Ancillary Competition Concludes at NRHA Derby presented by Markel Insurance

A long week of competition at the National Reining Horse Association Derby presented by Markel Insurance culminated with the presentation of high point awards to several ancillary champions. On the final day of competition, more than 135 entries showed in youth, short stirrup, green reiner, and rookie classes held in the Adequan Arena and Jim Norick Coliseum at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds.

Riders who competed in both slates of ancillary classes were eligible to win the high point championship and receive stunning buckles from Montana Silversmiths.


Green Reiner Level 1 & 2 [2] Co-Champion and Green Reiner Level 1 & 2 High Point Champion – Allison Thorson & Smart Cowboy Whiz

Allison Thorson showed her horse Smart Cowboy Whiz for the first time on Friday, tying for the win of the Green Reiner Level 1 [1] and for second in the Level 2 [1]. They returned to the Adequan Arena on Sunday to tie for the win of both levels with a 142. “My first time showing him was Friday, so we obviously gained some confidence. This time I went in with a little more steam and power because I knew there wouldn’t be anything super scary and that he’d help me through the pattern,” Thorson shared.

Smart Cowboy Whiz, by Who Whiz It out of Little Smart Jac, gives his owner a lot of confidence in the pen. “I was super happy with him. He’s a horse that will go for more if you ask. It’s awesome to have a partner like that. Not only that, but he’s really pretty to look at,” she said.

Tying for the day’s win, combined with her success on Friday, clinched the high point championships for both classes, and Thorson was presented with two Montana Silversmiths buckles. “Obviously winning the high point is another great thing. I feel very fortunate. It shows we had some consistency this week when we showed. I know there are some parts that I can clean up and fix, but we were consistent and that’s what I’m most proud of,” Thorson explained.

Thorson grew up showing all around events in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry. Her supportive parents helped her travel across the country showing in western, English, and showmanship classes. “Still, reining is a whole new challenge. It all comes down to if you’re having a good day or not. Everyone works hard to be here,” she said.

Thorson rides with Craig Schmersal. “I thank Craig and Ginger and the whole Schmersal team. It’s first class and everyone is very supportive. They give us the right tools to succeed,” Thorson noted.


Green Reiner Level 1 & 2 [2] Co-Champion – Bruce Koefoot & Smart Lil Velvet

It was a great day for the Schmersal clan, as another barn mate, Bruce Koefoot, tied with Thorson for the win of the Green Reiner Levels 1 & 2. Koefoot, of Nebraska, rode Smart Lil Velvet, a horse he’s only been showing since last fall.

“Craig and Ginger found him for me. I hadn’t shown in about five years, on a mare that’s now one of my broodmares, so I told them I want to get back into showing. I trust them explicitly, and they found him for me,” Koefoot said of the stallion, by Smart Like Juice out of Velvet Pistol. “He’s a stud, but he doesn’t know it. He’s very forgiving, and as a novice rider, he takes care of me. I don’t have to worry about him doing something he shouldn’t.”

Smart Lil Velvet lives with the Schmersals in Arizona. “We have a townhouse down there that we go to as often as we can, and I ride him every day when I’m down there. I haven’t ridden him since March when I won the Green Reiner at the Cactus Classic, but he did very well here,” Koefoot said.

Koefoot has ridden with the Schmersals for more than 13 years and noted their program is first-class. “I have had several horses with him. What I like about Craig is he doesn’t just train a futurity horse and that’s it. He takes care of the horses so after the futurities you have a horse to ride. They take very good care of them,” Koefoot said. “I thank Craig, Ginger, Wade McDonald and the whole crew. Everyone in the barn is super.”


Rookie Level 2 High Point Champion – Paige Pastorino & Taylor Made Magnum

Paige Pastorino and her horse Taylor Made Magnum won the Rookie Level 2 High Point Championship. It was a busy week for the pair, who also showed in the Non Pro classes earlier in the week. “He’s done great. We’ve been working on critiquing a few things in our run downs, and he got better as the week went on,” she said.

Taylor Made Magnum, by Magnum Chic Dream out of Beaus Liberty Bell, is now 12-years-old. “I’ve had him a few years and he’s my first reiner. He’s mister consistent. It’s so nice because he warms up exactly the way he is in the show pen. That’s exactly what I need and want and he gives me everything, every time,” Pastorino said.

Pastorino, who lives in California, rides with Dany and Fred Tremblay of Ardmore, Oklahoma. “We’re actually heading home to California with the horses in a few minutes. We’re going to Reining By the Bay, so we’re going to take our horses with us and meet Fred and Dany out there,” she said. “I thank my mom, Dany, and Fred. They’re awesome and every day they push me. I wouldn’t be here without them.”


