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The Pacific Coast Cutting Horse Association Futurity has now completed the first two go-rounds of the event. One hundred and twelve entries from across the nation converged on Paso Robles with high hopes. Ten sets showed their stuff against tough cattle, with some being bested by cows ducking under their necks at the buzzer.

The first thing one looks at when entered in a show of this magnitude, the most important cutting on the West Coast, is the draw. That refers to the position one is given to show in. Generally speaking, in cutting, one prefers to be in the first part of a set of cattle before others contestants have run through them numerous times. Also, often, the later in the competition one shows can sometime result in a higher score. Thus, I was thrilled when I saw that Fay Reys Sis, “Thyme” was third in the seventh set.

The cows continued to be tough and wily, but Morgan and Thyme controlled each cow with precision and confidence. The score was 219.5 and when the first round was done, tied for first place. The pressure was on. Sixty-eight horses would proceed to the next round.

The draw on the second round was not so good – next to last in the fifth set. We would have to use a lot of skill and luck to get through this round to the finals. We waited breathlessly, while one horse after another lost cows. They just didn’t want to play with the horses. It was rather chilly, and we surmised that perhaps they just wanted to keep warm by snuggling with the other cows!

Then it was our turn. Morgan and Thyme walked toward the herd, sorted through the back and selected a nice light-colored animal who immediately started pushing back to no avail. Everywhere the bovine went, there was Thyme staring it in the face. After some great feints matched by Thyme, she and Morgan released the cow and turned back to select another to work.

The next few seconds seemed like an hour. I kept watching the clock as Morgan looked at one after another of the choices, rejected it and kept on moving through the herd all the way to the other side. Those of us sitting together were all stressing seriously whether Morgan would find something to cut before her two and a half minutes were up. Finally, with 11 seconds to go she selected a cow to work and worked it beautifully until the buzzer sounded. The score was a 218.5. The combined score at the end of two rounds was 438, two points higher than anyone else going into the finals Saturday. Unfortunately, “Maureen,” Smarty Hicat Annie did not have the same luck. She was entered in the 5/6-year-old class and started out with a great run. The cows were especially tough and the previous four horses had all lost cows, one after the other. She worked hard to keep that cow out in front of her and made every move she should have. The cow, however, had no respect for the horse and at the last moment ducked under her neck. Score zero, no advancement to next round. Her show was over. The daily report about the show mentioned that a lot of very good horses were put out of the running by bad cows. “Maureen” was one of those.

We were slated to fly to Arizona this Friday to attend the Bridle Spectacular sponsored by Holy Cow Performance Horses at the National Reined Cow Horse Associations Derby postponed from May because of the deadly equine virus. Due to the PCCHA Futurity Finals that we find ourselves in, and it is a huge honor and accomplishment to be here, we were pleasantly surprised when our trainer Jake Telford told us we should stay because we had a good chance of winning it, and it would be a shame to miss it and Todd Bergen kindly offered to present the trophy to the winner. With that, we cancelled our plane and hotel reservations and now wait anxiously to see how it all turns out this Saturday. If you don’t have plans, come up and see what happens. It should be exciting!

Occupy what?

I am sure that you have all noticed the continuing media coverage of the “Occupy” wherever protests. The recurring theme that I hear from the news reports is that these people think Wall Street is greedy and should be punished and made to give more money to the middle and lower classes. If that were true, I might understand their pleas. Most of the protestors have been identified as liberal or ultraliberal with organizers, some paid, from unions and Communist party groups. What I find inexplicable is the complete lack of truth in what these people are asserting. Are they simply ignorant or do they truly just believe what they have obviously been told? In any event, the reality is startlingly different.

I recently ran across a list of the top 20 political donors from the years 1989-2012. I was not really surprised at what I saw. The vast majority are unions who donated almost exclusively to the Dems. For example the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees donated at total of $46,167,658 with 94% (D) to 1% (R) and SEIU gave $37,634,367 with 75% (D) to 2% (R). Number 7 on the list is Goldman Sachs, a major Wall Street company which donated $35,790,579 of which 60% (D) and 35% was given to Republican causes and candidates. Then there’s the American Association for Justice, perhaps a misnomer, which gave $34,715,804 with 89% (D) and 8% (R). Two major corporations, AT&T and Citigroup both are listed as giving equally to both parties. This is in contrast to the various unions including National Education Association, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers #9, Laborers Union, American Federation of Teachers, Teamsters Union, Carpenters & Joiners Union, Communication Workers of America, United Auto Workers, United Food & Commercial Workers Union and the Machinists & Aerospace Workers Union. Between them, they gave from more than $46,000,000 to $27,000,000 from 98% (D) to a low of 75% (D).

I find it interesting that the heaviest donors are groups that essentially require dues of their workers in order to have their jobs. Pretty easy money if you ask me, but the workers apparently have no say in what it is spent on. Is that what all the fuss was about in Wisconsin this summer?

I probably haven’t told you anything you didn’t already at least suspect, but now you have the facts. The only group on the top 20 list who gave more to Republicans was the National Auto Dealers Association, and they still gave 32% to the Dems.

So to say that Wall Street is a problem is, at best, a simplification of the issue. Everyone has a right to support who they want, but somehow having to donate due through one’s job and then not having the ability to direct where it is spent somehow doesn’t seem right. Having had friends who worked as carpenters and for phone companies, I heard about a number of complaints of losing money from strikes and having their money used in ways they disagreed with.

I frequently bring up topics that I think are problems within our current society and there seem to be plenty of them. With the election season already starting, the stories of voter fraud are also beginning to surface. Incidents in Indiana are the first followed by stories of people who had been anti-voter ID requirements who have now changed their minds.

Of course, the usual charges of racism and other disenfranchisements continue to ring loud, but they are beginning to sound more hollow. This is because if anyone is voting illegitimately, it disenfranchises everyone; a point that those who are part of the problem don’t want to accept. It is an ugly topic no matter who you are and needs to be routed out of every community that suffers from this scourge. Bringing back the integrity of our vote here is an important goal, and I hope you will join in supporting it.

Birds and dust

Did you know that the United Fish and Wildlife Service has just listed the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher as a species that requires critical habitat including acreage in Santa Barbara County? Did you know that the Environmental Protection Agency is about to publish a rule governing dust? I’m not talking about every housewife’s nightmare, either!

Here we go again. We are going to be hit with further rules and regulations about what we can and cannot do with our “private” property. Now we are going to be held responsible for the dust we produce. I am anxious to see what that is going to be, as most rural properties produce a lot of dust from their dirt roads, Ag fields and animals moving around. I think that is a good reason to keep non-Ag uses and people out of rural areas. Then it’s not a problem for those who are not used to it.

This is not to say that all people should be restricted from living in rural areas, but as more people move into the Valley, it is clear to those of us who love living here that some newcomers move here with the intent to change it to reflect what it was like where they came from. They want 24-hour stores, big-box stores and closer shopping. We like the fact that we have to go somewhere else to shop because we don’t like the lights, the noise or the hoards of people that those shopping centers include. We have a very special place here and we intend to keep it that way. What do you think?