The Jim Norick Coliseum was rocking on Friday, Dec. 1, for the Finals of the 2023 National Reining Horse Association CINCH Non Pro Futurity. The night was filled with all the emotions one could want in a finals, with everyone from first-timers to veterans vying for a title.
NRHA CINCH Non Pro Futurity Level 4 Champions – Lane Colston & Gunna Be Painted
Lane Colston asked just a little bit more of his horse in the CINCH Non Pro Futurity Finals.
Colston scored a 217 in the first round on Gunna Be Painted. That extra oomph in the finals was good for a score of 220.5, Colston’s first Futurity Level 4 Championship, and a check for $71,250.
“My run in and stop was pretty good today,” Colston said. “My turnarounds were really strong, and I went to shut him off, and I had a bit of penalty, and I knew that. We circled each way, and he was really smooth and quiet. I ran him pretty hard, and he stayed with me and listened to me the whole time. Around the ends, he was just exceptional. I ran and stopped him, and he stopped huge for me all three times.”
Gunna Be Painted is a 2020 stallion sired by NRHA Six Million Dollar Sire Gunners Special Nite and out of Darlins Not Painted by Smokin Chic Olena.
“In the prelims, I just wanted to stay quiet and not use all my horse up, and that’s what we did,” Colston said. “He’s so much fun to ride. Every time I get on him, I smile.”
Breeder Tom McCutcheon nominated the stallion now owned by Kevin Colston, an NRHA Corporate Partner through Colston Paving. As nominator, McCutcheon will receive $3,750.
“I thank my parents, Amy and Kevin Colston, and Jake Ballard. He has done a really great job with this horse,” Colston said. “He’s had him since the first of the year. I thank him and Tom and Mandy McCutcheon. They raised (the horse) and sold him to us. I’m super thankful for that.”
Before arriving in Oklahoma City, Gunna Be Painted had $29,566 in earnings through the All American Quarter Horse Congress and the All Star Reining Stakes Non Pro Futurity.
Colston, who lives in Frankfort, Kentucky, had lifetime earnings of $491,076 prior to the Futurity. He has been showing since 2013.
“I think this is my fourth time making the Level 4 finals,” Colston said. “Any time you make the finals at the big show, it’s a great feeling.”
CINCH Non Pro Futurity Level 3 and Level 2 Co-Champion, Level 1 Champion – Dani Latimer & Snap My Crush
Any win is exciting, but Dani Latimer’s championship in the Level 1 and co-championships in the Level 3 and 2 of the CINCH Non Pro Futurity Level 3 at the OKC Fairgrounds aboard Snap My Crush were particularly special ones for her.
Snap My Crush is a 2020 stallion by PS Mega Shine Chic out of Snapbacks—a mare Latimer has a special connection to. The fact that the stallion is homegrown was just the icing on the cake; Latimer’s father, Dean Latimer bred and nominated the horse and is still the owner.
“He’s the first baby out of the horse I made the futurity finals on for the first time,” Latimer said. “So from the time he was born, I was just automatically looking forward to the day that I rode into the Jim Norick on him.”
The stallion, who she calls Finn, came into the Futurity with $53,604 earned through the 100X Reining Classic Invitational and One Hot Reining Summer Slide Futurity. The multiple titles earned the pair an additional $75,018, with an additional $3,948 going back to the nominator.
“Every time I stepped in the showpen this year, he was right there with me,” Latimer said of Finn. “He has given me his all, and as futurity horses, they go through a lot of pressure and a lot of training to get to this point, so for it to pay off, it’s super sweet.”
Going forward, Latimer plans to show Finn in 2024 at the various aged events, but said that first, “I’m going to make sure that he’s comfortable tonight. And then I’m sure my stalls are going to be a bit of a party.”
CINCH Non Pro Futurity Level 3 and Level 2 Co-Champions – Kelsey Price & Let Err Rip
Kelsey Price and Let Err Rip earned an impressive score of 219 to secure their spot in the tie for first place in the Level 3 and 2 and join a four-way tie for reserve champion in the Level 4 in the CINCH Non Pro Futurity at the OKC Fairgrounds.
Let Err Rip is a 2020 gelding sired by NRHA Nine Million Dollar Sire Magnum Chic Dream and out of Gunner Be Custom. He is owned by Kelsey Price and her husband, NRHA Million Dollar Rider Kole Price, who also trained the gelding.
“My horse was there for me; he turned really good after our run-in, and then the crowd got electric, so it really pushed me,” Price said of the run that earned her the championship.
While the NRHA Futurity is the most pressure the pair has faced this year, they came into the Futurity with $13,977 in earnings from the Southwest Reining Horse Association Futurity, the High Roller Reining Classic Futurity, and the All American Quarter Horse Congress Futurity. To prepare, Price said, “I had to chill. I just had to walk around on him and avoid looking at the crowd I knew was out there.”
This win will add $72,155 to the gelding’s lifetime earnings, with $3,607 of that going back to his breeder and nominator, Rodion Cantacuzene Jr.
From here, the gelding’s path is unclear, as Kelsey and Kole Price simply can’t agree on who should pilot the talent through his four-year-old year, but both agree that he will undoubtedly be continuing a long career in the show pen.
“All I can say is thank you to my husband Kole,” said Price. “This means that a lot of hard work paid off. We’re out there everyday riding. It was a lot of fun being with my husband and our team, but it’s tough, and we get out of bed every day to ride, and we work all year for this to be successful.”
