Non Pro and Youth Competition Takes Center Stage on Closing Day at the 6666 NRHA Derby Presented by Markel

The 2024 6666 National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Derby presented by Markel concluded today in Oklahoma City with a thrilling display of equestrian talent in the non pro and youth divisions. Following an electrifying week of competition, riders of all ages showcased their horsemanship and their horses’ athleticism, vying for championship titles and a share of the Derby’s record-breaking purse.

$6,000-added Non Pro Slate Two Champions – Joetta Bell & Dream On Whiz

Joetta Bell has found much success at the Derby. Earlier this week, she won several divisions in the non pro on her mount, Trashy Little Dream. Now, she’s at the top of the leaderboard again at the reins of her own Dream On Whiz (Magnum Chic Dream x Ms Sassy Whiz). The duo’s 220.5 was enough to take home the Non Pro Championship in the second slate of ancillary competition.

“I’ve owned him for a couple of years,” Bell said of ‘Patrick,’ a 7-year-old gelding bred by Hill Country Reiners LLC. “He’s just been a really good horse. We are very connected. I know everything he is thinking just by looking at his eyes.”

After a two-week show, Bell will give her horse a much-deserved break. “Now that the show is over, he’ll get to go home and be turned out. We kind of just let him relax. We do lunge line lessons with the girls on him,  ride him in the pasture, and let him just be a horse.”

$2,000-added Intermediate Non Pro Slate Two Champions / 8 & Up L1 Non Pro Maturity Champions – Dana Wetherell & Spat Toy Boy Gun

Dana Wetherell and her own Spat Toy Boy Gun rode to a 218 and the Intermediate Non Pro Championship as well as an 8 & Up Level (L) 1 Non Pro Maturity Championship. The 2016 stallion is by Spat Split And White and out of Snowy River Gunner.

“I’m obsessed with this horse. You can ask my husband—I keep every judge sheet, every placing, every back number he’s ever had,” said Wetherell of the Chiara Pelosi-bred stallion. “When my husband bought this horse for me, I struggled with auto-immune disease pretty badly and had very weak muscles. When I got him, I couldn’t bend over and take polos off and had to have help getting on and off. This horse is literally giving me my health and something to focus on, a reason to strive to get up in the morning. I can’t thank him enough; he’s giving me my health, which is priceless.”

Wetherell and the horse share a special emotional connection, which is on display any time they are around one another. “My husband gets upset. He’ll walk up to his stall while he’s eating and he just keeps eating, and when I walk up he’ll spin around and come right up to me—always wants to greet me and nickers at me every time he sees me. When [NRHA Million Dollar Rider] Trevor [Dare] shows him at the big events, they don’t allow me on the barn aisle for like two days because when he sees me, he’ll start pawing at the stall door if I don’t come see him, so it’s fun to get to show him because then I get to see him every day.”

Intermediate Non Pro High Point Champions- Kent Ray Taylor & Xtra Wimpys Catalyst

After winning several divisions of non pro classes in the first slate of competition, Kent Ray Taylor and his own Xtra Wimpys Step emerged as the High Point Champions in both the Intermediate and Prime Time divisions.

The Millholland Training Inc.-bred stallion is out of NRHA Hall of Fame inductee Wimpys Little Step and out of Im Not Blonde. The duo has been together since 2021 and works hard to take care of one another.

$500-added Prime Time Non Pro Slate 2 Champions / 8 & Up L4, L3 and L2 Non Pro Maturity Champions / Non Pro and Prime Time High Point Champions – Kathleen Armenta & Off N Running

With a score of 218, Kathleen Armenta and Off N Running finished with Championship titles in the second slate of the Prime Time Non Pro and the 8 & Up L2-4 Non Pro Maturities.

By NRHA $4 Million Sire and out of Spook Off Sparks, the 9-year-old gelding has been with Armenta since he was four. “I got him at the beginning of his 4-year-old year, so I did all the derbies on him, and we were pretty successful,” noted Armenta. “He’s probably the most special horse to me because he is the most talented horse I’ve ever had, and it’s hard to get rid of a horse like that when they age out. It’s just fun to keep riding a horse that you’ve done so well on—you don’t just move on. I don’t know if I’ll keep him forever, but right now, I’m having a really good time.”

The pair also won the Non Pro and Prime Time High Point titles after consistently scoring high in the ancillary slates of classes.