Rookie Level 1 & 2 [2] Champion and Rookie Level 1 High Point Champion – Alexia Tordoff & Blue Collar Tag

Alexia Tordoff and Blue Collar Tag cleaned house at the Adequan Arena, winning both levels of the Rookie and claiming the Level 1 high point buckle. “It’s my first buckle from the NRHA, so I’m pretty excited,” Tordoff said.

Tordoff and Blue Collar Tag, by Whiz N Tag Chex out of Kachina Oak Olena, scored a 146 in Sunday’s competition. “He was really good today. He was better than Friday and scored a point higher. He was awesome,” she said.

Tordoff’s game plan for Blue Collar Tag was simple – rest. “I really didn’t change it up at all. He got the day off yesterday, and so I showed him pretty fresh today. He got to be in the spa all day yesterday, so he was pretty pampered,” she said.

Tordoff is planning to show next in Las Vegas. “I thank Kole and Kelsey Price, my parents, my sister, and all my friends and family,” she said.


Prime Time Rookie [2] Champion and Prime Time Rookie High Point Champion – Jamie Walters & Hot Rockin Spook

Jamie Walters won the Prime Time Rookie [2] on her horse Hot Rockin Spook with a 140, and in doing so claimed the Prime Time Rookie High Point title. “Today he was a good boy. My run was fast at the end, and I need to work on that, but it was a good run. I stayed on!” Walters said with a laugh.

Hot Rockin Spook, by Smart Spook out of Hot Rockin Badger, was shown as a futurity horse by Tish Fappani, collecting several wins. “I’ve owned him about three years now. He can be a little hot sometimes, but we had a practice session a couple days ago and everything came together,” she shared.

Walters rides with Wade McDonald, an assistant trainer at Craig Schmersal’s. “It’s been a great week for Team Schmersal. Jennifer Neudorf won the Non Pro Derby, then Bruce and Allison tied for the Green today, Addisyn did so well in the Youth, and Craig won Reserve last night. I always say if you want to ride better, you ride with the best,” she said.

Walters qualified for the Run for a Million Rookie while competing at the National Reining Breeders Classic. “I’m so excited. I have two months to work on that,” she said. “I thank my family and everyone who watched me on the live feed. Thank you to Wade, Craig and Ginger, my boyfriend Mark, my parents, and my sister,” she said.


Youth 13 & Under High Point Champion – Addisyn Schmersal & CC Enterprise

A second place finish in the 13 & Under [2] clinched the 13 & Under High Point Championship for Addisyn Schmersal and CC Enterprise – a repeat performance for the duo. “I won it last year with the same horse. This time was a little easier because the last time was the first show with him. I’m more used to him now, and it was a lot of fun,” Schmersal said.

Many of the exhibitors that ride with Addisyn’s father Craig won classes and high point buckles this week, and Craig qualified three horses back to the Open Finals. “It’s been a great week for Team Schmersal,” 13-year-old Addisyn noted.

Next up for Schmersal and CC Enterprise, by Wrangle Whiz out of Rems Little Sugs, is a schooling show followed by the American Quarter Horse Association Youth World Show.

“I thank my parents, my dad’s staff, and all my friends and family,” Schmersal said.


Youth 14 – 18 & Unrestricted Youth High Point Champion – Siena Krueger & Shining On Spook

Siena Krueger and Shining On Spook won the Youth 14 – 18 [1] and Unrestricted Youth [1] class on Saturday, but the two high point Montana Silversmith’s buckles were still a surprise. “It’s pretty unexpected. This is probably the biggest achievement I’ve had with my horse in a couple of years,” Krueger shared. She and Shining On Spook, by Smart Spook out of Shining High Roller, finished fourth in both classes today with a 142.5.

“Today he was really good in the turns and circles. I lost my stirrups, but overall it was pretty good,” Krueger, who turns 15 years old on Tuesday, noted.

Shining On Spook was shown by Krueger’s mother, but the young rider took over the reins when the horse aged out of the Derby events.

Krueger rides with Kari Klingenberg in Arizona. “I thank Kari for always working to get us to be the best we can, and my mom for giving me this horse to ride,” Krueger said.


Youth 13 & Under [2] Champion – Ava Bush & Shes A Shining Gun

Ava Bush piloted her horse Shes A Shining Gun to a score of 142.5 to win the Youth 13 & Under [2]. It was the first show back for Bush, who’s taken most of the season off to let a fractured ankle heal. “I’ve had him about two years. We started off with our spins which were pretty good. We stumbled a little in our left spin but made up with it to our right. Our circles were good, too,” she shared.

