NRHA Election

Serving the Association

The NRHA election is on the horizon. Learn more about the candidates running for open positions.

Compiled by NRHA Staff

The NRHA Executive Committee and Board of Directors are responsible for managing association business and for representing the best interests of its members and NRHA as a whole. Each year, the association opens nominations and hosts elections for a variety of leadership positions.

Voting for the 2023 election will begin on Sept. 1 at noon CDT and end on Sept. 15 at noon CDT. Mark your calendars and ensure your NRHA membership is current to be eligible to vote. Individuals with a general membership (excluding partnerships, businesses, and joint memberships) have voting privileges; however, youth and associate members do not have voting rights.

This year’s election will include one director-at-large position to serve on the Executive Committee and board. The candidates are NRHA Professional Sebastian Petroll and non pro Paulus Beurskens. All members with voting privileges, regardless of location, are eligible to vote for this position.

Two regions have one board of directors seat each in the election. In the Northwest Region (California, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington), NRHA Professional Nicole Renick and non pro Kylie Warn are running. Non pro Andrea Stillo and owner/breeder Brooke Wharton are vying for a spot to represent the South Central Region (Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, and Louisiana).


Paulus Beurskens

Heide, Netherlands

About the Candidate: Paulus Beurskens was introduced to reining in 1994. The finesse, power, and character of the reining horse immediately attracted him. He has shown reining horses as a non pro since the 1990s and plans to continue for many years to come. He and his wife, Gisela Haas, bought their first reiner in 1996, and by 2003, they founded Galaxy Quarter Horses. The team started a small breeding operation and has had horses in training in the United States and Europe.

Beurskens is the founder/owner and CEO of Galaxy Executive Management Solutions, a company that focuses on results and personal leadership to create unparalleled opportunities and results for organizations and co-workers. He is also a partner and managing director atEnergyprofs, a consultancy agency specializing in the Dutch energy market. Since 2003, Beurskens has held various CEO and managing director positions in logistics and the energy/utility industry across Europe.

From the Candidate: “By serving on the NRHA Executive Committee, I want to help guide NRHA into a successful future with my experience in business and the reining industry. Since my involvement in reining, I have been fortunate to look at the reining industry from different perspectives — as a non pro, as a competitor, as an owner, and as a breeder. This, combined with my extensive involvement in NRHA boards and committees at the European and affiliate levels, as well as serving on the NRHA board, will help me add a balanced and independent global viewpoint to the NRHA Executive Committee.

“My goal is to further build a clean sport with a place for every reiner across the world. I have a track record in defining and implementing strategic visions, improving business results by empowering people, leadership development, and building strong relations with stakeholders. My personal core qualities are being an effective communicator, responsible and trustworthy, loyal and engaged with people.”

Volunteer History and Accolades: NRHA member for more than 35 years; member of various NRHA bodies, including the Executive Committee, board of directors, Affiliate Committee, Nominating Committee, Eligibility Committee, and Hall of Fame Committee, as well as the European Executive Board, European Council, Major Events Committee and Eligibility Committee; FEI Technical Reining Committee member; Dutch Reining Horse Association board member and president; as a rider, Dutch Champion AQHA Senior Reining, NRHA Belgium Futurity Level 1 Non Pro Champion, two-time NRHA European Derby Non Pro finalist. Owner and breeder of numerous champions and finalists at major events, including the NRHA European Futurity, Italian RHA Futurity, NRHA Austria Futurity, NRHA Belgium Futurity, and NRHA Germany Futurity, as well as the NRHA European Derby, Italian RHA Derby, BO Ranch Maturity and FEI/CRI Netherlands Champion. Master of Business Administration/Master of Economics at Erasmus University Rotterdam; Royal Dutch Army officer, Officer Traffic and Transport Control 1st Army Corps; awarded “Best CEO in the Electricity Industry 2015” by the European CEO of World News Media.

Sebastian Petroll

Whitesboro, Texas

About the Candidate: Sebastian Petroll lives in Whitesboro, Texas. Together with his wife, Melanie, he operates Petroll Reining Horses LLC, a full-service training and breeding operation for clients from all over the world.

Petroll has coached non pros to great success in the show arena. He is a past NRHA Professional of the Year, an NRHA judge for more than 15 years and an NRHA steward for nearly 10 years. Petroll also has vast international experience in all things reining.

From the Candidate: “My passion for reining runs deep. I’m fortunate to be able to make a living in this industry, and NRHA is a big part of that. Serving in different functions over the years is my way of giving back to the industry.

“The membership is very diverse. Understanding the different needs of members is very important. The way NRHA is governed is exemplary across the horse industry. It is also an ongoing process, and I gladly do my part.”

Volunteer History and Accolades: Petroll has been in the horse business for more than 25 years. Over the years, he has been elected to serve multiple terms on the NRHA board of directors. He has also served for nearly two decades on NRHA committees representing the membership. Those committees include the Judges, Stewards (vice chair), Non Pro (vice chair), Aged Events, and Eligibility. Petroll also volunteered his time for NRHA task forces with topics such as the NRHA Derby, judging, and animal welfare. As an NRHA Professional, he has numerous wins and titles to his name. He has also made every major event Level 4 Open finals and clinched the 2020 Level 3 Open Championship at the NRHA Futurity.

