Cira Baeck Joins NRHA’s Million Dollar Rider List

For Immediate Release – December 20, 2018 – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) welcomes NRHA Professional Cira Baeck as the second female, and first European female, to join the list of Million Dollar Riders. Baeck flew into the next level of her career with two top qualifying rides during the Italian Reining Horse Association (IRHA) Futurity Level(L) 4 Open Finals this past weekend atop NF Shining Whiz and Sailorsacrofpride BB.

Under Baeck, NF Shining Whiz, owned by Kim Windey and David Perneel, clinched the title of the L4 Open Reserve Championship with a score of 227. She also rode Sailorsarcofpride BB, owned by Ruediger Diedenhofen, and exited the arena with her total earnings amounting to about $50,000 throughout the 2018 IRHA Futurity that ran from December 7-15 in Cremona, Italy.

The Belgian trainer and NRHA Judge won her first NRHA paycheck in 2002 and has actively competed in European and North American NRHA events ever since. Beginning as a youth competitor, Baeck has received multiple honors during the past decade and a half, including the following:

  • Three-time NRHA Open World Champion Top Ten: 2013 on Whizasunnysailor BB (3rd), 2015 on Whizasunnysailor BB (2nd), and 2017 on Gunners Snappy Chic (3rd)
  • Two-time NRHA Non Pro World Champion, plus six other Top Ten placings in the same division: 2007 on Don Quixote Escapes (1st), 2008 on Peek A Boom (1st), 2008 on Whizashiningwalla BB (3rd), 2010 on Gumpy Grumpy BB (3rd), 2009 on Whizashiningwalla BB (4th), 2007 on Little Gump (6th), 2009 on Gumpy Grumpy BB (6th), and 2005 on Little Gump (7th).
  • Three-time FEI World Equestrian Games medalist: 2010, 2014, and 2018 Team Silver Medalist for Belgium
  • 2013 IRHA Derby L4 Open Champion on Whizasunnysailor BB
  • 2014 NRHA European Derby L4 Open Champion on Colonels Shining Gun

Cira Baeck credits NRHA legend and Hall of Fame Inductee, Bill Horn, for her drive and passion for the sport as he continues to be her biggest inspiration. Other NRHA Professionals, such as Brent Loseke and Bernard Fonck, NRHA’s first European based Two Million Dollar Rider, also have been influential in Baeck’s career.

Photo by Andrea Bonaga

Bernard Fonck Puts an International Spin on NRHA’s Million Dollar Rider List

For Immediate Release – December 18, 2018 – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) welcomes NRHA Professional Bernard Fonck as the newest Two Million Dollar Rider, unofficially. Fonck sealed the deal on the next level in his career with three top qualifying rides at the Italian Reining Horse Association (IRHA) Futurity Level(L) 4 Open Finals this past weekend atop Spook Sunburst, CSG Shinethingun, and GP Hot Revolution.

Fonck and Spook Sunburst, owned by Koen Symoens, slid out of the arena holding the L4 open champion title with a score of 227 1/2. On CSG Shinethingun, owned by Katarzyna Roleska, Fonck tied for 4th with a 224 score. Another successful ride aboard GP Hot Revolution, owned by Golden Paint Ranch, brought Fonck’s total earnings to exceed $122,244 throughout the 2018 IRHA Futurity that ran from December 7-15 in Cremona, Italy.

The Belgian rider has competed in European and North American NRHA events since 2002. Fonck has received multiple honors including the following:

  • Seven-time NRHA World Open World Champion: 2008 on Lenas Pegesis (with Ann Fonck), 2010 and 2011 on Great Sun Burst, 2012 on Sail On Top Whizard; and 2015, 2016, and 2017 on What A Wave
  • Multiple FEI World Equestrian Games medalist: 2018 Individual Gold Medalist on What A Wave and three-time Team Silver Medalist for Belgium
  • 2009 NRHA European Futurity L3 and L4 Open Champion riding Sail On Top Whizard
  • 2013 NRHA European Derby L4 Open Champion On Smart N Sparkin
  • 2014 IRHA 3-Year-Old Futurity L4 Open Champion on Lil Ruf Whiz N Tag and Reserve Champion on Big Fat
  • 2016 NRHA Germany Breeders 4-Year-Old Futurity L4 Open Champion on Gunners Big Chex and Reserve Champion on Spook Shine Spook

Other reiners who have surpassed the Two Million Dollar NRHA Lifetime Earnings mark include Tim McQuay (2005), Shawn Flarida (2006), Craig Schmersal (2010), Andrea Fappani (2010), Duane Latimer (2014), Mandy McCutcheon (2014), Jordan Larson (2015), and Todd Bergen (2015).

