NRHA Futurity showcases talented horses and riders |

NRHA Futurity showcases talented horses and riders

Robyn Scherer, Staff Reporter, Fence Post

The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Futurity, held in Oklahoma City, OK, drew thousands of spectators and showcased some of the country’s best trainers and three-year-old horses.

The event, held from Nov. 22-Dec. 3, culminated Saturday with the professional Finals event.

Riders are broken into four levels, and their earnings determine what level they compete in, with Level One being the lowest. A rider can always compete up a level, but not down.

In reining, there are several maneuvers that horse and rider must complete. These include the walk-in (certain patterns), circles (both large fast and small slow), spins (to the right and left), hesitate (waiting for next maneuver), lead changes, run downs and runarounds, stops, rollbacks and backups.

Competitors are judged on each maneuver and given a score ranging from negative 1.5 to a positive 1.5. There are five judges, and the highest and lower scores are thrown out. The score baseline is 70.

The overall Level Four champion was Andrea Fappani from Scottsdale, AZ, who marked on 227.5 on Lil Joe Cash, owned by Russell Giles.

According to the NRHA, “The pair earned $150,000 including the 5 percent nominator incentive. Kurt Harris, the nominator, earned $7,500.” First place prizes include: a Bob’s Custom Saddle; Montana Silversmiths trophy buckle; SmartPak gift card; Pard’s Western Shop gift card; Classic Equine Contour Pedic Reiner pad; John Deere halter; Assure Guard; Sore No More; Rios of Mercedes Boots; Platinum Performance; Purina Feed; and a variety of prizes from NRHA Futurity Event Sponsors.

The Level Three championship came down to a run-off between Jason Vanlandingham from Whitesboro, TX, and Eduardo Salgado from Avare, SP, Brazil. In the run-off, Vanlandingham scored a 226, over Salgado’s 225.5, and was named the Level Three champion. Vanlandingham’s horse, A Smokin Whiz, is owned by Sunrise Ranch LLC of Fayetteville, AR.

For Level One and Level Two, Salgado was the champion. His horse, Gunner Boy, is owned by Jefferson Abbud of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The futurity also features a non-professional category, and rider Veronica St-Onge of Gainsville, TX, with her horse Spooks and Sparks, scored a 221 to win the event. Mandy McCuchen of Aubrey, TX, was second on Justa Smart Star, with a score of 220.

Abby Lengel from Burlington, CO, finished tied for 10th with a score of 215 on her mare Einsteinsherheykiss.

Shane Brown from Elbert, CO, won the Adequan North American Affiliate Championship Open on his horse Houston Shine. Brown and the seven-year-old stallion were reserve champions last year. The stallion is owned by Sheryl Mease from Grand Junction, CO.

“The Futurity was great. The ancillary classes continue to grow every year, and it has done nothing but get better every year. It’s incredible what the three-year-olds do in the Futurity. And the Non-Pro program has grown every year. My overall experience was great this year,” said Brown.

Even though they did not win, there were several riders from the Mountain West region. Owners from Colorado (and their riders, who may or may not be in Colorado) included owner Cottonwood Springs Ranch LLC of Bayfield; rider Ryan Anderson and owner Martha Collison from Carbondale; rider Justin Quick and owner Laura Mohon from Loveland; owner Gayle Samuelson from Glenwood Springs; rider Adam Hendrickson and owner Jacque Hendrickson from Castle Rock; Stephano Calcagnini and owner Gail Klapper from Lakewood; rider Haley Dake and owner Candy Sodowsky from Franktown; rider David Zimmerman and owner Darlyne Woodward from Carbondale; owners Karl and Terry Roberts from Broomfield; rider Cody Stark and owners Gary and Sandy Vickrey from Cedaredge; rider Steve Schwartzenberger and owner Dori Schwartzenberger from Longmont; rider Craig Schmersal and owner KC Performance Horses LLC from Bayfield; rider Todd Crawford and owner Floyd Miller and Newt White from Bayfield; and rider Steve Schwartzenberger and owner Charlotte Hahn of Fort Collins.

Colorado is very involved at the national and state level. Brown is the President of the Rocky Mountain Reining Horse Association and said, “We have a great state. Our involvement is really good, and we are very competitive at the national level. This state is a lot bigger as far as the Non-Pro program. We have a lot of people who want to do it and show their own horses, and that’s great.”

He continued, “The other thing we have that is a huge benefit is the friendship and camaraderie. We all work together. All three reining groups (Eastern Plains, Rocky Mountain and Western Slope) help each other out. Those people from out of state are impressed with how well we get along and the events we put on. Everyone is really positive and supports each other, and that is what makes this sport great.”

Riders and owners from Wyoming included rider Gabriel Garrison and owner Brandon Warner from Cheyenne; rider Adam Hendrickson and owner Double K Ranch from Crowheart; and rider Joe Schmidt and owner Judy Box of Crowheart.

Riders and owners from Nebraska included rider Joshua Visser and owner Douglas McClelland from Lincoln; rider Lance Shockley (Loveland, CO) and owner John Anderson from Plainview.

Two other night events were also held during the Futurity, including the $100,000-added NRHA World Championship Shootout, and the 4 R Performance Horses Hometown Heroes Slide. The shootout was won by Andrea Fappani on Tinker With Guns, with a score of 231.5. The five-year-old stallion is owned by Rancho Oso Rio LLC.

Rider Shawn Flarida and horse Whizkey N Diamonds came in second with a score of 229.5. The stallion is owned by Rhodes River Ranch. Great Sun Burst, owned by Italy’s Manuel Bonzano, and Bernard Fonck tied with Custom Cash Advance, owned by Luga LLC, and Duane Latimer with a 228.5 for third place.

The 4R Performance Horses Hometown Heroes Slide featured area firefighters and police officers who competed in teams. Professional freestyle riders were paired with the competitors to train them, and also competed, Brown, from Elbert, CO, had the high score of the night. His score of 231 on Houstin Shine secured the firefighter’s team win.

“It was a great experience. It made it for a lot of fun. There was no pressure at all. You are there just to be entertaining, and be in the spirit of a team. To know that it’s all for a good cause, it made it all worth while,” said Brown.

Money raised from the Hometown Heroes slide benefited the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum.

“The slide was wonderful. The new friends that we have made the Oklahoma City Memorial and Oklahoma City fire and police have been tremendous. This is the 25th year that the Futurity has been hosted in Oklahoma City, so we wanted to integrate this event more into the community,” said Shianne Megel, supervisor of youth program.

In addition to the reining events, throughout the Futurity attendees could visit the many vendors and horse trainers who attended the event. The vendors included clothing designers, equipment companies, jewelry makers, artists, saddle makers and hat makers, just to name a few.

Reprinted with permission from Fence Post.