Northwest Regional Director

Nicole Renick

Lake Stevens, Washington

About the Candidate: Like all young horse-crazy girls, Nicole Renick remembers coming straight home from school and heading to the barn to work her horses. This grew into a lifelong passion that ultimately led the Temecula, California, native to her current profession as an open rider, trainer and coach.

Renick’s background includes a very successful youth career with multiple world titles showing all-around performance horses and then later focusing on reining. The NRHA Professional received coaching from industry leaders of their time, including NRHA Professional Tanya Jenkins, and Jerry and Shelly Lunde. When Jenkins introduced Renick to reining, Renick fell in love with the sport.

From the Candidate: “I hope to promote and grow reining in the Northwest through serving on the board. I look forward to helping shape reining in a way that allows non pro riders to grow their skills and enjoy the sport, allows professionals to have thriving businesses and that promotes the highest standard of welfare for the horses, who are central to our sport. I am committed to being a resource when people have questions or ideas and making a positive impact through my service on the board.”

Volunteer History and Accolades: NRHA member for more than 25 years and NRHA Professional; NRHA Open Futurity finalist, once in all four levels and again in the Level 3; Champion in multiple futurities and derbies at leading events; Level 3 Open Derby Champion and Level 4 Open Reserve Champion at the 2023 Best Little Derby in the West.

Kylie Warn

Canby, Oregon

About the Candidate: Kylie Warn started showing in American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) reining as a youth. Her interest in the sport of reining continued to grow as she showed more and gained experience, which was and still is a family affair. She was given what she calls her first “real reining horse” (Now Ya Dun It Doc) in 2002, and she has been a consistent presence in NRHA competition ever since.

Outside of the show pen, Warn is a clothing designer for the equine industry, reining horse breeder and devoted mother of two. She manages a small breeding operation, which has produced multiple NRHA money-earners. In addition, she enjoys spending time with husband Jim, son Griffin and daughter Sloan, as well as traveling and cooking.

From the Candidate: “I hope to give a voice to those in our region. I understand multiple aspects of the challenges in living in a region located far from major events, and understand the spectrum of horses and riders, from green reiners to the Level 4.

“I look forward to accepting the continued responsibility of being the Northwest director. I take this position very seriously, and hope to continue in trying to make the region and NRHA grow and flourish.”

Volunteer History and Accolades: Current NRHA board member and former Affiliate Committee member; Top 20 Non Pro; multiple-time Level 4 Non Pro finalist at the NRHA Futurity, NRHA Derby and National Reining Breeders Classic; AQHA Amateur Reining World Champion; sponsor procurement for local shows; community outreach for underserved families; published clothing and fashion designer.

South Central Regional Director

Andrea Stillo

Pilot Point, Texas

About the Candidate: At age of 10, Andrea Stillo’s grandfather bought him his first horse and gave him a start riding jumpers. At 17, Stillo got his first reining horse, and since then, reining has been his passion. Stillo’s mentors and influences in reining include the late Filippo Masi, NRHA Professional Cody Sapergia, and his wife, Mirjam, an NRHA Professional.

Over the past 30 years, Stillo has shown reining horses in Italy, Germany, Austria, France and the United States. He is an Italian attorney at law, a past associate professor of civil and family law at the University of Rome, and a legal consultant.

From the Candidate: “NRHA and the sport of reining have radically changed my and my wife’s lives. My family has always been dedicated to the continuous evolution and development of our association.

“In the event that the members of the NRHA deem it appropriate that I be elected, my goal will be to continue to work for the interest of the majority of the members. I remain available and I defer to any decision you want to make. I will respectfully accept any decision, continuing to work for the sole benefit of the NRHA, even in different roles. Thank you for any opportunity.”

Volunteer History and Accolades: NRHA judge and steward; Non Pro Committee Chair, Aged Events Committee member, Bylaws Committee member and Eligibility Committee member; Reining Horse Foundation (RHF) board member and Development Committee vice chair; Italian Cutting Horse Association board member; Italian Quarter Horse Association president; AQHA Past International and Appointed director.

Brooke Wharton

Fort Worth, Texas

About the Candidate: Brooke Wharton’s family ranch has bred and raised horses for more than a century. The family got involved in reining in the late 1990s. When Doug Milholland joined their team, Wharton worked with him during the summer school breaks.

Later, Ben Baldus became head trainer and encouraged Wharton to show the ranch’s horses. After college, she started working on the horse division of the ranch, and learned as much as she could before starting her own reining and cow horse breeding business. With a master’s degree in equine industry management from Texas A&M University, she is now the breeder and manager of BMW Quarter Horses.

From the Candidate: “I intend to spend the rest of my life in the reining horse industry, so I want to learn as much as I can and give back to the industry with my time and experience. I want the industry to grow, and I think what’s good for the sport is good for all of us, even if indirectly.

