Friday, September 30, 2011

Do-It-Yourself Meets the 21st Century

The world is getting smaller everyday, and the distances between us becoming shorter, thanks to the amazing technologies of mobile communications, satellites, and the world wide web. We are living in the future, folks, where we can remain in touch with anyone or anything we choose, with the touch of a finger or the click of a mouse. Information can be traded so easily that there is nothing in the world that you cannot access and learn through the Web, including horses. While the horse world has long used the internet to advertise and disseminate information, the opportunities to learn specific skills relating to horse training has been limited to more traditional, face to face instruction. Youtube overflows with videos demonstrating techniques, but in simply observing a video, the viewer is not able to ask questions, or have someone watch them perform the task on their own horse and give them feedback. Information only flows one way, limiting the learning opportunity.

A new online training system means to address this limitation – the Western Rider Development Programme. What if you could treat your desire to ride better the same as an online college course, but still get quality one-on-one instruction that was completely individualized to your needs? This is what the WDRP aims to do. They have organized a training syllabus into levels of ability that riders can ascend through at their own pace. Each individual lesson within the levels is fully explained in language that anyone can take out and use in their day to day riding. The rider may ask questions of a panel of experts, who are always available for support, and there are also articles that focus on the psychological aspects of riding. When the rider feels they are ready, they can submit a video of themselves performing the maneuvers required at that level, and can pass to the next level.

I am extremely pleased and proud to have been invited to contribute to the WDRP. I will serve on the panel of experts, taking questions and assisting in assessing individuals as they ascend the levels. I have already contributed an article, “Flexibility and Straightness,” to the website, so I invite you to check it out.

This innovative new way to learn about riding western will benefit many people; including those who live too far away from a qualified instructor to make lessons feasible, those who have a constantly changing schedule, or those who would like to learn new things and become a better rider on their own time. With internet/wireless technology, you can have the WDRP support and information with you anywhere! And for those riders who don't want to compete, they can earn recognition for the skills they master.

Judith Hubbard, one of the founders of the WDRP, says, “Here in the UK, and maybe in other countries around the world, it's not so easy to get access to regular western tuition. So we decided to find a 21st century solution - an internet-based training programme built around the website. The website, and the online tuition provided, enables western riders to become more educated and develop their skills, no matter where they live. It's a simple concept, but it works! Over the coming months we'll add more to the website - there'll be more training articles as well as input from our growing panel of experts. And we're sure we'll be reporting lots of good news as our riders progress through the Programme!”

It is very exciting to share something in the horse world that is truly new and different and positive. I hope you take a look at it and give it a try.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ready, Willing and Able

Well, hello Autumn!  Yes, my favorite season has arrived, and I have been spending as much time as possible outside, soaking up the great weather that we've been having here in Kansas.  I have some wonderful training horses to work with right now, so the sunny skies have been matching up nicely with my sunny disposition in the saddle. One of them, a mare named Candy, was featured in an earlier blog posting, "New Week, New Horse," and I'd like to give you all an update on how she is doing.

Is it possible that some horses are just born to be ridden?  This fantastic little mare sure seems to be.  Candy has been nothing but good for the past two months that she has been with me.  When she got here, pretty much the only thing she knew how to do was tie; she had lived her young life in a pastured herd, with some recent experience being tied up to be fed.  When a trainer hears an owner tell them, "she knows nothing," we are usually more than a little concerned about what we are getting ourselves into.  But the owner is a close friend whom I trust in her instincts on horses, and I also trained this mare's two older full brothers, so I took her on.  I am glad I did.

My number one priority with Candy, as with any horse, has been to try to eliminate, as much as possible, any negative impressions or incidences the mare might have about being ridden and worked.  From Day One, everything my husband and I have done with her has been handled with great care so as to always foster Candy's confidence in herself and us.  Obviously, we had to start with the basics, and we made sure that the mare always understood before moving on to the next step.  The philosophy is that on any given day that you are working with a young horse, you can work on all the things you worked on the day before, plus one extra thing.  That's it.  When horses are young, they can't process several new things at once, and your chances of being successful begin to go down when you pile on a bunch of new challenges at once.  (And when I say successful, I mean, not just getting them to do whatever it is, but doing it with the least amount of negative emotional residue. If the horse walks away from a workout feeling frightened, stressed or confused, you have not been successful.)  Sometimes, the things you worked on the day before are enough, and you can't add a new thing, and that is OK.  When it comes to young horses, my belief is that it is better to err on the side of caution, take your time and build slowly.  I know there are people out there that pride themselves on how quickly they can "get a horse broke," but I prefer to ride the one that had careful, patient schooling in which the lessons were allowed to really sink and and be understood.

