With more than $8,000 in earnings at the All-American Quarter Horse Congress, National Reining Horse Association Professional Brian Bell has unofficially surpassed the two million dollars in NRHA lifetime earnings.
Bell, of Pilot Point, Texas, first became an NRHA Million Dollar Rider in 2013 following the NRHA Futurity, where he qualified two horses back to the Level 4 Open finals. “I first got started around the time Bill Horn became NRHA’s first Million Dollar Rider, and that made me want to have that success, too,” Bell shared. “The first million was the hardest. I’ve learned so much since then and can do a better job now.”
That knowledge made it possible for Bell to earn his second million in less than eight years. In 2020, he won his biggest check to date when he piloted Gunnabebigtime (Gunnatrashya x Big Time Jazzy) to the NRHA Futurity Open Level 4 Reserve Championship for $113,033.
With Turn Down For What (Einsteins Revolution x My Way Marla), Bell finished fourth at the 2015 NRHA Futurity. The pair then finished as the National Reining Breeders Classic Level 4 Open Reserve Champions in 2017.
Recent performances with standout athletes including Mr Royal Hollywood, Cee Mr Stop, Mr Hollywood Cee, Mr Boaz, and Ruf Steppin have all helped propel Bell’s lifetime earnings upwards. “Most of the credit has to go to the good horses I’ve gotten to ride; the ones that want to do the job for you,” he said. “I also thank the owners who have had faith in me and have given me nice horses to ride.”
Bell started his reining career at 18 years old. He moved into the professional ranks in 1995 and quickly made his mark there as well winning several major event titles. He has successfully competed at the highest levels of reining competition, including USET Reining Championship finals, the NRHA Futurity, NRHA Derby, NRBC, All American Quarter Horse Congress and AQHA World Show.
Bell noted his father, George Bell, has been a major part of his career, beginning with youth horses and continuing to support him with good horses over the years. “My dad used to sit out on the track on a stump to watch. He did that so long that the stump finally rotted and we had to put a new one out there,” Bell recalled.
One million. It’s a number that triggers a pause and invokes a moment of reflection regardless of the subject. For reining enthusiasts, one million is especially significant. A million dollars in earnings solidifies a place in National Reining Horse Association history books. Recently Andre De Bellefeuille and his businesses, Equine Plus and Ferme Equestre Excalibur, of Canada, became the association’s newest Million Dollar Owner.
“This (becoming an NRHA Million Dollar Owner) is quite an honor. I am only the second Canadian to reach this achievement. The beauty of this is that at least 50 percent of the earnings were achieved from horses from our breeding program,” De Bellefeuille shared. “We are very proud of that.”
It was just a couple of years ago that De Bellefeuille became a Million Dollar Breeder, with the cornerstone of his program being the incredible mare Snow Gun. Snow Gun, by NRHA $12 Million Sire Gunner, earned more than $120,000 in the show pen. She is the dam of De Bellefeuille’s stallion Electric Snow (by NRHA $3 Million Sire Jacs Electric Spark), who won more than $110,000. She also produced Yankee Gun (LTE $156,967), Gunstep ($58,456), Wimpys Snow Step (LTE $45,225), and Wimpys Snow Gun (LTE $31,013).
“Like I mentioned, a good chunk of our earnings as owners came from our breeding program, and the future growth as an owner and breeder will most likely come from the breeding of our stallion Electric Snow,” De Bellefeuille said. “We own many nice prospects and see a bright future for him as a sire. Many top breeders have seen the same thing we do and bred some of their good mares to him. As owners, we are fortunate to own nice horses such as Electric Snow, Snow Gun, and well as Its All About Smart and Whizicle.”
De Bellefeuille emphasizes his program’s focus on healthy and happy horses. “We are first and foremost horsemen, and the health of our horses is our first priority, and I am proud we have reached this point with sound and healthy horses,” he said. “To get to where we are, we had the help of many people and some fantastic riders. They are definitely part of our success and I thanked them for that.”
