Elementa and IRHA Team Up to Host the NRHA European Futurity in November

Cremona, 03.11.2020 — Provided by Simona Diale/IHP — Thanks to the new-born partnership between the Italian Reining Horse Association (IRHA) and Maria Cecilia Fiorucci’s Elementa, the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) European Executive Board voted unanimously to run the NRHA European Futurity concurrently with the IRHA/IRHBA/Arcese Futurity & Italian Championship Finals in Cremona on November 20-28.

Due to the spreading of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Northern Italy, particularly in Cremona where the 2020 NRHA European Futurity was to be held, last month the NRHA European Executive Board decided to postpone the show. In an effort to ensure that the event’s rescheduling was handled efficiently, the European Executive Board reviewed potential dates and venues. Roberto Cuoghi, president of the European Council and IRHA, sealed the deal — approved unanimously by the Board — to host the European Futurity in Cremona during the IRHA/IRHBA/Arcese Futurity & Elementa Italian Championship finals thanks to Elementa’s generous 200.000euro sponsorship for the Euro Futurity. On top of the NRHA Nomination Program money (200.000euro subject to change in nominations), the total added money rises to 400.000euro. “In this very difficult situation we are all facing, I took it upon myself to personally visit with Cecilia [Fiorucci] focusing on what is best for our NRHA members and our sport,” said NRHA Hall of Fame Inductee Cuoghi. “Our passion is what moves us and this is the result of our passion. I would like to thank NRHA and our European Board for their trust and of course Cecilia for investing in our industry and our programs.” Fiorucci’s main goal has always been that of promoting the 4-year-old futurities and this is the perfect transition toward the Elementa Masters Circuit, added Cuoghi. The European Futurity will run concurrently with the IRHA 4-year-old Futurity [details to be determined].

This year Elementa will also be the presenting sponsor of the 150.000euro-added IRHA Italian Championship finals. By hosting the NRHA European Futurity, the 2020 IRHA/IRHBA/Arcese Futurity [which includes the 250.000euro-added 3-year-old Futurity] will once again make the headlines by offering a total purse of 800.000euros.

Rosanne Sternberg: NRHA Two Million Dollar Owner

For Immediate Release – February 19, 2020 – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – Congratulations to National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Hall of Fame inductee Rosanne Sternberg for becoming the second-ever NRHA Two Million Dollar Owner. After reaching the NRHA Million Dollar Owner milestone in 2010 and being inducted into the NRHA Hall of Fame in 2017, she’s remained dedicated to producing quality reining horses while consistently striving for the next level of achievement.

During the 2019 show season, Sternberg’s horses earned more than $77,000 in combined NRHA Lifetime Earnings (LTE), culminating at the NRHA Futurity. The success of Shines Like Spook (Smart Spook x Ebony Shines) at the NRHA Futurity, ridden by NRHA Professional Martin Larcombe, pushed Sternberg past the $2 million mark. Larcombe topped the Prime Time Open Futurity finals, finished third in Level(L) 3 Open, and placed 10th in L4, earning more than $42,600 toward Sternberg’s milestone.

“I knew Rosanne when I lived in Europe and worked with reiners,” Larcombe shared. “I continued that relationship when I came to the U.S., and she’s had horses with me for the past few years. She understands the game because she’s been in it that much. She knows how it can be—the highs and the lows. She’s been a great support, and she trusts me with her horses.”

Sternberg splits her time between Sterling Ranch in Aubrey, Texas, and her home in Great Britain. Her European-based mare—Ebony Spook (Smart Spook x Ebony Whiz)—was the 2014 NRHA Open World Champion under the guidance of NRHA Professional Ann Fonck.

“I am thrilled that after 34 years of owning, riding, breeding, and enjoying reining horses I’ve passed the milestone of becoming the second NRHA Two Million Dollar Owner,” Sternberg said. “I’ve been lucky enough to own many exciting and talented horses and have enjoyed seeing not only family show and enjoy my horses, but also have had the privilege of working with some of the world’s top trainers based in both the U.S. and Europe.”

With over $86,000 in personal NRHA LTE, Sternberg has competed as a non pro rider at the highest levels, both in the U.S. and abroad.

Sternberg anticipates continuing her tradition of excellence of owning, breeding, and showing reining horses as she pursues her next milestone: becoming an NRHA Three Million Dollar Owner.

