NRHA: Dead Horses and Free Speech?

Does the NRHA draw a parallel between a dead horse and free speech when revoking a membership? One man is going to find out.

Shrouded in confidentiality throughout their rules – you are now getting a rare look at what is going on behind the locked doors of the NRHA?

In the District Court of Oklahoma, reining enthusiasts are getting a firsthand behind the scenes look as a lifetime membership is revoked. Typically, revoking membership is for the most heinous of crimes like killing a horse, but one man is fighting the NRHA for what some may describe as free speech.

The man taking legal action against the NRHA is Kit Cosper, claiming that by revoking his lifetime membership, the NRHA has failed to comply with its own Disciplinary Procedures of the NRHA’s 2012 General Rules and Regulations. According to the lawsuit, the letter [click here to read the actual letter] did not state any reasons or allege any misconduct as the basis for his membership revocation.

Who is Kit Cosper

Cosper, the son of Monica Watson of Double Run Farm, who breed the famous NRHA Hall of Fame and $9 million reining sire, Wimpys Little Step. He is a life member of the NRHA since 1999, has served the NRHA in several different significant capacities, including but not limited to: (a) member of the NRHA’s Executive Committee, (b) Vice President of the Reining Horse Sports Foundation and (c) a member of the NRHA Bylaw committee. Since 2013, Cosper operates the FaceBook page ‘Take back the NRHA’ which is closed group for reining enthusiasts for the discussion of By-Laws, Rules, and Policy. This group exists for the open, frank discussion of these issues. Matters that are important to members.

In the NRHA’s response to his claim, among many points they state:

The point goes on to cite a FaceBook post. To read the full court document response and their assertions, please <<<<click here>>>>.

The NRHA has failed in their bid to have the matter thrown out. The matter is before the courts, and you can read all courts documents by <<<<clicking here>>>>. Everyone will be watching to see the outcome of this case.

In a society where giving opinions, vigorous debate and opposing opinions have become the norm through social media, why did the NRHA take action against a member? Who else has fallen victim to the same fate but did not have the experience to stand up and fight?

Who else has been suspended or revoked but its hidden from the membership?

Interestingly, Cosper’s membership was revoked in May 2016, but that fact never appeared in the Reiner Magazine Disciplinary List. It raises the question of how many others members have been revoked or suspended, but the information kept a secret? How many trainers are suspended but no-one ever learns about it as its all keep confidential. Imagine your horse is with a multiple time offender and you have no knowledge of it! The board of directors has the right to elect whether they will publish the information. Its not a compulsory list.

What are your thoughts? By taking this action are the NRHA fundamentally saying that you cannot have an opinion or discuss issues about the NRHA if they do not agree with the NRHA, its staff, and the NRHA Executive Committee? What are they inferring with this claim defence? Do you agree there needs to be increased transparency and stop the secret society of a member owned organization.

Are the secret society By-Laws and Rules unique to the NRHA?

Delving deeper into the By-Laws and Rules and Regulations you can find some interesting points that you will not find in the NCHA (National Cutting Horse Association) and AQHA (American Quarter Horse Association), two of the related entities grounded in the showing and breeding of performance quarter horses. The NRHA being the smallest general membership group of around 12,600 members worldwide.

The NRHA references numerous times “Confidential.” You will find it under Section 5. Investigation Review Committee points 9 and 12. Section 6. Hearing Body point 12. It appears four times in their handbook. Whereas, a quick scan of the NCHA Handbook and AQHA Handbook and the word does not exist.

Correspondence produced by NRHA to members and non-members references “Confidential statements” – how far and wide that is used is till being uncovered.

What is so confidential at the NRHA? Why do other similar associations not need to be reliant on such clauses?

Is it a case of ‘dictated to completely’?

To remain a member of the NRHA is a vital part of breeding, owning and showing reiners. To lose a membership can be devastating to a person that has invested time, money and passion into the sport. But how risky is that investment when it comes to retaining your membership?

In the By-Laws, it states “Membership is a privilege and not a vested right. All memberships are subject to the approval of the Executive Committee, which may approve, reject, suspend, or revoke the membership of any Member at any time in its discretion. The Board of Directors retains final authority regarding all aspects of membership, including conditions of membership, eligibility, qualifications, approval or rejection, suspension, revocation, processes, types, dues, and interpretations of the provisions of these Bylaws relating to membership, and the decision of the Board of Directors shall be final and not subject to appeal or review.”

Looking at the Cosper case and reading the rules, could this be the reason why we see comments on FaceBook of ‘I am no longer a member so I can say……’.

With increased transparency much of the conjecture can be removed as people will be informed of what is really happening behind the scenes of the NRHA.

Share your thoughts and please be respectful of each other’s opinions.

We are Polling for Change at the NRHA for more transparency. Click here to vote.

The revoked membership for a dead horse is Mark Arballo. <<<<Read the story here>>>>

 

Customs Can be the Biggest Horse Abuser

 

The truth is that a person deemed as knowledgeable,

may well be the cruelest person that ever stepped into a horse pen.

Ask a reining trainer or clinician how they train their horses and they will have a mantra response that is palatable to most people’s ears. What they won’t talk about is the things they do behind barn doors; sometimes barbaric practices deemed tradition in the training of the reining horse.

They have learned skills passed on from generation to generation from people considered knowledgeable; the people that influence the sport today. Some of those people were good horseman and many others were barbaric in their methods. Those people having immense influence over members and enthusiasts of the sport whether good or bad. They are the masters of the destiny of reining horses as they are provided with full access and authority across the globe.

