California Reining Horse Challenge

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.

Sandy Day and ICR Topp Sailor cel­e­brate their win.

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.”

Matt Mills on Rat­tle N Jazz

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 shows off for the Free Style

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.

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