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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.

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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.”

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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.
To enter the Cotton Stakes click here.

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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.


Hauling A Horse? The Mandate That May Require You To Get A Commercial Drivers License!

May 16th, 2018 by Simone Cobb

You thought you were involved in the horse industry? It seems the Federal Government may actually define you as a commercial truck driver.

According to the Commercial Drivers License law written in 1986, anyone driving a vehicle weighing 26,001 pounds and above is required to carry a CDL whether it’s for recreational or agricultural purposes. So you might have to go sit for your commercial license test just to haul your horses to a show!

Protect The Harvest Representative, Shawn Burtenshaw

Shawn Burtenshaw, a Representative for Protect the Harvest, explains how the CDL law requirements plus a 2012 Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate could affect how you travel, but is here to educate and help you!

“The law that was implemented [in 2012], which would be referred to as the ‘ELD Mandate,’ is an electronic device put in your vehicle to monitor your drive times between point A and point B and throughout the day,” Burtenshaw said. “So if you’re in a pickup and horse trailer traveling, hauling horses to shows it’s your business… it puts you as a commercial driver to where you’d have to have an electronic logging device in your pickup to haul your horses to shows.”

SO not only would you be required to carry a commercial drivers license, but you would also be required to log your trips and abide by ELD rules. However, advancements in vehicles and the hauling industry have changed vastly since these were written, creating a few complicated issues.

“The problem is this law was written in 1986, when a one-ton pickup was 8600 pounds,” Burtenshaw said. “It was never intended to umbrella over pickups and trailers but today when this is enforced through, the ELD really brought attention to these weights because the law is still at 26,001 pounds; which in 1986 was a Class 7 truck, today it’s a pickup. Gross vehicle weight ratings since 1986 to 2018 have increased 60% but the law stayed the same so that’s where people get caught in it with a pickup and horse truck.”

Adding to the complexity are states that have different regulations and classifications of a CDL, where in some states it’s a simple process, while in others it is extremely difficult.

“We’d like to see that not happen because these people are not commercial drivers, they’re horse trainers, they’re rodeo cowboys, they’re ranchers, they’re farmers, they’re not a commercial driver,” Burtenshaw said. “So why should they need to go get a CDL and be monitored the same as a over-the-road truck driver when they’re just driving their horse to a horse show?”

Another issue that will place an onerous burden on drivers is the tracking and monitoring that o

Electronic Logging Devices (above) required for commercial drivers to log all stops and track drive times, and requires breaks after certain amounts of driving.

ccurs with the electronic logging device.

“It is extreme inconvenience,” Burtenshaw said. “It becomes a personal issue of privacy to tell you the truth, I don’t want to be monitored how fast I’m going, where I’ve stopped, how long I’ve stopped. I don’t want to be told when I need to stop and use the restroom, I don’t need to be told when I need to stop and eat, I don’t need to be told when I stop and sleep. The hours of service that you have to comply by when you have an electronic logging device in your pickup and you have live animals on your trailer, you can’t stop for ten hours consecutively, you have to keep going.”

From December of 2017, there is a 12-month exemption to the rule for agriculture when live animals are being transported.

“So that means that hopefully within the coming year that maybe different hours of service can be written,” Burtenshaw said. “These laws need review because it’s not 1986 anymore. The biggest thing I’m trying to do right now at Protect The Harvest are get people engaged and get them educated to where they’re going to fall in this mandate or these CDL requirements, what classifies them as a commercial motor vehicle.”

On the Protect The Harvest website it also states that a “Not For Hire” sign on your rig will not protect you if it is determined that your truck and trailer fit into the commercial category or are being used for commercial purposes. Nor will it protect you if you are driving a vehicle and trailer that requires a commercial license. The law also affects young drivers and will put the brakes on anyone under 18 hauling a horse or anyone under 21 crossing state lines to go a rodeo or show.

“To be intrastate (within your state) you have to be 18 years-old to get a commercial drivers license and to go interstate (to cross state lines) you have to be 21 years old. 87% of the college rodeo kids are under the age of 21 and every college rodeo around the United States kids have to cross across state lines,” he said.

If the mandate alarms you, Burtneshaw said go to protecttheharvest.com and read the highlighted version of the 200 page mandate, which has been narrowed down to the key points. Another suggestion is to spread the word and lobby your local representatives.

“Call your congressman, get a hold of your senator, get everybody in government whose connected to you, because those government officials work for you,” Burtenshaw said. “Let them know where you stand on these issues, let them know that these need review. The more people who write their letters, call their representatives, make some noise about it to get this changed.”

“It’s laws like this that keep restricting our industry. Usually it happens and nobody knew about this..well we’re gonna tell you right now it’s happening,” Burtenshaw said. “Please take action, get involved, become engaged, voice your opinion, and help us move forward with getting this rewritten.”


