Freestyle Reining Returns to NRHA Futurity

For Immediate Release – November 21, 2018 – Oklahoma City – Freestyle reining unites the finesse and precision of reining with music, costumes, props, and theatrics. The combination creates some of the most entertaining performances a horse enthusiast could hope to see! Mark your calendars to witness the next installment of this crowd favorite on Thursday, November 29 at 7 p.m. during the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Futurity & Adequan® North American Affiliate Championship Show.

The $20,000 NRHA Invitational Freestyle Reining is proudly presented by the Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau in the Jim Norick Arena at State Fair Park in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The competition features talented riders performing their choreographed, one-of-a-kind reining routines. The 12 riders gearing up to compete are:

  • Dan James – Midway, Kentucky
  • Drake Johnson – Wray, Colorado
  • Emily Emerson – Elbert, Colorado
  • Jessicah Keller – Sumner, Texas
  • Keith Ceddia – Centerburg, Ohio
  • Kirstin Booth – Temecula, California
  • Melanie Wilhelm – Nazareth, Texas
  • Randall Dooley – Elbert, Colorado
  • Reed Kyle – Pilot Point, Texas
  • Sarah Locker – Brashear, Texas
  • Shane Brown – Elbert, Colorado
  • Shannon Rafacz – Citra, Florida

“NRHA is thrilled to have the Invitational Freestyle Reining at the Futurity again this year. With the help of the Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau, we have established a fantastic lineup for this year’s competition. Everyone is invited to come out on Thursday night, and enjoy this exciting event at the Futurity,” said Shianne Megel, NRHA Senior Director of Events.

Whether you’re a reining pro or simply someone looking for fun on Thursday night, this event is sure to be fun for all! Buy your tickets now at or by calling the Oklahoma State Fair Box Office at (405) 948-6800.

Reining Superstars Autograph Session
Also on the schedule for November 29, is an autograph session featuring gold, silver, and bronze medalists from the recent FEI World Equestrian Games held in Tryon, North Carolina. Just like Olympic athletes representing their home countries, these reining superstars rode for their nations for honor and timeless glory. Stop by the east concourse of the Jim Norick prior to the 7 p.m. Freestyle Reining and get their autographs!

During the NRHA Futurity, the world’s best reining horses and competitors come to Oklahoma City to compete for an estimated total purse and cash prizes of more than $2 million. For more information on schedules, tickets, hotel accommodations, sponsors, and more, visit

NRHA statement concerning 2014 FEI Cooperation Agreement

Door still open to possible new agreement concerning reining in future

November 20, 2018 – Following months of ongoing discussions and negotiations involving all parties, the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) Bureau, at its November 16, 2018 meeting in Bahrain, chose to terminate the 2014 Cooperation Agreement with the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) and the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) effective November 19, 2018.

This 2014 Cooperation Agreement, for the most part, was first put together to cover such reining competitions as the World Equestrian Games and a small number of other horse shows, primarily in Europe, and reining demonstrations at Olympic-related events. NRHA leaders had offered to travel to FEI in January to negotiate a continued relationship. However, FEI chose to decline the opportunity and terminated the agreement.

Among the provisions FEI required was: “A competition which is specifically organized for horses of 7 years and older is required under the FEI Regulations to be held under the authority of the National Federation of that country and to be entered into the FEI Calendar for International events.” This would mean all NRHA reining classes held specifically for horses 7 and older would also need to be FEI-approved, run under FEI rules, and be held in accordance with the respective National Federation. NRHA Vice President Mike Hancock further explained the impact, “After discussions with show management teams, we discovered how complex and expensive this would be for them. In the end, we felt it would be more detrimental to the growth of older horse competition to move forward with this concept. However, we are hopeful to discuss other opportunities for future growth and mutual benefit with FEI.”

Other provisions included but were not limited to FEI stewarding requirements, medication regulations, and that any FEI penalties imposed on horses, owners, officials, riders, etc., be accepted and enforced by NRHA (even if they disagreed with the FEI penalty determinations). NRHA has established its own rules and guidelines in these areas to protect the welfare of the horse at all times during NRHA events. The safety and well-being of reining horses is the utmost priority for NRHA, and it will continue to take appropriate measures to maintain and enforce those rules, including its own set of medications rules and penalties.

The Notice of Termination of the 2014 Cooperation Agreement was received by AQHA and NRHA via an email from Sabrina Ibanez, FEI secretary general, on November 19. The letter did leave open the possibility of a new agreement with FEI in the future. The termination does not appear to impact FEI National Federations, such as US Equestrian, and their ability to host FEI reining events.

