Collegiate Reining Championship

For Immediate Release – Oklahoma City, Okla. – July  2, 2017 – The 2017 National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Derby hosted the Collegiate Reining Championship on June 30. However the title of champion didn’t come easy, as it took a runoff to decide the winner for this year.

Hannah Mitchell won the championship with a score of 222.5 with The Boominator donated to the competition by James Hotz.

Mitchell took the victory after a run off with Julia Spreng, who ended up Reserve Champion scoring 220.5 with HR Dun By Whiz owned by Randy and Sharon Reecer. Both competitors tied after their first runs scoring 217.5.

Mitchell is a freshman at Oklahoma State University and is a native of Cuba, Missouri. Spreng is a sophomore at University of Georgia majoring in Business. A native of Port Orange, Florida qualified to compete at the Collegiate Reining Championship through NRHA.

The Collegiate Reining Championship consists of 12 riders – four from the National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA), four from the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA), and four that are selected by the NRHA. This year, the riders selected from the pool of collegiate NRHA members were: Holly Lansidel (Southern Methodist University), Jaci Marley (Texas A&M), Julia Spreng (University of Georgia), and Kyndal Harper (University of Georgia).

The NCEA sent its top four reiners from the 2016-2017 season to the championship: Caroline Gute (University of South Carolina), Claudia Spreng (University of Georgia), Hannah Mitchell (Oklahoma State), and Taylor Brown (Fresno State).

Representing the IHSA were riders who placed in top four places in Open Reining at the IHSA Finals this year. Riders representing the IHSA were: Kristen Wesoja (Cazenovia College), Lauren King (Middle Tennessee State University), Mark Mowbray, and Michelle McDowell (Grand Valley State University).

NRHA and the National Reining Horse Youth Association (NRHyA) would like to thank the following horse owners who donated their horses for the NRHA Collegiate Reining Championship:

James Hotz
Randy and Sharon Reecer
Angela Myer
George and Carol Bell
Patrick Schwarz
Jennifer & Maurice Robinson
Brett Walters
Daniela Picciotti
Chris Hawkins
Day Creek Ranch LLC

Photo credit: Jana Thomason

Day One of Competition Makes for Exciting Start to the 2017 IEA Western National Finals

Saturday, July 2, 2017 – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – Individual competition got underway at the 2017 Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) National Finals where nearly 200 riders from across the nation converged on Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to compete for National titles at the IEA Western Finals held during the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Derby.  In addition to competing individually, IEA Teams compete for points during team classes which will take place tomorrow.

The day began with schooling of reining horses and the individual draw, where riders select which horses they will ride in random order.  Oklahoma City State Fairgrounds has a deep history of equestrian sport competition and this week is no different.  Held in conjunction with the world-class NRHA Derby, the IEA Finals utilizes several of the available rings and barns on the sprawling campus.  As always, Announcer John Bahret kept the classes running smoothly as he effortlessly called out instructions and announcements to riders and audience members.  The NRHA has an excellent system of providing live feed coverage of reining classes, with rider, horse, and owner information identified on the screen for viewers in the arena and around the globe.

The IEA Youth Board assisted in the presentation of awards following the reining and horsemanship individual classes as not only ribbons and NRHA trophies were presented, but for the first time in IEA history, saddles were given to Varsity and JV riders.  Saddles were provided by the IEA and Tim Bower of Equine Oasis.  IEA Co-Founder and Executive Director, Roxane Durant and Co-Founder and IEA Chief Operating Officer, Myron Leff also assisted with awards as did Co-Founder and Board Member Ollie Griffith and NRHA Commissioner, Gary Carpenter joined in for the celebration of awards presentation.  Photography is provided by Waltenberry and Videography is provided by Equine Promotion.

