$20,000 Invitational Freestyle Reining Will Be Held at the 2023 6666 NRHA Derby Presented by Markel

The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) is excited to host the $20,000 Invitational Freestyle Reining held at the 2023 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel. Sponsored by the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, this must-see event will take place on Thursday, June 22 at 6 p.m., is free to the public, and is sure to have the whole family on the edge of their seats!

Hava Vital

Often compared to figure skating, the performances also use choreographed music and are paired with astounding costumes, props, or often additional characters! Freestyle reining allows one to creatively use core reining maneuvers (circles, spins, stops, flying lead changes, etc.) and magnify them with music and choreography. The fan-favorite freestyle reining has been an NRHA tradition since 1986, with the first-ever freestyle reining held at the NRHA Derby in St. Paul, MN. Veteran spectators of the event may mention it is always a surprise who may show up to compete.

The 2022 NRHA Invitational Freestyle Reining Champion, Hava Vital, blew away the competition last year with her breathtaking performance to the “Moulin Rouge” hit song “Lady Marmalade.” Coming in two points behind Hava as Reserve Champion, Abby Budd paired a bridleless routine with the song “Can’t Stop The Feeling!” Watch her performance here!

Abby Budd

“As the horse show capital of the world, we are always excited to host reining events here in OKC,” said Zac Craig, Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau president. “We look forward to welcoming these participants and showing them all there is to do in the Modern Frontier.”

Confirmed 2023 Freestyle contestants include Karen Knight, Gabe Garrison, Ari Mischo, Brogan Hill, and Caitie Holtzman.

The 2023 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel is full of other events throughout the week, including a tradeshow, Non Pro and Open Finals, and more. Visit NRHADerby.com or Facebook for the latest updates.

2023 6666 NRHA Derby Presented by Markel Judges Have Been Chosen

The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) proudly announces the group of judges chosen for the 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel, held June 13-25, 2023. As the second largest NRHA-approved event of the year, preparation for the prestigious show has started, including finalizing who will evaluate each run.

Kelly Hedges, Jan Hay, Dean Bogart, and BJ Riberio have been chosen for the Adequan® Arena classes. The Judges Monitor will be Bob Kail.

The Jim Norick Coliseum will be judged by Bub Poplin, Ollie Griffith, Mack Weaver, Gabe Davide, and Manu Maiocchi, with Jeff Buckley as equipment judge. The Judges Monitor is Eugenio Latorre.

“The selection of judges for an NRHA Event is thorough, fair, and rigorous,” said Patti Carter, Senior Director of Education and Officials. “The NRHA Judges Committee is confident this group of judges will represent NRHA and its athletes with consistent and accurate maneuver and penalty application throughout the event. We look forward to working with this amazing group of selected NRHA Judges.”

The NRHA Derby and Futurity judges are recommended by the Judges Committee, submitted to a sub-committee appointed by the NRHA President, and given final approval from the Executive Committee. The recommendations are made by the following criteria:

  • Each eligible judge is contacted for their availability for the event
  • All available judges are compiled into a list and sent to each member of the Judges Committee
  • Judges Committee members make selections from the list to fill the allotted slots for the event
  • These names are compiled into a shortlist and discussed on a conference call with all members of the Judges Committee.
  • The committee members, except for the chair, then rank their choices, and each ranking equates to a certain number of points. The points are compiled and submitted to the committee chair.
  • The committee chair reviews and makes recommendations based on the outcome of the vote and the needs of NRHA.
  • The ranked list with the Judges Committee Chair recommendations is submitted to the subcommittee for final selection.

For more information, visit NRHA.com/judges. 

6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel Recap to Air on the Cowboy Channel

Over the last couple years, the National Reining Horse Association and the Cowboy Channel have collaborated to bring reining to the channel’s viewers. That partnership continues Monday, October 11, when the Cowboy Channel will air the recap of the 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel.

NRHA Commentator Steve Ross will join Cowboy Channel host Jeff Medders to share highlights, insights, and stories from the Derby, which was the largest in the event’s history.

The recap will be broadcast at 8 and 9 p.m. EST, and can be found on DirecTV (Channel 603), DISH (Channel 232), or on the Cowboy Channel + app (available on Apple, Android, Amazon Fire, and Roku devices).

For more information about the 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel, visit NRHADerby.com

About The Cowboy Channel: The Cowboy Channel is the official network of ProRodeo and the first 24-hour television network totally dedicated to western sports and the western lifestyle. Headquartered in the Fort Worth Stockyards, The Cowboy Channel also features a wide variety of “live” coverage from major western events showcasing the world’s toughest and most talented cowboys and cowgirls. The network reaches 42 million homes on cable/satellite systems on Altice, Charter Spectrum, DISH, DIRECTV®, AT&T U-Verse, Cox, Comcast, Mediacom, Verizon FIOS TV, and many other rural cable systems. The Cowboy Channel can also be streamed online via The Cowboy Channel Plus at cowboychannelplus.com, DIRECTV NOW, Roku, iOS, Android, Firestick, Apple TV, and Sling TV’s Heartland Extra package. For more information, please visit thecowboychannel.com Facebook: @CowboyChannel | Twitter: @Cowboy_Channel | Instagram: @TheCowboyChannel

Kulmer and Sanders Win NRHA Non Pro Classes at 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel

The 2021 6666 National Reining Horse Association Derby presented by Markel kicked off Saturday, June 19, with a full day of horse show action. Increased entry numbers for the event necessitated a few shifts and adjustments to the schedule and location, so the first slate of the Non Pro NRHA classes was moved to Arena 6, while the first section of the American Quarter Horse Association and American Paint Horse Association Open classes were held in the Adequan® Arena.