De Bellefeuille is more than just an owner. He himself has won more than $400,000 in competition. “We still ride two to three horses every day and compete, although unfortunately not much in the last year due to the limited number of shows and restrictions on travel,” he explained. Recently with one of his homebred horses Its All Gun (Its All About Smart x Snow Gun) he was Reserve Champion in Level 2, 3, and 4 and the Prime Time winner in the Non Pro Futurity at the All American Quarter Horse Congress.
While reining is still a developing sport in Quebec, its popularity is quickly growing thanks in part to the foresight of enthusiasts like De Bellefeuille. De Bellefeuille served as President and vice-president of the Association Québécoise de Reining (AQR) for more than a decade. In 2011 André was inducted to the AQR Hall of Fame. On a national level, André has fulfilled several positions; active on several NRHA committees, vice-president of Reining Canada, and also involved with the Cheval Quebec (Quebec Horse Federation) regarding their breeding programs. Many awards such as breeder of the year in Canada (the only person ever winning in a Western discipline) and several times winner in Quebec.
De Bellefeuille thanks his family, especially his wife Danielle, for their support, understanding, and for letting him live this crazy passion.
The National Reining Horse Association has a history steeped with great and dedicated horsemen and women. In 1986, the NRHA created its Hall of Fame to recognize these individuals, their achievements, and their contributions to the industry.
Following the August presentation of the NRHA’s Hall of Fame Committee’s recommended nominees, the Board of Directors and past Hall of Fame inductees voted to approve Jose Vazquez and Doug Carpenter for induction into the NRHA Hall of Fame.
Also announced was the selection of Charles Vaughan as the NRHA Dale Wilkinson Lifetime Achievement Award recipient for 2021.
“It would be hard to find many NRHA members who would not recognize the contributions of Jose Vazquez and Doug Carpenter, even though they earned their spot in NRHA’s Hall of Fame by different avenues,” noted Past NRHA President and Hall of Fame Committee Chairman Mike Hancock. “While a lot of our newer members might not be as familiar with Charles Vaughan, if you look back over the years, he has continuously supported the industry in a variety of ways. I look forward to honoring all three of these individuals in December.”
On Wednesday, December 1, these honorees, as well as 2020 NRHA Hall of Fame inductees the late Sally Brown and the late Jerry Kimmel, and 2020 NRHA Dale Wilkinson Award recipient Mike Carrier, will be recognized and celebrated during Sliders’ Night Out presented by Toyon Ranch. The formal induction ceremonies were not held in 2020.
“Sliders’ Night Out presented by Toyon Ranch is a must-attend event on the social calendar for our reining community. There is such excitement at being able to finally recognize all of these honorees,” said Leslie Baker, Executive Director of the RHF. “We also will celebrate 20 years of the Reining Horse Foundation. It will be a special night to reflect on reining history and look to the future!”
Jose Vazquez – NRHA Hall of Fame 2021
Known for his boisterous personality and go-for-broke showmanship, Jose Vazquez began his reining career almost three decades ago. In that time, he has achieved what few in the association have, reaching Million Dollar status as a rider, owner, and breeder.
Dottie Smith, president of the Midwest Reining Horse Association, has watched his progress in the show pen. “Jose has been a member of our affiliate since the 1990s and earned his first major paycheck in Gordyville in 1999. He brings his seemingly tireless enthusiasm for reining – and life – to each of our events. Luckily for us, his zest for the world of reining is infectious,” she said.
NRHA Hall of Fame couple Barb and Dick Waltenberry, who have documented great – and small – moments in reining for decades, recalled how in the beginning of his career, Vazquez would buy a video of every one of his runs. “He did that to study and learn. He’d give us a bunch of cash, and tell us that when it ran out to let him know and he’d give us more,” the couple wrote. “His pride in his daughter, Mariana, was unrivaled. Like many parents, he is delighted when she outscores him.”
Vazquez’s enthusiasm for learning about the sport helped him first become an NRHA Million Dollar Rider in 2015, and his lifetime earnings in the show ring have just passed $1.5 million.
His biggest win to date came in 2009 at the National Reining Breeders Classic, when he rode Wound By Juice to win the Level 4 Championship, worth $37,783. He returned to the NRBC winner’s circle in 2018 on Like Shiner for an additional $30,000 in earnings.
