each stall. Declaration of War was getting his daily grooming via vacuum as we entered and Uncle Mo was enjoying some downtime. A groom brought the great American Pharaoh out into the courtyard where we got a closer look and a photo with the 2015 Triple Crown Champion.

While these stallions are retired from racing and live in “luxury”, they face the arduous task of 3 live crosses a day, seven days a week. Even for the most virile, it’s a tall order. The going rate for American Pharaoh is $125,000 a service, guaranteed to a foal on the ground. With 160 mares to cross each breeding season, I would say those boys earn every cent!

Derby Day Arrives

Derby Fashions

Derby Fashions

Fast forward to Derby Day, cowboy hats, boots and buckles were swapped for fedora’s, bow ties and even the odd cigar (or two). The ladies donned some larger than life hats and spring inspired dresses and hit the track. The people watching is just as fascinating as the horses, where anything goes from crazy hats, gaudy suits and killer heels to the most refined millinery and haute couture outfits of the well-heeled and/or famous.

Yes. Unexpectedly. It. Rained. All. Day. Needless to say, it was a great excuse to stay close to the bar and sample a Mint Julep or Oaks Lily (or three or four…).

Another factor to take into account, the wet track. As each race took place, the track got sloppier and sloppier, till come Derby time, it was a mud bath! You could almost see the odds changing in the lead up to the race as horses with experience in the wet improved and others got longer. All except Justify, the horse that never raced as a two horse year old remained the firm favorite!

For most of two days, the group got an A for participation when it came to betting but an F for success when it came to winnings. But it didn’t dampen anyone’s spirit, Tara and Matt were so full of awe, they stood out in the drenching rain to watch the Derby race at the rail, keen to feel the thundering hooves of those splendid athletes striving for immortality.

It’s a simple concept: first past the post, but what an exciting flutter of emotions it creates when you have a vested interest in how it ends! With a half mile to go, Justify passed Promises Fulfilled, and looking comfortable and totally in control, took the lead and sprinted home. Whopping and hollering like mad men, we were all going off but it soon became evident who picked the winner as Beau crowed triumphantly! It was a great moment, a great day, a great experience! Thanks to Gabe and Lauren for being such great hosts and so generous with their knowledge and thanks to Beau for letting us feel successful by association!

Now what are we going to wear next year? Did anyone mention this is addictive?

Watch Beau Galyean videos here.

Watch Matt Gaines Videos here.

Watch Gabe Reynolds videos here.


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