Our Condolences – NRHA Hall of Famer Jack Brainard

NRHA Hall of Famer Jack Brainard

The reining industry lost a legend Nov. 24, 2021, when National Reining Horse Association Hall of Fame member Jack Brainard passed just a few months after celebrating his 100th birthday. Jack passed peacefully with his wife Kathy at his side.

Jack was inducted to NRHA’s Hall of Fame in 2009, but his connection to NRHA has spanned the Association’s life. He attended the NRHA foundation meeting, served as a director its first year, and proudly sported member number 19.

He gave back to the industry in many ways, authoring three training books, and holding judge’s cards for NHRA, the National Cutting Horse Association, the American Quarter Horse Association, and various other breed associations.

“Legendary seems too small of a word for a horseman like Jack Brainard. He is very much a part of the foundation of the sport of reining,” shared NRHA Commissioner Gary Carpenter. “Generations of horsemen and women have learned, directly or indirectly from Jack, and he has made an impact on a countless number of careers. Our industry would not be what it is without him. We send our deepest condolences to his family and friends.”

Read more about Jack’s storied career here => https://westernhorseman.com/culture/flashbacks/jack-brainard-a-horseman-at-heart/?fbclid=IwAR1iJeJcb3S9KLArQSJbGCRqY4VwckAUuQCUmUV3ZsjCuonDGCzf8dtcufo

Sliders’ Night Out Presented by Toyon Ranch Celebrates 20 Years of the Reining Horse Foundation

For Immediate Release – October 7, 2021 – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – The Reining Horse Foundation is set to once again host Sliders’ Night Out presented by Toyon Ranch, the premier night on the social and charitable calendar of the reining community, on December 1 at State Fair Park in Oklahoma City, Okla.

“Reiners are ready to gather and celebrate two decades of impact by the Reining Horse Foundation and to honor inductees into the National Reining Horse Association Hall of Fame and recipients of the NRHA Lifetime Achievement Award,” said Leslie Baker, executive director of the RHF. “We didn’t hold Sliders’ Night Out in 2020, so it feels like there is extra excitement this year, which is the third in this format.”

“We have so many donors who have stepped up to make Sliders’ Night Out special,” said Rick Clark, chairperson of the RHF Board of Directors Development Committee and also NRHA President. “Toyon Ranch’s John and Nancy Tague are in their third year as presenting donors. We have several first-time Hall of Fame Table Hosts along with dozens of other committed partners who make this a night to remember. The event raises important funding to support the RHF mission, and I personally get excited that each year Sliders’ Night Out keeps reiners celebrating the history of our sport.”

Inducted into the NRHA Hall of Fame will be the late Doug Carpenter and Jose Vazquez for the class of 2021 and the late Sally Brown and the late Jerry Kimmel for the class of 2020. The program also is set to recognize Charles Vaughan and Mike Carrier with the 2021 and 2020 NRHA Dale Wilkinson Lifetime Achievement Awards respectively.

In 2021, Sliders’ Night Out will include a limited live auction. Sure to be popular is an embryo from the top-producing mare Wind Her Up Chic (Smart Chic Olena x Wind Her Up Doc), donated by RHF President Tim Anderson & Kim Niven. The 2003 bay mare has LTE of $100,000 and has produced foals earning $622,000. Bidders can also watch for a private reining clinic for up to eight people with NRHA Professional Mirjam Stillo at Rancho Los Vaqueros in Pilot Point, Texas. The day will include lunch and conclude with a reception, including food and beverage. The total package is made possible by Gary and Debbie Conway, Mirjam and Andrea Stillo, and Nancy and John Tague and must be scheduled in 2022. Additional auction items will be announced closer to the event.

Since 2018, Sliders’ Night Out has been the single largest annual fundraiser for RHF, which serves as the charitable arm of the NRHA. Through major underwriters and Hall of Fame table hosts, dollars are raised in support of the RHF mission of caring for and honoring the reining community. Core programs include the Dale Wilkinson Memorial Crisis Fund, youth scholarships and leadership development through the National Reining Horse Youth Association, and perpetuation of the sport’s history through the NRHA Hall of Fame.

Donors of every level are important. They come from individuals, corporations, ranches, training barns, foundations and groups of reiners joining forces to support the event. Early Platinum Donors are Tim & Kim Niven, Ian & Kristen Cantacuzene, Rick Clark, and Jamie Walters. James Turpen is a Gold Donor. To date, Silver Donors include Mark & Julie Blake, Booth Ranches, Mike & Bryan Hancock, Markel/Frank & Susan Costantini., Mike & Beth McFarlin, Rich & Cartmill Insurance, and the Williams Family Fund by Fidelity Charitable. Baker said additional donor commitments are anticipated and welcomed.