Bush lives in Spokane, Washington, but she also rides with Arizona’s Kari Klingenberg. “We try to fly down once a month for the week,” she said. “I thank my parents and Kari Klingenberg for helping me. I wouldn’t be able to do it without them. I also thank everyone who helps out at the barn.”


Youth 14 – 18 [2] & Unrestricted Youth [2] Champion – Lydia Bell & Chics Want My Number

Chics Want My Number won the Youth Short Stirrup [1] on Saturday with Kynley Bell, and on Sunday won the Youth 14 – 18 [2] and Unrestricted Youth [2] with older sister Lydia. “It was awesome. Just a clean, smooth, and solid run. I love this horse. He’s the same every time,” Bell said. “We bought him a few years ago from a good friend of ours who showed him as a three-year-old and derby horse.”

Bell noted that “Leroy,” who’s by Wimpys Little Step out of Dixie Chic Olena, has quite the personality. “He’s definitely goofy. He fools around and flips his head. If I don’t warm him up in the arena long enough, he’ll play around when we show,” the 16-year-old shared.

The next stop for the pair is the AQHA World Show. “Hopefully we will do well there,” she said. “I thank my mom and dad for hauling me everywhere and everyone along the way who has supported me. Most of all I thank God above for giving me the opportunity to do this.”


Short Stirrup [2] & Short Stirrup High Point Champions – Becca Schaffhauser & Lil Rene Gun

Showing in the Jim Norick Arena, 10-year-old Becca Schaffhauser piloted Lil Rene Gun through Pattern 2, scoring a 143. Not only did that win the day’s class, it also secured the Short Stirrup High Point Championship. “She was very good. She did not go too fast,” Schaffhauser said.

Lil Rene Gun, by Gunner out of Sail Away Rene, is owned by James and Kathleen Fanello. “My dad showed her in the Derby last year, and I’m very happy to show her. She’s seven and is a very good horse. She’s easy to ride and not too hard for a beginner,” Schaffhauser said.

It was the first time for the pair to compete together, but they’ll be traveling to Vegas for another event soon. “Thank you to my parents and James and Kathleen for letting me show her,” she said.

Schaffhauser also took Reserve in Saturday’s class with a 140.5 on Dun Got My Rest, owned by Turnabout Farm Inc. Dun Got My Rest is by Hollywood Dun It out of Got My Rest.

Jimmy van der Hoeven and Guaranteed A Magnum Win Level 4 Open Championship at NRHA Derby presented by Markel Insurance

The 2019 National Reining Horse Association Derby presented by Markel Insurance provided a week of thrills and excitement for exhibitors, owners, sponsors, and spectators, escalating to a crescendo on Open finals night, Saturday, June 22. The Jim Norick Coliseum at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds was filled with an enthusiastic reining crowd that watched climbing scores and outstanding performances.

Riders posted one massive score after another, making memories with every run. Several times it looked as if a winner had been decided, but then another rider would raise the bar.

Draw 29, Guaranteed A Magnum, by Magnum With A Dream out of Guaranteed By Amos, had lifetime earnings just under $200,000 prior to the finals. In fact, he and rider Jimmy van der Hoeven won the event in 2018, entering the arena as the reigning champions.

“Casey (Hinton) and I talked it over before we walked in. It goes through your mind that you need to stay calm. Casey told me to ‘Ride what your horse can do. That’s what they do, and don’t try to do more than that,’” Van der Hoeven shared. “Those were the words I heard when I walked in, but it’s hard when people are screaming and you know what the horses before you did. Staying calm in that is not easy.”

Still, Van der Hoeven and Guaranteed A Magnum stayed the course through seemingly never-ending stops, impeccable spins, and flashy circles. The cheers of the already loud crowd reached deafening levels when the score – a 231.5 – was announced.

Along with a check for $57,000, Van der Hoeven was presented with a year’s use of a gooseneck trailer from CINCH trailers, a Montana Silversmiths buckle, a Bob’s Custom Saddle, a pair of Anderson Bean boots, as well as product from Classic Equine, Platinum Performance, Bluebonnet Feed, and CINCH. He also received gift certificates to SmartPak and Shorty’s Caboy Hattery. Guaranteed A Magnum’s nominator Heather Hochstatter will receive a check for $3,000.

Van der Hoeven began riding Guaranteed A Magnum, now owned by Chad and Molly Cherry, at the end of the horse’s four-year-old year in 2017. The next year, they finished fourth at the National Reining Breeders Classic before winning the Derby for the first time. They went on to win the Junior Reining Championship at the American Quarter Horse Association World Championship Show.