Exhibitors, parents and coaches enjoyed a mid-day welcome party sponsored by the NRHA complete with food, a mechanical bull, climbing wall, bungee jump and bounce house.  IEA was pleased to offer its student members the opportunity to take the Horsemanship Test sponsored by the United States Pony Club (USPC) again this year.  The USPC is one of many sponsors and supporters of the IEA National Finals. Saturday’s top winners included the following:

  • NRHA Varsity Open Reining – Individual Champio
    Morgan Knerr from Autumn Rose Farm Equestrian Team (Zone 5 – Plain City, OH) riding Whimpys Dot Tari provided by Jim Dudley Quarter Horses
  • NRHA Varsity Intermediate Reining – Individual Champion
    Luke Guynn from Rocky Mountain Wranglers (Zone 8 – Berthoud, CO) riding HighLoandInBetween provided by Jim Dudley Quarter Horses
  • NRHA Future Intermediate Reining – Individual Champion
    Benjamin Balow from Arizona Sliders Reining Team (Zone 8 – Scottsdale, AZ) riding Mickey provided by Schwarz Reining
  • Varsity Open Horsemanship – Individual Champion
    Olivia Willeke from KM Equestrian (Zone 5 – Findlay, OH) riding Lucy provided by OK 007
  • Future Novice Horsemanship – Individual Champion
    Lauren Pursley from Texas High Riders (Zone 7 – North Zulch, TX) riding Buddy provided by West Texas A&M University
  • Future Intermediate Horsemanship – Individual Champion
    Izzy Barth from Watkins Equestrian (Zone 5 – Canfield, OH) riding Pete provided Halvorson Ranch
  • Future Beginner Horsemanship – Individual Champion
    Jada Mark from IIIR Stars Equestrian Team (Zone 4 – Portal, GA) riding Buddy provided West Texas A&M University
  • Varsity Intermediate Horsemanship – Individual Champion
    Rylee Aurand from KM Equestrian (Zone 5 – Findlay, OH) riding Lucy from OK007
  • JV Beginner Horsemanship – Individual Champion
    Addison Taylor from IIIR Stars Equestrian Team (Zone 4 – Portal, GA) riding Slicker from West Texas A&M University
  • JV Novice Horsemanship – Individual Champion
    Rette Solomon from Cedar Ridge Equestrian (Zone 1 – Barre, VT) riding Bob from West Texas A&M University
  • Champion Western Rider
    Olivia Willeke from KM Equestrian (Zone 5 – Findlay, OH)
  • Champion Crossover Rider (Huntseat and Western)
    Meghan Moran from Hillside Meadows (Zone 1 – Graton, MA)

About IEA:Celebrating its 15th Anniversary year, the IEA has more than 13,500 middle and high school student-riders across the United States. The IEA was organized to promote and improve the quality of equestrian competition and instruction available to middle and secondary school students and is open to public and private schools and barn teams.  There is no need for a rider to own a horse because the IEA supplies a mount and tack to each equestrian for competitions.  Its purpose is to set minimum standards for competition, provide information concerning the creation and development of school associated equestrian sport programs, to generally promote the common interests of safe riding instruction and competition and education on matters related to equestrian competition at the middle and secondary school levels.  The IEA is open to public schools, private schools, and barn teams.  For more information, please visitwww.rideiea.org

Myron Leff
IEA Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer
614-460-3532  |  myron@rideiea.org

Kimber Whanger
IEA Communications Coordinator
614-542-9415  |  kimber@rideiea.org

The National Reining Horse Association is not responsible for information contained in this press release. Please contact the author or submitting organization for further information, requests or questions.

2017 NRHA Derby: Day Eight

Deary and Shesouttayourleague Dominate the 2017 NRHA Open Derby Championship

NRHA Million Dollar Rider Casey Deary entered the arena as draw 25 in a field of 31 in the second section of the 2017 NRHA Open Derby finals. NRHA Two Million Dollar Rider Jordan Larson had just closed their pattern with a 227.5. That was the score to beat.

Both NRHA Professionals were riding past NRHA Open Futurity Champions: Deary was aboard 2015 NRHA Open Futurity Champion Shesouttayourleague. Larson had just captured the lead with ARC Gunnabeabigstar – the 2014 NRHA Open Co-Champion – between the reins.