Morris Kulmer & NVR What A Lucky Joe – Non Pro (1) & Prime Time Non Pro (1)

It’s the last year of Derby eligibility for Morris Kulmer’s standout gelding NVR What A Lucky Joe, and the pair seem primed for success after marking a 145.5 to win the first slate of the ancillary Non Pro and Prime Time Non Pro on Saturday. The two collected checks totaling $1,131.

Morris Kulmer

“My plan going in the arena today was to just have a nice, smooth ride and wait until he made a mistake, then correct him if I needed to,” Kulmer shared. “It was a nice, smooth ride and we didn’t make any mistakes. I hope he carries that over to the Derby, but you never know. There are always last-minute things to change, but we were simply happy to show and bring it home.”

NVR What A Lucky Joe is the highest money-earner by NRHA Million Dollar Sire Lil Joe Cash and is out of What A Lucky Hit. “I thank my good friend Andrea Fappani who got me this horse. Of course, I thank my trainer Dan Huss and everyone at Huss Performance Horses. They do a great job taking care of my horses and getting them ready. I also thank my farrier, my vet, and the NRHA,” Kulmer said.

After the Derby, Kulmer will set his sights west. “We will go to Reining By the Bay, and then in August I’m excited for the Run For a Million. The reining industry is exciting right now. There is a lot of excitement, and everyone is looking for great horses, including me,” he said.

Tristan Bagby took second in the Non Pro (1) on Shina Gun (Gunner x Shiner Light) with a 144. Mindy Grey finished second in the Prime Time Non Pro with a 141.5 on Concealed Guns (Guns R For Shootin x Sweet Lena Shine).

Kalyn Sanders & Got That Iowa Shine – Int. Non Pro (1) & Ltd. Non Pro (1)

With a score of 142, Kalyn Sanders and Got That Iowa Shine took the win for the first slate of the Intermediate Non Pro and Limited Non Pro. The duo also finished third in the Non Pro, bringing their take for the day to more than $1,349.

Kalyn Sanders

Sanders is looking ahead to the $15,000 Added 8 & Up Maturity, which will be held in the Adequan® Arena on Wednesday. “We have a few things to smooth out before then to be ready, but I think we will be ok by then. Regardless, I’m just pleased at how today went,” she said.

“He was really good today. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting this at all. We haven’t had a lot of opportunities to practice since the NRBC, but as usual he took care of me and did his job,” Sanders said of “Dillon,” an 8-year-old gelding by Smart And Shiney out of SLJ This Is My Juice.

A Business Development Manager for Chewy.com, Sanders hasn’t been able to ride Dillon as much to prepare. “I thank my fiancé, Josh Murphy, as well as his assistant Daniel Lopez who has kept Dillon legged up and ready for me when I couldn’t ride much because of work,” she said.

Finishing second in the Int. Non Pro was Paul Queen on Outta Dough (Gallo Del Cielo x Dough Olena) with a 141. Mindy Grey finished second in the Ltd. Non Pro on Concealed Guns (Guns R For Shootin x Sweet Lena Shine) with a 141.5.

Ancillary action continues Sunday with the first slate of the NRHA Novice Horse Non Pro and Open classes. A complete schedule, results, link to the live webcast and more can be found at NRHADerby.com.

Tenda Equine Products Sponsor Drag Awards at 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel

There are numerous opportunities to win prizes at the 6666® National Reining Horse Association Derby presented by Markel, slated for June 19th-27th in Oklahoma City. The prize pool is set to expand in 2021 as contestants with the highest scoring run of each drag during the Open and Non Pro Preliminaries will win prizes from Tenda Equine Products.

The Tenda drag awards are given at the conclusion of each set and each drag award winner can go to the Super Barn paddock stand and pick up a Tenda bucket containing Tenda Giddy Up Shampoo, Tenda Pods, Tenda Sheen, Tenda Original Poultice or Tenda Hoof oil all generously sponsored by Tenda Equine & Pet Care Products and ThorSport Farm.

“We are glad to have this special benefit for our riders, thanks to Tenda,” said NRHA Events Manager Cheryl Cody. “It’s special and fun for our exhibitors to be able to walk out of the arena and get a gift for topping the set.”

NRHA Senior Director of Corporate Relations and Communications Sammi Miller echoed that sentiment. “Tenda Equine Products are a great addition to NRHA’s Derby award program,” she said. “Thank you to Tenda and ThorWorks Industries for coming on board to sponsor the high point leader of each section inside the Jim Norick Arena!”

Tenda Equine and Pet Care Products has been serving the performance horse industry for over 45 years with a primary goal of developing and manufacturing safe and effective products to promote and improve the overall health, soundness, performance, and overall well-being of equine athletes. For more information, visit the website at https://tendahorse.com.