Arabian & Half-Arabian Futurity Reining Classic Brings Money Riders and praise
Scottsdale’s Arabian Reining Celebrates 10 Years with High Marks for “Better” Everywhere
By Sue Adams
(Scottsdale, AZ) – The Arabian Reining Horse Association’s (ARHA) 2014 Scottsdale Arabian-Half-Arabian Futurity Reining Classic celebrated a tenth anniversary by attracting two of the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) top money riders. Their interest in competing in the Futurity Classic is simply further evidence of the word most often used to describe the Show this year: “Better.” Better purebreds, better Half-Arabians, better trainers, better riders, better facilities.
Better Focus on Young Riders with Short Stirrup Classes
“Better” starts with getting young people interested in Arabian reining through the introduction of the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Short Stirrup classes. Frank Costantini, a past president of NRHA and NRHF, credits ARHA for working with NRHA to offer these classes. “This event speaks well to the biggest challenge facing the equine industry today, that of getting young people involved. This really shows what reining has to offer.”
Scottsdale trainer Jessica Bean of Bein Performance Horses agrees. “This is a great way for kids to learn to be comfortable showing and be safe at the cantor because they are in the ring by themselves to ride the reining pattern,” she explains. “I had three students riding and they were thrilled. These classes are a good boost toward getting kids interested in our sport.”
“Better” Spans Beyond the Wells Fargo Advisors Arena
From the perspective of Joe Betten, who together with Tom Redmond and Dick Ames, is regarded as one the “Three Founding Fathers” of the Futurity, speaks with pride, “The quality of the horses showing this year reflects nearly a complete change over this decade. If you lined up the horses from that first event with the competitors here now, we’ve got a completely different horse. When we started we hoped to attract some top Quarter Horse people – and this year, they’re here!”
Betten was referring specifically to two mulit-champion trainers, Andrea Fappani and Craig Schmersal. Italian born Fappani was the youngest NRHA Million Dollar Rider and a Three Million Dollar Rider. He and his wife operate Fappani Performance Horses in Scottsdale. Schmersal, of Schmersal Reining Horses in Overbrook, OK, is one of the youngest trainers on the NRHA’s top ten list, and the third Two Million Dollar rider. He travels between their farm and the family’s home in Scottsdale where they relocated for their second of three sons to attend prep school.
Terry Thompson of Aubry, TX, one of the five-judge panel for the show, judged the ARHA Futurity Reining Classic four years. A NHRA judge for some 40 years, he holds eight judging cards, including FEI and quarter horse. His impressions of the tenth anniversary show speak through the eyes of a seasoned professional. “Arabian people now have a better understanding of what makes a good reining horse, which in turn culls the competition but produces a higher level event,” he explains.
Kyle’s Tack of Whitesboro, TX brought their mobile tack shop to the ARHA Futurity Reining Classic eight years ago. The shop location has a great view of Wells Fargo Advisors Arena action and Marshall Kyle knows reining. “This always a good show, but it is only getting better and better. The quality of horses and tremendous showmanship is impressive. Scores this year are close to NHRA average scores, not only in the Half-Arab classes but in purebred too,” says Kyle.
ARHA president Eleanor Hamilton of Eleanor’s Arabian Farm in Rogers, MM, is pleased by the quality of the entries in the tenth anniversary Show. “Our breeders have made huge strides in the past ten years,” she explains. “The improvement in our purebred horses is really fantastic. These refined, selective breeding programs are producing better reining horse stock, horses with stronger bodies, more balanced confirmation and greater athleticism coupled with good minds and quiet dispositions.”
New Chair of Arabian-Half-Arabian Futurity Sees Opportunities Ahead
Tim Anderson of Amani Reiners in Milbank, SD, is the new chair of the ARHA Arabian and Half-Arabian Futurity. Anderson is enthusiastic about the future of the Futurity. “Support may not come just from donations,” he explains. “We have a lot of confidence in the popularity and growing potential of reining. The Futurity will continue to be a driving force in supporting reining. And as we look back over the accomplishments of the past decade, I see the future as equally bright.”
Finals Weekend Produced Big Winners and Great Competition
Finals weekend brought out the big money, with the Futurity Reining Classic pushing well beyond 1.3 million dollars awarded since 2005. These financial incentives are increasingly visible in the ring as reining Arabian and Half-Arabian horses perform at consistently higher levels.
Friday night the purebreds vied for total purse of $46,000 with payouts through the Top Ten. Breeding programs developing reining Arabians are making a big difference in the ring with beautiful horses showing at very high performance levels. All Maxed Out RA, owned by Cotton McNutt of Baytown, TX and ridden to the Championship by Andrea Fappani came away with $16,000. Reserve Champion honors and $8,500 went to Crystal McNutt riding Am Star of the Sea for the late Bazy Tankersley of Tucson, AZ. Third and fourth place tied with a payout of $4,000 each to Aaron Doss on Scarlets Revolver owned by Zollie Saxon, Muskogee, OK and Tyson Randle riding Mr. Universe for Bryan Nelson of Houston, TX. EAF Hesa Wizard ridden by Ken Eppers for Tim Williams, Burlington, KS placed fifth with winnings of $3,000. Vallejo Beautifulmoon ridden by Crystal McNutt for owners Vallejo lll Ranch, Afton, OK claimed $2,750 in sixth place. Anita M Dublin on AM Mighty Titus owned by Mary Brownlee, Billings, MT won $2,500 as seventh place. Good N Plennty ridden and owned Dusty Morgan, Dulce, CA, placed eighth with $2,000. Cadillac Khowboy ridden by Jessica Bein and owned with her husband David Bein, of Scottsdale won $1,750 in the ninth spot. And closing out the Top Ten at $1,500 was Shiraze JT ridden by Jason Hershberger for owner John M Toolson Jr, of Jerome, ID.