So Candy went from being led and free-lunged to lunged on a line in a round pen, to being lunged in an open area, then lunged saddled, then mounted and standing, then mounted and led, and finally to being mounted and ridden independently.  When I first sat on her, she wasn't in much of a rush to go anywhere; she wanted to just sit and adjust to the weight of me on her back. When I eventually got her moving forward, she was hesitant and a bit stodgy, so I worried that we would have a lazy one on our hands.  On the contrary, after allowing her time to build up the muscles in her back at the walk, she and I have been trotting around without any problems.  She has been calm and quiet and, dare I say, satisfied with herself every step of the way.  She is already showing sensitivity to my leg, and thankfully, a decided indifference to things going on around her.  I am extremely pleased!  I am riding her in a bitless side-pull bridle, so we will be introducing her to a snaffle bit sometime soon, as well as riding her outside the ring, and with other horses.

As for comparing her to her two older brothers, Atley and Broque (pronounced 'Brock'), she clearly favors Atley in her personality; she loves to be loved on, and is very affectionate.  I told her owner, "If you had to walk past a fire-breathing dragon with Candy, all you would have to do is put your hand on her neck and coo to her, and she will go anywhere you tell her."  I think she is very much like Broque too though, because both of them are very sensitive.  They respond to a slight, soft touch, or little shift, or a murmur. What is incredible about all of them is that they are so willing; none of them have given any major resistance along the way.  I know that this is due to three important facts:
  • It is readily apparent from examining these three sibling's conformation that they are the product of two fantastic horses.  And when you spend time around them, you can see that their sire and dam also imparted fantastic MINDS in these horses.  They are quick, but calm thinkers.
  • Allowing them to be horses in a herd with minimal human interaction can work well, as long as the interactions they do have are handled with care.  There is something to be said for a horse that grows up relying on itself and its herd, rather than seeing man as a treat machine and/or someone to rub that itchy spot.  These three are not spoiled in any way.
  • Taking the time to do things right actually makes the whole process go faster.  In allowing the horse to fully understand a skill before moving on, I don't have to go back and correct as much. 
  All three of them have been fantastic to train, and I am honored to have had the job!   There will be more updates to come, so stay tuned....

Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Keeping My Balance

Good morning, everyone!  This is a different sort of blog entry this morning; instead of the editorial commentary that I have felt compelled to do as of late, this is more of a human interest piece - starring 'moi' as the human - about what I have been up to lately.

I have not been posting as many entries here, and yet, have seen my page views and followers steadily increase, and I want you to know that I deeply appreciate your support.  I have gotten so much positive feedback and encouragement lately, and through this, I feel the need to be the very best writer I can be.  I have also heard you tell me to write in other forms and have been exploring new avenues of opportunity.  I recently completed a tutorial on bending and straightness that will be included on the Western Training Online website on October 1st.  This is part of the Western Rider Development Programme, which I will be lending my services to on their panel of experts.  I am very excited about this - I think it will be a great way to have access to good training methods no matter where you are.  I find it just amazing that I am able to connect to like-minded individuals half way around the world, and contribute to constructive horsemanship!

In addition to the writing that I have been doing, I have been a VERY busy girl....most days begin long before sun up and extend far beyond sun down.  My oldest son has Asperger's Syndrome, and while he is doing fantastic in kindergarten so far this year, there are certain challenges to keeping things organized for him, and staying on top of all of his needs.  My youngest goes to preschool a couple of days a week, and seems to be in between being a big boy and still needing his momma.  We own ten horses, plus we have three training horses, so I have time demands out in the barn, along with weekly lessons to give.  There are meals to prepare, messes to clean up, paperwork to do, and of course, endless laundry.  On top of all that, I try to make sure that we spend time together as a family doing fun, silly stuff and do my best to remain connected to my friends.  I am always striving to stay balanced within all the demands, and it can be very difficult to accomplish, as many of you who are in the same position can relate. There ARE days when I manage to get everything done on my list, but many more when I do not.  I appreciate your patience!