“I am passionate about our sport and making it better, and I want feedback from everyone — green reiners, Level 4 Open trainers, breeders, owners, staff and everyone who plays a role in our industry. If I am not elected, I am still a representative for everyone with the committees I serve on, so please don’t hesitate to reach out with thoughts, concerns and feedback.”

Volunteer History and Accolades: NRHA Aged Events Committee Chair and Non Pro Committee member; Reining Horse Foundation board member; Finance Committee Chair; RHF Development Committee member; Futurity Sales task force member; breeder of NRHA Level 4 Open Futurity Champion Ten Thirty; AQHA director, Hall of Fame Committee member, International Committee member, International Educational Marketplace Committee member and Show Committee member; Texas A&M Equine Initiative board member; Thacher Horse Advisory Committee member; Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo Scholarship Committee member; National Cowgirl Hall of Fame Mitzi Lucas Riley Award winner; Mongol Derby finisher — sixth place (tie).

2023 NRHA European Affiliate Championships: July 11–15

Keep up with the 2023 NRHA EAC at

7.15.23: The NRHA European Affiliate Championships at CS Ranch close with a bang

7.14.23: First NRHA European Affiliate Champions crowned at the SVAG CS Classic Show ‘23

7.13.23: SVAG CS Classic Show 2023: The NRHA European Affiliate Championships offer the second day of ancillary action

7.12.23: The NRHA European Affiliate Champions are off to great start ancillary action during the SVAG CS Classic ’23 in Givrins, Switzerland

7.11.23: It’s showtime in Givrins, Switzerland, as the SVAG CS Classic 2023 hosts the NRHA European Affiliate Championships

Smart And Shiney Becomes NRHA’s Newest Million Dollar Sire

His flowing white mane is a stark contrast against his shining golden body, making Smart And Shiney one of the easiest stallions to recognize in the reining industry. The stunner recently reached a new career milestone when he became a National Reining Horse Association Million Dollar Sire.

Bred by Jack Kelley and born in 2003, the stunning stallion is by NRHA Level 3 Open Derby Champion Smart Shiner and out of Tronas Pearl, who produced multiple winners in the western performance horse industry. The colt was bred to do great things.

NRHA Hall of Famer and Three Million Dollar Rider Tim McQuay purchased the colt in 2006 and then partnered with longtime friend and client, Lyle Lovett, later that year.

McQuay trained and showed the colt for most of his career, in which he amassed earnings of more than $151,000. He was an NRHA Futurity Finalist, won the preliminary round of the National Reining Breeders Classic and finished in the Top 10 of the Finals, and was also a Top 10 finisher at the NRHA Derby.

“He was very easy to be around, and just so good-minded all the time that it was easy to train him. He was pretty green when I bought him in March of his 3-year-old year, but he let me teach him and would figure things out,” McQuay recalled. “I was ecstatic when we made the Futurity finals because he had been so behind, but it was because of his attitude that we were able to.”

In 2010, NRHA Professional Marco Ricotta took the reins at the World Equestrian Games, and the pair helped earn a Team Bronze Medal.

That same year, Lovett purchased McQuay’s share of the stallion, and in 2011, showed him in the Non Pro Classic Challenge at the NRBC, placing in the Top 10 or higher in all levels entered. “Lyle’s schedule kept him from being able to come ride much, and then he was still able to do well with him at the shows,” McQuay explained. “That’s a testament to that stallion’s mind that they were still able to be successful.”

Smart And Shiney’s biggest wins in the performance arena are:

  • 2009 NRBC Level 4 Open 9th Place – $26,000 with Tim McQuay
  • 2006 NRHA Futurity Level 4 Open 12th Place – $17,079 with Tim McQuay
  • 2009 NRBC USEF Level 4 Open Champion – $12,352 with Tim McQuay
  • 2008 NRHA Derby Level 4 Open 9th Place – $11,375 with Tim McQuay
  • 2007 NRBC Level 4 Open 15th Place – $10,625 with Tim McQuay

Smart And Shiney’s first limited foal crop was born in 2008 and included standout performers Shiney Tinseltown (out of Dun It In Tinseltown), earner of $44,660, and Shiney Enterprise (out of My Royal Enterprise), who has won more than $73,690.

Smart And Shiney’s highest money earner is Shiney Workboots (out of Reminic At Work), who was bred by NRHA Million Dollar Owner David Silva and is owned by Tim and MaryBeth Ruckman. The gelding, whose lifetime earnings top $114,000, has been ridden to wins by several riders, including NRHA Million Dollar Riders Matt Mills and Dr. Jim Morgan, Ginger Schmersal, Addisyn Schmersal, McQuay, and MaryBeth Ruckman.

Just a few hundred dollars behind Shiney Workboots is Designed With Shine (out of Taris Designer Genes). The mare, bred by NRHA Two Million Dollar Owner Rancho Oso Rio, has won $114,294 with 11 different riders. Most recently, the mare finished as Reserve Champion at The Run For A Million in the Non Pro with McKinnon Larcombe.

McQuay added, “I’ve been able to train and show some of his foals, and the best thing about them is that they were all good-minded like he was. They may not all be superstars, but they’re going to try their best.”