They returned to the NRBC in 2019 to place third prior to heading to the Derby. “He’s really special. What he has done in the past year is pretty special. He keeps getting better, too. This is the highest he’s ever marked, and it’s the highest I’ve ever marked,” Van der Hoeven shared. “I know when I go in there he’s not going to let me down. I never have to worry about him.”

Van der Hoeven trains out of Casey and Kathy Hinton’s barn in Whitesboro, Texas. “I thank the whole team. Casey and Kathy are real special to me. Casey is a great coach and trainer. I also thank all the people who work at home, and my brother Roy van der Hoeven,” he said.

Craig Schmersal piloted No Smoking Required to a 231 to win the Level 4 Open Reserve Championship, worth $40,544. No Smoking Required, by Gunner out of Icing Required, is owned by the Wranglen Partnership. Nominator Carluccio Orsi will receive $2,133.


Cade McCutcheon and Shes Got Good Guns Win Open Levels 3 and 2 Championship

It was Cade McCutcheon’s first time to show in the NRHA Open Derby, and the young trainer made the most of it, qualifying all three of his entries back to the Open Level 4 finals. He finished as the Open Level 3 and Level 2 Champion on Shes Got Good Guns, by Gunner out of A Bueno Poco Dunit.

McCutcheon and Shes Got Good Guns marked a 227.5, which also ranked them eighth in place of the Open Level 4. The night’s earnings totaled $39,592 for McCutcheon, with nominator/owner Roxanne Koepsell receiving an additional $2,083. Prizes included buckles from Montana Silversmiths, two Bob’s Custom Saddles, two pairs of Anderson Bean boots, gift certificates from Shorty’s Caboy Hattery and Smart Pak, and product from Classic Equine, Platinum Performance, Bluebonnet Feed, and CINCH.

“She was awesome. She’s very honest in the show pen and I know I can trust her. She was there for me every step of the way,” McCutcheon said. “She’s a really good mare, and I’m just lucky to have her.”

With the high temperatures and humidity, McCutcheon had a game plan. “I did as much of nothing as I could. She was tired anyway, so I didn’t do anything hard between the go-round and the finals,” he said.

If his horse felt slightly fatigued, McCutcheon did, too, as his first two entries were relatively close together. “I was pretty tired after my second one, but my mom brought me a snack,” he said with a laugh. “Actually, it’s easy to get hyped up and not tired when you get to ride one like this.”

McCutcheon, who began riding as a professional in January, added, “I thank my parents and my grandparents and everyone at the barn. Joe Schmidt, Fernando Salgado – there are just a lot of people to thank. I also thank Roxanne Koepsell, who has been awesome. She’s always been there for me.”

Perhaps one of Cade’s most exciting accomplishments of the night was being one half of the first father-son duo to qualify for the Level 4 finals at the same time. Cade’s father Tom also qualified for the Level 4 finals on Dun With Guns.

Finishing second in the Open Level 3 was Trevor Dare and Xtra Dun Step, by Wimpys Little Step out of All Thats Dun. The pair marked a 225, also finishing 13th in the Level 4. The win netted owned Silver Spurs Equine a check for $20,269, and nominator Ixtul Quarter Horses received $1,066.

Reserve in the Open Level 2 went to Lorinaldo Gomes and Snip O One, who finished the finals with a 224.5. That score was also good for third in the Level 3, and fifteenth in the Level 4. All totaled, Snip O One, owned by Sarah Nimigan, won $20,863. Snip O One, by A Sparkling Vintage out of Snip O Gun, was nominated by Harper Conner, who will receive $1,098.

Josh Tishman Wins Open Level 1 Championship on Baileys Sidekick

With a 222.5, Josh Tishman and Baileys Sidekick won the Open Level 1 Championship, besting their preliminary round score by a point. While that feat was impressive – they also qualified for the finals of the Open Levels 2 and 3 – the story gets better. Baileys Sidekick pulled double duty at the NRHA Derby. “He was shown by both his owner, Kathy Thompson, and myself. Kathy qualified for the Non Pro Level 4 finals last night, and he and I were only a half-point from making the Open Level 4 finals,” Tishman shared. “He’s given everything he has. He has a huge heart and is pure as pure can be in the show pen for both of us every time.”

Tishman and Baileys Sidekick collected a check totaling $12,237, while nominator Turnabout Farm Inc., received $644. The night before, Baileys Sidekick by Gunners Special Nite out of A Shining Sidekick won more than $3,650 with Thompson. Prizes for the Open Level 1 title included a Bob’s Custom Saddle, a buckle from Montana Silversmiths, a pair of Anderson Bean boots, gift certificates to Shortys Caboy Hattery and Smart Pak, as well as product from Classic Equine, Platinum Performance, Bluebonnet Feed, and CINCH.

