The horse show action continued in the Adequan® Arena at the 6666 National Reining Horse Association Derby presented by Markel. There were 103 entries in the Novice Horse Non Pro classes, spread across three levels. In the end, Melissa Wigen, Veronica Williams, and Gavin Warren tied for the Novice Horse Non Pro Level 1 title, with Wigen taking sole possession of the top spot in Levels 2 and 3.
Novice Horse Non Pro Level 1 Co-Champion & Level 2 & 3 (1) Champion – Melissa Wigen & Starlight Escalade
Melissa Wigen battled through the hardship of losing her competition horse and finding another one to compete on and rise above at the 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel. On Tuesday, June 21, Wigen won the co-championship of the Novice Horse Non Pro Level 1 (1) and won the championship of Levels 2 and 3.
“It was really tough [when] I lost my last horse. [Starlight Escalade] has been really special to me and we’ve worked very hard. I feel like he’s a blessing to me. Win or lose, he is a gift from God,” Wigen said.
Despite Starlight Escalade’s (Starlights Wrangler x Escalanta Chic) initial fear of the Adequan® Arena, the pair came together to mark a 143.
“He was [initially] really scared of the arena and I flew my husband here to help me get through it. I was able to call on him in his circles, which I hadn’t been able to do this week because he’s been spooky. His stops were O.K. for us, and I’m not going to tell you it’s all horse,” Wigen said with some humor.
On Wigen’s list of people to thank were her husband, Travis Wigen, Yonathan Baruch and the barn community, plus her own family.
“It’s not easy to have kids at teenage age, try to [compete] and do well, and have a job,” Wigen said.
Novice Horse Non Pro Level 1 (1) Co-Champion – Veronica Williams & Shiners Nu Chic
Veronica Williams got some redemption Tuesday, June 21, in the Adequan® Arena. After a disappointing Non Pro Derby run, Williams and Shiners Nu Chic (Smart Chic Olena x Shiners Lil Annie) tied for the win in the first slate of the Novice Horse Level 1.
“I just got her, and this is our first big outing together. I showed her in the Non Pro Derby and we had some bobbles, which was really disappointing. I decided I was going to come back over here and do this, and it worked out,” Williams said. “We’ve been getting to know each other, and getting in sync with each other.”
According to Williams, their 143 together was obtained with some motivated riding.
“I was mad, so I rode a little stronger. She’s a really lazy mare and can use a lot of leg,” Williams said.
She thanked her husband and his barn of clients for their continued support and cheers in the pen.
Novice Horse Non Pro Level 1 (1) Co-Champion – Gavin Warren & Lil Ruf Maggie
Gavin Warren was among the three that tied for the Novice Horse Non Pro Level 1 (1) Championship, scoring a 143. He did so on Lil Ruf Maggie (Magnum Chic Dream x Lil Ruf Jessie), a mare he is newly acquainted with.
“This is my show with her – I just started with her. I showed her full sister last year so it’s fun to be able to keep riding the same bloodline and see what I can do with them,” Warren said. “Their minds are very, very similar, and they want to perform to the best of their ability and do their job.”
Warren’s Non Pro Derby run didn’t go to plan earlier in the week, so he entered the Novice Horse class to gain more show experience.
“I want to thank my dad and my trainer, Devin Warren, and my mom for taking care of things back home. Everyone in my barn [too], for their kind words and [tips],” Warren said.
Intermediate Open High Point Champion – Patrona Whiz & Arnaud Ferret
Seasoned showman Arnaud Ferret and Patrona Whiz earned the Intermediate Open High Point Championship Monday, June 20, in the Adequan® Arena.
With the two Intermediate Open runs, Patrona Whiz (Spooks Gotta Whiz x Smokin Jeanie Jag) added $1,100 to her lifetime earnings. The five-year-old mare is bred and owned by Diane Beckmann.
“She’s very nice, very talented, [but] she’s a little green in the show pen. We try to put her in there as much as we can and get her some show experience. Make sure she gets show broke,” Ferret said.
According to Ferret, Patrona Whiz’s strengths are her circles and stops.
“[Monday] She ran in pretty good… and then she circled really, really good. She had a bobble on the second lead change, but she was awesome the rest of the way,” Ferret said.
Next up for Patrona Whiz are more trips into the show pen with Ferret at the reins.
“We’re going to keep on going until she gets comfortable going in there. Trying to get her ready for the Derby next year,” Ferret said.
Limited Non Pro High Point – Kaylene Cunningham & KB Bucks N Guns
Kaylene Cunningham came to the 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel with a goal – win the Limited Non Pro High Point Montana Silversmiths championship buckle.
She did just that on Monday, June 20, with eight-year-old KB Bucks N Guns (Gunner x Smart Whizzin Jenny), winning $180 across both days and adding to the gelding’s $4,500 in lifetime earnings.
“I’ve had him for almost a year. This is our seventh show and I think we just click,” Cunningham said. “The run was great. We were calm, he felt like he was there with me every step of the way. He didn’t do anything that I didn’t want him to do.”
KB Bucks N Guns may be a performer inside the pen, but he is a diverse eater in the barn. According to Cunningham, his favorite treat is ice cream and strangest nibble has been pizza.
“He likes to eat whenever I’m eating. So, if I’m having something he has to have it too, otherwise he throws a little bit of a temper tantrum,” Cunningham.
Next up for the pair is the American Paint Horse Association World Show.
“I want to thank my mom and my trainer Shane Brown,” Cunningham said.