Once Shesouttayourleague, a 5-year-old mare by NRHA Million Dollar Sire Walla Walla Whiz and out of NRHA Hall of Famer Wimpys Little Chic (by Wimpys Little Step), nominated by Arcese Quarter Horses USA and owned by Curtis Performance Horses LLC., entered the arena, she gave the Weatherford, Texas trainer all she had. Once the flashy palomino, who had $184,723 NRHA LTE prior to showing in OKC, closed her pattern #12, a 229 appeared on the score board. The title was hers.

“To me, this is nothing short of a miracle,” said Deary following the awards presentation. “At the NRBC she was giving me trouble so, for her to come as far as she did – and I give my friend Jordan Larson the credit for helping me out at the Redbud Spectacular – it was a night and day difference for my horse. I came right after Larson tonight, and I had absolutely no anxiety about having to beat his run because their performance was amazing. I was sitting there cheering on him as I was waiting for my turn. I came in through those gates telling my mare ‘just be as good as you can be and give me what you’ve got’. She did just that, and I cannot be any more thankful for this title tonight.”

Shesouttayourleague gave Deary all she had and more: the pair added another $60,000 to their earnings for the Open Derby Championship.

Larson and ARC Gunnabeabigstar, a 6-year-old stallion by NRHA Million Dollar Sire Gunnatrashya and out of Wimpys Little Chic, is owned by HDC Quarter Horses and nominated by Arcese Quarter Horses USA. The duo added $43,918 to their earnings. “I called on him for everything he had, and he delivered,” said Larson. “[NRHA Million Dollar Rider] Brian Bell helped me with his turn-arounds, which could well be why he turned so fast, and I had a hard time controlling him, but I have to thank Brian for that. Wimpys Little Chic is the epitome of a great reining horse and what she is doing as a producer is incredible!” ARC Gunnabeabigstar is an NRHA Markel Insurance Futurity Sales graduate.

Boechat and Tremblay tie to win the Level 3 Open Derby title

NRHA Professional Thiago Boechat riding Ruf Lil Magnum (Magnum Chic Dream x Dunit A Lil Ruf), owned by Silver Spurs Equine and Heritage Farms and nominated by Ann Salmon Anderman tied to win the L3 Open Derby Championship with Dany Tremblay riding Magnums Guns R Reddy (Magnum Chic Dream x Guns R Reddy), owned by Ruth Hamlin and nominated by Mary Jansma. Both scored a 223, and both left OKC adding $19,564.76 to their earnings for the win.

“The owners brought her to me about 6-7 months ago, and we started schooling her,” said Tremblay. “I thought she was going to do so well. We came here after the NRBC with big expectations, and there you go, champion L3. I really felt like she was ready to go. I just turned up the volume a little on her and she gave me everything she had.”

“We haven’t been together for very long,” said head trainer for Xtra Quarter Horses, Brazilian Boechat, based in the USA. “I got him after the NRBC. Jordan Larson had him before me and did a great job. [NRHA Million Dollar Rider] Brian Bell had him before Jordan, and I’ve been the lucky one to get to show him here. He’s been in great hands, and people did a great job with him. I think he has it all; he’s a big turner, big stopper, great mover, and has a great mind. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

CBK Spooks Got Cash and Bobby Avila, Jr. Cash in the Level 2 Open Derby Championship

Bobby Avila, Jr. and CBK Spooks Got Cash (Spooks Gotta Gun x JR Wright On Cash), owned and nominated by William and Corliss Kellogg, rode to a 221 and a $9,839.95 check in the first section of the Open finals. “She’s a horse that was trained by Josh Murphy and is actually in training with him,” said Avila, Jr. about the 5-year-old mare. “I’ve been riding her the last few months for Josh, since we train out of the same barn at Zimmerman Performance Horses, and I’ve been showing her because I’m eligible for lower levels. We’ve won the last three derbies on her; we won the Buckeye Reining Classic in the Novice Derby and the Red Dirt Derby.