“Honestly, we just didn’t try to override him and kept him happy. He has an amazing brain and that’s what did it,” said Tishman, who rides for Deary Performance Horses. “He ran in and stopped huge, and he was pure as could be. He ran his heart out.”

Tishman said the next stop for Baileys Sidekick is likely the Tulsa Reining Classic and the AQHA World Show. “I have so many people to thank. I thank his owners, Casey, Nicole and the whole Deary team,” he said.

Todd Wright and SJR Karinas Lil Step finished as the Open Level 1 Reserve Champions, winning $4,845 with a score of 220.5. Owned by Teresa McCarthy, SJR Karinas Lil Step is by Wimpys Little Step out of Whizs Katrina. Nominator San Juan Ranch will receive $255.

Dean Brown and Gunnatrashtheplace Win Open Prime Time Title

The Open Prime Time Championship was decided in the preliminary round, and Dean Brown and Gunnatrashtheplace topped the division with a 223, earning $2,271. “He was really good to me. He ran in there and gave me his all. We had a couple little bobbles that kept us out of the Level 4 finals, but we made the Level 3,” Brown explained.

Brown and Gunnatrashtheplace, by Gunnatrashya out of All Chic N Shiny, are coming off a recent Prime Time win at the NRBC. “He’s been a very good horse for me. I’ve made the finals at all the major events with him. I’ve had him since he was a 2-year-old. He’s just a very nice horse,” Brown said of the 6-year-old stallion who is owned by Jeff Levine of Levine Equine Enterprises of Valley Cottage, New York.

In the finals, Brown and Gunnatrashtheplace, whose lifetime earnings exceed $36,000, marked a 219 to finish sixteenth in the Level 3, worth an additional $2,278. “After this, we’ll have a couple of horse shows, and then start showing our three-year-olds. It’s going to be a busy summer,” Brown said. “I thank Robert Santagata. I also thank Jeff Levine, who has been a great owner.”

Finishing second in the Open Prime Time was Martin Larcombe and Hey Joe with a 222.5, collecting $1,804. Hey Joe, by Smart Spook out of Best Stop, is owned by Rosanne Sternberg of Aubrey, Texas.

Dun It For Chex Unofficially Becomes Newest NRHA Million Dollar Dam

Dun It For Chex was recently inducted to the NRHA Hall of Fame, and on Saturday night she unofficially became an NRHA Million Dollar Dam. Owner Joao Marcos, noted, “I have no words. It’s amazing. I’m so, so happy. It was a lot of work and investments,” he shared. “She’s the best. We call her the Queen.”

Owned by Cardinal Hill Training Center, Dun It For Chex is by NRHA Hall of Fame Inductee and $6 Million Dollar Sire Hollywood Dun It out of Silver N Blue Chex (by Docs Silver N Blue). Her money-earning progeny include 2019 NRHA Derby Open and Non Pro finalists Dun It For Whizkey, Masked Gun, and Hollyood Nites, as well as Starbucks Sidekick, Wranglin In Chex, and Whizzen For Chex.

“It was an amazing night. It was one of the best shows I’ve seen in my life,” Marcos said.

Complete results and information about the NRHA Derby can be found at

Youth Riders Reign in Ancillary Classes at NRHA Derby presented by Markel Insurance

It was all about the kids in the Adequan Arena on Saturday at the National Reining Horse Association Derby presented by Markel Insurance. More than 80 young riders competed in the first slate of youth ancillary classes. Many will return to the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds on Sunday to compete in the second slate of classes.

Unrestricted Youth [1] and Youth 14 – 18 [1] Champion – Siena Krueger and Shining On Spook 143.5

With a score of 143.5, Siena Krueger won both the Unrestricted Youth [1] and the Youth 14-18 [1] on Shining On Spark. “He was my mom’s derby horse last year. She got a new one and gave him to me because he had aged out, and I’m forever thankful for that,” Krueger said of her horse, who’s by Smart Spook out of Shining High Roller. “I love his looks and his personality. He’s very talented, but he can be a jerk sometimes.”

Krueger wasn’t excited about her draw position but was determined to make the most of it. “We were draw one, but my horse loped off and he was great and did everything I asked him to do. It was one of our best runs I’d say,” she said.

Krueger, who lives in Washington, rides with Kari Klingenberg. “We will show again tomorrow. I plan to memorize the pattern and not overthink anything. I thank my mother for letting me show her horse,” she said.