Photo by Andrea Bonaga

The 2018 IRHA/IRHBA/NRHA Open Futurity: Fonck rides Spook Sunburst to the Level 4 Open Championship and unofficially surpasses the NRHA Two Million Dollar Mark

An amazing night of competition in front of a full house closed the Euro 647.000-added IRHA/IRHBA/NRHA Futurity. The event not only made history by offering the highest added in Europe, it also attracted the largest number of horses ever taking part in a European reining event — over 700. Yet another National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) milestone was crossed in Cremona: unofficially, NRHA Professional Bernard Fonck crossed the Two Million Dollar mark becoming the first European to do so; Cira Baeck became Europe’s first lady reiner to cross the NRHA Million Dollar Mark and the only woman open rider to join the elite club from the Old Continent.

The two professionals from Belgium also took top honors in the Euro265.000-added Level (L)4 Open Championship; Fonck claimed the Championship and Baeck the Co-reserve title.

Fonck rode Spook Sunburst, a gelding by multiple past NRHA Open and Non Pro World Champion Great Sun Burst out of All About Spook. The duo performed to perfection; their incredible spins thrilled the crowd, as did the rest of the pattern and the fans in the stands cheered him on from the first to last maneuver. Once they closed their run, a 227.5 appeared on the score board. “This week I didn’t feel that my horse was responding the way I wanted him to, but then he started getting better and tonight he was great,” said Fonck about his horse owned by Koen Symoens and bred by Manuel Bonzano. “He is by Great Sun Burst, and reminds me a lot of his sire who I always believed would pass on his great talent. Winning the IRHA Open Futurity title this year was on my wish-list, along with claiming the individual gold at the World Equestrian Games and I have to thank my wife for being my partner in life and in business.

What wasn’t in the plans for 2018 was surpassing the two-million-dollar mark in NRHA competition, though it has always been one of Fonck’s goals. “This evening has been amazing and I have to compliment the Italian Reining Horse Association for putting together this prestigious event,” he said.

Fonck was also the recipient of the beautiful Champion’s Ring, sponsored by MS Diamonds TX, as well as a saddle sponsored by IRHA/Serafino Repetti amongst other awards. Renowned non professional and Italian breeder Manuel Bonzano won the IRHBA (Italian Reining Horse Breeding Association) Best Stallion award.

Co-reserve L4 honors with a 226 score went to Cira Baeck and NF Shining Whiz (Colonels Shining Gun x Whowhizthispeppychic), a mare owned by David Perneel/Kim Windyand bred by David Perneel and Guglielmo Fontana on Oak Smoking Face (Pale Face Dunnit x Genuine Benito Pap),a stallion owned by Giulia Amolaroand bred by Daniel Moro.

It took a 224 and a team all about Poland to win the Euro75.000-added L3 Open Championship: Lukas Czechowicz — head trainer for Roleski Ranch, and his mount CSG Copshot (Colonels Shining Gun x Finest Copyshot), owned and bred by Katarzyna Roleska, gave it all they had laying down an amazing and powerful run. “I truly gave it all I had and risked it all tonight!” said Czechowicz. “Winning with a horse that is by a Roleski owned stallion, the great ‘Jo Jo,’ who was born at Roleski Ranch and who I broke and trained is the best thing that could ever happen. This horse is an amazing athlete with a great mind but if I had to define his best quality, it’s his heart!” Roleska also took home the IRHBA incentive program Best Breeders Award trophy.

Taking reserve honors with a 223 was Italian Manuel Cortesi aboard PC Tinsel Whiz
(NRHA Million Dollar Sire Hollywoodstinseltown x PC Sliderina Whiz), a stallion bred and owned by the Cortesi family facility, owned and bred by Az. Agr. Piero Cortesi.

It was a great night for Gal Grahelj of Slovenia who conquered both the Euro20.000-added L2 and Euro10.000-added L1 Open Championships by scoring a 222.5 aboard Walla Whiz A Dun It, owned by Katja Zrimsek, between the reins. The stallion by NRHA Two Million Dollar Sire Walla Walla Whiz out of The Bun Is Dunwas bred by Susan Jones and is a Markel Insurance grad. “When we purchased this horse at the Markel Insurance Marketplace Sale in Oklahoma City and brought him back home, we knew he would be a good one yet, he surprised us all by turning out to be an incredible horse under every aspect,” said Grahelj who qualified his horse in four levels in the finals. “I broke and trained him myself and he’s always been very easy and extremely talented. Showing here at the Italian Futurity was in the plans and he was great for me from the qualifiers until tonight. I showed for the first time at the 2013 NRHA Euro Futurity so, taking home two titles in Europe’s most prestigious event is a dream come true.”

The reserve championship in the L2 Open division with a 219 score went to Call Me Lil Josie (Lil Joe Cash x Call Me N Hollywood), a mare ridden by Tomas Martinek and owned by Wolfgang Hammer.

Tying for reserve honors in the L1 Open Futurity with a 215 score were Lena-Marie Maas and her ER Custom Bleach (Custom Cash Advance x Snappy Bleach), a mare bred by Elisabetta Raviola, and Michael Saupe riding Smart N Surprising (NRHA Five Million Dollar Sire Smart Spook x Just Miss Enterprise), a stallion bred by Nuith Linthorst and owned by Daniela Saupe.