Even as the future of the FEI World Equestrian Games is being questioned, NRHA believes reining is on strong footing with members in approximately 40 countries. This includes a well-established membership in Europe who have helped solidify the expansion of reining and the NRHA European Futurity and Derby. 

Founded in 1966, the National Reining Horse Association is a nonprofit association dedicated to promoting and encouraging the development of and public interest in the sport of reining. The focus is on developing and maintaining suitable standards of performance and judging and in providing a fun filled, family-oriented atmosphere. 

NRHA Futurity Entries on the Uptick

For Immediate Release – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – As reiners from across the globe pack to make the trek to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for the largest reining horse show in the world, they should be pleased with preliminary entry tallies. The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Futurity & Adequan® North American Affiliate Championship Show promises to be buzzing with significant increases in this year’s aged event entries.

Overall, total NRHA Futurity entries in both the open and non pro divisions (levels 1-4) are up nearly 11% over final 2017 numbers. In the open, 398 horses will vie for the championship title (versus 370 in 2017), and 200 horses will come through the gate in the non pro (versus 192 in 2017). The following chart breaks down the entries in each level and lists the respective percentage increase.

OPEN – Entries (as of 11/15/18)

  • Level 4 = 398 (up 8%)
  • Level 3 = 305 (up 10%)
  • Level 2 = 234 (up 12%)
  • Level 1 = 176 (up 33%)
  • TOTAL = 1,113 (up 13%)

NON PRO – Entries (as of 11/15/18)

  • Level 4 = 200 (up 4%)
  • Level 3 = 169 (up 6%)
  • Level 2 = 137 (even)
  • Level 1 = 118 (up 26%)
  • TOTAL = 624 (up 7%)

Late entries and transfers between the open and non pro divisions are still possible, so these numbers may change prior to the event.

During the NRHA Futurity, the world’s best reining horses and competitors come to Oklahoma City to compete for an estimated total purse and cash prizes of more than $2 million. For more information on schedules, tickets, hotel accommodations, sponsors, and more, visit

Photo by Waltenberry

Sliders’ Night Out – Get a Seat Before They’re Gone

RHF Hall of Fame Event Presented by Toyon Ranch

Centennial Building at State Fair Park

Presented by Toyon Ranch, Sliders’ Night Out benefits the nonprofit Reining Horse Foundation. Attend the celebratory reception, dinner, and program while honoring past NRHA Hall of Fame inductees and welcoming new inductees Bill Bradley and Dun It For Chex. William Shatner will be recognized with the NRHA Dale Wilkinson Lifetime Achievement Award. Everyone in the reining community is invited to reserve your seat or table today!

Southwest Reining Horse Association Futurity

Fernando Salgado Wins SWRHA Billingsley Ford Open Futurity on Stars And Sparks 

The Southwest Reining Horse Association Billingsley Ford Open Futurity was held Saturday, October 27, at the Hardy Murphy Coliseum in Ardmore, Oklahoma. This year, the Futurity featured a record number of entries – 112! That’s up from 75 in 2017.

“We were thrilled to see the increase in Open entries this year,” said Cheryl Cody, President of Pro Management, Inc., which manages the event. “We know there are many places for our exhibitors to compete, and we’re glad they joined us here in Ardmore.”

Billingsley Ford has been a sponsor of the SWRHA Futurity for several years. “Billingsley Ford has been an important part of this event for many years, and that’s why I, along with many other reiners, choose to buy vehicles there,” Cody said.

With top riders from across the country converging in southern Oklahoma for a last-chance run through before the National Reining Horse Association Futurity in Oklahoma City, it was Fernando Salgado of Aubrey, Texas, who topped the leaderboard.

Salgado was riding Stars And Sparks, by A Sparkling Vintage out of Belle Starr Dun It, owned by Oldenburg Farm LLC. Salgado, who works for Tom and Mandy McCutcheon, had his eye on the talented mare long before he ever got to ride her. “I always saw Tom riding her and she looked really nice, and one day he came to me and said he thought I should ride her since I’m in the Level 3, and they wanted to put some earnings on her to be a broodmare one day. I was very, very happy,” he recalled.

Stars And Sparks lost some time near the beginning of the year, but was able to show at the Tulsa Reining Classic. “She was ok, but still showing some green spots. At the beginning of this week I schooled her, and didn’t plan to show her here, but Mandy said I was going to. She thought I was ready and that it was best or the mare and me to get ready for Oklahoma City. She entered us without me knowing it.” He added, “It ended up working. I love that mare. She fits me really well!”

Salgado actually won the SWRHA Futurity two years ago with the same score, and then went to Oklahoma City and made the Level 4 finals. “I hope I can do it again this year! This show is really important. It’s our test drive for the futurity and it pays so well. It lets us know where we need to work more,” he said. “I had a bad show in Arizona and my confidence level was low, but this was great.”

