by Corey Fagan
The spirit of giving is not a stranger to the members of the Idaho Cutting Horse Association. With the heart of the holiday season just around the corner, we feel that it is the perfect time to acknowledge and sincerely thank those who go above & beyond during the ICHA shows, and throughout the entire year. Each contestant, trainer, and sponsor makes a difference through everything that they do, as they each make heartfelt efforts to proudly keep the western heritage alive. We are proud to know them and value them as part of the ICHA family.
You often hear the word “family” as you greet the members at an ICHA show. Welcoming sponsors into that family isn’t unusual; members, like Scott Amos, will make his way around to let our sponsors know how much they mean to us. Our sponsors make it possible to keep the western way of life alive and well. Our clear mission, as a group, is to educate new generations on the sport of cutting, introducing others to a unique lifestyle that keeps our equine industry strong.
Exemplary sponsor Hal McCormack, owner of the Big Iron Ranch, truly has a strong belief system when it comes to preserving the horse industry. Big Iron Ranch sponsored the Uncola classes this past year at both the ICHA Spring Aged Event and the ICHA Futurity & Aged Event. Keeping these older champion horses going is something Hal is very fervent about.
“I choose to sponsor the ‘Uncola’ because I know there are a lot of talented older horses out there; but, for whatever reason, maybe they were injured early on, whatever happened in their career they had to stop. I hate to see the older horse go out to pasture. They are the ones that teach our grand kids and our novice riders. These are the horses that are broke and trusted; they have earned respect and it’s a shame to me if they are a good horse that they don’t still get a bit of glory. They have phenomenal skills, a ton of talent and are fun to watch.” Hal went on to say, “As I grow older, I feel life slowly slipping away from me a little bit. I know that a lot of us can relate to that. We still like to get out there and play basketball, or whatever it is that makes us feel great for the moment. I personally like to make sure the added money is there so these older champion horses have the opportunity for their owners to take them to the show and let them re-live their glory. Kind of like when I’m feeling okay, I can still get out and play with the best of them.”
The Big Iron Ranch, originally Triple M Farms, has been making a difference for the past decade. Hal’s grandpa and dad passed on the passion of cutting. Hal found his way to other things, but his deep roots brought him back to the industry when his daughter developed her own interest in horses. Compassion for a badly beaten stud horse initiated the journey. Now, the Big Iron Ranch breeds high quality horses and is adamant that the price will be affordable. “This business is only going to grow if everyone gets a chance to play.” said Hal. The Big Iron Ranch is home to stallion Nurse N Cat. Many agree that he is one of the best bred stallions in the industry. Nurse N Cat comes from strong bloodlines stemming from his sire, High Brow Cat, with earnings of over $500,000, as well as being an offspring of Nurse Rey- dam of Jewel Rey. This year at the NCHA Futurity in Fort Worth, Texas, held November 21 – December 11, 16% of the total foals entered (97 foals in just the Open Futurity alone) are sired by High Brow Cat. Keep your eye on Nurse N Cat, who is a half- brother to leading sire Dual Rey. He is sure to dazzle you!
The Big Iron Ranch is committed to continue to breed, raise and show top quality horses that will help get the equine business back on its feet. Hal’s horses have earnings of over $200,000. While some say he should raise the stud fees, he feels strongly about sticking to his belief system; enthusiastically declaring “Committed folks and their families should get a well bred, strong horse who can step up to the plate. I will always give people the best product available at an affordable price. It’s not just about the money- nothing gives me more joy than to see someone win on one of my horses.”
Hal supports many great causes that mostly involve children. You will find that he is a big supporter of anything that has to do with adoptions, and foster kids. He passionately stated, “I know that these kids don’t have much and they are so appreciative of everything they get. I believe that when we are doing well, we also need to remember where we came from; we really need to give back to the community. I like giving back to the kids”. So, it was a huge enhancement to Hal’s ambition that the Uncola Class supported Toys for Tots this year during the ICHA Futurity and Aged Event.
Hal is a firm believer in watching what we do to preserve the western heritage and the sport of cutting. Giving an incredible horse and trainer its due, believing that everyone should have a fair opportunity to show and win– his strong opinions sometimes seem to go against the grain, but they come from his heart, seemingly with integrity and passion intact. The Big Iron Ranch would like to thank everyone who bred to their horses this year, and they would like to extend warm wishes for a safe and happy holiday season to all.