Smart And Shiney now stands at Tom McCutcheon Reining Horses in Aubrey, Texas. He was immortalized as a Breyer Horse in 2014.

Smart And Shiney’s Top Earners:

  • Shiney Workboots (Reminic At Work) – $114,908
  • Designed With Shine (Taris Designer Genes) $114,294
  • Shiney Enterprise (My Royal Enterprise) – $73,690
  • Got That Iowa Shine (SLJ This Is My Juice) – $63,762
  • Shiney Little Queen (Tivios Little Queen) – $52,810
  • Shiney Tinseltown (Dun It In Tinseltown) – $44,660
  • All About Business (Anne Get Your Gunner) – $41,045
  • Berry Shiney Gun (Miss Honey Gun) – $37,106
  • KR Billy Bob (KR English Tee) – $33,950
  • Smart Red Jackie (Great Red Jackie) – $25,438

For more information about Smart And Shiney, visit or follow the stallion’s social media account at

Driven to Greatness — Andrea Fappani Becomes NRHA Leading All Time Rider and Crosses $7 Million Milestone

All Bettss Are Off

The National Reining Horse Association’s newest All Time Leading Rider, Andrea Fappani, said recently, “My father always felt that if we were going to do something, we were going to do it all the way. It wasn’t only for fun; it was about work and responsibility, but with that came a lot of reward.”

With recorded NRHA earnings well into the millions, it’s apparent the work has paid off. Prior to the 2021 NRHA Futurity, Fappani was just $207,000 from passing the $7 million mark and was close behind NRHA All-Time Leading Rider Shawn Flarida.

On Saturday, December 4, Fappani showed three horses in the MS Diamonds TX Level 4 Open Finals, tying himself for the Reserve Championship on Winding Inferno (Inferno Sixty Six x Wind Her Up Chic, owned by Teton Ridge) and Mr Farenheit (Magnum Chic Dream x Wimpy Little Girl, owned by Morin/Vandorp).

With each reserve title paying $125,000, plus an additional $9,906 won on his third entry, Fappani unseated Flarida to become only the fourth All Time Leading Rider. That accomplishment has only been achieved by three NRHA Hall of Famers – Bill Horn, Tim McQuay, and Flarida.

NRHA President Rick Clark said, “Andrea is an amazing horseman who has worked so hard at it. Who would have thought seven million dollars would ever be achievable? I think he is showing us all that the sky is the limit. On behalf of NRHA’s Board of Directors and Staff, I congratulate Andrea and his incredible family.”

For Fappani, the moments following the completion of the Futurity L4 finals were emotional. He said, “This means so much. It’s what I have been working on all my career. It wasn’t so much the number, seven million, it was more the accomplishment of coming from another country, setting my mind to it, and becoming the best I could be. It’s a great feeling. It’s been a long way and a lot of hard work, and both my family and my help have sacrificed a lot to help me get here.”

The Shaping of a Champion

The intensity, drive, dedication, and commitment all began in the late 1970s on a dairy farm in Bergamo, Italy. Fappani’s parents, Sergio and Maddalisa, were fourth-generation dairy farmers. It would have been the natural step for the young man to follow in the well-worn and successful footprints of his parents, but a different desire drove him.

Tinker With Guns

“My dad introduced me to horses when I was about four years old, and I began taking lessons. He wanted me to have a hobby that we could share together,” Fappani recalled.

At the time, western performance equine events were almost non-existent in Europe. “Most everything in Europe was English riding, and jumping in particular. I took to it pretty fast. That’s how I started and what I did for the first two or three years before a friend introduced us to reining,” he said. “He told us there was something amazing that we needed to check out. I took my first reining lesson at eight years old, and never looked back.”

For Fappani, who says he was a small and skinny kid, the demeanor, training, and athleticism of the American Quarter Horse was the perfect fit. “That first lesson on a reining horse gave me a lot more confidence than what I had with the horses I was riding at the time. I was a bit timid, so those big warmbloods were intimidating to me,” he admitted. “I was comfortable with the reining horses and was able to create a whole new personal relationship with them. That’s why I stuck with it.”

Fappani experimented with different sports but never found anything that gave him the same feeling as being horseback. “I never thought I was that good at anything else. Horses gave me confidence to get past my shyness. It was easy for me, even at an early age, to communicate with them, and teach them a trick or a maneuver, or whatever it was,” he said. “That sparked my interest in training and eventually showing.”

His parents, particularly Sergio, instilled a sense of responsibility and work ethic. That mindset fostered a drive for greatness, and as long as Fappani put in the effort and did well in school, Sergio promised he would have the opportunities to learn as much as he could.

He took lessons with Alberto Serena, NRHA Hall of Fame inductee Guy Gauthier, Gaethan Gauthier, and two-time NRHA Futurity Champion Craig Johnson.

RR Star – 2001 NRHA Futurity

When he was 14 years old, Fappani began to spend summers in the United States and Canada to learn from different trainers. “I wanted and needed to learn as much as I could and to be better all the time. I think that was a big part of my success later on…it’s not that I can’t look back and be happy with what I’ve done, but I never want to get complacent. I want to always strive for more both with the horse, with my personal life, and everything else,” he said.

