Arabian Reining Horse Association Shines Through Rain and In the Desert Sun
(Scottsdale, AZ) – The fourteenth Annual Arabian and Half-Arabian Reining Horse Futurity Classic at Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show at West World is in the record books. Members of Arabian Reining Horse Association (ARHA) and the Show staff can be rightly proud of a great Show under not the easiest of circumstances. Dark desert skies brought an abundance of rain for the first weekend, which although always welcome in the Sonoran Desert, does not make for an easy horse show. Fortunately, the West World facility offers multiple arenas with several covered; the staff quickly relocated and rescheduled classes and “the Show went on.”
Both Shawn Martin, NRHA representative and Chelsea Dygert in ARHA office gave a lot of credit to the reining competitors for their outstanding cooperation and great attitude in moving through the qualifying classes under less than ideal circumstances. “People truly took the rain in stride to make the best of the conditions and help each other get through our schedule without the use of the practice arena for several days,” related Martin.
“This group became more like a big extended family with everyone pulling together while the West World crew worked to manage drainage and get all arenas back in use,” added Dygert. Skies cleared mid-week and the desert sun was shining brightly on the Wells Fargo Advisors Arena as Markel presented Finals Weekend.
Founded in 1998, the ARHA is dedicated to promoting the natural athletic abilities and versatility of Arabian and Half Arabian reining horses, the Futurity Classic at Scottsdale being the focal point in that effort. Each year the membership driven organization has expanded the class schedules in response to ever increasing participation and competitor’s requests.
“Arabian reining continues as the fastest growing of all disciplines and has attracted many new participants in the past decade,” explains ARHA President Judy Kibler. “We continue to revise our programs to better meet the needs of our reining competitors and sponsors alike. This year, for example, we introduced Maturity Classes at the Futurity Classic to increase the opportunities for our non-pro members to enjoy their older trained horses. The positive response to our class expansions encourages us to continue to think forward and welcome everyone to learn about our great sport.”
ARHA Attracts Loyal and Ever Expanding Sponsorships
Sponsorships provide the financial backbone for ARHA Futurity Classic success as well maintaining the array of prizes including cash awards, trophies and buckles. The organization’s ability to draw loyal support is well evidenced by the returning Reining Arena 5 sponsor, Well Fargo Advisors, LLC. Indeed, the appearance of the famous Wells Fargo Stage Coach has become one of the traditions of the Scottsdale Arabian Show’s opening weekend. This year well over 200 families or groups of friends climbed aboard the beautiful hand-built coach for a complimentary photo from Wells Fargo Advisors. The coach holds a unique appeal for people of all ages eagerly approach the coach, with many expressing delight to see it again and talking about their stage coach photo from the Show several years ago.
Additional returning sponsors include Kyle Tack of Whitesboro, Texas, who presented one of their beautifully hand-crafted saddles to the Purebred Futurity Champion. Marshall and Phyllis Kyle have been at the Futurity with their mobile tack store since the first year and are always ready to offer a helping hand. The Bobcat division of Phoenix of Bingham Equipment Company, returned as tractor sponsor for arena maintenance. The granddame of reining, Eleanor Hamilton, of Eleanor’s Arabian Farm in Rogers, Minnesota, continues as a bedrock supporter ARHA. Get of Eleanor’s late stallion Hesa Zee continue his winning reining legacy.
ARHA introduced several new sponsorships for 2017. Preferred Auto Group/ DrivePreferred.com of West Michigan became the first sponsor for the ARHA Winner’s Circle, in the first of a three year commitment supporting ARHA. The Winner’s Circle area incorporated a Wendy Morris Tank mural to create a scenic photo backdrop for win photos. In fact, owner Joe Betten made good use of his Winner’s Circle with a win of the Half Arabian Primetime Non Pro Maturity on Custom Gale.
Markel Insurance was the inaugural Presenting Sponsor for Finals Weekend on Friday and Saturday evenings. Another Wendy Morris Tank mural titled “Rising Stars,” which was sold on the 2017 ARHA Online Auction, staged the new sponsorship. Markel representatives Kellie Chambers and Emily Springman from the home office in Richmond, VA were on hand for award presentations.
RaDon Inc of New Prague, MN became the Official Custom Drape Sponsor for ARHA, providing a $500 gift certificate for a RaDon Inc custom logo drape as well as creating all the staging drapes for the two new sponsorships. This was a first time ARHA sponsorship a well as a first visit to the Scottsdale Show for Don Sibbet’s company and he was taken with the atmosphere while walking the barns and visiting RaDon’s many clients. “In spite of the competition people are low key, relaxed and really having a good time. It’s just remarkable, with everyone so welcoming.”