Standout horses throughout Sternberg’s career include:

  • Nijomi Sonny Reb (Sonny Brownburn x Marina Del Reb): over $63,700 LTE; her mount as part of the British team at the 2002 FEI World Equestrian Games in Jerez, Spain
  • Smart Spook (Smart Chic Olena x Sugarplum Spook): over $403,100 LTE; NRHA Hall of Fame inductee and NRHA Six Million Dollar Sire; winner of the 2004 NRHA L4 Open Futurity and 2005 NRHA L4 Open Derby championships
  • Tinsel Nic (Bueno Chexinic x Holly Tinseltown): over $165,600 LTE and over $381,000 offspring LTE)
  • Ebony Shines (Shining Spark x Ebony Whiz): NRHA Hall of Fame inductee and first-ever NRHA Million Dollar Dam

2020 NRHA Futurity Champion to Win a Quarter Million

For Immediate Release – February 7, 2020 – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) made the landmark announcement today that the 2020 NRHA Futurity champion will receive a quarter of a million dollars! The news came during the association’s Annual General Meeting and was accompanied by the additional announcement that the NRHA Non Pro Futurity Champion will receive $60,000, and added money for the Adequan® North American Affiliate Championship (NAAC) will be doubled.

The stunning hat-trick announcement came after a special task force formed and met during the Annual NRHA Winter Meeting in Denton, Texas, to discuss a pathway to increasing the payout at the NRHA Futurity, beginning with the 2020 event. Chaired by NRHA Vice President Rick Clark, the task force was created to answer a challenge that he, along with NRHA Past President Frank Costantini and former NRHA Board Member Doug Carpenter, had given the board to begin to grow the NRHA Futurity winners’ rewards.

Serving on the task force along with Clark are John Tague, Mike Hancock, Mark Blake, Ginger Schmersal, Rosanne Sternberg, and Shane Brown.

The NRHA Futurity has seen many significant milestones in its storied past. This included the move to a guaranteed $100,000 prize for the Open Futurity Winner in 1983 and the creation of the nomination program, which now helps fund all levels of the event. Since then, the first-place check for the Level 4 Open Champion had increased to $150,000.

The named increases are, according to the task force, based on independent funds raised from individuals interested in boosting the industry and shining a brighter light on the NRHA Futurity. Those funds came from five-year support commitments from Tim Anderson and Kim Niven, John and Nancy Tague, Rick Clark, Bob Santagata, Craig and Ginger Schmersal, Mark Blake, Joao Marcos, and Mike Hancock, and are, in the words of NRHA President Mike Hancock, a starting place in the goal of establishing the NRHA Futurity and Adequan® NAAC as one of the most prestigious events in the horse world. It has certainly done that, boosting the NRHA Futurity winner’s payment to exceed those of all other futurities in the Western performance horse industry.

“This was spontaneous combustion in the best way,” said NRHA Commissioner Gary Carpenter. “It came together because the right people were in the right place at the right time. So many factors around the world influenced this development. We all recognize that the horses bred for the NRHA Futurity will become the horses of the future for all levels of competition. The increased purse in both the Futurity and the Adequan® NAAC illustrates our commitment to these horses and the people who breed, own, train, and ride them.”

Hancock agrees about the positive ripple effect of this evolution of the sport.

“This year’s quarter of a million is just the first step,” Hancock said. “This committee foresees additional support opportunities becoming available for this endeavor in the future. We don’t know where it is going to end yet, but we are excited for the future.”

NRHA Professionals of the Year Honored for 2019

For Immediate Release – January 29, 2020 – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) strives to recognize excellence amongst its members. The NRHA Professionals of the Year awards are just one avenue for showcasing the accomplishments of reining trainers in the industry. The five awards include NRHA Professional Horseman of the Year, Becky Hanson Horsewoman of the Year, NRHA Non Pro Coach of the Year, NRHA Youth Coach of the Year, and NRHA Up-and-Coming Trainer of the Year.

“The Professionals of the Year awards are very important because we have a lot of people in our industry from around the world who deserve to be honored on a national level and recognized by their peers,” said Patrick Flaherty, NRHA Professionals Committee chairman. “These awards aren’t just given to anyone; these recipients have worked hard their entire careers, and it’s evident to their clients and their peers that they’re more than deserving of this recognition.”

Each NRHA affiliate is asked to nominate NRHA Professionals for the awards based on their unrelenting work both inside the arena and out. NRHA Professionals then choose the recipients by voting in each category. Winners will receive their awards during the 2020 NRHA Derby at the awards banquet held in June in Oklahoma City. Here are the 2020 NRHA Professionals of the Year.