Wrangler in the Pen & on the Streets: Gabe Reynolds

April 25th, 2018 by Simone Cobb

By Bailey Bryan

He could have had his pick of glamorous ladies, he could have been the master of the rose ceremony, he could have been a reality TV star, but Gabe Reynolds is more interested in training and showing cutting horses.

Between modeling assignments, TV scouts and cutting clients, it seems the Kentucky based trainer is in high demand. But with a growing list of wins to his name, four time Mercuria Finalist, NCHA Ltd Reserve Champion, and Augusta Classic Challenge Reserve Champion, Gabe’s focus is squarely on his training career.

With his dashing good looks, unassuming manner and Aussie charm, this cutter has got a little more boot cut than the rest of us, filling in for Blake Shelton as a Wrangler jean model and starring in a Wrangler commercial along with George Straight! The opportunity presented itself when Gabe was training for Barbra Brooks in Tennessee.

“There was a bunch of celebrities that came out to Barbra’s ranch for the CMA shoot and for some reason or another Blake Shelton didn’t show up and they asked if I’d fill in for him as I was about his size,” Reynolds said. “A few months later I was in a western store and saw a picture of me.”

Reynolds later got a call asking if he’d come out to audition for the Wrangler commercial in California, which he originally said no to, but later they called again to offer him the role if he’d say yes right then.

“It was really neat,” Reynolds said. “I went out there and was picked up in a black limo and got full rock star treatment.”

As it turns out, Wrangler wasn’t the only one with an eye for Reynolds, he was also recently asked at a cutting event by scouters to participate in the popular reality tv show, The Bachelor.

“I was walking around the coliseum and they happened to sit next to me,” Reynolds said. “They got to whispering and they told me they wanted someone who rode horses and I told them I didn’t really know about that.”

Reynolds said he never really paid much attention to the show, but went back later and watched a few episodes and said afterwards that ‘it seemed a quick way to embarrass yourself.’

Although well-known as a handsome cutter, Gabe’s hardly an eligible bachelor, with a serious live-in girlfriend and business partner Lauren Minshall (sorry ladies).

Reynolds says on a more serious note he’d love to make a final in Fort Worth.

“I really feel like I’m knocking at the door in Fort Worth,” Reynolds said. “I keep making semi-final after semi-final, but am trying to stay consistent and train the best horses I can train and we’ve got some good horses this year.”

 

Watch more CHTO videos of Gabe HERE.


Kellee Clarke – More than a Loper!

April 13th, 2018 by Duncan Steele-Park

More often than not, lopers come and go, but Kellee Clarke has turned loping into a satisfying career thanks to her hard work, willingness to take on new challenges and interestingly, finding an outlet for her creativity.

An Australian native, Clarke moved to the States to work with horses where for the last eight years she has been loping for John Mitchell at the Slate River Ranch. With a passion for learning and a drive for taking on more responsibility, Clarke juggles loping, running the barn and managing the ranch office while starting up her own business.

“I wanted to make leather handbags and do them all by hand,” Clarke said. “When I grew up rodeoing, I made all my own shirts..so I’ve always had this creative thing going on.”

After purchasing all the materials, Clarke found that she never had the time to actually start.

Brumby Necklace

“One week I got so mad at myself because John’s wife, Hope kept asking, ‘have you made a bag yet?’ and it was really frustrating me,” Clarke said. “So one week I got super mad at myself and I said, ‘you have to finish one project by the end of the week.’’”

And since that week, Brumby Goods was born, but not in the way Clarke expected.

“I had kangaroo leather and lace because they were going to be part of my bags and I had some freshwater pearls and I had all this stuff sitting there,” Clarke said. “So I started tinkering around with it and the next thing I made a necklace with it. This long tassel necklace with these pearls on it and I was like, ‘that’s pretty cool.’”

 

Although Clarke hasn’t made any bags yet, she intends to expand the line later to include them.

“I had my logo and my name and everything for my business, Brumby Goods, that was all in place but the product wasn’t coming about,” Clarke said. “For now it’s evolved into jewelry.”

Brumby Earrings

Clarke officially launched Brumby Goods in February this year and is keeping up with working full time for Slate River Ranch while building her jewelry line, which has quickly gained a following.

Clarke says she gets design ideas while loping.

“It’s a matter of utilizing that time loping around and to just take that time to think about something,” Clarke said. “I’m constantly thinking about Brumby and what’s next.”

Brumby Bracelet

Clarke says she wants to stayed tapped into the western world and cutting/rodeo industry from her roots. One of her main materials, kangaroo leather, is used not only for its durability but connects her to her Australian heritage. Her company name, Brumby Goods also was chosen to tell people more about Clarke as a person.

“Brumby was something that came up..here in America,” Clarke said. “It’s a horse, it’s a little wild, free spirited and…it’s pretty catchy.” 

Clarke says she enjoys making the jewelry for women like herself.

