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NCHA gets ready for 70 year anniversary

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National Cutting Horse Association

www.nchacutting.com

The mystique of the American cowboy combined with the thrill of sport together fuel a multi-million dollar industry built on cutting horses in the Fort Worth and Parker County area.

The importance of the cutting horse industry to the local economy has been growing steadily for at least a quarter of a century as the Fort Worth area, and particularly Parker County, have amassed a sizable population of cutting horse owners, trainers, breeders and competitors.

“Cutting horse competition is one of the largest western equine performance events by money earned in the world,” said Jim Bret Campbell, executive director of the Fort Worth-based National Cutting Horse Association, which will celebrate its 70th anniversary in 2016.

“In 2014, cutting horse competitors earned almost $40 million, he said.

The NCHA has 16,000 members worldwide, with the largest number in the United States and the greatest conglomeration within the nation in the local area, known as the mecca of the cutting horse industry.

“Weatherford is to the cutting horse industry just as Lexington, Ky., is the hub of the thoroughbred horse industry,” said Jeff Hooper, former executive director of the NCHA.

The lure of Parker County is living in the heart of the industry with easy access to top breeders, trainers and veterinarians. It also means being close to NCHA headquarters and the Triple Crown events, the pinnacle of cutting horse competition, which are held each year at the Will Rogers Memorial Center.

The NCHA conducts five events each year but the Triple Crown events alone drew 27,521 visitors and pumped more than $33 million into the local economy in 2013-14, according to research by Grotta Marketing Research for the NCHA.

Beyond the economic impact of the Triple Crown events – the Super Stakes, Summer Spectacular and the World Championship Futurity – there is an indirect impact, including the investment in ranch land, horses, equipment, training, employee salaries and cattle, which are necessary for training cutting horses. The sport involves a mounted rider cutting a calf from the herd and keeping it separated for an amount of time, relying on the instincts of the horse.

“There is a very large indirect impact,” said Angie Highland, treasurer of the NCHA who formerly worked for Grotta Research.

It is known that cutting horse enthusiasts who settle in Parker County are big spenders who love the sport. Among them has been Wal-Mart billionaire heiress Alice Walton, who is selling her 1,432-acre Rocking W Ranch in Millsap in Parker County for $19.75 million. The sale of her herd of 91 horses last week fetched more than $3 million, not including some pending transactions. The top-selling stallion sold for $500,000.

However, not everyone is as wealthy as Walton. NHCA members reported an average investment of $2.3 million in their Parker County ranches, according to a 2014 Parker County study done by Grotta. Survey respondents also reported owning an average of 138.3 acres and an average of 14 horses.

The study also showed that many cutting horse operators with ranches in Parker County had lived there an average of 11.7 years.

Phil Rapp, the all-time leading cutting horse money-winner with $9 million, relocated from Napa Valley, Calif., to Parker County in 1992. Rapp grew up in San Francisco, the adopted son of a hotel owner and his wife. He later learned that his passion for horses was likely derived from his biological mother, who loved and rode horses until she was six months into her pregnancy with him.

Eventually, his father sold his business interest and moved the family to Napa Valley, where he bought a horse ranch as a breeding venture and to allow Rapp, then a teenager, to train and show.

Rapp eventually relocated to Texas to live in the heart of the cutting horse industry.

His wife, Mary Ann, is the leading money-earner in the non-professional class with $4 million in winnings. The Rapps are full-time breeders and trainers of cutting horses in Parker County. Rapp competes as a professional.

“Living in Parker County makes so much sense,” he said. “In 2015, we will show for 74 days at the Triple Crown events at Will Rogers.

“Then we are within 150 miles of other events in Texas and Oklahoma,” he said.

Rapp said he has seen a lot of growth in the cutting horse community in Parker County since he arrived.

“There is a lot of available land, good job opportunities and an overall great place to raise horses and kids,” he said.

Rapp said the industry has changed a lot since he first got involved with cutting horses in the 70s.

For starters, purses at NCHA-approved shows have grown significantly. Forty years ago, purses were a fraction of the nearly $40 million paid out in 2014, he noted.

Cutting horse competition is rooted in the daily tasks of American cowboys in the 1800s who used their best horses to separate individual cows from a herd for branding or other purpose.

Over time, the cutting horse – typically a quarter horse – was no longer as necessary for rounding up cattle because pickup trucks made the task easier for ranchers, according to the NCHA.

But the cutting horse found a new purpose as a key participant in the new equine sport of cutting horse competition. The first cutting horse contest was held in 1898 in Haskell, Texas, and offered a prize of $150.

The first recorded cutting horse competition as an arena spectator event took place at the Southwestern Exposition and Fat Stock Show in 1919, according to the NCHA.

By 1946, the popularity of cutting horse competitions had spun off a variety of conditions and rules for the sport. So that year, a group of 13 cutting horse owners met and decided to establish a standard of rules and procedures for competition.

The NCHA was created that year and its first show was in held in Dublin, Texas, in 1946.

“It’s such a great sport because kids as young as six and people in their 80s, both men and women, can be involved with cutting horses,” the NCHA’s Campbell said. “There are tiers and classes for a wide range of riders and horses, so people of every skill level can compete with others with the same abilities.

“It’s just a lot of fun,” he said.

