NCHA VP Candidates - 10 Questions CHC Survey
Author: Cutting Horse Central
The NCHA Officer Nominating Committee has carefully selected Jim Johnson and Steve Norris as the nominees for the 2018 Vice President Election. Jim and Steve live on opposite ends of the United States and vary in their background and experience in the cutting industry, but it is clear they are both dedicated to bettering the sport.
We asked them both a series of questions regarding issues currently facing the cutting community, so you could get an inside look on their plans for the future.
Q1: What made you decide to run for VP?
Jim Johnson: I feel I can bring diversification living outside Fort Worth by representing cutters in the East and the West, both LAE and Weekend cutters. I’ve always been active at different levels in the NCHA and will continue to contribute to our sport.
Steve Norris: I decided to run for VP to assist incoming President Phil Rapp, incoming President Elect Ron Pietrafeso, the executive committee and staff in assuring continued promotion and support of new ideas formed along with trying to grow membership and sponsorships in order to keep NCHA financially sound and growing.
Q2: What has been your previous involvement with NCHA?
Jim Johnson: I joined the NCHA in 1983. I have been a Director since the early 90’s and member of the Amateur and Open Show Committees; and, while on the Youth Committee, I served as Chairman. Currently I’m working on the Long-Range Planning Committee. Both of my girls are in the NYCHA Hall of Fame so the whole family was involved.
Steve Norris: I am a Region 1 Director from Colorado and have served on the Non-Pro and Youth committees along with being a AAA NCHA judge. With the help of our family foundation I have sponsored the NCHA World Finals jackets for several years when they were in Amarillo and the NCHA Golf Tournament for several years. Also, I have put on NCHA cuttings at the ranch in Colorado Springs along with hosting the first NCHA convention out of the Ft. Worth area.
Q3: How long have you been involved with cutting horses?
Jim Johnson: I started cutting in the early 1980’s and in 1988, I started producing cuttings at our farm in Lewisburg, West Virginia. We have held a cutting here for 30 years this May and, I believe this is the longest continuous cutting at the same location. I know there have been cuttings in existence for a lot longer than 30 years, but I don’t know that they have been at the same location. Our arena is only 100 feet from the outdoor pen where we started.
Steve Norris: I have been involved with cutting horses for 45 years. My showing experience has been 95 percent at weekend shows. After going up and down the road to mostly $200 and $300 added cuttings, I am proud to say I will be inducted into the NCHA Non-Pro Hall of Fame this year at the convention.
Q4: Most memorable cutting you have attended?
Jim Johnson: They are all memorable in one way or another but, I think the most memorable was in Jackson, Mississippi, at the 2003 NCHA Eastern Nationals; my daughters, Jennie and Rachel, and Austin Shepard were all showing. It just seemed like nothing could go wrong; the horses rode well and Austin did a fantastic job on Uno Dos Seventyseven in the Open and Rachel won the Senior Youth. Another show would be Fort Worth when Jennie was only 21; she won the shootout for a trailer. I wouldn’t give up those hours I spent on the road with my girls.
Jim Johnson shown with his family
Steve Norris: The most memorable cutting I attended was Tropicana Cutting in 1985 when I split the 4-year Novice Non-Pro with Sheila Welch riding my mare Terry Olena and winning my biggest check ever of $9,702.
Q5: How do you feel you can make a difference to the sport of cutting?
Jim Johnson: If you want to make things better, we all must work together. We do have a voice. Apathy runs rampant. We need to find out what ideas our members have to make the NCHA a better organization. I don’t feel like the general membership feels a part of it. The NCHA should give something back to the members. It can’t be take, take, take all the time. It’s a two-way street.
Steve Norris: I feel with all my years of business experience operating a cow/calf operation, showing cutting horses, judging, being a Region 1 Director, serving on various committees, being a real estate broker and retiring as a reserve deputy sheriff with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office after 15 years of service, this will help me in my decision making to be fair as possible to all cutters. I understand competition and feel it is important for NCHA to provide Amateur and Non-Pro cutters a class structure, which will give each cutter entered a good opportunity to get a check which will increase entries and grow our association.