These top-level donors plus many Hall of Fame Table Hosts make it possible for all NRHA Hall of Fame inductees to attend the event as honored guests. All Hall of Fame members are invited to be a part of the program again this year.

Advance reservations are encouraged to ensure a chance to be in attendance at Sliders’ Night Out and enjoy the chef-prepared dinner and celebration. The benefit is held in conjunction with the NRHA Futurity & Adequan® North American Affiliate Championship Show. Individual tickets are available.

To make reservations, contact Leslie Baker, RHF, (405) 946-7400, ext. 106 or email rhf@nrha.com.

ZZ Top’s Dusty Hill and a Reining Horse Named Codie

Known for their heart pounding music, beards, hats, and sunglasses, ZZ Top is a legendary rock band that was formed in Houston, Texas, more than 50 years ago. On July 28, 2021, the unexpected passing of the band’s bass player, Dusty Hill, shook fans around the globe.

A native Texan, Hill joined Lewis and Chown at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. (Photo courtesy of Jeff Lewis)

Hill was a true rock and roll icon, and was honored for his career when he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004 with the rest of his band.

What might come as a surprise, though, is that the Texan co-owned a reining horse named Hot Lil Codie.

It all started when Hill’s 13-year-old daughter, Codie, wanted a horse. Hill and his friend, Jeff Lewis, first purchased a white half-Arabian, but another followed soon after. “Dusty went to some horse shows with me and knew that I showed reiners. He became interested in getting more involved,” Lewis recalled. “I was at the NRHA Futurity Breeders Sale, and a filly came into the ring that was named Hot Lil Codie (The Hot Express X Candid Cody). Her name was spelled the same way as Dusty’s daughter Codie, so it seemed like fate. She was just young, but with her breeding we decided it was worth the chance, so we bought her together. She turned out to be a really nice horse.”  

Hill and Lewis sent the mare to trainer Robert Chown, a multiple World Champion in both reining and reined cow horse events. The mare competed in many regional events, as well as the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. In Houston, Hot Lil Codie pulled double-duty, with Chown taking the Open title and Lewis claiming a victory in the Non Pro. “We won quite a few of the regional shows, and Houston was quite a big deal at the time,” Chown recalled. “We also showed quite a bit at the Texas Reining Horse Association and Southwest Reining Horse Association shows.”

Dusty Hill of ZZ Top.

Although Chown mostly worked with Lewis, he still recalled Hill’s down-to-earth demeanor. “I remember him more as quiet to be around. Every time I was around him, he was gracious and very nice,” Chown shared. “I went to a ZZ Top concert in Dallas and after watching them play, we went backstage with him and it was really cool. He didn’t have the big rockstar attitude that you would expect – loud and boisterous and everything else. He was just a really nice guy to be around.”

After her show career, Hot Lil Codie (a full sister to Hot Coded Candy, the dam of standout show horse and sire Electric Code) became a broodmare and is now retired at Lewis’s ranch in Texas. “She’s getting a little swaybacked, but she’s a sweetie. We have had a couple foals from her that Shelli Ries put time on and did well with,” Lewis said.

Hill enjoyed attending many reining events with Lewis throughout the years, including the National Reining Breeders Classic. Lewis also was able to spend time in Hill’s rock and roll world, but laughed when he added, “It could be hard to keep up with Dusty. I always said he was on rock and roll time.”

Although Hill never rode competitively, he could be found in the saddle from time to time. “He never really had any ambitions to show. I would have to classify him as an owner with an appreciation of the reining industry,” Lewis said.

Remembering Renowned Jockey & NRHA World Champ John Rotz

John Rotz passed away on July 12, 2021, at the Rotz Farm in Warrensburg, Illinois. A member of the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame, Rotz lived a storied life. Renowned for his humble demeanor and talent with a horse, Rotz, known by his nickname “Gentleman John,” had an extraordinary career as a jockey.

John Rotz was the 1987 Novice Horse Non Pro World Champion. (Photo by Waltenberry)

He was also a National Reining Horse Association World Champion.

Rotz was born on December 16, 1934, in Niantic, Illinois. After graduating high school in 1952, he went to work as a groom, hotwalker and exercise rider at Fairmount Park Racetrack in Collinsville, Illinois, before becoming a professional jockey in 1953.