By the time Fappani was in his late teens, he was getting help from several trainers spending time in Italy, including Jim Kiser, Don Boyd, and Mike Davis. “There were a lot of Americans in Italy at the time training for Italian owners, and I was fortunate to learn from them,” he said. “Their help played a big part in my upbringing and were the basis of what I developed later in my own program. I learned a lot of pieces from different people, and I feel lucky that I had those opportunities.”

A turning point in Fappani’s career came when he met Todd Bergen, a young reining trainer who would eventually garner more than two million dollars in earnings in both the NRHA and the National Reined Cow Horse Association.

“Todd came to the Italian Futurity; it must have been around 1995. He saw me riding, and said he would give me a job if I ever wanted to come work in the United States. I felt he saw something in me, and maybe there was something more in the back of my mind,” he said.

Bergen, of Eagle Point, Oregon, recalled, “Andrea was so focused, and reining was all he thought about. He was very serious about what he was doing. It doesn’t surprise me at all he has gone on to be so successful. He is one of the most driven people I have ever been around.”

Fappani soon found himself on the West Coast, riding with Bergen and NRHA Futurity Champion John Slack. “I took a chance and came to the United States as a Non Pro. I also rode with Brett Stone at the Stone Ranch for a few months,” he shared.

RR Star

In 1998, Fappani returned to Italy to complete the military service required of all Italians. When that was completed, he surrendered his non pro status and returned to Oregon to work with Bergen full time.

“Andrea was already very talented on a horse, but just like any young trainer, he had to find a way and find a program. Once he got ahold of that and understood that part of it, the possibilities were endless with him,” Bergen shared.

“Those five years in Oregon changed everything for me. Todd showed me so much about what needed to happen on a horse to be successful and he is the person I would say has had the biggest impact on who I am,” Fappani said.

It was while at Bergen’s that Fappani got his first big chance at success. A young American Paint Horse Association registered colt named RR Star (Like A Diamond x RL Miss Kitty) was in the barn, and Fappani was handed the reins. At the 2001 NRHA Futurity, Fappani piloted RR Star to the Open title, becoming one of the youngest Open Futurity Champions ever at just 24 years old, just two years after becoming an NRHA Professional. “That was the peak of my career as an assistant trainer,” he said.

In 2003, Fappani and his wife Tish set out on their own. “The big question to me had always been was I good enough to win the Futurity. Then when I reached that goal, I thought I should just put my head down and see if I could get to the top. It’s been a process ever since, and what has pushed me to keep going,” he said. “You know, winning a year-end deal was never enough for me. For me it was always the big picture of getting better, having better clients, developing consistent show horses for my clients, and creating a business that represented excellence. I wanted to connect my name and my brand to a real professional way of doing things.”

Fappani became an NRHA Million Dollar Rider in 2006, less than eight years after becoming an NRHA Professional.

A student of the game, Fappani has spent his life studying horses, the work of others, learning what makes a legend, and what combination would prove to have the greatest long-term benefit for the horse. “The ones who have been competitive at the highest level for a long time are the ones that have everything in place to be successful at every aspect of the business.”
His gold standard? Shawn Flarida.

“Shawn has always been a person I looked up to, because he wants to win so much, and has been able to stay competitive for so long. There’s just something special about him and his program, and I have talked to him about it, studied it, and learned as much as I could,” he said. “He has won so much that it’s obvious he has something figured out that I feel like I myself don’t have yet. He can deal with pressure; he can get the best out of his horses and get them to peak at the right time. Those are all special qualities.”

Big Chex To Cash – 2005

So how does it feel to surpass Shawn on the leading rider list? “It’s something that I never thought could be done. I am happy I achieved it. I told my family that if I only get past Shawn for a year, or even just a month can be in that same league, because I know him and how hard he’s worked to get where he’s at,” Fappani said.

The Owners

“I feel lucky because when I started on my own, there were two or three customers of Todd’s who kept their main horses with him, but gave me the opportunity right away to train some of their second string,” he recalled.

Capitalizing on those opportunities, Fappani finished second and third at the 2003 NRHA Futurity with NQH Little Jac and Command With Me.

There are a few owners whose names are almost synonymous with Fappani’s, one being NRHA Two Million Dollar Owner and Hall of Fame inductee Eleuterio Arcese of Italy. In 2011, Fappani piloted Arcese’s Spook Off Sparks (Smart Spook x Setting Off Sparks) to the Open Futurity Reserve Championship, then in 2020, Fappani piloted All Bettss Are Off (Gunner x Wimpys Little Chic) to the NRHA Open Futurity Championship. “Mr. Arcese saw me growing up in Italy and has always been a part of my career. His remarkable breeding program has given me some amazing horses to ride,” Fappani said. “I’m proud that over the years I have been able to win on some of his really good ones.”

Fappani also credits Two Million Dollar Owner Pat Warren of Rancho Oso Rio, the Scottsdale, Arizona headquarters of Fappani Performance Horses, for his success. “Twelve years ago, I came to Arizona to manage this ranch, and I think, together, we have won more than a million dollars on horses that were born and raised here,” he said. Standout Rancho Oso Rio-owned horses include NRHA Open Derby Champion Tinker With Guns and Custom Spook, earner of more than $235,000.