She’s a very honest, very consistent horse, and it feels awesome. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s a team effort, and that’s what makes this special.”

Tom Foran, who also qualified his mount Walla Walla Starbuck for the L3 division where they closed in 6th place, earning $8,368.49, left the arena with a 220 – enough to clinch the reserve championship, leaving Avila, Jr. in the lead. The 5-year-old stallion, owned by Sleipner LLC., who was nominated by Marc Gordon, earned another $7,778.97 for their L1 reserve title.

Shina Gun and Gibori are Level 1 Open Derby Champions

Barak Gibori rode Shina Gun, a 5-year-old stallion by Gunner and out of Shiner Light, owned by Teresa Wynn and nominated by Xtra Quarter Horses LLC., to top honors in the L1 Open Derby. The NRHA Professional who works out of McQuay Stables Tioga, Texas, posted a 219.5 for the win.

“It has been a long process, and I need to say a lot of things to the owner for trusting us because we were really close to making it to the winner’s circle, yet every time we had a little bobble here and a little bobble there, and she kept sending us to the horse shows. It worked,” said Gibori. “In the finals tonight, I just let him do his job. That’s about it. He’s a really talented horse, we worked hard to get here, and as soon as you run through that gate, it’s just about letting them do what they know how to do.”

Jeromy Lipps of Miami, Oklahoma, rode Melodie Nelson’s Revolutionary Jac (Einsteins Revolution x Kalliope Jac) to a 218 and the L1 reserve championship. The 4-year-old stallion was nominated by Rancho Sereno LLC and is an NRHA Markel Insurance Futurity Sales graduate.

Larcombe clinches the Prime Time Open Derby title riding Hang Ten And Shine

Martin Larcombe and Hang Ten And Shine (Hang Ten Surprize x Ebony Shines), a 6-year-old stallion nominated by Rosanne Sternberg, kept their perfect derby record alive by qualifying for every Level 4 finals at the major events, so it was an added bonus when the pair won the Prime Time Open Derby division with a score of 221.5 for owner Christine Brazeau of England.
“He’s been a very good, consistent horse,” says Larcombe, who collected a paycheck worth $2,070.64 for the win and added another $6,579.23 for placing 13th in the L4 Open finals. “He has made the Level 4 finals at every big event we’ve been to. That’s a pretty good achievement for a young horse.”

NRHA would like to thank all the supportive Corporate Partners and Event Sponsors for making our Derby awards outstanding this year!

All Open Level Champions received:

  • Custom Montana Silversmiths Trophy Buckle
  • Anderson Bean boots
  • Classic Equine Product
  • 4 Bags of Feed from Bluebonnet Feed
  • Platinum Performance CJ
  • SmartPak Gift card
  • Kiser Hydrext Dust Suppressant and Moisture Extender
  • Level 1 & 2 Champions will receive Shorty’s Caboy Hattery certificate
  • The Level 4 Open Champion will also receive a Sundowner trailer for the use of one year courteously of Twin Cities South Trailers the official trailer of the NRHA Derby.
  • The Level 4 and Level 3 Open Champions will receive a custom Silver Spurs Saddle
  • The Level 2 and 1 Open Champions will receive a custom saddle from Equine Oasis

The Prime Time Open Champion received:

  • Custom Montana Silversmiths Trophy Buckle
  • Bob’s Custom Saddle
  • Anderson Bean Boots
  • Classic Equine Product
  • Platinum Performance CJ
  • SmartPak Gift card
  • Kiser Hydrext Dust Suppressant and Moisture Extender

2017 NRHA Derby: Day Seven

Mandy McCutcheon Wins Her Seventh NRHA Derby Championship riding Hollywood Starburst

Stephanie Gripp and Gun N For Glory sweep the Levels 3, 2, 1 and Youth Championships