During Rotz’s 20-year racing career he won a total of 2,907 races. In 1962 he won the Preakness Stakes on Greek Money and then the Belmont Stakes on High Echelon in 1970. He rode in the Kentucky Derby six times; his best finish was fourth on Native Charger. In both 1969 and 1970 he won more stakes races than any other jockey in American racing.

In 1973, Rotz received the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, given to a jockey who demonstrates high standards of personal and professional conduct, on and off the racetrack. He retired from riding that year following surgery for a foot injury but remained active in the industry.

In 1983, he and his wife, Mary, returned to Warrensburg, Illinois, where they purchased a 280-acre farm where Mary rehabilitated wildlife and Rotz began his western performance horse career.

Many people were familiar with Rotz as a superstar in the racing world but for many reiners, he was first and foremost a fellow competitor. It was after former NRHA President Rick Weaver won the NRHA Futurity in 1982 that he met Rotz. Rotz had just purchased Big Red Item and visited Weaver’s facility for help. For Weaver, it was instantly clear that Rotz had a great relationship with and a feel for horses. In 1987, Rotz went on to win the NRHA Novice Horse Non Pro World Championship on another horse named Doc Star Time.

There were fewer reining shows back then and typically only two classes to compete in, so Rotz began showing cutting horses. It reduced travel time as there were more cutting shows around Springfield. “I would see John at the state fairs, and I kept a friendship with him. When I first worked with him, some of the only reinings were at the fairs, so we would travel from fair to fair and I got to know him well,” Weaver said.

What impressed Weaver the most was the man’s humility. “I think the thing that is most important that people know about John was how he conducted himself. For a world class athlete that won the Preakness and the Belmont, I was so struck at how humble he was. It was probably my first glance of what it looked like to be going through your life and living with grace,” Weaver shared.

Weaver expanded on that thought, noting that despite all Rotz accomplishments and achievements, many people were unaware of his success unless they had read it somewhere or somebody pointed it out.

 “He was such a good horseman, and the relationship he had with a horse was something that clearly served him well at the track,” Weaver recalled. “I still remember going to Churchill Downs and going through the museum there and seeing his name and pictures. It is such a loss for us all. He was a great horseman and such a gentleman.”

Smart Like Juice, Inc. Becomes NRHA’s Newest Two Million Dollar Owner

Impressive performances at the North American Reining Stakes unofficially catapulted National Reining Horse Association Owner Smart Like Juice Inc. past $2 million in earnings.

Jose Vazquez of Smart Like Juice, Inc.
(Photo from Smart Like Juice Facebook)

Prior to the event, the entity was less than $3,000 away from that milestone. Jose Vazquez, the man behind Smart Like Juice, Inc., piloted Mr Chexy Dream and Smartgals Like Juice to more than $8,300 in prize money in the North American Reining Stakes and Leonard Trailer Non Pro Derbies.  

Vazquez’s Smart Like Juice, Inc. was first named as an NRHA member in 2004, and in that time more than 250 horses have been part of the program.

Smart Like Juice, Inc. is named for Vazquez’s renowned stallion, NRHA Four Million Dollar Sire Smart Like Juice. An NRHA Hall of Fame inductee, Smart Like Juice (Smart Little Lena x Jessies Oak) was bred by Lindy Burch. The now 25-year-old stallion was purchased by Justin and Vaughn Zimmerman as an early 3-year-old. After watching the horse place seventh in the open finals at the 1997 NRHA Futurity, non pro rider Vazquez (now an NRHA Million Dollar Rider) knew he had found his new horse. Smart Like Juice went on to compete with both Vazquez and NRHA Professional Ed Fear, winning $56,096 before retiring to the breeding shed.

Earning his first Million Dollar Sire title in 2008, Smart Like Juice was inducted into the NRHA Hall of Fame in 2017 for his contributions to the reining industry.

The top earners for Smart Like Juice, Inc., (at the time of ownership) are:

Like Shiner (Smart Like Juice x Wind Her Up Shiner) $164,962

Moonshine Juice (Smart Like Juice x Wind Her Up Shiner) $122,365

Wound By Juice (Smart Like Juice x Wind Her Up Shiner) $110,459

Juiced Up Doc (Smart Like Juice x Jokes Startime) $83,475

SLJ Ruf Juice (Smart Like Juice x Ruf Catalyst) $73,572