Custom Spook

Other notable owners and horses include Manuel Bonzano and Big Chex To Cash (Nu Chex To Cash x Snip O Gun, LTE $194,260), Steve Simon and Custom Legend (Custom Crome x Dry Doc Bobbie, LTE $228,364), and Michael and Michelle Miola’s Platinum Vintage (A Sparkling Vintage x Starjac Miss, LTE $249,908), SG Frozen Enterprize (Frozen Sailor x RS Rose SJ, LTE $274,083), Chic Dreamin (Magnum Chic Dream x Skeets Red Dunit, LTE $247,272), Epic Titan (Gunner x Princess In Diamonds, LTE $82,298), and Custom Cash Advance (Custom Crome x Cash In Roan, LTE $228,607).

For Fappani, his owners have become like family, and they trust him explicitly with the care and training of their horses. “They’ve always understood that I put the horse first and not myself, and they trust me to make the decisions. That means a lot because I don’t have that weight on my back. I do things the way I want them done, and it’s paying off. I believe that’s what has allowed my program to succeed,” he said.

The Horses

With hundreds of horses he has ridden to NRHA earnings over the years, there are a few that stand out.

“RR Star was a huge challenge to train, and I think the reason we were successful was because I was hard-headed. He wound up being an amazing horse for me, and put me on the map,” Fappani shared. “Custom Legend still holds the record for the highest score ever, a 236.5, in a run-off at the NRBC. He will always be a special horse to me.”

There is one horse that Fappani says is the quintessential “Fappani” horse, and that’s NRHA Million Dollar Sire Lil Joe Cash, on whom Fappani won the 2011 NRHA Open Futurity Championship. “I always use Lil Joe as the example of what I want. He clicked with my program from day one, and we just melted together at the beginning,” he remembered.

It’s Fappani’s desire to never stop learning from the horses and honing his horsemanship skills that have made each and every one that has stepped foot into his arena significant. “The ones that are more challenging, that I might not have won as much on…those are the ones who made me a better trainer and horseman. Those are the ones that made my program stronger, made me change my approach, and gave me a much different perspective.” He added, “I’m going to remember them because they made me better.”

The Support

NQH Little Jac – 2003 NRHA Futurity

There is no part of Fappani’s program that hasn’t been subject to his intense scrutiny, and that includes the people who he works with daily, his assistant trainers. “I’ve had some great ones over the years. The first few years aren’t as much fun, but you do it for the passion of the horses and because you want to learn. It’s a lot of hours and not much exposure,” he said. “Even though they aren’t in the arena making it happen, they’re a big part of the program.”

Professionals that have passed through his barn include Marco Ricotta, Arno Honstetter, Luke Gagnon, and Adam Hendrickson. NRCHA Professional Nick Dowers also spent some time at the Scottsdale ranch. “He only worked for me for a little bit, but I learned more from him than he learned from me,” Fappani said.

In fact, Fappani says he’s learned from almost every assistant trainer he’s had. “One thing I tell people is that you can learn something from everybody. I truly believe that anyone who has a passion for a horse has something that they’re good at. They may not be great at everything, but there is something you can learn from them,” he said.

Fappani listed his veterinarian, Dr. John Newcomb, farriers Randy Toon and Arek Boulding, and marketing manager Cam Essick and her husband Jim, as valuable team members who have been with him for 19 years. Another long-time team member at 15 years is equine dentist and veterinarian Dr. Roy Mausling.

The most important person to his career is even closer, and that’s his wife, Tish. “She takes care of everything so I can concentrate on what I like to do, which is training horses and spending all day in the arena. She organizes everything and raised our two great boys. I wouldn’t want her job; she does so much,” he said.

Custom Legend

In fact, their two sons, Jeremy and Luca, are the accomplishments he is most proud of. “They are our greatest achievements. We told them it didn’t matter what they wanted to do, if it was horses or not. All that mattered was that they put their mind to it,” he said. “I am proud of how committed they are.”

Luca, now 17 years old, is following in his father’s footsteps and has already won more than $388,000 in competition. Jeremy, 15, is a successful motocross racer. “Luca puts horses in front of everything else. He keeps great grades in school, but he will ride a couple before he goes to school, then comes back, rides more, and then does his homework at night. Jeremy is the same way,” he said. “Watching them, I know they are going to be successful in life, no matter what they decide to do. I never pushed them to pick something early on. I just told them to put everything they’ve got into it. It’s fine if they change their mind and want to do something else; I just want them to learn how to do things the right way.”

NRHA Commissioner Gary Carpenter congratulated Fappani on the momentous achievement. “Undoubtedly, this milestone has great meaning for Andrea and his family,” he said. “In addition to his personal sense of achievement, it tells us so much about the trajectory of our sport. The momentum, excitement, and our visibility continue to grow. A milestone of this magnitude is something the entire industry can celebrate.”