“A lot of this stuff I had in mind for the working girl and the girl who rides,” Clarke said. “This was my original idea, to find something feminine but easy to wear.”

Clarke likes to make jewelry that is functional, durable, light and comfortable. She now ships across the country and overseas and also takes custom orders. Clarke initially made sales on social media, but now has her own website to properly display her designs, www.brumbygoods.com.

Although her career is focused on loping, she believes that having Brumby gives her something more to look forward to each day.

“Its given me something for myself,” Clarke said. “I’m accountable, it’s all me. It gives me something, it’s making something and being creative and I like to look at it and be like, ‘I made that.”

 

Watch the full video interview HERE


Winning The Mind Game

May 31st, 2017 by Simone Cobb

When people participate or watch sports many people make the statement, ‘mind over matter’ or ‘it’s all about your mental game,’ but how many athletes train their brain to prepare for a competition?

“When you get to those really elite levels [of sports], you have athletes telling you it’s 96-97-98 percent mental,” said mental skills coach Tonya Johnston. “[People need to] understand that your mental skills are absolutely apart of the package as far as seeing yourself as an athlete.”

Johnston has her Masters in sports psychology and specializes in working with equestrian athletes, traveling across the holding clinics and working with equestrian sports teams such as Stanford, Smith and USC. Johnston emphasizes in her clinics and book “Inside your Ride,” that taking time to work on your mental game is just as important as working on the physical aspect. country

“When you spend 10, 12, 15 hours a week on physical and zero hours on mental skills, that could be where nerves and stress come from,” Johnston said. “Because I believe it’s much more mental activity, my competing is much more mental but all of my practice is in the physical realm.”

Johnston states that when your physical game is to a certain level, when it comes to competition day it is about making good choices mentally while in the moment.

“[When] the physical is dialed in, they know how to get the most out of themselves, they know how to connect with their horse and communicate with their horse and they understand that on any given day it’s about being present,” Johnston said.

One of the best pieces of advice Johnston mentioned was focusing on the positive.

Many people focus on bad days [and ask] what did I do? What happened? Why didn’t I ride well?” Johnston said. “I look first and foremost at good days-what are you already doing naturally and help that become part of [your] routine.”

Some other ways Johnston recommended to become more consistent and improve your mental game in the arena is by:

  • Visualizing
  • Tracking goals
  • Making sure your energy is in a good place
  • Making sure you’ve got a routine in place

Lastly Johnston notes that it’s just as important for you to have a routine as much as your “horse before competing, such as stretching, loosening up and having a plan for when you’re in a hotel.

“When you have an amazing run, think back to how did you prepare yourself, where was your focus, what were you saying to yourself, what were you doing before you got on your horse,” Johnston said.

To hear more tips from Tonya Johnston, listen to the full interview at: https://chtolive.com/podcasts/  (Gold and Platinum members get full access to podcasts, Silver members get access for seven days when new podcasts are uploaded.)


They Don’t Just Hula In Hawaii!

February 2nd, 2017 by Simone Cobb

By Bailey Bryan

Generally when one hears the word “Hawaii” there are visions of palm trees, drinking coconuts, warm beach, a red sunset, pineapples, luaus and of course hula dancing…so how do cutting horses fit? Think about it – no, really. How does an island get resources for such a complex sport that requires cattle, horses and land?

CHTO asked member and former Hawaiian cutter, Dee West, all about it. Dee relocated to Texas to be in cutting’s capital.

Though today there are many differences between cutting in Hawaii and other mainland areas, like Texas, West began cutting in Hawaii from 1971 through 1973, where she said the main difference was the cattle.

“Back then cattle weren’t so in-bred. Cattle were slower and easier to cut and hold,” West said. “Now you have faster, tough cows, but it’s hard to have fresh cattle in all classes.”

When West was cutting in Hawaii, there was only one class; however, even though the sport has grown, obtaining fresh cattle for everyone on an island can be quite difficult as well as not always possible.
Just to show in Hawaii, West would have to fly to the main island of Hawaii and then take a barge and at the time there were only two stables on Oahu.

Dee West cutting in Hawaii.

“Every weekend we would put our horses on a barge to different islands. It was so much fun, but a full day of showing,” West said.

Even though there was only one class for cutting then and there was no prize money, ribbons were enough of an incentive to spark the interests of most and continue to help the sport grow.

West stated that Hawaiians are known for their competitiveness and everyone wanted to win, making ribbons and bragging rights a valuable prize worth traveling and competing for.

During her time in Hawaii, West showed a palomino stallion named Skippers Count and together, they won pleasure, trail and cutting events. West credits her passion for horses and cutting to stem from her experiences on the big island.

Despite cutting not being as big a sport in Hawaii when West resided there, the idea of the sport became big as the years went on. As a more serious contender, West moved to the mainland to continue to compete but says she “feels blessed to have had the opportunity to learn about cutting” in Hawaii.


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