Youth 13 & Under [1] Champion – Addisyn Schmersal and CC Enterprise

Addison Schmersal topped the Youth 13 & Under class with a 144.5 on veteran show horse CC Enterprise. “Today he spun really well and stopped good. I missed the middle marker in my circles, but he was good,” the 13-year-old said.

CC Enterprise, by Wrangle Whiz out of Rems Little Sugs, was a successful show horse with Addisyn’s father, NRHA $4 million rider Craig Schmersal. “We had him when he was younger, and my dad showed him and won the SWRHA Futurity. He’s always been my favorite. We sold him and got him back, and I’m so glad we did,” Schmersal said.

The week’s not over for Schmersal and CC Enterprise. They’ll show in the youth classes again on Sunday. “I just plan to do the same thing I did today. I thank all my friends for helping me, and my parents for letting me show him here,” she said.


USA Reining 14 – 18 [1] Champion – Taylor Zimmerman and Shiners Smoking Gun

It’s been a good week for Taylor Zimmerman. She made the Non Pro Level 4 and Level 3 Derby finals on her horse Gotta Get A Diamond. On Saturday she won the USA Reining 14-18, and finished second in the NRHA 14-18 and Unrestricted Youth classes on Shiners Smoking Gun. Shiners Smoking Gun, owned by Vaughn Zimmerman, is by Gunner out of Shiners Madam.

“He’s my brother’s horse, and this was my first time showing him,” Zimmerman shared. “I took him in the pen, and he was a lot of fun. He was very good and honest. There’s not much to worry about with him. He’s not very hard to show.”

Next up for Zimmerman? “I’ll be going to Switzerland for Team USA with my horse Wimpys Dolled Up. After that we start futurity season,” she explained.


USA Reining 13 & Under [1] Champion – Carlee McCutcheon and A Special Sidekick

Carlee McCutcheon and A Special Sidekick topped the USA Reining 13 & Under [1] and finished third in the 13 & Under [1] with a 142.5. A Special Sidekick is by Gunners Special Nite out of A Shining Sidekick.


Short Stirrup [1] Champion – Kynley Bell and Chics Want My Number

With an impressive score of 144, Kynley Bell and Chics Want My Number bested the field of 13 to win Saturday’s Short Stirrup [1]. Bell, only nine years old, gave credit to her horse. “He did good. He spooked by the gate and that’s it. I’m not sure why,” she said.

Bell added that Chics Want My Number, by Wimpys Little Step out of Dixie Chic Olena, has quite the personality. “He’s very silly. He’s always funny and he always messes around if you don’t lope him a bunch. I loped him a lot today,” she said. “I like that he’s silly and that he likes me.”

Bell, of Purcell, Oklahoma, added, “I thank my mom and my dad and my sister. They’ve helped me along the way.”

Bell and Chics Want My Number will show again in Sunday’s short stirrup class.

Finishing second with a 143 was Becca Schaffhauser and Lil Rene Gun. Lil Rene Gun, by Gunner out of Sail Away Rene, is owned by James Fanello.

Madison Steed Wins Collegiate Reining Championship

The Collegiate Reining Championships were held Friday between the two sections of Non Pro finals, and in the end, it was reigning champion Madison Steed, of Cochrane, Alberta, Canada who won the title. Steed was competing on Spook N Sparkle, a 10-year-old by Smart Spook out of Setting Off Sparks, generously donated for use in the competition by Rosanne Sternberg.

“This was really cool. Last year I was fortunate to ride a great horse and I was this year, too. It’s a lot of fun to ride beneath the bright lights of Oklahoma City,” Steed said.

Steed qualified to compete through NRHA and was part of the 2019 Southern Methodist University team that earned the reserve championship at Nationals.

“This is a great opportunity to bridge the gap between NCEA and the NRHA, and an awesome opportunity to compete in a facility where so much history has been made. It’s awesome to showcase the best of collegiate reining,” Steed said.

Recently graduated, Steed is looking to start her career. “I just received notice my Visa came through, so I’m going to be working for CR Ranchwear full time,” she explained.

The Collegiate Reining Championships are challenging. Four representatives from the NRHA, the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association, and the National Collegiate Equestrian Association compete on horses they’ve never ridden before. They are able to watch the horses show an example of each maneuver in a 15-minute warm-up under their owner or trainer. The collegiate exhibitors only get to ride the horses for five minutes before entering the show pen.

“The young athletes, their coaches, and their support have been such a joy to have at the NRHA Derby. It was incredible to watch them be so successful on a horse they were only on minutes prior to competing,” noted NRHA Youth Programs Coordinator Sara Honegger.