I have so many great blog/article/book ideas that I have been working on!  The past three months of writing have taught me so much, and I am starting to feel confident in adding my voice to the discussion. I believe that everything happens for a reason, so I will continue down to explore and challenge myself, asking questions and finding topics that are relevant to the horse industry.

Thank you so much for reading!

Monday, September 19, 2011

YUM! Horsemeat!!

One of the most divisive issues within the horse industry these days is slaughter.  The debate over whether the US should allow horses to be processed, who is responsible for the care of the horses prior to being processed, how the slaughter ban has affected the unwanted horses situation are all topics that have been burning up Facebook, Twitter, chat rooms and magazine editorials.  The anti-slaughter people are militant in their quest to save horses from being killed and eaten, the pro-slaughter people are equally as zealous in their advocacy that slaughter will restore the horse industry and is "more humane than starvation."

I have made my slaughter views public here on this blog;  I am firmly against it because it is wasteful, unregulated, and removes any consequences or responsibility people ought to face for their breeding and training practices.  I am well aware, though, that those who stand in favor of re-instating slaughter in the US are numerous, especially among those who are members of the American Quarter Horse Association. 

On September 6th, I received an email from the AQHA Public Policy office regarding the Agriculture Appropriations Act.  It urged members of the AQHA to put pressure on their Senators to vote it down, saying its, "...unintended consequences include a sizeable negative economic impact on the horse industry and incidents of inhumane treatment of horses has risen.  The facts are in, the restriction is hurting industry and hurting animal welfare."  When I received the email I was dismayed; since when does a horse association, tasked with registration, show approvals, and breed promotion, get involved in politics?  It makes me uncomfortable.  The fact that AQHA promotes slaughter as a reasonable alternative to more responsible breeding practices (registering fewer horses per year) makes me uncomfortable too.  Their willingness to throw their weight around in the slaughter debate make me wonder who benefits from slaughter being passed, both politically and economically.

AQHA declared, "the facts are in."  Well, guess facts are in!  An article came across my desk this morning that may make the AQHA, and every other pro-slaughter proponent, step back and reconsider.  This article discusses the real and potential risks of human consumption of horse meat.  An Irish research study of horse meat has found that Bute (phenylbutazone) is extremely toxic to humans, especially in children where it can cause aplastic anemia, a condition where bone marrow does not produce sufficient new cells to replenish blood cells.  Researchers have found that even a trace amount can cause these health problems, and that the compounds of Bute can remain in the animal's tissues indefinitely.   The European Union has made it a requirement that by 2013, all foreign entities shipping meat to Europe must comply with their traceability standards, in an effort to keep these dangerous drugs out of the food chain.

Americans tend to aspire to be mavericks, embracing a don't-tread-on-me attitude of independence.  We don't want to be regulated, nor do we want "Big Brother" to watch what we do, or have a hand in how we run our businesses and make a profit.  This has made it so that every time the governmental powers-that-be have tried to institute a national animal tracking program, the constituents of the horse industry have shot it down.  Every program was deemed to invasive or too expensive or impractical.  So we have no way of knowing where any of our unwanted horses came from, what they have been treated with and how safe they are to be consumed by humans. 

The Europeans have deemed that any horse over six months old must have a passport that details a completely clean drug history in order to be processed for slaughter.  Here in the US, nearly every horse over the age of six months has been wormed, most receive vaccinations, and, given that Bute is the most popular drug prescribed by veterinarians, a vast majority get Bute at least once in their lives.  How can we be sure what ANY of these compounds do to humans over time?  What about all the other drugs our horses get that we haven't studied yet?  We do not farm horses exclusively for slaughter here,  we breed them to perform, for pleasure and companionship, so almost all the horses that we send to slaughter are probably in violation of the standards that the EU is proposing.

Do we care - above and beyond our bottom line?  I know that there is a segment of our population that will continue to ship our horses to Mexico and Canada for processing, with the attitude that they matter less than us or that out of sight is out of mind.  But what if those neighbors of ours start to refuse the meat as well, taking a stand for their own public health?  I can only imagine what kind of liability nightmare this would bring to our country; given that we have refused to regulate and refused to track the industry.  What is ironic is that I bet the same crowd that refused to go along with governmental tracking of all horses in the US a few years ago are the same people that are proponents of slaughter. 