Three Texas companies supported the Futurity Classic with product donations for winners, Barbara’s Custom Hats of Fort Worth, SPH Performance Gear from New Braunfels and Pyranha Inc from Houston, a leader in insect control products.
The Markel Insurance Finals Weekend Winners Are…
Friday night of Finals Weekend presented by Markel Insurance brought ten competitors for the Purebred Arabian Futurity with the Championship honors along with $8,764.99 and the Kyle Tack saddle going to Nspired by Mozart RA ridden by Brian Welman for owner Richard Ames of Jordon, MN. This win adds another name to the growing list of winning get for the Ames’ stallion TA Mozart as well as putting a huge smile on Dick’s face. “We just come here to have a really good time with all our friends, but winning is OK, too,” he added.
Reserve Champion, Rumour Haz It and Arno Honstetter, claimed $7,416.53 for owner Dusty Morgan. In third place, Crystal McNutt on AM Notorious Star for owners Power Alley LLC won $4,719.61. The fourth position tied between RCC Dakota Dawn and Elise Ulmer-Etzebeth for Round Barn Ranch and Brian Welman on Spin Art RA for owner Richard Ames with a $3,202.59 to each and an additional $900 Level 1 payout. Nathan Kent on Adessa SS for owner Connie-Cole O’Brien claimed sixth place and $2,696.92 and additional $600 Level 1 payout. The seventh spot and $2,022.69 went to Mozarts Mulligan RA, Crystal McNutt riding for owner Richard Ames. Tyson Randle on Lil Bit O Buckshot took home $1,685.58 for Buckshot Farms.
Saturday night brought the final class of the Futurity, the Half Arabian Reining Open, with $50,000 added money. Troy Heikes on LJ Maverick rode to the Championship and $15.378.96 for 4-Lazy-J Arizona owner Linda Jacobs. This marked only the second ARHA Futurity appearance for Heikes, from Outwest Stallion Station in Scottsdale, he rode a full brother to Maverick at the 2016 Show. When asked about his win, Heikes happily shared credit, “Linda does a great job with these horses, they’re in great condition, well prepared, calm and confident. They make my job easy, we had a great time out there tonight.”
Tyson Randle on Tr Gunpowder N Lead claimed Reserve Champion honors for RJA Holdings with a check for $11,534.22. Joe Betten’s Yellow Bug with Crystal McNutt rode to the third spot winning $8,971.66. Brian Welman on Maxema RA placed fourth for owner Richard Ames. Crystal McNutt on TR Por Quixote won $5,446.72 in fifth place for Joe Betten. Sixth place went to TR Flash Flood with Crystal McNutt for owner Abbey Weiss with $4,485.53. In the seventh spot, Andrea Fappani on SS A Noble Star won $3,844.74 for owner Tyson Randle. Spooks Gotta Shag, Crystal McNutt riding for Vallejo III Ranch LLC claimed eighth and $3,203.95. Skylar Powell on Blended Whizkey owned by Allison Mostowich placed ninth for $2,563.16, plus an additional Level 1 payout of $1,500. Rounding out the Top Ten, was Half Spoon Of Pepto and Crystal McNutt for owner Amanda Burns with $2,242.77 in prize money. Cody Thomas on TR Take Ittothe Bank, owned by Double Linck, took $1,000.00 in Level 1 added money.
The 2017 ARHA AAOTR High Point Award was presented to Katie Harvey of San Antonino, Texas on Finals Saturday. She receives a one week condo stay in beautiful Steamboat Springs, Colorado which was generously donated by Gail Jensen and Abbey Jenson of Jensen Photography and Pine Moon Fine Art in Steamboat Springs. Harvey was also Champion in the Purebred Non Pro Maturity on LD Tsunami for a $1,395 win.
Theresa Spencer of Vancouver, Washington posted four Championships in the new Maturity classes riding LJ Marshall to win $250 in Half Arabian Rookie Maturity, $1,360 in the Half Arabian Non Pro Maturity, $660 as winner of the Half Arabian Intermediate Non Pro Maturity and claiming $480 in the Half Arabian Limited Non Pro Maturity.
Nicole Kent, of Kuna, Idaho claimed three Champions and a Reserve in the Maturity classes with Nobles Top Gun. Champions included Purebred Intermediate Non Pro for $750, Purebred Limited Non Pro for $438.75 and Purebred Rookie for $210. Her Reserve win was in the Purebred Non Pro Maturity for $1,085.
Tamara Tozer-Wald won the Purebred Primetime Non Pro Maturity on Belizarbi and $330.
Complete class results can be found here.