Leaving a Legacy

The Fappani legacy of hard work has been passed down through generations. “I remember when my father would tell me stories about his dad and his grandpa. They started with five cows, three generations before, and by the time I left Italy, my father had the biggest dairy farm in Europe. He built a huge legacy. I wanted one of my own,” Fappani said.

Non Pro Champions Crowned at 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel

The Four Sixes National Reining Horse Association Derby presented by Markel boasted record payouts in every level as well as all-time high entries. Non Pro Champions made their bid for championship honors Friday, June 25 in the Jim Norick Arena at the Oklahoma State Fair Park in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Upping the excitement were the guaranteed Championship payouts, thanks to the new sponsorship from Four Sixes Ranch.

Lane Colston and Lil Ruf Whizkey Win Level 4 & Youth Non Pro Derby

Lane Colston and Lil Ruf Whizkey took home the Non Pro Derby Level 4 and Youth championships with a 221. Thanks to the Four Sixes Ranch guaranteed payouts for this year’s Derby, Colston took home a first-place check for $30,000 and pocketed an additional $2,000 for the youth title.
Already in their young career together, Colston and Cowboy are making big strides in the reining world. With Colston, Lil Ruf Whizkey was the co-reserve Level 4 Non Pro Champion at the 2020 NRHA Futurity, where they also won the Youth Futurity.
“My horse is not the average 4-year-old. He is so strong, and he looked like a 4-year-old this time last year. He is a great horse and has a huge heart,” Colston said. “He’s friendly, nice to be around and so laid back. He’s a little brown gelding, but big things come in small packages.”
Now, the 2021 NRHA Non Pro Derby is his biggest win thus far.

“I don’t think I have taken it all in yet,” he said. “People work their whole lives for this. It’s a dream come true.”
Colston came into the finals prepped and ready with the help of a few veterans in the game. The ascending horseman was quick to note that without help from a team of supporters and a talented horse his success wouldn’t be possible.
“Before I showed in the go-rounds I had Craig Schmersal give me a few tips on him and he gave me a few tips that helped me,” Colston said. “Both Craig and Brandon (Brant) pointed me in the right direction. He was good in the go-round—a 219.5— so we just did the same thing the night before the finals and he was great.”
Lil Ruf Whizkey is by NRHA Million Dollar Sire Whizkey N Diamonds out of Lil Ruf Startime, and the 4-year-old has lifetime earnings of $41,124. Cade McCutcheon helped Colston find Lil Ruf Whizkey and Colston purchased him from Jake Ballard—who was training him for breeder Terry Leffew—in July of 2020. Colston has big plans for the young gelding but is quick to note that this win will be pretty hard to beat.
“It’s pretty hard to beat that. I just want to keep him happy and keep showing him,” he said. “He’s so talented. I may show in Las Vegas at the High Roller. I want to show him the next couple of years. Maybe we will try something a little harder down the road.”
Colston thanked his parents, Kevin and Amy Colston, his horse Lil Ruf Whizkey, Brandon Brant, the McCutcheon family and Abigail Janes as well as the Four Sixes Ranch and all the sponsors of the NRHA Derby.
Jack Medows and Dream On Whiz Win NRHA Non Pro Derby Level 3

Jack Medows and Dream On Whiz took home the 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel Level 3 Non Pro championship after marking a 217.5. The duo also tied for fifth in the Level 4 for their efforts inside the Jim Norick Arena on Friday night. Thanks to the guaranteed payouts for the 2021 event, Medows will leave Oklahoma City $27,555 richer.
“It’s amazing. I’m just so happy for this horse. He’s a 4-year-old that we just bought not too long ago. Every day he comes out and tries. We bought him right around NRBC from Samantha Griffin. Martin Larcombe had him, and he did a great job with him,” Medows explained.
Medows, a lifetime earner of $319,827, is continuously impressed with the gelding, who’s by NRHA Seven Million Dollar Sire Magnum Chic Dream and out of Ms Sassy Whiz. Prior to the Derby, Dream On Whiz had lifetime earnings of $10,696 and was nominated by Hill Country Reiners.
“This horse is just phenomenal-minded, and it just comes out,” Medows said. “I think the biggest part of him is his heart. I knew I drew up last in the drag, it got me a little upset because I knew how big of a stopper he is, but he just plowed right through it. That just shows more about him than anything.”
Along with being an accomplished Non Pro competitor, Medows recently graduated from Missouri SMT with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. While his college career took him away from the show pen for a brief time, Medows is excited to get back in the game. He was quick to note that while showing “Patrick” was an enjoyable jump back into competition, he won’t continue showing the colt, but rather pass the reins to his sister.
“We bought him for my sister. With that short time frame, we decided I would show him and she would show him in a couple weeks at the youth world,” he said. “That’s his next big show. She just didn’t feel that comfortable to just hop on. That left him to me, but I’m so excited and happy for her to have this horse.”
Medows main goal for the Non Pro Derby was to get a good feel for the horse and show him to the best of his ability.
“He’s just a show horse,” he said. “He’s going to have a good, long future and that will be good for my sister. He is her horse and I just got lucky enough to steal him.”
Medows thanked his family, Fernando Salgado, and God.
Payton Neiberger and Xtra Dun Step Win NRHA Non Pro Derby Levels 1 & 2

