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

Cade McCutcheon Adds to NRHA Million Dollar Rider Dynasty

For Immediate Release – January 19, 2020 – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) is proud to officially congratulate NRHA Professional Cade McCutcheon for becoming an NRHA Million Dollar Rider.

At just 19 years old, McCutcheon is the third member of his immediate family to cross this milestone. His parents, Tom and Mandy McCutcheon, reached the milestone consecutively—Tom in 2006 and Mandy in 2007. In 2014 Mandy reached her second milestone, becoming an NRHA Two Million Dollar Rider. Tim McQuay, McCutcheon’s grandfather, is an NRHA Three Million Dollar Rider as well as an NRHA Million Dollar Owner.

“It’s been a whirlwind; I never could’ve expected the year that I’ve had,” McCutcheon said. “I set the goal to become an NRHA Million Dollar Rider when I was 12. Before the [NRHA] Futurity, I joked about the idea of winning first [in the Level(L) 4 Open] and placing with my other two horses to make it happen.”

Who knew that reality would far surpass the joke? McCutcheon’s wins at the 2019 NRHA Futurity pushed him past the million-dollar mark by more than $70,000. For those who know McCutcheon, it’s not surprising he reached a goal long before he planned. He originally set the goal of crossing the million dollar mark by his 25th birthday.

A horse named “Turbo” equipped 6-year-old McCutcheon with the need for speed and helped the young horseman build the work ethic he needed to become a horse trainer.

“I had a hard time getting him to lope,” McCutcheon said of the gelding. “He’d always take me over to the gate. It took me about six months before I got him to finally lope. Once I got him loping, I never walked or trotted again.”

Perhaps Turbo secured McCutcheon’s fate to carry on the family legacy as an NRHA Professional. Or maybe it was simply bred into the third-generation reiner from the get-go.

McCutcheon’s first year as an NRHA Professional—2019—is hard work personified. Not only was he the Run for a Million Invitational co-champion, McCutcheon also topped the NRHA L3 Open Derby and placed first and second in three levels of the 2019 NRHA Futurity Open Finals.

“I was competing at the 2018 World Equestrian Games when I thought to myself ‘I can play with the big dogs,’” McCutcheon said. It was in that moment McCutcheon decided to officially take his riding to the next level as a professional.

Reaching the pinnacle of reining as a 19-year-old presents McCutcheon with a strong foundation to continue building on in 2020.

“There are a million people I could thank for this,” McCutcheon said. “I’ve been very lucky to have a good support system around me.”

McCutcheon’s 2019 NRHA Futurity Placings:

  • Super Marioo (Gunnatrashya x HA Chic A Tune): L4-2 Open Champion
    Guns And Dynamite (Gunners Special Nite x Chic Olena Starbuck) L4 Open Co-Reserve Champion and L3-2 Open Reserve Champion
    Deja Vu With A Gun (Gunner x Dun Its Déjà vu) Open L4-2 Finalist

Snip O Gun Joins Elite NRHA Million Dollar Dam Club

For Immediate Release – January 13, 2020 – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) is proud to recognize Snip O Gun as an NRHA Million Dollar Dam. Owned by Hilldale Farm, Snip O Gun is one of only three dams to produce offspring that reached the million-dollar earnings mark to date. She crossed the million-dollar milestone during the 2019 NRHA Futurity where her offspring earned more than $50,000.

Snip O Gun, affectionately known as “Snip,” made a name for herself despite harboring no show record of her own. The 1993 bay mare produced big-name reiners, including Inferno Sixty Six (by Gunnatrashya), Big Chex To Cash (by Nu Chex To Cash), Hot Smokin Chex (by Nu Chex To Cash) and Chexmaster (by Nu Chex To Cash).

“If a mare doesn’t have a show record, or you can’t afford one that does, you buy a mare with the best conformation and pedigree to cross with your stallions,” said owner Tammye Hutton of Hilldale Farm. “The only stud we had was Nu Chex To Cash, so we bought mares for him. I felt Snip was the perfect cross.”

Snip’s conformation emulates the foundational bloodlines of the American Quarter Horse. That, paired with her “cool” temperament, made her an ideal match for Nu Chex To Cash. Once he was done breeding, Hutton knew Snip would also cross well with Gunnatrashya and Colonels Shining Gun.