In 2003 he won the Non Pro Level 4 Reserve Championship at the NRHA Futurity, winning $24,664 on Sugar Like Juice, and took third, and $18,457, in 2019 on Xtra Winding Step. Rounding out his top five wins was his 2012 NRHA Derby Non Pro Level 4 Championship on Moonshine Juice, where he won $15,604.
A common thread among Vazquez’s winningest horses? They’re typically ones he bred and raised, and many are sired by his standout stallion, NRHA Four Million Dollar Sire Smart Like Juice. Under Smart Like Juice’s name, Vazquez’s equine business Smart Like Juice LLC recently became the newest NRHA Two Million Dollar Owner.
Hancock noted, “Jose got into reining later in life, bought a super horse in Smart Like Juice, and it’s rare you don’t see him winning, whether it’s breeding or showing. One of the attributes we look at for the Hall of Fame is character. Now, we have plenty of characters in the Hall of Fame, but Jose, with his family values and involvement in the industry, is the epitome of great character.”
NRHA Past President Bill Bradley echoed those sentiments before his passing in 2018, commending Vazquez’s excitement about both reining and the NRHA. “Jose’s substantial accomplishments as a showman, owner, and a breeder are easily found within the record books of NRHA. I want to address the intrinsic. I have never witnessed an NRHA member who is more passionate and enthusiastic about the sport. He is constantly observing, analyzing, studying, and discussing the sport of reining both domestically and internationally,” Bradley shared. “Jose has also invested a tremendous amount of money into our affiliate programs via donations and sponsorships of shows.”
When the Asociacion Mexicana de Reining A.C. NRHA Affiliate hosted the club’s inaugural reining event in Mexico in 2003, Vazquez traveled from Illinois to attend. “Since then, he has always helped this sport grow. We are proud to support Jose’s nomination to the NRHA Hall of Fame,” shared Carlos Hernandez, president of the Asociacion Mexicana de Reining A.C. NRHA Affiliate.
Whether it’s in the show pen, through breeding great horses, or supporting his fellow reiners, there is no doubt that Jose Vazquez will continue to be a part of the reining industry for years to come.
Doug Carpenter – NRHA Hall of Fame 2021
The equine industry mourned the loss of Doug Carpenter when he passed shortly before the 2020 NRHA Futurity. Friends and acquaintances remember the man as a mentor, a representative for the discipline, and the quintessential horseman.
“Doug made incredible contributions to NRHA in numerous ways. He served on the NRHA Board of Directors and Executive Committee for several years. While contributing as a Gold level donor to the Reining Horse Foundation, Doug created revenue and recognition for the Foundation through the Celebrity Slide with the Professional Bull Riders and the ‘Make a Wish’ Foundation in Oklahoma City,” recalled friend, NRHA Hall of Fame member, and former NRHA President Frank Costantini. “He was instrumental in the push for global recognition of our sport, including reining’s acceptance as the first Western discipline recognized by the Fédération Equestre Internationale.”
Tales of Carpenter’s love for horses abound. He was born in the late 1950s in Rhode Island, and always loved horses. When he was just 13 years old, he hitchhiked to Columbus, Ohio, to attend the All American Quarter Horse Congress. He knew he was hooked.
Eight years later Carpenter took a job with trainer Tommy Manion, and that fall, showing at the Congress for the first time, he rode 2-year-old Good Lookin Babe to a reserve title.
According to GoHorseShow.com, “A few years later, having grown frustrated with showing, Carpenter decided to trade horses for NASCAR and move to North Carolina. Thinking the 1981 AQHA World Championship Show would be his last, he didn’t even bother to change out of his work shirt when he showed Karen Sullivan’s 3-year-old mare, Miss Docs Melody, in the first go of junior western pleasure. He placed first in the prelims and came back in front of a crowd of more than 6,000 people to win his first AQHA world championship. Needless to say, Carpenter ended up staying with horses.”
