Prizes, Performances, and Pizzazz!
By Gayle Carline
The future’s looking bright for Sandy Day and her gelding, ICR Topp Sailor. They won four out of five possible championships in the 3 Year Old Futurity division at the California Reining Horse Challenge this year. The show, offering some of the largest purses of any Fall Derby on the West Coast, was held October 26–30 at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank. More than two hundred horses competed for over $54,000 in prizes during the five day event, including an $8000 Futurity class that is the highest paying one go-around class for three year olds. In addition the CRHA once again hosted the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Western Affiliate Finals, where riders qualified for the NRHA Futurity and Championship Show in Oklahoma this November.
With an impressive score of 145, Sandy and “Arnie” won the $2000 Non Pro, the $3000 CRHA Challenge Non Pro Stallion Stakes, the $1000 Intermediate Non Pro and the $1000 Limited Non Pro, as well as the Wheat Chex Perpetual Trophy for the High Score Non Pro Gelding and the Topsail Cody Memorial Perpetual Trophy. Winding up the 3 Year Old Futurity Non Pro wins was Dunit Hickory Style, ridden by Ron Piedalue, who won the $500 Prime Time Non Pro. “Prime Time” events are for riders 50 years and older.
According to Sandy, it was especially exciting to win with Arnie, since he is a homebred horse out of her stallion, ICR Sailor. Living in Bishop, California, Sandy has been training her own horses for years, partly for the joy of doing it herself and partly because there are no trainers near her. For this performance, her goal was to stay clean and consistent, even if it meant giving up some speed.
“For reining patterns, the emphasis on speed can cost you in the crispness of your routine,” she explained. “I wanted to make certain that I did pretty circles, nailed my turns and my stops, and showed the judges a definite ‘shut down’ from my large circles to my smaller ones. I could have gone faster, but I didn’t want any mistakes, and it paid off.”
When asked how she overcomes training obstacles without a trainer’s help, Sandy replied, “Once I started going to shows, I’d just talk to anyone who would talk back to me. Since the reining community is so friendly, that was just about everyone. I’d explain my problem and ask their advice, then go home and try it. This year I managed to get down to see (trainer) Brent Naylor in Scottsdale, Arizona about three times. He really helped me work on some problem areas with my horses.”
In the Open Futurity, Sanjo Lena Nic, ridden by Matt Mills walked away with the $7000 Open prize, as well as the $3000 Intermediate Open. Matt also rode the winner of the $8000 CRHA Challenge Open Stallion Stakes, Mr Rattle N Jazz. Raise the Dealer won the $1000 Open, ridden by Andrea Fappani, and Jim McCarty with Bright Juice Olena took the $500 Prime Time Open.
There were a number of other events at this year’s Challenge in between the many classes being judged in the Equidome. Once again, there were auctions and raffles to raise funds for the 2006 Challenge Futurity and Derby purses. Fifteen stallions’ services were donated to the Stallion Service Silent Auction for the 2006 breeding season. And Dave and Myra Belson of 5B Quarter Horses in Cave Creek, California again donated a yearling filly, Miss N Rattle, who was raffled off on Saturday.
In addition, the CRHA reached out to the competitive and non-competitive community with charity and support in two ways.
First, they gave financial support to the Tierra del Sol Foundation’s Equestrian Therapy Program for Developmentally Disabled Adults. This is the CRHA’s second year of sponsoring this foundation. The Equestrian Therapy Program is just one of the many programs at Tierra del Sol to help their clients become physically stronger, more acutely focused and attentive. Exhibitors were encouraged to make donations, and a portion of each sponsorship, including the raffle for the filly, was awarded to this worthy cause.
Second, to help the members of the reining community, the CRHA offered free clinics every day to give advice and answer questions. The topics ranged from showing (what matters to a judge, how to stay calm in the show arena), to horse health (first aid, hoof health), to how to pick the right stallion for your mare. According to Poncie Gimple, the show secretary, the clinics were well attended and had good audience participation, and she expects that the CRHA will offer them at more shows.
Arguably, the most entertaining class at the Reining Horse Challenge was the Freestyle for both Open and Non Pro. This is a class where all of the elements of a reining pattern must be presented, but they do not have to follow a particular pattern. The competitors put their choreography to music and typically wear some sort of costume, including their horse. These routines run from funny to elegant, but all are exciting to watch.
Cassidy Cobarr on Slidin on Top was the first to perform. She and her horse came out dressed as football players to the tune of “Get Ready for This” by 2 Unlimited. Standing mid-arena as the singer shouted, “Y’all ready for this?” Cassidy dropped her horse’s bridle in the dirt and did her entire pattern with no hands! Watching her gallop down the arena at full speed with no reins was impressive enough, but the sliding stops looked spectacular.
This set the tone for the rest of the competitors. Most of them did at least part of their routines without their reins; Josh Armstrong wore handcuffs as he rode Rx Sugar around to “Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash. The funniest performance had to be Tom Foran, who donned a satin blouse and blond wig to ride Cattitude. Ever the showman, he winked and flirted with the audience as Gwen Stefani’s “Rich Girl” played.
In the end, it was Cassidy Cobarr and Slidin on Top who won the $1000 Non Pro and Tom Foran and Cattitude who won the $1000 Open Freestyle events.
As in previous years, this year’s Challenge was a great place for professional and non-professional reiners to compete for prizes and for fun.