Steve Norris shown with his Family
Q6: Membership has been on a steady decline in the last few years, name two things you would like to see implemented to turn this around?
Jim Johnson: Anything you give your time and effort to fulfills a need for accomplishment, recognition, or just plain fun. I would commit to finding out what changes would get more cutters excited and want to be more involved. Politicians promise this and that and many times when they get in office they can’t deliver. I want to see the numbers and the facts before I make recommendations.
Steve Norris: I feel if we can take a serious look at leveling the playing field at the weekend shows, which has been proposed for the aged events, this will provide a good fair structure in which the Amateur cutter can compete with others of their own skill and earning level. I believe this format is a good start and could be improved on by adopting a win to entry ratio numbering system. This would eventually assign a number to both a horse and rider allowing for a better competitive class structure which would increase interest and membership. The second thing I would like to do is showcase the Amateur cutter at the Mercuria and other major shows by obtaining new sponsorship money. I applaud Paula Gaughan for trying a new class at her Mercuria Cutting in February called the $100,000 Amateur BlowOut. This class with $15,000 added money was a huge success with 53 entries.
Q7: If you could waive a magic wand, what would you do to help the weekend show affiliates grow?
Jim Johnson: There is no magic wand. Each affiliate has its own problems. Here on the East coast, the East Coast Cutting Horse Association has come a long way; we were getting down to rock bottom. We saw we had to get more members and get them more involved. We had to get over being apathetic and start promoting our sport. The affiliates are the foundation of the NCHA. If the affiliates aren’t healthy, the NCHA won’t be either. The attitude toward the NCHA needs to change. We’re in this together.
Steve Norris: As discussed above, I believe leveling the competitive playing field would greatly help entry numbers and encourage more producers to put on shows. Also, I believe affiliates could sponsor training clinics and set up information and membership booths at venues such as state fairs, horse expo’s and cattlemen’s conventions to help to get new members
Q8: What are your thoughts on the new proposed class leveling structure for the Aged events that would group riders into different levels by money earned in each division (Open, Amateur & Non Pro)?
Jim Johnson:. I honestly don’t know enough about the details on how it will truly affect our sport, but I believe it is definitely something we should look at. I’ve been making a lot of calls to see how it would work and what riders think. I believe any major changes would need thorough vetting and discussion before being implemented.
Steve Norris: The class leveling structure has been talked about at our convention the last few years and appeared to be gaining a lot of positive attention. The proposed structure is good being it is based on money won; however, I feel it can be improved on by looking at ways to possibly create classes after figuring out a way to assign numbers to riders and horses based on money won.
Q9: Name one thing the NCHA does really well?
Jim Johnson: I really think the “grievance” and “protest” procedure that the NCHA has in place holds everyone accountable and gives contestants a chance to have their run reviewed if they feel they were not judged fairly. It’s a good way to inform and instruct our judges. A second thing the NCHA does really well is the Youth program. I was involved with that from the get go and so were my daughters. The value of the NYCHA scholarships and the NYCHA Hall of Fame recognition are huge!
Steve Norris: Without a doubt, the NCHA does a great job putting on the Triple Crown events. These events definitely showcase our industry, while helping preserve our western heritage and way of life. Also, NCHA promotes the very important Eastern and Western National Championships, which give the weekend cutter the opportunity to cut on a big stage for some big money.
Q10: Why should members vote for you?
Jim Johnson: I love this sport. I want to be part of the process of making the NCHA better. This NCHA belongs to all its members. I’m a weekend cutter, a Non-Pro cutter but, I’ve been involved in LAE, too. I will listen to you and represent you to the best of my ability.
Steve Norris: I love the sport of cutting and have the interest of all cutters at heart and I believe they should all be shown respect and treated in an equitable manner. I have a lifetime of experience raising horses and cattle, competing in cutting and roping events as well as putting on cuttings and horse sales, which I believe will help me in my vision and decision making if I am elected Vice President.
NCHA will be mailing out ballots shortly to all members that are eligible to vote in the 2018 NCHA VP Election. The winning candidate will be announced just prior to the 2018 NCHA Concention in June.