Horses are donated to the competition by generous individuals in support of the youth programs. Donors to the Collegiate Championships include Rosanne Sternberg, Kristina Picciotti, Patrick Swartz, Sierra Palacios, Bud Lyon, Maron Neff/Michelle Chapman, Sally Berg, Jessicah Keller, Ryan Rushing and Spence Bell.

“We are so appreciative of everyone who donated their equine athletes for these young individuals to use. It’s such a wonderful way to support the future of this sport, encourage these young people, and showcase their horse’s willingness and talent,” Honegger said.


Day 7 Ancillary Champions at the NRHA Derby presented by Markel Insurance

Ancillary action continued in the Adequan Arena at the National Reining Horse Association Derby presented by Markel Insurance. The day kicked off with the green reiner classes, and contestants placing in the top three of both levels won great gifts from NRHA Corporate Partner Classic Equine, who joined as the sponsor of NRHA’s Green Reiner program for 2019.  

Green Reiner Level 2 [1] Champion – Marie Marsh & Chromed Olena

Marie Marsh hasn’t gotten to know her horse Chromed Olena too well. She only purchased the gelding in February of this year, but that didn’t stop her from riding him to a score of 141 to win the Green Reiner Level 2 [1]. “His circles were really good. We went a little slower, but his spins were great – he’s a great spinner! We also had some really good stops,” Marsh noted.

Marsh rides with Josiane Gauthier and had caught sight of Chromed Olena. “He’s been in Josiane’s barn a couple of years. He caught my eye because the girl that owned him had gone off to college, and I knew I wanted to buy him,” Marsh explained of the gelding by Chromed Out Mercedes out of FS Smart Dot Chic.

Hailing from North Carolina, this is the first year that Marsh has come to the NRHA Derby. She plans to show again on Sunday. “Between now and then we will just ride and practice,” she said. “Thank you to Josiane and my husband Michael.”


Green Reiner Level 1 [1] Co-Champion – Jada Mark & Wimpy Gata Shiner

Jada Mark tied for the win of the Green Reiner Level 1 [1] on her horse Wimpy Gata Shiner. “We bought her around August of last year for me to have a Derby horse. I tried her and we matched up just awesome. I love her,” the 16-year-old explained. “I’m trying to get a collegiate scholarship for reining.”

The pair marked a 140 in the Adequan arena, which also earned them reserve in the Green Reiner Level 2 [1]. “Today we were just trying to stay calm and be smooth and clean. She stayed with me, and I just trusted her,” Mark said of the mare, by Wimpys Little Step out of Shinin In Hollywood.

Mark has only been riding reiners a few years and rides with Steven Marbry and Jeromy Lipps. She added, “I thank my mom, Wendy Nichols because she buys me everything and is my number one fan.”


Green Reiner Level 1 [1] Co-Champion – Allison Thorson & Smart Cowboy Whiz

Riding Smart Cowboy Whiz, Allison Thorson claimed the Green Reiner Level 1 [1] co-championship. She’s only owned the flashy reiner, by Who Whiz It out of Little Smart Jac, for a month. “We’ve been practicing hard. I saw him before, but when it’s your first time to show a horse you don’t know what to expect,” Thorson said. “It was awesome to pull through everything. He’s a horse that helps me go step-by-step instead of getting overwhelmed.”

While she’s relatively new to reining, Thorson is an accomplished horsewoman. “I grew up showing Tennessee Walking Horses and competed all the time, but, you know, when you’re in a different discipline there is a lot to learn,” she explained.

Thorson rides with Craig Schmersal. “I thank the Schmersal team. Everyone is great, and I am appreciative of how first-class they run everything. I also thank my parents, Duke and Rhonda Thorson. They are very supportive every step of the way, and I couldn’t do it without them.”

Thorson plans to show both of her horses again in Sunday’s Green and Rookie classes.


Rookie Level 2 [1] Champion – Anna Clausen & Smart Tinseltown

With an incredible 145, Anna Clausen and Smart Tinseltown topped the Rookie Level 2 [1] class. It’s not the first class that the gelding, by Smart Spook out of Tinseltown Lil Step, has won this week. With Anna’s sister, Shelby, he also won high point buckles in the Non Pro divisions.

“Me and my sister have been trading off riding him a little bit. She showed him earlier this week, and then I wanted to try to qualify for the Run for A Million for the Rookie class they have out there, so I showed Chester (Smart Tinseltown) and my other horse here today,” Clausen said.

As always, Smart Tinseltown did his best. “He’s just amazing. He was good today. We had a little bobble slowing down to the right, but we moved through it,” she said.