Saturday evening’s Half-Arabian Reining Futurity Championship saw serious competitive action amongst the Top Ten for a total purse of $74,000. The
$30,000 Championship went to Crystal McNutton Were Dun Johnny owned by Susan, Allyson and Bradley Friedman of Scottsdale. Reserve Champion honors and $11,000 SH Imvaguel Ysurprised ridden by Craig Schmersal for Timothy Anderson, Milbank, SD. Andrea Fappani claimed third and $8,000 on PAF Hitman for Auriel Overall, Tucson, AZ. Fourth place went to BJ Spooks Lil Gunner ridden by Tyson Randle for Michelle Deoroche, Argyle, TX with $5,500.00. Fifth and sixth placed tied for a payout of $4,600 each for Colby Dustin Powell on Whata Doc Bar TR for owners Silver Aspen Ranch, Aubrn, WA and to Tyson Randle ridding Hollywood Firecracker for SA Grove of Wessington Springs, SD. Brian Welman riding Dun It My Way RA claimed seventh place for Richard Ames of Cedar Ridge Arabians, Gordon, MN. Ames also shared a split on eight and ninth place with Brian Welman riding Dun With Style RA for $2,550 and Tyson Randle on Easy Dun It for Bryan and Cheryl Nelson, of Houston, TX. Crystal McNutt on Ben There Dun That RA owned by Larry Lease, Clements, CA took the tenth spot of $1,500.
Four years ago Tim Anderson of Amani Reiners in Milbank, SD, recognized that reining horses need an opportunity to earn prize money after the futurity years. He made a four-year $20,000 annual funding commitment to the Half-Arabian Non Pro Derby for six, seven and eight year old reiners. Anderson’s vision is producing significant results with 19 entries in the class won by Rod Powell for Silver Aspen Ranch on Whoa Damit winning $6,800, plus $2,000 in Prime Time. Katie Harvey of KGB Texas Marketing riding Smokign Gun claimed Reserve Champion and $5,400. Third place went to Cori Vokoun of Buckshot Farms riding BSF Marshall Dillon and claiming $4,000. SH Cool Dude ridden and owned by Diane Comeau placed fourth with $2,000. Joe Betten riding Custom Gale claimed fifth place at $1,800 but also won $1,500 in Prime Time and $1,700 in Intermediate.
Cori Vokoun of Buckshot Farms riding Sonatinas Sunset won Purebred Non Pro and $3,375. Nicole Kent on Hazel de Boise went Reserve Champion winning $ 2,625.00.
Sponsors and Competitors Like This Show
Phyllis LaMalfa, executive director of the ARHA, sites sponsor loyalty as evidence of the success of the Futurity Reining Classic. “Wells Fargo Advisors returned as our arena sponsor, Markel Insurance Company sponsored our Draw Party with a seminar conducted by famed trainer Andrea Fappani. Kyle Tack returned for an eighth year, Bingham Equipment Company continued as our tractor sponsor and SmartPax returned as an event sponsor. Sliver Spurs Equine, LLC returned for a second year, this time to introduce their newly acquired champion purebred stallion, What It Takes, along with showcasing their American Quarter Horse stallions. This show is successful because these sponsors believe in it and we appreciate each one of them.”
While Markel Insurance has a long time presence in the horse community, particularly in the Arabian industry, they continue to educate the horse community through sponsoring educational seminars open to the public. This year Markel sponsored “Preparing Your Horse to Show,” which featured Andrea Fappani and purebred Arabian champion stallion, What It Takes, owned by Silver Spurs Equine.
“The company strives to build long term relationships in the market and Arabian reining horses are attracting a lot of interest from the Arabian horse community. It is an exciting, action oriented competition mixing fun and great sportsmanship making an ideal sponsorship opportunity for Markel,” comments Kimberly Douglas, Markel’s Manager of Arabian Horse Practice.
Kim Niven of Armani Reiners, said, “There are so many great “back stories” here. Like Non Pro Derby Rookie Champion Paul David. He has a very ill young child so he is unable to ride often, but he has a dozens of fellow competitors and everyone from Crystal McNutt Performance Horses where he trains cheering for him on the rail.”
A combination of numerous intangibles is required for a great show atmosphere. There is the camaraderie born of people who share the love of good horses and a friendly atmosphere of people looking out for each other, ready to lend a hand or a halter, whatever might be necessary. There is all the laughter and good-natured humor of that accompanies reining. The Scottsdale show is a special experience because of all the people who enjoy each other’s company as much as great horses – and it is only getting better and better – for 2015 and beyond.