National Cutting Horse Association

www.nchacutting.com

NCHA gets ready for 70 year anniversary

By Marice Richter

mrichter@bizpress.net

The mystique of the American cowboy combined with the thrill of sport together fuel a multi-million dollar industry built on cutting horses in the Fort Worth and Parker County area.

The importance of the cutting horse industry to the local economy has been growing steadily for at least a quarter of a century as the Fort Worth area, and particularly Parker County, have amassed a sizable population of cutting horse owners, trainers, breeders and competitors.

“Cutting horse competition is one of the largest western equine performance events by money earned in the world,” said Jim Bret Campbell, executive director of the Fort Worth-based National Cutting Horse Association, which will celebrate its 70th anniversary in 2016.

“In 2014, cutting horse competitors earned almost $40 million, he said.

The NCHA has 16,000 members worldwide, with the largest number in the United States and the greatest conglomeration within the nation in the local area, known as the mecca of the cutting horse industry.

“Weatherford is to the cutting horse industry just as Lexington, Ky., is the hub of the thoroughbred horse industry,” said Jeff Hooper, former executive director of the NCHA.

The lure of Parker County is living in the heart of the industry with easy access to top breeders, trainers and veterinarians. It also means being close to NCHA headquarters and the Triple Crown events, the pinnacle of cutting horse competition, which are held each year at the Will Rogers Memorial Center.

The NCHA conducts five events each year but the Triple Crown events alone drew 27,521 visitors and pumped more than $33 million into the local economy in 2013-14, according to research by Grotta Marketing Research for the NCHA.

Beyond the economic impact of the Triple Crown events – the Super Stakes, Summer Spectacular and the World Championship Futurity – there is an indirect impact, including the investment in ranch land, horses, equipment, training, employee salaries and cattle, which are necessary for training cutting horses. The sport involves a mounted rider cutting a calf from the herd and keeping it separated for an amount of time, relying on the instincts of the horse.

“There is a very large indirect impact,” said Angie Highland, treasurer of the NCHA who formerly worked for Grotta Research.

It is known that cutting horse enthusiasts who settle in Parker County are big spenders who love the sport. Among them has been Wal-Mart billionaire heiress Alice Walton, who is selling her 1,432-acre Rocking W Ranch in Millsap in Parker County for $19.75 million. The sale of her herd of 91 horses last week fetched more than $3 million, not including some pending transactions. The top-selling stallion sold for $500,000.

However, not everyone is as wealthy as Walton. NHCA members reported an average investment of $2.3 million in their Parker County ranches, according to a 2014 Parker County study done by Grotta. Survey respondents also reported owning an average of 138.3 acres and an average of 14 horses.

The study also showed that many cutting horse operators with ranches in Parker County had lived there an average of 11.7 years.

Phil Rapp, the all-time leading cutting horse money-winner with $9 million, relocated from Napa Valley, Calif., to Parker County in 1992. Rapp grew up in San Francisco, the adopted son of a hotel owner and his wife. He later learned that his passion for horses was likely derived from his biological mother, who loved and rode horses until she was six months into her pregnancy with him.

Eventually, his father sold his business interest and moved the family to Napa Valley, where he bought a horse ranch as a breeding venture and to allow Rapp, then a teenager, to train and show.

Rapp eventually relocated to Texas to live in the heart of the cutting horse industry.

His wife, Mary Ann, is the leading money-earner in the non-professional class with $4 million in winnings. The Rapps are full-time breeders and trainers of cutting horses in Parker County. Rapp competes as a professional.

“Living in Parker County makes so much sense,” he said. “In 2015, we will show for 74 days at the Triple Crown events at Will Rogers.

“Then we are within 150 miles of other events in Texas and Oklahoma,” he said.

Rapp said he has seen a lot of growth in the cutting horse community in Parker County since he arrived.

“There is a lot of available land, good job opportunities and an overall great place to raise horses and kids,” he said.

Rapp said the industry has changed a lot since he first got involved with cutting horses in the 70s.

For starters, purses at NCHA-approved shows have grown significantly. Forty years ago, purses were a fraction of the nearly $40 million paid out in 2014, he noted.

Cutting horse competition is rooted in the daily tasks of American cowboys in the 1800s who used their best horses to separate individual cows from a herd for branding or other purpose.

Over time, the cutting horse – typically a quarter horse – was no longer as necessary for rounding up cattle because pickup trucks made the task easier for ranchers, according to the NCHA.

But the cutting horse found a new purpose as a key participant in the new equine sport of cutting horse competition. The first cutting horse contest was held in 1898 in Haskell, Texas, and offered a prize of $150.

The first recorded cutting horse competition as an arena spectator event took place at the Southwestern Exposition and Fat Stock Show in 1919, according to the NCHA.

By 1946, the popularity of cutting horse competitions had spun off a variety of conditions and rules for the sport. So that year, a group of 13 cutting horse owners met and decided to establish a standard of rules and procedures for competition.

The NCHA was created that year and its first show was in held in Dublin, Texas, in 1946.

“It’s such a great sport because kids as young as six and people in their 80s, both men and women, can be involved with cutting horses,” the NCHA’s Campbell said. “There are tiers and classes for a wide range of riders and horses, so people of every skill level can compete with others with the same abilities.

“It’s just a lot of fun,” he said.

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