Frank Martin, President CEO of Martin- Harris Construction, initiated a Calcutta of the Uncola Open Finals at this year’s ICHA Futurity & Aged Event; the proceeds of which went directly to the Marines to support the Toys for Tots program.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Frank and Bonnie Martin to discover their passion for the Toys for Tots program, which the ICHA supports each and every year. Bonnie said, “We are patriotic Americans who are very thankful to the service men and women who support our freedom.” Frank continued, “Yes, we are Patriotic Americans that believe in the USA, founded on God’s principal, and thanks just never seems like enough. So, we like to support the armed forces in what they do. In the Toys for Tots program, all of the money goes to the children. It is not taken out by the administration and staff and it goes directly to the receiver. I appreciate and support that.” Humbly, Bonnie added, “It fills our hearts full of joy to be able to help others. We believe in the value of when much is given, much is expected in return. Most of the time we like to be anonymous.”
Frank and Bonnie Martin are no strangers to giving and receiving. Martin-Harris Construction began in 1976. Now a nation-wide name in construction, they specialize in commercial projects including but not limited to tilt-up construction design, casino/hotel renovations and much more and are responsible for many of the creative structured buildings you see in Las Vegas, Nevada. Frank’s motto continues to hold strong: “Discover excellence”. He insists on excellence to his clients and he knows that team work is essential. Frank and Bonnie are solid in core values, performance and integrity, not only in business but in their daily lifestyle.
Frank knows that the members involved in cutting are philanthropic in many ways. He went to Preston Skaar, ICHA President; and Sue Marostica, ICHA Coordinator; and suggested that a Calcutta of the horses & riders competing in the Uncola Open Finals be held to benefit the Toys for Tots program. “I knew that several people were there with great horses, and I knew that emotions would help on all different levels to raise money for a great cause,” Frank said. “Being from Las Vegas didn’t hurt either; we understand the gambling principal, we know how passionate people are about their horses, and the desire to help others. When emotions get involved, then it goes deeper than the hundred dollar bill.” Frank’s instincts proved to be right, as $3,625 was raised for the Toys for Tots Program during that Calcutta. During the course of the entire ICHA Futurity & Aged Event, a total of over $4,000 in cash and hundreds of toys were raised.
Living in Las Vegas, Frank and Bonnie are huge supporters of Opportunity Village- an organization that helps physically and mentally challenged people get paychecks. Passionately spoken, Frank said “It gives these people a huge sense of pride and self worth, while giving the caretakers a break for awhile…the impact on the handicapped person is profound.” In the terminal area of Southwest Airlines at the Las Vegas McCarran Airport, all of the rest rooms are cleaned by working individuals of this program. Depending on the level of challenge, different programs are available such as culinary facility programs including bus boys, bus girls, dishwashers etc. Opportunity Village provides training for the trainable. “God continues to bless us in our business- we are in every state in the U.S.” said Frank. “This is one way we give back.” Each year, a fund raiser is held at their home called Miss Kittys Jeans to Jewels, named after Kitty Rodman who, like the Martins, had a hugely successful construction business called Sierra Construction. On September 11th this year, $120,000 was raised. Miss Kittys Jeans to Jewels began in 2001. Since then, close to two million dollars has been raised at the Martin’s home in support of the Opportunity Village program. If you would like to become involved, please call Frank Martin directly at 702-474-8100.
Frank and Bonnie exemplify the true spirit of Christmas, reminding us all that the reason for the season is Jesus. They also expressed their appreciation to the ICHA for all that they do. “We appreciate the ICHA very much. Preston Skaar is an outstanding person, and it is always a pleasure to go to the Idaho shows. The staff at the Idaho Center is so accommodating and wonderful; we always feel relaxed and enjoy ourselves. You are treated right and we will always come back. “
The ICHA family is filled with giving hearts all year long- people who truly make a difference. Jim and Sandy Figge of Figge Farms have sponsored several award saddles and outfitted the entire group of Ride for Joy kids for the fashion show. Lawson Hadlock went the extra mile to entertain the crowd during the 3rd Annual ICHA Bridleless Cutting Event and decided to go not only bridleless, but bareback as well! Robert Borick always has ideas and suggestions to help make our shows great. Brian
Anderson serves on the ICHA Board of Directors as the Vice-President, and always is willing to offer a helping hand at the shows. Bob Hulden, ICHA Show Manager, made pizzas for the Welcome to Idaho Party and missed watching his own horse being shown to cook them and make sure they were ready for our guests.
And this is only to name a few of the marvelous individuals that we call family. Hats off to those who go the extra mile! “You” keep the spirit of giving alive and create memories that warm us from a deeper place, lasting like soft embers after a fire. That is the spirit that drives us all towards a common place, the heart of a “family”.
On behalf of the Idaho Cutting Horse Association, we would like to wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas. May the spirit of the season live within each of us throughout the year and the Heart of Giving remain a constant glow.