Horseman of the Year—Craig Schmersal

A staple in the industry since competing as a youth member, Craig Schmersal hasn’t missed the NRHA Futurity finals since 1997. His most recent major win came when he was crowned the 2019 Run for a Million co-champion. The NRHA Four Million Dollar rider not only specializes in training, showing, and selling futurity and derby horses, but also breeds prospects that regularly become champions in the arena. He’s trained and shown multiple NRHA Futurity and Derby winners, including winning the 2017 NRHA Futurity on his homegrown mare Face The Attitude. He’s earned multiple FEI team and individual medals, and multiple AQHA World Championships. He trains every horse as an individual and finds ways to maximize their strengths while minimizing their weaknesses.

Not only is Schmersal known for his contributions within the arena, but outside of it as well. As an active member of the Judge’s Committee, Schmersal is committed to the industry and continually trying to better it for horses and riders alike. He is often seen teaching Secrets of Judging courses to increase education for riders, as well. Along with educating in this way, he’s also created training videos to help demonstrate techniques for finished horses and futurity prospects and even covers proper tack tips.

Schmersal also promotes NRHA Million Dollar Sire Pale Face Dunnit (Gunner x Lena Dun It), who he also showed for most of his career in the show pen, further demonstrating his commitment to each aspect of the reining industry, from breeding to showing, at the highest level.

Becky Hanson Horsewoman of the Year—Abby Mixon 

Abby Mixon, who’s based at Winfield Farms in Marietta, Oklahoma, trains reining horses of all ages and coaches riders of all skill levels. As the daughter of NRHA Professional Don Boyd, Mixon grew up in the reining industry, riding alongside her father. She began showing at age 8, earning more than 330 points, multiple paychecks, and several NRHA top 10 titles as a youth. In 2005, Mixon took her NRHA Professional card, launching her training career under the tutelage of NRHA Four Million Dollar Rider Craig Schmersal. She also worked for NRHA Professional Duane Hicks before moving to Winfield Farms with her husband, Jeff, in 2008.

To date, she’s earned more than $391,480 in NRHA Lifetime Earnings and has competed and been a finalist at major events including the NRHA Futurity and NRHA Derby. In 2019, she brought three horses to the NRHA Futurity, making the NRHA Level 4 Open Semifinals on all three and advancing two of them to the NRHA Level 3 Open Futurity Finals. As a top-level female professional, Mixon strives to create more opportunities for women with a desire to compete in the reining industry and promote the sport in any way she can.

Non Pro Coach of the Year—Jared Leclair 

Jared Leclair began working for Steve Simon at Quarter Mount Farm, home of NRHA Million Dollar Sire Custom Crome, in Paxton, Massachusetts, in 2003. After a year of gaining valuable experience, Leclair was offered an assistant trainer position with NRHA Three Million Dollar Rider, Million Dollar Owner, and Hall of Famer Tim McQuay in Tioga, Texas. Leclair went out on his own and established Leclair Performance Horses in 2007. Leclair currently has an NRHA LTE over $798,000. He also owns and showed stallion Electric Code (Jacs Electric Spark x Hot Coded Candy), which he piloted to earnings over $215,000.

Leclair’s non pros are commonly seen at the top of the NRHA Top 10 standings, AQHA World Show standings, and North American Affiliate Championships. Patience, consistency, practice, and perseverance are the main components of his successful training program. Leclair realizes that every horse is unique, and he strives to create a training program to fit their abilities.

Youth Coach of the Year—Mark Guynn

Mark Guynn was born and raised in Manitou Springs, Colorado and graduated from Lamar Community College with an associate’s degree in Horse Management and Training. He went on to complete an internship with AQHA breeder and judge Joe Taylor in Moab, Utah. Following his brief sojourn in Utah, Guynn returned to Colorado and started Guynn Training Center.

Guynn actively participates in the Rocky Mountain Quarter Horse Association and is deeply involved in their youth program. Guynn is a past president of the Rocky Mountain Reining Horse Association and remains an active member in his local affiliate. He holds AQHA, NRHA, and NRCHA judge’s cards.

Of all his accomplishments, Guynn is most proud of his youth and non pro clients, many of whom have qualified for elite competition themselves. He’s coached several AQHYA Honor Roll Champions in both reining and ranch riding, as well as AHQYA World and Reserve World Champions. Perhaps one of Guynn’s biggest contributions to the sport of reining lies in his commitment to the Interscholastic Equestrian Association and the development of two successful teams in Colorado, beginning in 2012 with six riders. Guynn currently coaches two teams with a total of 30 riders, alongside professional horse trainers Jimmy Daurio, Nancy Nemmers, and Caylee Parrish.

Up-and-Coming Professional of the Year—Cade McCutcheon 

At just 19 years old, Cade McCutcheon is the third generation of his family to become an NRHA Million Dollar Rider. Hailing from Aubrey, Texas, McCutcheon was virtually born on a reiner and learned how to stick with a horse when things got tough at just 6 years old. He debuted in the show pen at 7 years old and competed in the NRHA Non Pro Futurity by age ten. He’s the son of NRHA Million Dollar Riders Tom and Mandy McCutcheon and the grandson of multi-million dollar rider Tim McQuay and NRHA Hall-of-Famer Collen McQuay.

