One of the great joys of my life in recent years has been assembling a prize-winning herd of magnificent Percheron mares at my Jackson Fork Ranch. These are truly glorious animals, descendants of a breed of powerful draft horses that were brought over from France in the mid-19th century. Though we’ve been at it for not much more than four years, our Percherons – under the direction of my capable ranch manager Jonathan Harding – have already made more than their share of history. In 2010, they became the first all-mare hitch to win the Calgary Stampede’s prestigious World Champion Six Horse Hitch Competition – an amazing feat that they repeated in 2011. And this past year they earned a coveted finalist position in the North American Classic Series.
Because a number of the mares are pregnant – the result of a comprehensive breeding program we’ve initiated with a herd of prize-winning stallions from Windermere Farms in Spring Hills, Pennsylvania – we have reduced their competition schedule for the coming year. But they won’t be totally out of public view. On New Year’s Day, our Percherons will be marching in the world-famous Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California, pulling a Jackson Fork Ranch wagon custom made for us by Hanson Wagon Works of South Dakota. To be asked to play a part in an event as celebrated and historic as the Rose Parade is a point of tremendous pride for all of us at Jackson Fork Ranch. The nobility and beauty of these animals is awe-inspiring, and I’m delighted to be able to share them with the world
I’ve long felt that being a good citizen means not just watching from the sidelines but getting actively involved in the big policy debates of our time. It was in this spirit that I started a non-partisan advocacy group called Taxpayers Against Earmarks back in 2010. Taxpayers Against Earmarks focused on educating the public about the dangers of earmarking, and early in 2011 we were happy to see Congress declare a moratorium on this fiscally irresponsible practice.
With the earmarking campaign behind us, we decided to take on an even bigger challenge — the larger issue of out-of-control federal spending and the crushing burden of government debt it leaves in its wake. We renamed our group Ending Spending and for the past two years, we have been doing what we can to educate the public and help elect political leaders who understand the importance of balancing the budget and reducing the debt.
This promises to be a much longer campaign than the one against Congressional earmarks, but it’s a battle that must be waged. With this in mind, I’m pleased and proud to report that my sons Todd and Pete are coming to work with me at Ending Spending. Given the critical importance of getting our fiscal house in order, it’s more important than ever for groups like Ending Spending to continue making the case for smarter spending and smaller government. And with Todd and Pete’s help, that’s just what we’re going to do.