Draw 18, in a field of 32 riders in the second section of the NRHA Non Pro Derby finals, Hollywood Starburst ‘burst’ into the Jim Norick Arena with NRHA Two Million Dollar Rider Mandy McCutcheon in the saddle. The score to beat was the 221.5 posted by past NRHA Non Pro Derby Champions Dr. Bill Rhoads and Mega Maggie Mae. The NRHA Hall of Famer riding the 4-year-old mare by NRHA Six Million Dollar Sire Hollywood Dun It and out of Chic Olena Starbuck nailed each and every maneuver requested by NRHA pattern 10 and, once the duo had closed their run, a 224 appeared on the score board and remained unbeaten.

“Our run tonight went well from the start, and I could not have asked her to be any better,” said Mandy McCutcheon. “My husband [NRHA Million Dollar Rider Tom McCutcheon] rode her as a 3-year-old, and my dad [NRHA Hall of Famer and Three Million Dollar Rider Tim McQuay] rode her a little this spring. [NRHA Professional] Debbie Brown – who trains for us – really put in a lot of time into her in the past two months and really helped me figure her out. I had a pretty good run on her in Tulsa, but not so good a run at the NRBC. We put our heads together to figure out what links were missing, and it worked!”

Bred, nominated, and raised by Sarah Willeman of Turnabout Farm Inc., Hollywood Starburst was born at Mandy and Tom McCutcheon Reining Horses in Aubrey, Texas. “Tom actually sold her to one of our customers last year and showed her at the NRHA Futurity, where he had a little trouble with her,” added McCutcheon. “This past Spring, we bought her back and sold a couple of horses at the futurity last fall so that we could have a spot for her. It’s hard to go wrong with a good Dun It mare!”

Past NRHA Non Pro Derby champions and current go-round leaders, Dr. Bill Rhoads and his 5-year-old mare nominated by Martin Bonneson, Mega Maggie Mae (Magnum Chic Dream x Cinco De Mega), settled for co-reserve honors. “I was unfortunate to draw first tonight, but she was awesome for me, and I couldn’t have asked for more,” Rhoads said.

Tying for reserve honors with Rhoads was Sandra Bentien of Auburn, California, riding Gotta Twist It Up (Spooks Gotta Whiz x Make It With A Twist). The 4-year-old mare is owned and was nominated by Bentien.

Stephanie Gripp of Sheffield, Illinois, qualified her 5-year-old AQHA and APHA double-registered mare Gun N For Glory (Gunner x Dun It For Chex), nominated by Oldenburg Farm LLC, in all four levels of the Non Pro Derby. With a 219 score, the 16-year-old left the pen with the Level 3, 2, 1 and Youth Non Pro Derby Championships! “This is amazing…if I can put words to it. This was the first time I made it to the level 4 finals, and it’s simply unbelievable,” said Gripp. “My score was held for a little bit, so I was panicked a little bit and couldn’t breathe. When they finally announced my score, I was just thrilled. I was very happy with how my horse did, and I’m very thankful to have her.”

Laura Anne Bell Parker riding George and Carol Bell’s Shirley Your A Tag (Whiz N Tag Chex x Pines BH), nominated by Lance Griffin, and Kara Gray Frye riding her Juice N Silk (Smart Like Juice x Silk N Sable Pine), nominated by Jim Irwin, tied for reserve honors in the L3 division. Both scored a 216.5.

Earning the reserve championship in the L2, L1, and Youth divisions were Coded N Karma (Electric Code x Whiz N Snap) and Raeanna Thayn. The 6-year-old gelding is owned by Robert and Robbin Thayn and was nominated by Couture Reiners. The duo scored a 218 for the titles.

Michael Garnett and his Snoop Around (Walla Walla Whiz x Sneaking Out Tonight), nominated by Joanne Garnett, claimed both the Prime Time Non Pro and Masters Derby Championships. Micheal and his wife Joanne raised the 6-year-old gelding. “I let him trot out of a rollback today, that was my fault, but he showed really well,” said Garnett following the finals. “He’s very honest in the pen, in fact the last time he was shown was last year at Vegas. He’s not been schooled since then or been shown anywhere. He came out to show like this today and in the prelims, so I’m real happy with him!”