So let this be a wake up call to the horse industry.  We are being faced with a new reality.  Slaughter is not the way that we are going to save the horse industry.  We have to take responsibility for all the animals we produce; we need to breed fewer horses, we need to breed better horses. We need to educate people better so that they understand the implications of horse ownership, the consequences of breeding more horses, and how to give their horses basic skills that would allow the horse to be usable, and thus, saleable.  We need to consider our neighbors and our allies in other countries, and treat them as we would want our families treated. 

The horse industry has faced many eras of growth AND contraction, and it will survive, but we need to tailor our expectations of growth.  Growth at any cost has no place in an industry where lives, both of the horse and of those who consume them, are at stake.  Slaughter used to be an artificial corrector to the downward skew of quality vs quantity in the horse industry.  In other words, what we lacked in quality, we made up for in quantity, knowing a certain percentage of our horses bred would be high quality competition horses where money was to be made, a large percentage would be pleasure horses with a sliding scale from show horses  down to the undesirable horses that for whatever reason are deemed unusable.  Slaughter took those bottom horses out of the equation, erasing our mistakes and artificially painting a rosy picture.  Until we see our situation for what it truly is, and find proactive ways of solving it, we will continue to fight each other, and continue to risk poisoning ourselves.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

World Reining League Pt. 2

You may recall that last week I covered a new competitive equine organization being launched, the World Reining League. I have in my hand a copy of the application to become a rider for the WRL, along with the invitation letter that accompanied it. I am finding it very, VERY interesting.....

Not only is the WRL going to have professional cheerleaders, laser lights, a flying stage, be a completely choreographed and scripted entertainment event, finish with an award winning country and western music star, and let's not forget betting, it will:

  1. Introduce reining to a multitude of people that never even heard of reining before. (That is exactly as it was typed.)
  2. Make reining a spectator sport. (Isn't it already?)
  3. Bring reining to TV. (Again, isn't it already? How much of a market is there for reining TV shows?)

There's more big talk....”Each exhibition will be in different cities across the United States. Concurrently we will be initiating the same exhibition program in Europe,” as well as the intention to sell team franchises and engage in actual league competition. In an era in which the percentage of the general population that can own a horse is shrinking, when the number of shows held and the number of entries has gone down, when fan attendance is down across all major sports, I am finding it hard to believe that this level of grandiosity is possible, much less profitable.

You might be wondering how the WRL expects to pull in enough of an audience to keep this show on the road; it will be the showmen, elevated to the status of stars. It is abundantly clear on the application that this event is meant for the most elite show persons only; not only must you list your own *LTE, but also the LTEs of two horses that you intend to ride for the WRL exhibition. They ask for the AQHA and NRHA numbers for those horses too – I am wondering if the specificity of asking for an AQHA number precludes other breeds from participating.

Also on the application are two questions meant to gain release of the trainer's image for advertising purposes on their website, literature, DVDs and - this is important – any and all merchandise that the WRL may produce. In other words, they own your image, and they can put it on anything they wish.

But it is the last three questions on the application that really got my attention:
  • Have you ever been convicted of a felony?
  • Are you currently a defendant in any pending or ongoing criminal charge?
  • Are you currently a defendant in any pending or ongoing civil litigation?

What?? What is the purpose of those three questions? I am wondering how many $50,000+ LTE NRHA trainers there are out there that have a felony conviction or an ongoing criminal charge. And I am wondering who exactly they had in mind when they put this provision in their application.

The invitation letter also contained some interesting bits; such as, “Non-pros can ride for the WRL without affecting their NRHA Non-Pro Status.” Hmm, that sort of tells me that the WRL isn't really “in complete association with the NRHA”, doesn't it?

Another line in the letter states, “Once your application has been received you will be supplied with a complete set of Rules and Show Conditions.” Wouldn't you want to know these things before you signed off on it? Why the secrecy?

There is a lot of money at stake. The letter states that each rider selected to compete in a WRL exhibition will receive a $20,000 appearance fee, and each member of the winning team will receive a percentage of the gate plus merchandising sales with a guaranteed minimum of an additional $20,000 per rider. That will surely be tempting for some riders to give up a week of their time. But the whole thing is sounding like the WWF and the NRHA had a lovechild, who strangely resembles Dancing With the Stars. Is this going to be a big distraction from the traditional events that so many in the NRHA work so hard to put on and raise money for?

