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Record Entries At Cotton Stakes Following New Leveling System

October 22nd, 2018 by Simone Cobb

The new class leveling system was a much-needed shot in the arm of the once-ailing Cotton Stakes. That was the overwhelming feedback to come out of the recent cutting show that saw entries up by nearly 150 percent.

The Cotton Stakes in West Monroe, Louisiana, produced by Robert Charles Brown, was the first show to trial the new class leveling system. Ora Diehl and Denise Seiz originally proposed the concept to the NCHA at the 2018 Convention.

Denise described the show as “a family reunion.” They both agreed that they felt like they were at a cutting in the 70’s because of the large turnout, and the positive atmosphere and the return of familiar faces. They said the excitement brought by the people who entered was indescribable.

Ora Diehl

Ora Diehl

Prior to the Cotton Stakes, there was concern the added levels would reduce the entries, and not pay enough. But the entries almost tripled (see the statistics below). The show producer’s income also almost trebled, and the two women said everyone felt like they had a level playing field when walking into the show arena.

Denise said this was the Cotton Stake’s last hope because of the money lost in prior years hosting the show. Robert Charles decided to take a chance on their idea. Because of the increase in entries, he was able to make back all the money lost in previous years, as well as make a profit during this year’s show.

Ora said that Robert will now implement the new classes going forward and that he didn’t have one negative thing to say about it. He also told her that other show producers had been in contact with him as they are now interested in trialing the concept.

Denise Seiz

Denise Seiz

Both ladies said everyone seemed pleased and happy with the outcome except for some of the open riders. While not completely against the idea because they agree that change is needed, many trainers were concerned about payouts being reduced.

Trainer Jonathan Rogers said, “It didn’t pay well and it was very tough to make the finals. You have to have a good horse no matter what. For example, the same horse won the Intermediate and the Open which shows that it has a lot to do with the horse rather than the rider.”

He said the new system seemed to work great for the amateur and non pro classes, but that the open was a different ball game. He suggested creating levels based on the horse’s earnings and not the riders as a better alternative for the Open class.

Photo of Jonathan Rogers, Cutting Horse Trainer

Jonathan Rogers

“We need a change or there isn’t going to be an NCHA in the next 5 years. This just isn’t the change we need. When I was a loper in this industry cutting was fun and everyone encouraged each other. Now it isn’t like that, now it is all about the money and it isn’t exciting until Futurity time because [it is the one show] no one knows what they’re going to see,” said Jonathan.

On a post-show survey and Denise stated, “I had 86 who all had positive feed-back and a yes vote on the system, and 1 maybe. I didn’t have anyone tell me no on this new system, which made us feel pretty optimistic and speaks for itself.”

Denise and Ora said the only difficulty they encountered with the new levels was entering it into the software. While it wasn’t impossible, they said it did take a few extra steps. They both agreed the software can be re-tuned if more show producers and the NCHA decide to go forward with this format.

Non pro rider James Hooper admitted that he was going into the Cotton Stakes thinking that the new leveling system was too much of a drastic transition. Once he got to the show however, he was blown away by the optimistic atmosphere. He said there were several people that made the finals that he had never seen before.

James Hooper on CR Heart Attac

The Senior Division Champion in the Intermediate Derby Amateur, James Hooper on Cr Heart Attac at Cotton Stakes

“The NCHA is in trouble if we don’t do something. A level playing field like this will encourage people to get involved and stay involved. Trainers are running people off because they dominate the finals,” James said.

He agreed that this may dilute the purse, or make the open not pay as much, but that the organization needed to do what benefited the most people.

While there was some difference of opinion in the way the new system was implemented, the need for change was unanimous.

“We’ve lost so many people and the change in atmosphere at West Monroe proved that change is what we need,” said Jonathan.

 


Bill Riddle Helps Set The Records Straight At the NCHA Hall Of Fame Banquet!

June 26th, 2015 by CHTO

You could say renowned trainer Bill Riddle did a thorough job cleaning up during the awards ceremony at the 2015 National Cutting Horse Association Convention.

But he didn’t have a broom and trash bags in his hands, he had a microphone!

A long-time ambassador for the sport, Bill was the emcee for the Banquet night that saw 23 people and 3 horses inducted into the NCHA Hall Of Fame.

Cleaning up? You ask?…. They were Bill’s own words about the theme behind this year’s inductees. He told the audience of more than 400 people that the NCHA really wanted to make sure they had no glaring gaps in their Hall Of Fame of people who had been inadvertently passed over and those who had given their time, energy and ideas to cutting, the association and helping others.

It was the mighty efforts of three men, Sam Shepard from Verbena, Al, James Hooper, Decatur, Al, and Chubby Turner, Weatherford, Tx, that were recognized with the Association’s highest honors, the Members Hall of Fame.

Others were inducted for their competition achievements, but even some of those had been overlooked in decades past, like Milt Bennett, Jim Calhoun, Greg Ward and Jim Gideon to name four open riders who have since passed away.

Bill told a story or had personal connection on almost every cutter inducted and spoke warmly and openly about his friendships with the three Member honorees: Sam, James and Chubby.

Cutting Horse Training Online caught up with Bill on the last day of the convention, who told us what a joy it was for him to honor all those people. Press play to watch.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=E_RJdVWZQlw%3Frel%3D0

Bill Riddle has been showing, training and teaching cutting for more than 30 years. He has amassed lifetime earnings in excess of $4-million and given clinics around the world.

If you are interested in learning more about cutting, showing, training and riding, click on the button below to get a free video on show tips from five futurity winners!

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Did you attend the awards ceremony? What did you learn about those inducted that you never knew before? If not do you know anyone back in the day you think should be named in the Hall of Fame also? Let us know what you think by posting your comments below….


James Hooper Receives Cutting’s Top Honor: NCHA Members Hall Of Fame Inductee!

June 25th, 2015 by CHTO

It was a proud night for James Hooper, who was inducted into the NCHA Members Hall of Fame during the 2015 NCHA convention at Grapevine, TX.

James, 70, was given cutting’s highest honor in front of more than 400 people, including many of his family and friends for his contribution to the sport.

Bill Riddle gave him a rousing introduction, before the crowd got to watch a video about James and his achievements in cutting, not just as a competitor but as a past president and ultimately an ambassador for the industry.

James, who is based in Alabama was the NCHA President from 1994-95 as well an executive board member for 6 years.

During his acceptance speech, James talked about the importance of being willing to make difficult and even unpopular decisions for the betterment of the industry as a whole.

He said when he was President, he put the Association first every time. James helped rewrite the NCHA constitution to create equal representation across the 8 regions. He brought about changes to competition classes to help stop people leaving the sport and invited input from grass roots members, which evolved into the annual NCHA convention.

CuttingHorseTrainingOnline.com spoke with James on the last day of the convention. Press play to watch below.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=LHiq16ngdmM%3Frel%3D0

James has been a successful cutting horse competitor who was also been inducted into the NCHA Non-Pro Hall of Fame, with lifetime earnings of more than $850,000.

To watch more and get a free video on show tips from five futurity winners, click on the button below.

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