NRHA would like to thank all the supportive Corporate Partner and event sponsors for making our Derby awards outstanding this year!

All Non Pro level champions received:

  • Custom Montana Silversmiths Trophy Buckle
  • A custom Saddle
  • Anderson Bean boots
  • Classic Equine Product
  •  Bluebonnet Feed
  • Platinum Performance CJ
  • SmartPak Gift card
  • Kiser Hydrext Dust Suppressant and Moisture Extender
  • Level 1 & 2 Non Pro Champions recieved Shorty’s Caboy Hattery certificate
  • Level 1, 2, & 3 Non Pro Champions received a custom saddle from Continental Saddlery
  • Level 4 Non Pro Champion received a Silver Spurs custom saddle
  • The Level 4 Non Pro Champion also received a Sundowner trailer for the use of one year courteously of Twin Cities South Trailers the official trailer of the N-R-H-A Derby. Big thank you to Sundowner for making these beautiful champion trailers possible and all the Corporate Partners and Event Sponsors for all these wonderful awards.

The Prime Time Non Pro Champion received:

  • Custom Montana Silversmiths Trophy Buckle
  • Bob’s Custom Saddle
  • Anderson Bean Boots
  • Classic Equine Product
  • Bluebonnet Feed
  • Platinum Performance CJ
  • SmartPak Gift card
  • Kiser Hydrext Dust Suppressant and Moisture Extender

The Youth Non Pro Champion received:

  • Custom Montana Silversmiths Trophy Buckle
  • A Custom Silver Spurs Saddle
  • Anderson Bean Boots
  • Classic Equine Product
  • Bluebonnet Feed
  • Platinum Performance CJ
  • SmartPak Gift card

Friday Ancillary Action:

Madison Gustin, Stephanie Johnson Tie for Rookie Levels 1 and 2

Johnson Wins Prime Time Rookie

As the Non Pro Derby finalists were riding for the 2017 titles, the Adequan Championship Arena welcomed NRHA ancillary action.

The Jackpot Rookie Level 1 and $200-added Rookie Level 2 saw a tie between two competitors in the Adequan Arena on June 30. Madison Gustin and Stephanie Johnson both marked a 143.5. Johnson also won the Prime Time Rookie class.

Madison Gustin wasn’t expecting to win a class Friday, but Guns R Spooky had a different idea. The duo from Weatherford, Texas, exited the arena with a 143.5 to tie for victory.

“We went in there just trying to have fun and take it easy to get ready for our Youth classes [Saturday] and Sunday,” Madison said. “He felt good and everything was great, so we ended up with the high score.”

Gustin arrived at the 2017 NRHA Derby on Wednesday and has been using the time to practice and warm up her 2010 gelding by Smart Spook and out of Berry Yer Guns.

“I’ve just been schooling; I got here Wednesday, so we’ve just been taking it easy getting ready to show,” Gustin said.

She says “Avatar” is full of personality—her favorite quality about him.

“I’ve owned him for about two years now, and he’s literally my best friend—it’s been so much fun,” Gustin said. “He’s got talent, but he’s so much fun to be around. I’ve been riding since I was 5 and started reining when I was 8. I ride with [NRHA Million Dollar Rider] Casey Deary, and I love it. It’s where I’ve grown up; I’ve been there since I was 8. He’s my role model and always has been. It’s so much fun to be around him and all the people at the Deary barn.”

Stephanie Johnson and Light M Up put together a winning 143.5, but Johnson still says it came as a shock because of the caliber of competitors she rode against. She credits the performance to her “soul mate,” the 2012 gelding by Wimpys Little Step and out of Aleena Starlight.