Masters Non Pro Slate 2 Champions – Dorothy Sanford & CCR Magnum Guns

Dorothy Sanford and CCR Magnum Guns (Gunnatrashya x Magnum Marilynmonroe) topped the second slate of Masters Non Pro competition. The Center Cross Ranch LLC-bred mare is owned by Sanford, who piloted her to a 208.5 and the title.

Before her success in the show pen in Oklahoma City this week, Sanford had earned $244 in the show pen.

Masters Non Pro High Point Champions – Victoria Riva & GH Cromed Mercedes

After consistently topping the leaderboard in both slates of non pro competition, Victoria Riva and GH Cromed Mercedes claimed the High Point Championship in the Masters Non Pro division. The 2012 gelding by NRHA Million Dollar Sire and out of Chic In The Bar and his owner-pilot made a great team throughout the show.

Legends Non Pro Slate 2 Champions – Sammy Graham & Brother Gun

Sammy Graham will celebrate his 73rd birthday in a few short days as champion of the second slate of Legends Non Pro competition. He earned the title aboard Brother Gun (Gunner x Shesa Smart Sister), a 15-year-old stallion bred, owned, and nominated by Graham.

After sitting the 2023 season out, the duo rode to a 206.5 to claim the title.

Legends High Point Champions – Mary Dodson and MD Shesa Shiney Chic

Consistency was key for 73-year-old Mary Dodson and her MD Shesa Shiney Chic, whose trips into the show pen earned a High Point Championship in the Legends division. Dodson bred and nominated the 2017 mare by NRHA $2 Million Sire Shine Chic Shine and out of Shesa Packin.

Youth 14-18 Champions Lenzi Halling Xtra Voodoo Herman

Lenzi Halling and Xtra Voodoo Herman earned the Youth 14-18 and Unrestricted Youth Championship in slate two and the high point title.

“I love ‘Herman’ because I originally got him as a step-up horse. He is just the best,” said Halling. “He had a little trouble with me at first because I was a new rider, but eventually, it got a lot better. I have been practicing and practicing in the show pen and preparing for each run to be my best. He loves his job and loves to be the best.”

She practices at shows and with different trainers to help her and Herman constantly improve, a journey she enjoys getting to do with her 6-year-old gelding bred by Silver Spurs Equine. 

“We tolerate each other; actually he tolerates me,” she said with a laugh. “I enjoy learning on him. It means a lot to me because of all of the hard work and effort I have put into Herman over the last two years.”

Youth 13 & Under Slate Two Champions – Millie Jean Piper and Never Outta Dough

After earning a 142.5, Millie Jean Piper and Never Outta Dough took home the title in slate two of the 13 & Under division.

“I got my horse on my birthday—it’s actually when we tried him, said Piper. “It was more of a coincidence than a birthday present, but I have had him for one year, and pretty much we have been best friends ever since.”

Her 11-year-old gelding was bred by Ryan Appleton and is by Outta Dough and out of Chex Writing Queen.

“He is very willing and puts up with all of my shenanigans,” she added.

Earlier this week, Piper also won the 13 & Under division of the CINCH Youth Speaking Contest after reciting A. General, earning a $700 scholarship.

13 & Under High Point Champions – Gracie Weeks & Its A Cash Only Deal

Gracie Weeks earned the 13 & Under high point championship on Ginger Weeks’ Its A Cash Only Deal after scoring a 142. The 7-year-old mare was bred by Stoney Russell and is by NRHA $2 Million Sire Lil Joe Cash and out of Who Whiz Doll.

Short Stirrup 10 & Under Slate Two Champions / Short Stirrup 10 & Under High Point Champions – Dylan Baker & Rambowhizz

Dylan Baker and Rambowhizz improved yesterday’s score by one point to earn the championship and high-point Short Stirrup 10 & Under title.

“He is patient with me, and he is kind. He is just the perfect horse for me,” said Baker. “It’s really fun, but I wouldn’t be able to win without him. He is a really good horse, and I wouldn’t be here without him. I thank ‘Rambo’ and my barn because they are super supportive of me.

The 7-year-old gelding was bred by Houde & Tremblay Partnership and is owned by Anita Horn.

The 2024 NRHA Derby presented by Markel has solidified its reputation as a premier reining event, attracting the world’s finest equine athletes and riders. From the heart-pounding Open finals to the inspiring displays of horsemanship in the non pro and youth divisions, the Derby has reaffirmed its commitment to showcasing the power, precision, and beauty of the reining horse. NRHA extends its congratulations to all the champions, owners, breeders and competitors and looks forward to another exciting year of competition.