Salgado has worked for the McCutcheons since the beginning of 2018. “It has been perfect. They take care of me, support me, and I couldn’t be happier,” he said. “I thank them for the opportunity, and the whole team. Thank you to my wife Sabrina who is with me good and bad.”

In addition to checks totaling $25,988, the win (and the win of the Level 3 Open) came with an SWRHA Golf Cart and a saddle sponsored by Scottsdale Western World.

Yonathan Baruch finished in second with Ready N Willing (Walla Walla Whiz x Dainty Dunit), owned by Rodion Cantacuzene. They also finished Reserve in Level 3, for earnings totaling $10416.

Ann Salmon and Tinseltown Joe Win Billingsley Ford Open Level 2 

Former SWRHA President Ann Salmon piloted Tinseltown Joe to win the Open Level 2 with a 220, earning $3,695. The pair also placed in the Level 3, worth an additional $3,280. It was a special win for Salmon, who raised the young stallion. “We raised him, my husband started him, and I have been riding him ever since. A very good friend of ours, Dr. John McCarroll, owns him, so it’s a real family project,” she said with a laugh.

Salmon noted that Tinseltown Joe, by Hollywoodstinseltown out of Joe Cat Jac, was a little bit of a late bloomer, but that changed around August. “He didn’t know if he really wanted to be a reiner, but one day he just woke up and said, ‘This is easy!’ and he’s been a dream ever since. This is our third show, and he just keeps getting better. He’s actually better in the show pen than the warm up. I don’t know how he knows, but he just gets focused,” she said.

With the Futurity a month away, Salmon explained her plan to make things smoother. “We’ll get it a little cleaner, easier, and dynamic, because it’s tough in Oklahoma City,” she said.

Although she resigned from the board a few years ago, Salmon still loves the SWRHA Futurity. “This show has been going on a long time. We’re so happy that it continues to be successful. It’s fun to win a little piece of it. It is a lot of fun to be able to just come and enjoy it, especially with a horse like this,” she said. She added, “Thank you to John for letting me show this horse, believing in us, and being a wonderful customer to be a partner with.”

Max Fontana and Wimpysred Gaylena Win Billingsley Ford Open Level 1 

With a score of 216.5, Max Fontana and Wimpysred Gaylena held on to win the Open Level 1 Championship and the reserve title for the Level 2. It was the first big win for the pair, who won $4,126. “I’m very happy. I was a little nervous, but she was really good today. It was our second to to show, and she was very comfortable through all the maneuvers,” Fontana said.

Wimpysred Gaylena, a mare by CFR Centenario Wimpy out of Baby Red Gaylena, is owned by Mary Scott Brown of San Angelo, Texas. Fontana began riding her in May of 2017. “We started training and felt she had a good disposition and ability and a good feel. She’s very smart and that helped me. She’s very talented and steps up every day,” he said.

Originally from Italy, Fontana now works at XCS Ranch. “I worked with him a long time ago. He helped me very much on all the horses. I think I have a very good opportunity to ride with him,” Fontana said.

There was a three-way tie for third in the Level 1 between Lee Deacon and Benz Special Nite (Gunners Special Nite x Best By Benz), Joe Schmidt and Gunna Cash Ya (Lil Joe Cash x Gunners Blonde Chic), and Marie Kleiner and Xtra Voodoo Shine (Shiners Voodoo Dr x Xtra Vintage Step). All marked a 216 to win $911.

Mandy McCutcheon and Whizzenintothenite Win OE Nutraceuticals Non Pro Futurity 

The OE Nutraceuticals Non Pro Futurity was held Friday, October 26, at the Hardy Murphy Coliseum in Ardmore, Oklahoma. The one go-round event provides reiners looking towards Oklahoma City a chance to compete for big money and last-minute experience. It was the first year that OE Nutraceuticals has sponsored the event, and representative Lisa Stafford was on-hand to discuss the products and present awards.

Mandy McCutcheon and Ms Whiz Dunit won the SWRHA Level 4 Non Pro Futurity in 2013. This year, McCutcheon returned on Ms Whiz Dunit’s foal Whizzenintothenite to win this year’s championship with a 220.

“He’s by Gunners Special Nite and we raised him. There are definitely a lot of similarities between him and his dam – they both have a lot of personality,” McCutcheon recalled. “He was good everywhere. I think I had a little turn penalty one way, but other than that he was really pretty solid the whole way.”