Carpenter continued to show successfully in the National Snaffle Bit Association, earning more than $70,000 in Lifetime Earnings. He moved to the western performance horse world in the early 1990s, representing and selling standout individuals such as 1992 NRHA Futurity Champion Boomernic, 1999 National Reining Cow Horse Association Futurity Champion Smart Zanolena, 2003 NRCHA Futurity Champion Chics Magic Potion, and 2007 World’s Greatest Horseman Champion Light N Fine. He also bought or sold other top performers including Jac Be Quick, Roosters Wrangler, Hes Dun his Time, and Bueno Chexinic.
In 2018, Carpenter began providing support to the NRHA Markel Futurity Sales, which flourished under his long-time relationships throughout the horse industry and vision for achieving big goals.
“His knowledge, guidance, and leg work to promote the NRHA Sales resulted in an improved sale and stronger market for yearlings, broodmares, and show horses,” noted Melanie Smith, one of the many who nominated Doug to the NRHA Hall of Fame.
Smith also recalled Carpenter’s little-known contributions to the sport. “Doug liked to work behind the scenes. The contributions he made to this association and its members may never truly be seen. He was a mentor to so many people in the industry, and a true ambassador for the sport.”
Carpenter was also one of the visionaries behind the NRHA Futurity Challenge, the goal of which is to substantially increase the purse at the NRHA’s most prestigious event. In 2020, the group managed to double the added money for the Adequan® North American Affiliate Championships, guarantee $60,000 to the Level 4 Non Pro Futurity Champion, and awarded a historic quarter-million dollars to the 2020 Level 4 Open Futurity Champion. Thanks to the momentum he helped create, the 2021 NRHA Level 4 Open Futurity Champion will win an unprecedented $350,000.
Hancock also noted Carpenter’s penchant for privacy. “I met Doug probably 40 years ago, and he was very quiet and private about many areas of his life. The one thing that always impressed me about him, though, was that you never heard a conversation about Doug that had a negative note about him.”
Carpenter, the quintessential horseman with an eye for greatness, continues to impact the industry through the many horses he bought and sold, and with his legacy of working tirelessly to promote reining, and reiners.
Charles Vaughan – NRHA Dale Wilkinson Lifetime Achievement Award 2021
In the mid-1980s, a landmark case in Indiana resulted in laws that, to this day, prevent discrimination in the workplace against people with AIDS. A young man, Ryan White, had contracted the disease after receiving an injection to treat his hemophilia. White’s school determined he could not attend due to his AIDS status. The conflict grew, eventually culminating in a grueling nine-month trial. Thanks to the dedication of his lawyer, Charles Vaughan, White eventually regained his rights to attend school, and the enactment of the Ryan White act helped lessen discrimination against AIDS victims across the country.
Vaughan, of Lafayette, Indiana, has a life outside the courtroom and can be found at reining events across the country. “If you look back over the years, Charles has owned great horses, supported horse trainers, and has contributed greatly to the industry over the years,” Hancock shared. “He’s also been successful in the show pen. I believe he’s one of the oldest – if not the oldest – to win a bronze trophy, which he did so at the age of 90.”
An advocate for doing what’s right, Vaughan was instrumental in the move of the NHRA Futurity from its home in Ohio to Oklahoma City.
Dedicating himself to be the best at everything he did helped Vaughan create an impressive group of horses. His broodmare Ms Hollywood Showtime, whose lifetime earnings exceed $350,000, produced the NRHA Hall of Fame mare Miss Tinseltown. He also bred Ima Best Buddy, winner of the 1999 All American Quarter Horse Congress Open Reining Futurity and Wimpys Show Stopper, earner of more than $60,000. He also bred and raised Tinseltown Lil Step, who went on to produce both Smart Tinseltown and Smart Lil Step.
“To say that he was instrumental in creating a dynasty and bettering the bloodlines of the reining horse is undoubtedly an understatement. To this day Charlie still actively competes and shows the horses he loves so dearly in the sport that he has given so much of himself to,” noted NRHA Six Million Dollar Rider Shawn Flarida. “The impact Charlie has had on the reining industry since the sport’s inception is almost immeasurable. He is a man of distinguished character, generous spirit, and unbridled enthusiasm both within the horse industry and throughout his personal and business life.”