I called the NRHA to get their comments on the WRL, and was told that the WRL is not approved yet, as no conditions have been released by them yet. The NRHA is trying to determine if the WRL is going to follow NRHA guidelines, and that, I was told, should be finalized within a week or so. The NRHA is not sponsoring the WRL event in January, and it will only be promoted as a 'regular' event. It is not going to be included on the NRHA website, though the WRL would be able to purchase advertising as any other entity would. When I asked if the winnings would be counted toward a rider's LTE, I was told that it may be affected, but they are trying to figure out if WRL earnings would be counted toward the Top 20 Rider Standings.

I do not feel that this type of production is by any means a “regular event,” do you? This sort of sounds like a dance along the fence line. Either the WRL is a regular show, subject to the same terms, qualifications and conditions as the NRHA, or it's not. I understand that Silver Spurs has been a huge contributor to the NRHA in the past couple of years, but the NRHA going along for the WRL ride is something that we should all seriously consider this implications of. Once we buy the bed, we are going to have to lie in it.

*LTE – Lifetime Earnings

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Sky Is NOT Falling

An important part of my job as a blogger is to keep tabs on what is going on in the horse industry, and report my take on those happenings. One place that I frequently check for new subjects is the Quarter Horse News, and specifically, the blogs that they sometimes publish. I take everything I read there with a grain of salt; after years of subscribing, it is apparent to me that the QHN and its editors have a definite agenda that is evident in their writing and coverage of current events. Nevertheless, I recognize that a certain segment of our industry thinks like they do, and it is interesting and helpful to be able to identify those trends.

Recently, I read the most recent entry of “Katie's Blog” and was struck by the tone it took. The topic was on the USDA regulation of Tennessee Walker shows, and how it “had taken on a life of its own.” This blog entry characterized the inspections as inept, quoting a trainer (who had been disqualified due to scars present on his horse's legs) as saying, “The government went nuts. They don’t know what they’re doing. Absolutely don’t know what they’re doing.” Katie went on to question whether the government would soon be looking at other equine competitions, and would even go after people for tying up their horses.

She says several times that she isn't promoting cruelty, but I am puzzled....what is she promoting by trying to set the inspections of horses at competitions in such a negative light? The right of others to be cruel to their horses? That everyone should resist any monitoring, because “God forbid” it might lead to all of us losing our animals?

The “Big Lick” Tennessee Walker people have a long history of hurting horses for the sake of blue ribbons, and they are now getting what is due to them. Let's give the good people of our USDA some credit; they are not complete idiots. They aren't blind. If they see a horse with scars or marks that fall within the predetermined standards for abuse, the horse is out. OF COURSE the trainers who are ousted are going to be mad, and are going to say that it was wrong, but I am pretty sure that most Walker enthusiasts want to weed out those that continue the nasty practice of soring, and make a statement to the rest of the world that they advocate for the horse. We should applaud them!

The attitude that there is something wrong with monitoring horses at competitions is paranoid and will not prepare the performance horse industry for the scrutiny that will inevitably come. Katie writes, “But what about hobbling a horse? What about using spurs? What about saddle spots? …...” Every single one of the listed methods of horse handling can and should be examined in a logical way. For example, spurs. They are part of the normal operating equipment for training horses (for many people, not all) and when used properly, do not cause significant harm. Are there types of spurs that are harsher than others? Yes! Are there trainers who abuse them? Yes! So, therefore, should they be regulated, both in type used and method? Yes! That isn't something I need the government to tell me, it is common sense, so why wait until an activist gets upset by watching a trainer bloody his horse with spurs, gets photographic proof of it, and then calls in the government to start writing sanctions? Can't we monitor and discipline our own now, and set a tone for what is acceptable? If we are worried that the USDA won't be capable of adequately monitoring our sport, shouldn't we appoint trained, and extremely objective, inspectors to monitor what goes on in the warm up areas and within the show pen at events? Isn't it prudent to be a step ahead of the scrutiny, rather than being reactive and defensive?

The performance horse industry has long operated under a 'don't ask, don't tell' policy toward training methods and abusive practices. Somehow, the right to put a bike chain in your horse's mouth has fallen under the same umbrella of willful ignorance as the right to carry loaded guns into bars. After all, how can you compete with the other guy if you aren't equally armed? How many people out there feel that their right to jerk and spur sounds something like, “I'll give up my 'brain chain' bridle....when you pry it from my cold dead hands!”? And questionable practices are certainly more likely to be ignored if the person doing them is popular, has a big name and lots of money.