Clausen, of Scottsdale, Arizona, has been riding reining horses for about three years. “I thank my parents for giving me these amazing horses, and my trainer Patrick Flaherty for helping us out, as well as everyone who helped get me ready to show,” she said.


Rookie Level 1 [1] Champion – Alexia Tordoff & Blue Collar Tag

It was only her second time to show Blue Collar Tag, but Alexia Tordoff piloted the veteran reiner to a 145, topping the Rookie Level 1 [1]. “He’s so special. He’s by far one of my favorite horses I’ve ever had, and he’s my first reiner, which is cool,” Tordoff explained. “This was a big leap for me. I’m used to doing the horsemanship which is really slow and precise. It’s awesome that I can learn on such an amazing horse.”

Blue Collar Tag, by Whiz N Tag Chex out of Kachina Oak Olena, is a former National Reining Breeders Classic Open Champion. “He fits our program so well and is amazing with me. He knows when he gets in the pen what he needs to do,” she said.

Tordoff, of Columbus, Ohio, rides with Kole Price. “I thank Kole and his wife Kelsey Huffman, and my parents for making this happen, and all my family and friends,” she said. “I might show in the Youth 14-18 here. I’m 15, so I have a few youth years left, and I’ll definitely show in the rookie again on Sunday.”


Rookie Prime Time [1] Champion – Stephanie Johnson & Sugarwhizngun

Although an over-spin cost her a spot in the Derby finals, Stephanie Johnson was determined to make a smooth run in the Adequan Arena on her horse Sugarwhizngun. “My plan was to get all my spins right, which we did, and our stops and rollbacks were great. I can’t think of anything he did bad. I was really happy with him,” Johnson said of her run, which resulted in a 143.5.

Johnson, of North Carolina, has only owned Sugarwhizngun, by Gunner out of Starlights Sugar Whiz, since December. “We were made for each other,” she said of the horse she calls Romeo. “We got him from Dan Huss. He had him here at the Futurity, and I was looking for a horse. I fell in love the minute I got on him.”

Johnson rides with Josiane Gautier. “I thank Josiane. She’s the best and is amazing. It was a great day for our team. I thank them all because everyone is so supportive,” she said. “I thank Romeo most of all.”


NRHA Para Reining Champions

Para Reining focuses on the development of reining programs designed for riders with mental and physical disabilities. These programs begin with grassroots competitions and work toward high performance competitions for riders with varied degrees of abilities.

For more information about Para Reining, visit


Para Reining Grade 4 – Melinda Davis & Royal Chexy Lady

Winning the Para Reining Grade 4 was Melinda Davis and Royal Chexy Lady. “We call her Reba, and she’s owned by Camille Taylor and her daughter Emma. My other horse, who I was riding last year, got sore, so I borrowed her back to use this year. She rallied and came to it,” Davis said of Royal Chexy Lady, by Nu Chex To Cash out of Shotoe Bobbi. “She’s a good, good mare. She’s just incredible.”

Davis, of Arkansas, noted her pattern was pretty good. “I kind of overspun, but that happens. My rollbacks felt pretty good. I had a great team here helping me. I have to give a shout out to Mr. Sam Schaffhauser and his wife Jeanna, to everyone who helps me, and the Taylors for letting me borrow their horse,” she said.

Davis actually used to own Reba. “I quit showing and sold her, and now, six years later, I’m back on her. I’ve had a lot of medical issues this year, so I haven’t done any practice runs or lessons. I’m thankful to USA Reining and the NRHA for including Para Reining here at the Derby. I just feel blessed they have this class.”


Para Reining Grade 6 – Tate Wynn & Coded 86

Tate Wynn topped the Para Reining Grade 6 on Coded 86. It’s one of his first shows on the gelding, who is by Electric Code and out of Hollywoods Mae West. “I don’t know how to describe him, but he’s pretty special. I started riding him this year. When you get to know him and hang out with him in the barn, he is sweet. Every show he gets a little better,” Wynn said.

Wynn, of Kentucky, noted that the day’s pattern made the class easier. “It was really easy to remember. Not too hard, not too complicated, not too easy. It was just right!” he said. “I showed in Para Reining with my old horse. Showing in this class makes it a lot easier to remember the pattern.”

Wynn is originally from Guatemala but came to live with his parents when he was just 13 months old. “We have horses and he grew up as a little tyke just riding with everyone. He was diagnosed with autism and has some cognitive disabilities, but for the most part he can get through a pattern,” his mother, Theresa Wynn, explained. “We thought he might excel in the para since he qualified. I talked to his doctors, and they said sure! He really enjoys it.”