“Snip is just very calm, cool, and collected,” Hutton said. “I’m guessing if she would’ve had more than 30 days under saddle she would’ve been extremely athletic; she’s made for it. But she’s so laid back that you would’ve had to really ask her to do what you wanted; but that’s probably why she works well on different stallions.”

Hutton said, “She’s round from the tip of her nose to the tip of her tail.”

“She has a big, soft, intelligent eye,” Hutton added. “She has a pretty neck that ties into her shoulder perfectly. She has a lot of bone, substance, and depth.”

Not to mention she stands on four strong feet.

Perhaps it’s just personal bias, or it’s the bold-face truth, Hutton said she’d be hard-pressed to find a fault in the mare. In the end, it was Snip’s personality and demeanor that captured Hutton’s heart.

“She’s very sweet, quiet, and laid back,” Hutton said. “She likes to graze and be with her horse buddies, but she’s also the first one to the gate when I whistle.”

Snip O Gun’s top-performing offspring include:

  • Inferno Sixy Six (by Gunnatrashya): $205,690 LTE
  • Big Chex To Cash (by Nu Chex To Cash): $194,260 LTE
  • Hot Smokin Chex (by Nu Chex To Cash): $186,598 LTE
  • Chexmaster (by Nu Chex To Cash): $103,911 LTE
  • Snips Shining Gun (by Gunner): $52,817 LTE
  • Snip O Satellite (by Nu Chex To Cash): $52,057 LTE
  • Snip O Chex (by Nu Chex To Cash): $50,648 LTE
  • Chexamillion (by Nu Chex To Cash): $35,377 LTE
  • Rio Killer Gun (by CFR Centenario Wimpy): $33,752 LTE
  • Snip O One (by A Sparkling Vintage): $31,911 LTE

Horsewoman of the Year Award Renamed to Honor Becky Hanson

For immediate release — December 10, 2019 — Oklahoma City — The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) is pleased to announce that the Horsewoman of the Year award has been renamed to honor NRHA Professional Becky Hanson, past NRHA board member and professional from Clements, Calif.

“Becky exemplifies what we look for in the Horsewoman of the Year award,” said Shane Brown, NRHA Professional and Executive Committee member. “We feel like it sets a good example to continue the award in her name.”

The newly dedicated Becky Hanson Professional Horsewoman of the Year award will be voted on by NRHA Professionals and announced with the other Professional of the Year awards at the NRHA Awards Banquet in June. Becky is known for her incredible photos of the Western lifestyle, horsemanship, her philanthropic heart, witty humor, and constant willingness to lend a hand wherever it is needed.

“Becky is always willing to help out and volunteer, no matter where she’s needed, from coaching to tasks at the barn, and from the affiliate level to a national level; she is always willing to help everyone around her,” Brown said.

Before stepping away from training horses herself, Becky had spent five years training reining horses in Italy, made multiple NRHA Derby finals, earned North American Affiliate titles and major event titles across the country, and coached endless non professionals to victory. Now her support is never far from her husband, NRHA Professional David Hanson who still trains and competes.

“She did it all, from sending entries to working with clients and helping find good horses and making their local affiliate run,” Brown shared. “There was not one part of this business that she didn’t have her hand in, one way or another.”

In naming this award in her honor, the Professionals Committee hopes she will serve as a continuous reminder about what it means to be named Horsewoman of the Year.

“She’s been an inspiration to people in this industry at all levels,” said Patrick Flaherty, NRHA Professionals Committee Chair. “She’s a huge influence, and I strongly believe her affiliate is successful today because of what she put into it. She and David set up an incredible business because of how they complemented each other. Their support was pivotal to their business and our industry.”

Becky exemplifies what it means to be an NRHA Professional through her tenacity, morals, philanthropic heart, and the way she has continuously poured into every aspect of the reining industry for so many years. She has spent her life working to promote and grow the sport of reining through world-wide and local affiliate efforts, as well as serving on the NRHA Board and multiple committees.

“We all wish the Professional of the Year awards existed when she was actively training and showing horses because she would have won it five years in a row,” Flaherty said. “Now that the professionals have come up with this award program, we want to be sure it pays homage to her, and this felt like the perfect way to do it.”