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Reiners Gather at Sliders’ Night Out in Support of Reining Horse Foundation

For Immediate Release – December 16, 2018 – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – The reining community turned out in force on November 28 to support the Reining Horse Foundation (RHF) at Sliders’ Night Out presented by Toyon Ranch, owned by John and Nancy Tague of Pilot Point, Texas. Held in Oklahoma City in conjunction with the National Reining Horse Association Futurity & Adequan® North American Affiliate Championship Show, the event was a benefit for RHF with the theme of celebrating the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Hall of Fame, one of the nonprofit organization’s three core programs. Additionally, RHF manages the Crisis Fund and supports youth scholarships/leadership development.

Sliders’ Night Out was held at the Oklahoma State Fair Park Centennial Building, with its enticing mid-century modern architecture. Purple and copper décor provided an appealing setting for the gathering of 330 reiners and supporters from around the world. On hand to receive the NRHA Dale Wilkinson Lifetime Achievement Award was actor, philanthropist, and equine industry/reining supporter William Shatner. Other highlights included Hall of Fame inductions for the mare Dun It For Chex and the late Bill Bradley (1951-2018). New medallions were presented to more than two dozen Hall of Fame members who were in attendance.

Special guests included a dozen Affiliate Ambassadors, representing NRHA regions around the globe. These attendees were selected for their volunteer service through a new NRHA program also sponsored by Toyon Ranch.

“Nancy and I are passionate about this sport and the mission of the Reining Horse Foundation,” said John Tague. “The support for Sliders’ Night Out 2018 shows we are not alone. From the Affiliate Ambassadors to the Hall of Fame honored guests, and many patrons, this met our vision to create an event celebrating some of the greatest things about reining. We are especially appreciative of the Gold and Silver Donors and table hosts. Nancy and I look forward to Sliders’ Night Out becoming even bigger in 2019 and invite others to commit their support now.”

Shatner attended with his wife, Elizabeth, to receive the NRHA Dale Wilkinson Lifetime Achievement Award, named for a man considered the “father of reining.” Shatner has attended the NRHA Futurity previously, often for celebrity reining events in support of the RHF. A highlight of his awards presentation was a surprise congratulatory video from friend and fellow actor Henry Winkler.

Dun It For Chex was honored as an outstanding producer. What could have been a stellar show career turned into an even more remarkable broodmare career for the gray mare. By NRHA Hall of Fame inductee Hollywood Dun It and out of Silver N Blue Chex, she sits second on the NRHA leading dams list with a produce record nearing $1 million. Now 22, she is part of the broodmare band for Cardinal Hill Training Center in Aubrey, Texas, owned by Joao Marcos. Her offspring Dun It For Whizkey is a marquee stallion for Cardinal Ranch. Eight different stallions have sired her NRHA offspring, with nearly all 21 performing foals being NRHA money earners. In his acceptance remarks, Marcos expressed gratitude for Dun In For Chex and for the causes of the RHF.

A lifetime NRHA Non Pro member, Bradley earned his first paycheck in 1994. His ride across the reining industry resulted in countless connections. The Mount Sterling, Kentucky cowboy was instrumental in helping develop many of today’s talented trainers. He also knew how to be a leader and dedicated his life to leading in his affiliate and on the NRHA Board of Directors, serving as President in 2005. During his tenure, NRHA saw its expansion accelerate in Europe. He also played a key role in establishing the RHF. He died just weeks before his Hall of Fame induction. His award was accepted by his wife, Gloria, and stepdaughter Gabriella “Boo” Kammerer.

The medallions for Hall of Fame inductees were provided with support from Frank and Susan Costantini, Markel Insurance, and Rick Clark with the goal of establishing a new tradition. Inductees are invited and encouraged to wear the medallions at future Hall of Fame ceremonies. Some of the inductees wore the medallions for their introduction during the CINCH Non Pro Futurity Finals on November 30.

Gold Donors supporting the event include Tim and Kim Anderson, Booth Ranches LLC, Rick Clark, and Jack and Viola Scott. Silver Donors are Mark and Julie Blake, Double Run Farm, Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau, Santa Hill Ranch, and an anonymous donor.

Hall of Fame inductees were able to attend through the support of Gold and Silver Donors and Hall of Fame Table Hosts. Attending or represented were: Bob Loomis, Bill Horn, Dick Pieper, Tim McQuay, Frank Costantini, Dick and Barb Waltenberry, Clint Haverty, Rocky Dare, Doug Milholland, Jim Morgan, DVM, American Quarter Horse Association, Mandy McCutcheon, Bob Kiser, Shawn Flarida, Carol Trimmer, Colleen McQuay, Don Motsenbocker, Rosanne Sternberg, and Vaughn Zimmerman. Hall of Fame horses represented during the ceremony included: Miss White Trash, Be Aech Enterprise, Hollywood Dun It, Gunner, Miss Okie Too, Topsail Whiz, Taris Little Vintage, Rest Stop, Collena Chic Olena, Smart Spook, Princess In Diamonds, Ebony Shines, and Magnum Chic Dream.

To make a donation to the Reining Horse Foundation and commit support for the next Sliders’ Night Out, visit or call (405) 946-7400.