Sandra Bentien: Alone at the Top

When I am able to cover events live, I love to hear everyone’s stories. It’s part of my job: to listen and share your story. I met Sandra Bentien at the NRHA Futurity a couple of years ago and fell in love with her stallion, Gotta Twist It Up. The pair ended up winning the Level 3 & 2 Non Pro Futurity Championships in 2016, then came back to win the Level 4 Non Pro Derby Championship in 2018.

It was my privilege to share her story in the January 2018 issue of Horse & Rider magazine. She tells me how she survived her first pony, a black Shetland named Thunder, and moved on to teach herself the intricacies of reining.

“Competitors all dream of winning on the big stage. For reiners, that’s often at the Jim Norick Arena in Oklahoma City during either the National Reining Horse Association Derby or Futurity. Riders and trainer fantasize about being crowned the NRHA Futurity Champion, the penultimate title. Breeders hope they’ve produced the next prospect to wear the roses. Owners dream of taking those roses home to their mantels. 

“Rarely are all four of those people–rider, trainer, breeder and owner–under one hat. But when you’re the ultimate do-it-yourself non-pro, the stars can align for that to occur, as they did for Sandra Bentien at the 2016 NRHA Futurity.”

Sandra Bentien NRHA Non Pro Derby Championalone-2

Read the whole article on Horse & Rider’s website: DIY Rider Alone at the Top

A little behind the scenes look when Sandra was named 2018 NRHA Level 4 Non Pro Derby Champion with her homebred, Gotta Twist It Up.

2018 NRHA Derby NP Champion

Catching up with Sandra Bentien right after she’s named 2018 NRHA Level 4 Derby Champion.

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Andrea Fappani – Getting the Most From Your Horse

(From the January 2017 Reiner Magazine)

Andrea Fappani Spooky WhizThe surprise wasn’t really that Andrea Fappani had won the Lucas Oil NRHA Level 4 Open Futurity, but the surprise was what horse he won it on, and how he did it.

Spooky Whiz joined the Fappani training barn at the end of his 2-year-old year after Fappani purchased him through agent Eduardo Salgado for Rancho Oso Rio, an NRHA Million Dollar Owner. While the dark bay gelding was a bit on the small size, Fappnie could tell, even at an early age, that he had exactly the mind he was looking for.

“What I liked was his mind,” recalls Fappani. “As a 2 year old he was very mature, and you could tell he took different things that he wasn’t used to and handled them well. That’s what I’m looking for when I train young horses.”

WorldChamp07-Open

Learn more about how Fappani got the most out of Spooky Whiz, and why he chose to break tradition and ride in romal reins: Trainer Talk: Getting the Most From Your Horse

The Importance of Balance in Reining Horses

While I lived in Lexington, I had the privilege of getting to work with leaders in the equine health industry in many facets. I’ve always enjoyed talking with Stuart Muir, resident farrier at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital. Stuart is a wealth of information when it comes to the horse’s hoof, so when he knows of a podiatry topic horse owners need to learn about, he and I work together to get that information out there.

One such example is this article I wrote for the NRHA Reiner: “The Importance of Balance in Reining Horses.”

GH-Joe Schmidt

Why is balance so important? In order to alleviate the amount of stress and pressure on the horse’s front legs during movement, it’s imperative that the front legs breakover with as little force as possible. “We need to get the horse moving very efficiently,” says Stuart. “To do that, we work a lot at balancing the hoof with trimming and shoeing. It’s very important, especially in reining, to make sure that the front end is balanced.”

You can read the rest of the article: The Importance of Balance in Reining Horses

Getting the Most from Your Horse

I just returned from a trip to Oklahoma City for the 2017 NRHA Derby, the aged event that celebrates 4-, 5-, and 6-year-old reining horses. It’s always fun to see the horses that competed in the prior year’s Futurity, as well as returning Futurity champions all in one building. I’ll post some photos from my trip later, but first, I thought it’d be good to learn how to get the most from your horse in the reining pen from the 2016 NRHA Futurity Champion (and NRHA Four Million Dollar Rider) Andrea Fappani and the NRHA Reiner.

The surprise wasn’t really that Fappani had won the Lucas Oil NRHA Level 4 Open Futurity, but the surprise was what horse he won it on, and how he did it.

Spooky Whiz joined the Fappani training barn at the end of his 2 year old year after Fappani purchased him through agent Eduardo Salgado for Rancho Oso Rio, an NRHA Million Dollar Owner. While the dark bay gelding was a bit on the small size, Fappani could tell, even at an early age, that he had exactly the mind he was looking for.

Andrea-romal

Read more on the PDF:

Trainer Talk: Getting the Most from Your Horse with Andrea Fappani

Throwback Thursday: Not Your Typical Horse Owner

When Casey Deary slid into the 2015 NRHA Futurity Finals aboard a flash Palomino mare, her owner was just so happy that not only was she in the finals, but she was spinning in the middle of Jim Norick Arena in Oklahoma City.

Rob Curtis is about strategy–management strategies for business owners to help them succeed, and strategies for building the next great reining breeding family. While he might seem all business, when you talk with him, you hear the passion he has for his business, his family and his horses, including Shesouttayourleague.

I met Rob a few months after his mare catapulted Casey to Million Dollar Rider status when she won the 2015 NRHA Futurity and got to share his story for the Quarter Horse News. I thought it’d be fun to highlight Rob again because he’s the type of owner you like to talk with!

QHN: Not Your Typical Owner

RobCurtis

Scenes from the 2016 NRHA Futurity

Once again I had the opportunity to attend the National Reining Horse Association‘s marquee event: The NRHA Futurity & Adequan North American Affiliate Championships.

I was doing coverage of the NAAC for the NRHA Reiner, and, as always, the experiences did not disappoint.

Sometimes the Futurity isn't just about the horses. This 5-month-old Kangaroo joey is named Rosie Roo, and she was attending her first Futurity with her owner.

Sometimes the Futurity isn’t just about the horses. This 5-month-old Kangaroo joey is named Rosie Roo, and she was attending her first Futurity with her owner.

That moment when you hear, "THE SCORE...." during the Open Finals. Andrea Fappani won the Level 4 on Spooky Whiz with a 225.5.

That moment when you hear, “THE SCORE….” during the Open Finals. Andrea Fappani won the Level 4 on Spooky Whiz with a 225.5.

Just doing some daydreaming of my next reining horse....

Just doing some daydreaming of my next reining horse….

Casualties of the dirt

Casualties of the dirt

The final breath... The final "whoa".... The final slide... The Finals

The final breath…
The final “whoa”….
The final slide…
The Finals

America’s Horse: Smokey the Pony

This time last year an equine star was born…and we’re not talking about American Pharoah.  Instead, we’re talking about his track pony, Smokey, the buckskin Quarter Horse with a golden, dappled coat and the demeanor that drew crowds to him.

I got to know more about “Smokey the Pony” when I wrote a profile piece for the National Reining Horse Association’s The Reiner magazine. It was a piece of a lifetime, since I got to talk with Bob Baffert (one of my favorite Thoroughbred racing trainers) and Donna Brothers, former jockey and NBC Thoroughbred racing analyst. Follow along on Smokey’s journey from a snowy birth to his star shining so bright, Hollywood came calling.

Read more: This Whiz Shines: America’s Sweetheart HS-Smokey the Pony HorseSM-page-001 HS-Smokey the Pony HorseSM-page-002