“It felt great whenever I was out there, but this is a big show, and it’s my first time ever coming to this show, so you just don’t expect to knock it out of the park,” Johnson said. “My horse is amazing; he’s my soul mate in a horse. We’re still getting to know each other, and we’re doing pretty good so far. This is a dream come true.”

Johnson and “Cato” are a fairly recent team. Johnson searched high and low for the perfect horse and finally found him in the fall of 2016. They showed at their first horse show early this year and are continuing to improve.

“Last year at the Derby, I was searching for a horse, never found one, and it took six months to find him. It’s been amazing ever since,” Johnson said. “He’s done great for me; we just started showing in February and he’s been incredible at every single show. The Florida Classic was our first show and one of the bigger shows we’ve been to, and we won high point there. We’re just a good team.”

Johnson says Cato’s ability to adjust to each rider makes him incredibly special, especially since Johnson is a new reiner.

“He’s super sweet and an open-caliber horse, but he’s gentle enough and kind enough that he’s good to me, because I’m still learning and still green eligible and rookie, so he’s just a great horse,” Johnson said.

Johnson, who has a background in Western all-around and hunter/jumper, trains with Josiane Gauthier Performance Horses at Sunny Pines Farm in Lucama, North Carolina. She says Gauthier’s training has been a match since she started reining.

“I’ve been reining for a little less than two years, and I kind of fell in love with reining the minute I started it,” Johnson said. “The horses are so beautiful and so athletic. I found Josiane, and she’s the most amazing coach; we just clicked. I absolutely love it.”

Madison Rafacz Wins Jackpot Green Reiner Levels 1 and 2 Aboard Better Not Rest

Madison Rafacz is no stranger to the show pen, and it was evident in in the Jackpot Green Reiner Levels 1 and 2. The 9-year-old daughter of NRHA Professional Mark Rafacz and his wife, multiple non pro NRHA World Champion Shannon Rafacz, marked a 142 aboard Better Not Rest (Custom Crome x Rest Stop) to top the competition.

“Jay” isn’t Madison’s main mount, but she seemed perfectly comfortable aboard the big 17-year-old bay gelding. Madison says Jay is easy to ride but can be difficult to show because of his size, but he has a sweet demeanor and is constantly looking for his next snack.

“I feel good; that’s the first time I’ve actually gotten to show him and won!” Madison said. “He’s kind of hard to show, but he’s really easy to show at the same time. He’s a really good boy, and we love him.”

Madison, who’s been riding her entire life and reining since she was 4 years old, says the class was the first time she had a victorious showing with Jay.

In the Level 1, Kr Ima Selfish and Allison Arnold scored a 141.5 to take reserve honors. Stephanie Johnson and Light M Up placed second in the Level 2 with a 140.5.

The NRHA Derby welcomes USA Para Reiners

Jennifer Flanagan, executive director of Great Oak Aiken Therapeutic Riding Center in Aiken, South Carolina was the only competitor in the USA Para Reining Grade 2 riding Smart Zone to a 131.

“I think my run was good, considering this is the first time for me to show on this horse; we got a score, so that’s always a very positive thing,” said Flanagan who started competing two years ago. “At the moment, she is in training with Steve Kutie, but I’ll be taking her home to South Carolina after this weekend. I’m super excited to get her home and start building that bond together.”

Cole Jacobs and Pinstripe Benz won the USA Para Reining Grade 3 with a score of 136. Jacobs and “Pinstripe” share a special bond. Jacobs, who has been competing in reining since 2012, was pleased with his horse’s performance after lots of time in the practice pen.

Holly Leigh Jacobson of Ipswich, Massachusetts, and Ruf N Loaded also competed in the USA Para Reining Grade 3, and although they received a no-score in the NRHA Para Reining class for not wearing protective headwear, Jacobson is grateful for every opportunity she has with the gelding.

“He’s such a professional horse, and I learn something new every single time I step in there. That’s the best part—you’re never done learning,” said Jacobson about her mount who was generously loaned to her by Cole Jacobs.