Flarida added, “Charlie was one of my very first clients when I started my business. He took a big chance on believing in me, and we quickly became lifelong friends. I have learned so much from him. His enthusiasm and zeal for life, love, and horses has been incredible, and to this day serves as inspiration for me.
Vazquez, Carpenter, Vaughan, Brown, Kimmel and Carrier will be honored at Sliders’ Night Out presented by Toyon Ranch on December 1 at State Fair Park in Oklahoma City during the NRHA Futurity. For details on how to become a Hall of Fame table host or major event donor, contact RHF Executive Director Leslie Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org or (405) 946-7400, ext. 106.
NRHA is saddened to learn of the passing of Peter Phinny on August 13, 2021. We send condolences to his family and friends. With a love of horses sparked in childhood, nothing pleased Peter more than to be with his own, especially Mr Melody Jac, Brennas Kid and Bootlegger—three of several reining horses that inspired him to write “Training the Reined Horse.” This book, published in 1977, represents a combination of his two passions—writing and western horses. See the web page for service details and his full obituary. The family has designated the Reining Horse Foundation for gifts in Peter’s memory.
Corinna Schumacher, of Givrins, Switzerland, has parlayed the performance of exceptional horses based at her CS and XCS Ranches into National Reining Horse Association Million Dollar Owner status, one of only 16 owners to reach that milestone. With earnings at $1.2 Million and counting, the ranches have become known for quality in horses and in horse care.
Although she grew up with a love and passion for horses, reining competition wasn’t a given for Schumacher. As the wife of legendary Formula 1 racecar driver Michael Schumacher, her time was spent traveling around the world with him.
But, as most parents know, children can and will change the path of one’s life.
When the couple’s daughter, Gina, first got a Shetland pony, the groundwork was laid for a new and ultimately very successful pursuit. Corinna purchased more horses and began showing them herself in American Quarter Horse Association competition, concentrating on trail and pleasure classes. She enjoyed showing but looked at other events – and that’s where her reining story began.
Eventually, Corinna would go on to earn NRHA European Affiliate titles and an NRHA Intermediate Non Pro World Championship. Corinna wasn’t the only Schumacher enamored with reining, as Gina had graduated from the world of English saddles and also turned her attention to the sport. She first showed a pony in reining at the age of 9, then moved on to her mother’s horses. A workable and successful pattern evolved where Corrina would ride a horse for a few seasons before passing it on to Gina.
She established CS Ranch in Givrins, Switzerland and it became the base of operations, home to about 25 reining horses and host to multiple prestigious reining events. When Corinna recognized the scope of the discipline in the United States, that led to the purchase of 460 acres in Gordonville, Texas, upon which she built a state-of-the-art facility. Named XCS Ranch and completed in 2012, it is home to an impressive show string and 130 broodmares with NRHA $2 Million Rider Duane Latimer as the resident trainer.
Now the two ranches work together. Horses are shipped from XCS Ranch to CS Ranch each year where they are shown in Europe then sold to European clients.
It’s been a successful program for both Schumacher women. In her career, Corinna won more than $53,000. Gina, now 24 years old, holds NRHA earnings over $716,000. She has amassed major reining championships and accolades in both Europe and the United States and was the only woman and Non Pro to qualify for the 2021 Run For The Million presented by Teton Ridge.
For Corinna, the milestone Million Dollar Owner accomplishment is not the focal point of her time involved in reining. Rather, it is the moments and memories along the way that she has shared with her daughter.
She explained, “This is something that Gina and I have done together. That has been the most important thing.”
Plus, she feels that they have become part of a larger family – one that is worldwide. “For us, being involved in reining is like being part of a family,” she said. “The reiners have been so accepting that we feel welcomed and comfortable wherever we go to show.”
Schumacher’s top earners (at time of ownership) include:
Revolution Is Dun – $120,294
Snip O Lution – $107,114
Gotta Nifty Gun – $69,906
Shine N Whiz – $63,054
Oh Starry Nite – $56,776
For more information about CS and XCS Ranches, visit cs-ranch.com
For a complete list of owners, riders, sires, and dams who have reached Million Dollar Milestones, visit nrha.com/milliondollar