ARHA Futurity and NRHA Judging
This year’s Futurity Classic brought together three National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) judges who had never worked together before in spite of their collective extensive judging expertise. The NRHA’s Judging System is a highly acclaimed format for the judging of equine events that includes technical and stylistic elements coupled with considerable difficulty. Evidence of their experience was apparent in the closeness of their scoring marks as in many cases only a half point separated the scores. On the panel, Buddy Fisher, from Abilene, Texas, Abby Cosenza, of Scottsdale, AZ and Todd Arvidson, from Purcell, OK.
All three judges were very complimentary of the event. “This WestWorld facility is outstanding, most especially in that the reiners get to show in an outside arena. There actually aren’t that many shows left where that is possible and the horses truly perform at their best outside,” commented Fisher. “Overall, I rate the Show as fabulous! Great job!”
Todd Arvidson added, “The size of the arena here is also very good. Sometimes we judge in places where the arenas are so small that the horses are not able to be their best. But this situation is really ideal for reiners, the way in which the reining arena and the farms are located together in this southeast section of the grounds makes for a very user friendly competition.”
“Even though I am the ‘home town’ judge on this panel, I have to say that this Show, at this facility is my favorite for judging,” offerrd Abby Cosenza. “This is just a spectacular celebration of horses, a one-of-a-kind event with the most Arabians judged in the most disciplines and a real tribute to the Arabian breed.”
“And the promotion for this Show is outstanding which helps create an atmosphere other horse shows just don’t have,” added Fisher.
Arvidson quickly agreed, “Spectacular celebration says it all!”
ARHA Board member Kathy Callahan-Smith, of Temecula, California, who was USEF Working Western Steward for the Show, and is also a judge herself, talked about the required NRHA training as part of what makes reining so attractive to competitors. “Becoming a NHRA judge involves an application process, formal training and an apprentice program. Every NRHA judge must attend school every two years and pass a test to be recertified. This is a commitment that is not for everyone and the program helps maintain a very high judging standard.”
Judy Kibler, ARHA president, gave this panel a high score of its own, “These judges really went above and beyond the call of duty given the weather challenges for several days. We certainly appreciate their highly professional attitudes and hard work.”
Great Horses for the Generations
In good measure a key attraction to reining is because each rider is judged on an individual ride. This creates a situation where other competitors are on the rail cheering on the rider in the ring which is rather unusual in horse show competition. People are drawn to that kind of fun and camaraderie, the atmosphere is very welcoming.
Occasionally a group of spectators becomes a story in itself. Case in point, a group of three generations, three women, where attendance dates back to 1962 when the Show was at the original McCormick Ranch. Add that the second generation woman has been a reining scribe for the ARHA Futurity for 13 years, and has been bringing her daughters with her, even before she started scribing. These things and the passion with which people speak of this event leaves the mark of just how really special this Show.
Glenda Nixon, now living in Las Vegas, told her husband when they attended their very first Arabian show that she was going to have an Arabian. Several years later she got the first one and she still owns Arabians. Her daughter, Misty Steinhauer, grew up with the horses and was drawn to reining. Asked to substitute scribe at a local show some 20 years or so ago, she found that she really enjoyed it and has continued her work as a scribe.
Misty’s daughters also enjoy time with their grandmother during the Show, as she has rarely missed a Scottsdale Show since that first one in 1962. Misty’s daughters, Abbey Neesam and Clare Steinhauer, who is also a substitute scribe, consider coming to Scottsdale one of those must-do family traditions.
In answer to what changes she has observed in the 13 years she’s worked as a scribe, Misty was quick to comment, “The number of quality horses as changed so much. The competition is so much more equal now in all the classes. You see that reflected in the close scoring.”
“Yes, it’s a lot different now than the early days. When I first got involved the same horse competed in any number of classes. You left the ring, the tractor came in, you put on a different saddle and when the tractor came out you were showing in a completely different class. And, well, that and the shopping has changed a lot too,” laughed Glenda.
Until Next Year!
“We’re very proud of our accomplishments for this our fourteenth Futurity at the Scottsdale Show. Our event has earned a name in the highly competitive sport of reining,” says President Kibler. “The ever improving quality of competitors proves the dedication of our reining horse breeders and training professionals. This is an exciting time for reining.”
“We especially are grateful to both our loyal returning sponsors and the new sponsors and donors who generously contributed this year. Without their support our Show would not be possible. We thank our office staff and the ring crew for their tireless work and appreciate all that the AHAA does to keep the Scottsdale Show the largest Arabian show in the world. And special thanks to the Arabian Horse Times for again producing our beautiful show program. As we let the dust settle a bit from this event, we look ahead to our fifteenth ARHA Futurity Classic, February 15-25, 2018, with the goal of producing an even better event.”
For additional information on the Arabian Reining Horse Association, please see www.ARHA.net.
Photo credit: Osteen/Schatzberg Photography