Payton Neiberger and Xtra Dun Step earned her first NRHA Non Pro Derby championship with the Level 1 and Level 2 titles after marking a 217 in Friday’s finals. Coming from an all-around background 2020 was Neiberger’s first year to venture into reining. One year later, Neiberger and her talented equine partner are well on their way to making a name for themselves in the industry. With the wins in Friday’s finals, Neiberger’s lifetime earnings increased by $30,179.
“It took a little bit of time. I showed him for the first time a year ago here at the Derby and it took a minute to get together, but we’ve been good for the past six months or so,” Neiberger said. “It was a combination of things, because I came from the all-around so he was really my first reiner. So, it was just getting to know the reining and I think he was teaching me more than I was teaching him.”
Neiberger thanked her parents and the entire Deary team for the help, support and coaching to get to this win. With her fledgling career in reining beginning to take flight, the Non Pro Derby championship is a special memory for Neiberger.
“My prelims were pretty good for the most part he was right there with me,” she said. “Here today at the finals he was great, there was nothing that I could complain about. It’s been a lot of fun to be here and I’m really happy it paid off.”
Marc Wagman and Best Stops Belle Earn 6666 NRHA Non Pro Derby Masters Championship

Marc Wagman took home the NRHA Non Pro Derby Masters championship after marking a 216.5 aboard Best Stops Belle, who’s by Spooks Gotta Whiz and out of Best Stop—a mare Wagman bred and raised.
“I feel happy that I won something. My mare was being stellar, and I didn’t do her justice, but she still took care of me enough to win the old man’s division,” Wagman said with a laugh.
Wagman and “Belle” marked a 221.5 in the preliminaries of the Non Pro to finish third in the Masters, seventh in the Prime Time, 20th in the Level 2, and 24th in the Level 3, and just missed the cutoff for the Level 4 finals.
In Friday’s Non Pro Finals Wagman and Belle also finished second in the Prime Time, eighth in the Level 2 and 10th in the Level 3, collecting $9,198. Wagman says even while “pilot errors” kept them from qualifying for the Level 4 finals he’s still proud of the efforts of his mare.
“I had a lead change and a spin penalty, or I would have hopefully made it back to the Level 4 finals, which was my goal coming here. Having said that she was really good everywhere other than the pilot error on my part,” Wagman said. “Then in the finals a similar situation, we got stopped decent in the middle, but not nearly what she’s capable of. My first turn again I had a penalty, which bumped me down and she was good everywhere else. I take responsibility for the penalties.”
Still, the 4-year-old mare, trained by Duane Latimer, has an impressive career to look forward to with Wagman and holds a special place in Wagman’s life.
“She is out of a mare that I bred and raised that’s produced three horses by three different studs that have won over $100,000. I think now her progeny earnings are at almost $500,000,” Wagman said. “Duane Latimer trained this mare. He made the Futurity finals on her and told me I could have fun on her this year. I am so appreciative of everything Duane has done for me, not only for my horse, but for me and helping me. He’s been a great friend through thick and thin. This mare stays at XCS Ranch and Gina Schumacher and Ian have been tremendous about welcoming us and letting us stay there.”
Wagman thanked Latimer, XCS Ranches, the NRHA staff, show staff and all involved with putting on the 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel.
“The show has been tremendous,” he said. “The unbelievable increase in entries is phenomenal. What a great surprise. It’s a lot of work for a lot of people. I appreciate the staff here they do so much work behind the scenes. I appreciate the sponsors and I appreciate the executive committee and board. Rick Clark has done a tremendous job and I appreciate all the hard work that goes into this event.”  
Shaunda Blinzler and Smoke In Whizkey Win NRHA Non Pro Derby Prime Time

Shaunda Rai Blinzler and Smoke In Whizkey took home the NRHA Non Pro Derby Prime Time championship. Their score of 217 also finished twelfth in the Level 4 and was also good for placing in Levels 2 and 3. All totaled, Blinzler will head home with more than $14,423.
While Blinzler admits she had a small bobble in the finals, overall she was proud of her horse for stepping up and showing to his potential throughout the week. In the preliminaries, the duo marked a 218.5 and finished fifth in the Level 4, and first in Levels 3, 2 and Prime Time.
“I wish I could have my preliminary run again. That was a fun run,” she said. “He was really good. I’m excited to keep going because I think there is still more there.”
That run gave the team confidence going into the finals. With the Prime Time title, finishing in the top 20 of the Level 4, eighth in the Level 3 and seventh in the Level 2, was a big accomplishment. As Blinzer has $239,042 in lifetime earnings, she knows how to spot a good one.
“The Level 4 finals were fun,” she said. “To qualify for the Level 4 out of more than 300 horses is really something. He felt really good. He’s one of those that makes you be good because he will do whatever you ask. If you even slightly change what your cure is he’s on it, because he wants to be good for you.”
Smoke In Whizkey is by NRHA Million Dollar Sire Whizkey N Diamonds and out of Suga Suga and has garnered more than $48,000 in lifetime earnings.
Blinzler thanked her team, her husband, and her trainer Cade McCutcheon