Those same trainers and clinicians are conditioned to seeing and working with those barbaric methods and have no measure of the degree of abuse being applied. They justify everything with their longevity in the business and their prize winnings. A good prize winner or promoter seems to have a licence for unquestionable abuse, even when other horseman stand back and shake their head in disgust.

The twistedness of the trainers lack of skill and knowledge was captured in this US Patent for horse training equipment. The 1964 patent states:

Customary methods for training animals in general, and horses in particular, often are relatively very cruel. For example, in training horses to neck rein, one method involves beating the horse about the head with a wide leather paddle or bat several hundred times to train the horse to turn when the rider so orders. Horses trained in this manner to be cow horses usually are retrained after periods of two or three months, During each such training exercise the horse may again be batted about the head several hundred times. These training and retraining exercises often cause a horse to become extremely head shy.

Another training method used to train a cow horse to neck rein involves the use of sharp spurs as the rider wishes the horse to turn. This method often results in badly injured shoulders for the horse, often resulting in permanent injury. In addition, horses which otherwise were very good horses, though somewhat high-spirited, often were ruined for cow horse purposes because they could not be beaten into submission by either the hat or the spur.

Accordingly, it is an important object of this invention to provide a humane animal training device which is capable of more rapidly and more permanently training animals, such as the horse, than has been achieved by the use of prior art methods.

Another object of this invention is to provide an electric training rein for rapidly and efficiently training a horse, such as a cow horse, to neck rein without cutting, bruising, or otherwise injuring or undesirably shying the horse.

Wow. The electric rein was the improvement as it was a rapid solution and left no noticeable marks and the horse was not head shy.

I remember seeing a lovely Zan Parr Bar bred colt, in the late 70’s early 80’s, trained with electric reins. He shivered from head to toe in fear with his eyes rolling and his entire relationship with the trainer was reactionary to fear, and beatings for the wrong reaction. The trainer was deemed a champion and appeared on the front pages of magazines.

Move on to the 1980-90’s and watch some of the old educational videos; the videos actually published in that era and not the vetted versions available today. Some readers will remember attending clinics or spending time in training barns.

Those videos (and live demonstrations) demonstrate such barbarian treatment as:

  1. Barbed wire bits for hard mouth horses
  2. Reins tied from the bit to the hind legs snagging the horse every stride to soften its mouth.
  3. Metal cavessons to pull horses heads under – of course tied through the front legs
  4. Chains as nosebands and bits
  5. Shoulder spurring to the point of spur holes left in horses shoulders
  6. Wire bands over the poll being pulled taught in a war bridle
  7. Tying heads around tightly to the saddle for hours on end
  8. Tying heads high in the barn to weaken spirits and tire the horse
  9. Hobbling horses and beating them to teach them who is in charge
  10. Hitting horses relentlessly with poly pipe to spin faster

and the list goes on.

Several years ago, at a demonstration in front of hundreds of people, a prize winning legendary reining trainer informed the crowd that when he had too many horses to ride each day, he would use hardened black plastic pipe and beat on the horses to get them to turnaround. Not much going on in that man’s head for sure.

And yes, these methods still exist to this day. They are like a mother’s milk to some trainers. Occasionally when it happens like with the death of Bella (Gunnabe Gifted) it comes out of the closet what has been happening in trainer barns. Or the horse in Calgary spurred beyond any reasonable purpose. Others have died and suffered, but did not get the media attention as the owners were fearful of the consequences to them.

How the NRHA defines abuse through the eyes of a reasonably hands-on person in training and showing horses. In other words a trainer. The full statement is subject to copyright but can be read in their handbook on page 11 of the 2017 edition.

If the people chosen were raised on these barbaric techniques, and many have been, then the toleration would be very different to someone who was a good horseman with a fair hand and heal.

One event, we observed a gelding being harassed, severely spurred and jerked hard continually in front of the show manager and other riders. It escalated to such a point the horse was in such a state of fear, and it was unable to function. Every move it made met with extreme punishment. The gelding urinated on itself then collapsed on the ground. No-one intervened, (except for us). Amidst a spray of language for intervening, the show manager, and riders responded ‘he knows what he is doing, and the horse can handle it, that horse just has a bad attitude.’ Justifying that level of abuse left us speechless. Customs can apparently out ride brains.

The image on this article is a wire wrapped metal cavesson, with a sliding gag and twisted wire bit. The string is a cavesson hanger to set it to the softest part of the horse’s face. This barbaric training item is deemed a solution to a horse with a problem and what was required to train a reining horse.

A knowledgeable (?) person may well be the steward overseeing the horses at your next show. Hardened to the point of not being able to see abuse when it is right in front of them. As the frenzy builds to have the horse completely submit, ready to run for +1 ½ scores the level escalates.

Improvements in the NRHA rules are needed and the litmus test of ‘horse public opinion’ for the treatment of horses. You do not need to be a reining horse rider to see abuse; you do not need to be a top level trainer to understand abuse. The two most common statements made to support any action of a reining horse person where the lines have been crossed. A good horseman can see abuse no matter what discipline they show or ride in. In the NRHA member logic, Buck Brannaman or Ray Hunt may well of been sidelined as being not a good measure of welfare as he did not show top level reining horses. I think not.

Let us know your thoughts and don’t forget to vote.

Always Remember:  You stick up for a horse abuser  –  it’s usually because your tribe is your vibe.