This isn't the Wild West, folks. The performance horse industry must work in harmony with the rest of a global society in order for it to prosper. I am not a paranoid person; I don't believe that we are headed for some type of war against the humane activists. I also don't believe that an activist's end goal is to stop all horse competitions – they just want the horses to be treated with respect. For a very long time, we have turned a blind eye toward abusive training practices. It is my belief that the new spirit of activism has arrived to put a check on the attitude of disrespect toward the animals we make our living from.

And we have a choice now; keep our blinders on, continue to mind our own business, continue to accept that which we know is wrong, continue to dig in our heels at change. OR we can step up and move forward, toward better riding, better equipment, better rules and better competitions. We can choose to reach out to those who are concerned about the animals, and create a more transparent industry in which questionable methods that were previously hidden are nonexistent. And we can drop the scary rhetoric – it isn't “us” against “them.” We all should be for THE HORSE.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Let's Make a Bet....On Our Future

A new form of reining competition has come across my desk this week.  It is called the "World Reining League."  It a project started by Michael Miola/Silver Spurs Equine & an astronaut by the name of Charlie Dry (while his bio on the WRL website is extensive, there is no mention of prior experience in the horse world), and is touted as, "Transforming the equine sport of reining into an electrifying spectator sport complete with adrenaline-charged professional competition and world class entertainment."  Their vision for the WRL is that it "will employ professional cheerleaders, laser lights, a flying stage, etc. – a real entertainment production – completely scripted and choreographed."   Competition will be limited to 8 professionals who will have to have won at least $50,000, and who will be divided up into teams - the WRL hopes to eventually sell team franchises.  There will be quite a lot of money at stake to win as each event will have a minimum payout of $240,000 with $40,000 to paid each member of the winning team and $20,000 to each member of the second place team. And there will be betting - in fact, they already have a bookie in Las Vegas ready to take it on.

I am scratching my head over all this.  Is this where we are headed in promoting horse sport?  I think we all want to grow the horse industry, and many of us in the reining world would love to see more TV coverage and more fan attendance to events.  But lasers & flying stages?  It says on their website that , "a WRL event will actually be a reining competition wrapped around a rock concert."  And add drinking and professional cheerleaders, and you've got yourself a pretty rowdy atmosphere.  Anyone wonder what their drug policy will be for the horses involved?  Will these events be monitored for humane treatment and by whom?  (Yeah, I said it.  Whenever there is a prize at stake, we have to make sure the horses aren't misused in pursuit of that prize.)

Ya gotta wonder too, what the ticket prices will look like; if they are truly going to limit these exhibitions to arenas with no less than 10,000 seats, and you have all these extra people to pay, including putting on a concert (which, let's face it, for an artist that I'd actually want to see, the tickets aren't less than $65, and that is just for a concert), tickets to these events won't be inexpensive.

I am not a gambler.  I have never gambled at a casino, nor at a racetrack.  I have on occasion played Powerball, but only when the jackpots are huge, and my bets are never more than $5.  I just can't do it!  I see gambling as throwing money away, and, perhaps too, I don't want to fall into the trap of gambling addiction.  I realize that gambling is legal in many places, I understand that many people enjoy it, but it isn't for me.  So it isn't much of a jump to understand that I don't like the idea of betting on reining horses.  Betting hasn't done anything good for racehorses.  Yes, it has made many people very rich, but it has caused many horses' suffering (think tampering, think rampant drug use, think win at all costs), and aided many people in losing everything.  This wouldn't be like betting once a year on the Superbowl; the creators of the WRL see this as competing with NASCAR and other major league sports.  So betting on reining horses would become a weekly event?

I'd like to also point out that we already have "franchised teams" in a sense.  Owners of reining horses already put a lot of money into trainer's barns to go after NRHA sponsored titles.  If an owner wants to purchase WRL franchised team, won't that be spreading owner dollars thinner, and possibly take money away from our traditional reining events?

Don't even get me started on the whole professional cheerleaders thing....I mean, really?  Do we need to make reining horses sexy?  T & A with your Pattern #8?  As Joni Mitchell sings, "Sex sells everything..."

I'd love to hear what everyone's opinions are on this topic.  When I see something like this going on, I have to question, "Where do we want our sport to go?"  And I begin to wonder what visions of the future other people in the horse industry have.  While I have spoken on this blog about Michael Miola before, this isn't a personal attack.  I see it as perfectly logical that we should discuss this proposed competition, and if it has a place in the future of reining horses, and horse competition as a whole.  So....anyone wanna weigh in?