McCutcheon has only shown Whizzenintothenite one other time, and the result was less than stellar. “It didn’t go great. I feel better about the (NRHA) futurity after this,” she said. The Championship came with a check for $5,411. The McCutcheon’s also accepted the SWRHA Golf Cart for Turnabout Farm, owner of Gunners Special Nite.

McCutcheon, her son Cade and daughter Carlee, will all compete at this year’s NRHA Futurity, but there’s still a question about who will show what horse in Oklahoma City. “We’re still trying to decide who’s showing what, so the good news about this one is that he’s too little for anyone but me and Carlee,” Mandy said with a laugh. “Cade has been riding five so he has to decide which ones he wanted to give up.”

Mandy actually rode one of Cade’s horses, Cody Vintage, for the first time at the SWRHA Futurity, and won the Reserve title with him. “Cade’s been showing him all year and doing all the training on him. He did a great job getting him ready. He’s very broke, and really easy and fun to show,” she said. The Reserve Championship was worth an additional $3,293.

As always, McCutcheon credited her team for her success. “It takes a village to get us ready. Debbie Brown has done a lot of work on the horse, and Fernando Salgado has ridden that horse a little for me. When I got here, Dell Hendricks gave me a few pointers circling. I try to pick everyone’s brain,” she said. “Tom, Debbie, Fernando, Cade – they’re all amazing.”

Lawrence, Brown, and Russell Tie for OE Nutraceuticals Non Pro Levels 3-1 Championships! 

There was a three way tie for the Championship of the OE Nutraceuticals Non Pro Levels 3-1 with all exhibitors scoring a 215.5. George Lawrence, Stoney Russell, and Jillane Brown all also tied for third in the Non Pro Level 4. Lawrence won $4,815.37, while Russell and Brown, who also tied for the Prime Time title, took home $5,512.

Lawrence was riding his horse Time For The Gunshow, by Gunners Special Nite out of Miss Timed To Shine. “He was really pure in there. He turned really well. We could have stopped better, so we’ll work on that, but he was good. He was about as honest as it gets,” Lawrence said. “I didn’t have a game plan for today. We just winged it and he was fun.”

George and his wife Chloe purchased the gelding as a yearling. While Luke Gagnon rode the colt for half of his two year old year, George and Chloe have been the main ones training and riding him with help from Casey Deary. “The horse is good. I just need to make fewer mistakes as a rider. The fewer I make, the better he’s going to be,” Lawrence said.

The OE Nutraceuticals Futurity was the colt’s second event, having won a little over $1,000 at the Tulsa Reining Classic. Lawrence’s mother, a fan of the show Vikings, named the colt, by Gunners Special Nite out o Miss Times To Shine, after the show’s protagonist Ragnar. It’s an unlikely moniker for a horse that Lawrence said, “Like’s cookies. He’ll drag you to a cookie jar!”

Jillane Brown purchased her mare KR Ima Dream from Casey Hinton. “I bought her from him at the Denver show where he did well with her. I’ve had her a couple weeks. She’s with Sam Smith now, and I love her,” Brown said. “We were just wanting to go in and have a nice quiet run. I knew she’d be there in my circles for me, so I ran here harder there. I wanted to be quiet in my turnarounds, and knew she’d be there in my stops. She nailed every stop.”

KR Ima Dream is by Magnum Chic Dream out of KR Ima Tejon. “She’s sweet, quiet and curious, and very good-minded,” Brown said. The next stop for the pair is the NRHA Futurity, and Brown noted that the win in Ardmore was a big confidence booster. “Thank you to Sam for all his work, and to Casey for selling her to me.”

Stoney Russell of Longview, Texas, didn’t expect his score with Whata Special Nite to hold, so after competing he went back to work. “I went early in the draw. Mathieu called me before the end and said it was still holding, but I couldn’t get back for the awards in time,” Russell said.

Stoney and his wife Stuart purchased Whata Special Nite, by Gunners Special Nite out of SLJ Sweet N Juicy, from Lindy Longfellow. “We went and rode him. He was actually for my wife, and for some reason they didn’t fit, so we swapped horses,” Stoney said. “He’s a really nice horse. He’s good-minded and when you walk into the pen there is nothing that bothers him.”

Stoney showed “Big John” at the Tulsa Reining Classic, and marked a 215.5, placing in the top five. Unfortunately, he hadn’t entered the Level 4 because it was the pair’s first event. “I should have. This time Stuart put us in everything and it worked well,” he said.

Stoney noted that Mathieu Buton has been riding Big John to get him prepared for the upcoming events. “I feel a lot better about Oklahoma City after this. Mathieu has been riding him for me and is catching him up because he was just a little behind,” he said. “I thank my wife Stuart, and Mathieu who has done a wonderful job. Thank you also the SWRHA who has put on a really good show.”