In the USA Para Reining Grade 4/NRHA Para Reining, Cullen Santino Le Roy took victory aboard Smokin N Tinseltown with a 130. Elizabeth Kelley and Czgunnacashbigchex marked a 125.5 to earn the reserve slot.

2017 NRHA Derby: Day Six

2017 NRHA Derby Day 6

Fappani and Chic Dreamin win the Open Derby Qualifier

Fappani_and_Chic_DreaminIt took a 226 to win the Level (L)4 Open Derby qualifier, and that is exactly what NRHA Four Million Dollar Rider Andrea Fappani posted riding Silver Spurs Equine’s Chic Dreamin (Magnum Chic Dream x Skeets Red Dunit).

With the 5-year-old stallion (nominated by Casey Hinton) between the reins, Fappani came away from the 2017 NRBC with the Level 4 Open title, a feat that put the pressure on his performance in OKC. “I was really nervous coming in today,” said the Arizona-based NRHA Professional. “My horse felt really good but, when you come away from the NRBC with the championship, the pressure is on. Especially if you have to wait until the end of the week to show!”

“Chic Dreamin is such a great horse and Andrea [Fappani] is such an amazing rider,” said Michelle Miola of Silver Spurs Equine. “I am so excited with their performance today!”

Jimmy Van Der Hoeven and Electro Star (Electric Code x Rg Miss Starlight), owned by Kathy Hinton and Casey Hinton and nominated by David Hartman DVM, had posted the highest score of the first go round, first section of the L4. Fappani bested his score by one point.

NRHA Professionals Billy G Williams and Bud Lyon both posted a 222.5 to lead the L3 division. Williams rode his own 4-year-old stallion nominated by Vicky King, Prety Fashionable (Pretty Peppy Chec x Sheza Fashion Chic). Lyon rode Madison Quintanar’s 5-year-old stallion Einsteins Top Whiz (Einsteins Revolution x KR Samantha), nominated by Shady Grove Farm Inc. The duo also lead the L2 division.

Gotta Get A Diamond (Spooks Gotta Whiz x Brillante Diamantes), owned by Cross C Ranch and ridden by Sarah Cunningham, held on to the top L1 score, a 220, earned in the first section of the Open Derby qualifier.

Open Derby Bubble scores:
Level 4: 220.5
Level 3: 218.5
Level 2: 217
Level 1: 214

Thursday Ancillary Action

As open riders provided reining action in the Jim Norick Arena, the Adequan Championship Arena offered the non pro competition.

Graycen Hess and her own Chromed Olena (Cromed Out Mercedes x FS Smart Dot Chic) posted a 143.5 to win the $500-added NRHA Limited Non Pro show #2 class. “I came here to compete in my first Derby ever. We went in and did really well, but in our first turn we kind-of bobbled a little bit, so sadly we missed the finals by a point,” said the young rider. “We came into this class and, being the same pattern, I wanted to go in and fix that turn. It worked…he was right there with me and was awesome.”

Hess rides with NRHA Professional Josiane Gauthier, who found him for her in January. “I wanted a step-up horse that would be able to get me here and take care of me in the show pen. She found him and we just clicked,” she added. “Saturday and Sunday I’ll show in the Youth 14-18 and then on Sunday I’ll be showing in IEA (Interscholastic Equestrian Association).”

It took a run off to determine who would take home the $1,000-added NRHA Novice Horse Non Pro Level 1 show #2. Both Kelsey Delaplaine, riding Boom Sail Whiz (Topsail Whiz x Cheeky Boom), and Adam Donahue aboard Thata Shiner (Smart Spook x SLJ Smart Like Whinny) scored a 142 to tie for the lead. Once they came back in the pen, first place honors went to Delaplaine and her mount.

James Windham and his Walks With Swagger (Topsail Whiz x Princess In Diamonds) rode to a 146.5 and the win in the Novice Horse Non Pro Level 2 show #2. A point behind the winner, Greg Hall and Mary Hall’s Chics Mainattraction (Conquistador Whiz x Chicstatic) placed second.