McCutcheon became the youngest U.S. athlete to represent reining at the World Equestrian Games (WEG) on the 2018 U.S. Reining team. McCutcheon helped Team USA clinch the gold during WEG by marking a 229 on Custom Made Gun. The score remained untouched by fellow NRHA Professionals, solidifying McCutcheon’s plan to join his teammates as an NRHA Professional the following year. He entered 2019 as a wild card on many fronts—one of those being as a literal wild-card entry in the inaugural Run for a Million and on The Last Cowboy, a reality-based television series featuring eight NRHA Professionals. McCutcheon named co-champion with Craig Schmersal at the inaugural Run for a Million He then went on to win three open levels of the NRHA Futurity, including the prestigious MS Diamonds Level 4 Open Finals, with Super Marioo, owned by Story Book Ranch.

For more information about the NRHA Professionals program or to find a professional in your area, visit nrha.com/professionals.

Shiners Voodoo Dr Reaches Million Dollar Sire Milestone

For Immediate Release – January 27, 2020 – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – The newest addition to the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Million Dollar Sire list hails from Silver Spurs Equine–Oklahoma: Shiners Voodoo Dr. By NRHA Four Million Dollar Sire Shining Spark and out of Voodoo Chic, the 2007 palomino, fondly referred to as “Voodoo,” earned more than $85,900 in NRHA Lifetime Earnings (LTE) during his show career.

Owner Michael Miola of Silver Spurs Equine, LLC, first laid on eyes on the stallion after he purchased Xtra Quarter Horses in 2017. Voodoo was one of three stallions Miola acquired in the purchase. For Miola, Voodoo’s latest accomplishment isn’t exactly surprising.

“I was extremely impressed with his demeanor,” Miola said about meeting Voodoo. “One of the three things I look for in a breeding stallion is their demeanor.”

This trait is followed by their work ethic in the show pen and attitude in the breeding shed. Voodoo continues to check all three boxes for Miola.

NRHA Professional Thiago Boechat trained and showed the stallion prior to Miola’s purchase. The pair’s most notable accomplishment was at the 2012 NRHA Derby where they were the Open Level(L) 4 Co-Reserve Champions. As a 3-year-old, Voodoo was the 2010 Tulsa Reining Classic L3–2 Open Champion in addition to making the Open L4 Finals at the NRHA Futurity. Miola admits Voodoo isn’t known for his show career; the stallion shines brightest as a producer.

Xtra New Pal Voodoo, “Pal,” is the only horse by the stallion Miola kept on the ranch. The winner of more than $81,800 in NRHA LTE, Pal transition to a career in team roping, proving the versatility of Voodoo’s offspring.

During the 2019 NRHA Futurity, Voodoo’s progeny earned more than $30,000 to push him across the million-dollar mark. Both Xtra Shiners Taboo (out of Xtra Suzies Step) and Magin Mann (out of Wimpys New Pal) walked away with checks after making the MS Diamonds TX Open L4 Finals. Also cashing checks at the NRHA Futurity were Xtra Handsome Shiner (out of Hermosa Wimpy), Xtra Voodoo Charm (out of Little Smart Wimpy), and Voodoo Brew (out of Reddy To Smokem).

Shiners Voodoo Dr’s top-performing offspring include:

  • Xtra New Pal Voodoo (out of Wimpys New Pal, by Wimpys Little Step): $81,893 LTE
  • Shiners Voodoo (out of BR China Rose, by Hollywood Dun It): $66,943 LTE
  • Smart Voodoo Doctor (out of Smart As Sister, by Very Smart Remedy): $46,452 LTE
  • Xtra Taris Voodoo (out of All That’s Dun, by Hollywood Dun It): $41,479 LTE
  • Call Me Mr Voodoo (out of ARC Sassy Snapper, by Snapper Call Bar): $40,454 LTE
  • Xtra Voodoo Gun (out of Miss Silver Gun, by Gunner): $38,098 LTE
  • Xtra Voodoo Doc (out of Call Me Miss Hickory, by Docs Hickory): $37,719 LTE
  • Blonde Ambishen (out of Relaxin With A Bud, by Nic It In The Bud): $37,691 LTE
  • Shiners Voodoo Juice (out of SLJ This Is My Juice, by Smart Like Juice): $35,033 LTE
  • Xtra Black Magic (out of Always Steppin Smart, by Wimpys Little Step): $33,716 LTE