CINCH Non Pro Futurity Level 3 Co-Champions and Level 4 Co-Reserve Champions – Allison Thorson & Froze
Allison Thorson went into her first NRHA CINCH Non Pro Futurity thinking she had no way to lose.
“I was super nervous,” Thorson said, “because I just don’t have experience with futurity horses in general. I was telling myself to go for it. Everything is on the line here, but I had the mentality of ‘I don’t have anything to lose and everything to gain.’”
And she did. Thorson rode her family’s stallion Froze to the co-champion title in Level 3 as well as tying for the reserve champion title in Level 4 with her score of 219. Thorson will receive a check for $34,011 for her co-reserve title in Level 4 and $26,666 for her co-champion title for a total of $57,643.
“I couldn’t think of a more special horse,” Thorson said. “The cool thing about this horse is his heart and his brain. He’s just so smart. It felt like an old soul was carrying me around.”
Froze came into the Futurity with $1,619 earned through the Arizona Reining Horse Association Best of the West Futurity. Thorson thought her trainer, NRHA Five Million Dollar Rider Craig Schmersal, was going to be competing on the stallion.
“We only have a handful of rides in,” Thorson said. “I think just being in the Schmersal program for so many years made it easier – especially with a horse like Froze. He’s just a gentle giant, good soul, good heart — it got better each ride this week.”
After the prelims, Thorson and Froze had qualified for the Level 3 Finals. She then rode Froze in the CINCH Non Pro Futurity Consolation round, which gives horses a second chance to make it into the finals.
Froze, a 2020 stallion sired by NRHA Million Dollar Sire SG Frozen Enterprize and out of Electric Cha Ching by Jacs Electric Spark, was bred and nominated by Silver Spurs Equine, which will receive a check for $3,033. Thorson’s family business, ThorSport, owns the horse.
“First and foremost, I’d like to thank my family,” Thorson said. “They’re very supportive of me as well as my training team. Craig Schmersal’s team is just exceptional. They take care of the horses, top to bottom, day in and day out, and it’s just a big family. We enjoy it. We’ve had highs, and we’ve had lows, and to share it with them and my family means the most.”
CINCH Non Pro Futurity Prime Time Champions – Sandra Bentien & Gottabe Electrifying
A kind, athletic homebred stallion carried Sandra Bentien back into the saddle and into the winner’s circle at the 2023 NRHA CINCH Non Pro Futurity Finals.
“I’m at a loss for words because I never expected to be here,” Bentien said Dec. 1 after claiming the championship in the Non Pro Prime Time division. “As I was walking in for my run, I was thinking it was icing on the cake. This is dessert. The fact that I made it (to the Finals) was what was most incredible.”
Bentien and her stallion Gottabe Electrifying faced obstacles on their way to scoring 221.5 (with handicap). In September, the horse was still green when he started with a new trainer, Stefano Calcagnini. Bentien herself hadn’t been on a horse in three years.
“I had two knee replacements and another knee surgery,” Bentien said. “I just wasn’t riding. I said, ‘I’m going to ride this horse, and if he makes the Futurity, he makes the Futurity, and if he doesn’t, we’ll have him for 4-year-old events. He’s a very special horse.”
Gottabe Electrifying is a 2020 stallion sired by Gotta Twist It Up and out of Lil Bit Electric. Bentien owns and showed both Gotta Twist It Up and his dam, Make It With A Twist.
“When I came to my circles, I thought, ‘I’m going to push him and think hard about how I showed his daddy,’” Bentien said. “I did that, and it was crazy how honest he was. When I went to my first rollback, he stopped and rolled back so good that I couldn’t help but smile because he reminded me of (Gotta Twist It Up).”
Bentien, who nominated her homebred to the Futurity, earned a check for $41,634 as rider and another $2,080 as nominator. That big check was due not only to her Prime Time Championship but also a top 10 placing in the Level 4, a fourth-place finish in the Level 3, and third-place in the Level 2.
“I have no doubt this horse has a long show career ahead of him,” Bentien said.
CINCH Non Pro Youth Futurity Champion – Emma Vanlandingham & Plus Me Im Shiny
The youngest competitor entered in the CINCH Non Pro Youth Futurity at the OKC Fairgrounds, Emma Vanlandingham, claimed both first and second place in the division with a score of 218.5.
To secure her championship, Vanlandingham rode Plus Me Im Shiny, a 2020 gelding by NRHA Million Dollar Sire Colonels Shining Gun out of Plus One Chex. He was nominated by Layla Choate and is owned by 2Star Investments.
About the gelding, Vanlandingham said, “He is such a sweet and kind, unbothered horse. I love his personality. He’s so goofy in the barn, just really like the class clown.”
Vanlandingham’s lifetime earnings exceed $105,000, and this championship in the youth earned them an additional $1,171.
The other horse who played a key in Vanlandingham’s success was Diamond Handz, a 2020 stallion by Dun It For Whizkey out of Princess N Pearls. This pair not only claimed the reserve in the youth but also had a top 10 placing in the Level 4, which brought another $20,840 in prize money.
“I think either me or my dad [NRHA Three Million Dollar Rider Jason Vanlandingham] will show him next year,” Vanlandingham said. “I think he is talented enough to be an open horse, so I’m looking forward to watching him show.”
Vanlandingham thanked her parents, her siblings, and her friends for helping her get through her nerves and show well. She also mentioned that wearing her signature and seemingly lucky Vanlandingham-red for the finals certainly didn’t hurt anything either.
Complete results, news, and more can be found at NRHAFuturity.com.