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

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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

Breeding: Reproducing Greatness with a Little Help

Every winter stallions enter breeding sheds across the country with owners’ hopes of producing the next Spooks Gotta Whiz, HF Mobster, or Wimpys Little Step. Eleven months later mare owners wait with baited breath to see what possibly months or years of plan- ning has produced. Four long legs, a fluffy mane and tail, and a soft nose to nuzzle for milk can carry so much promise.
If only it were that easy…
I enjoyed talking with the researchers at Colorado State University to get an update on what what reproductive milestones they’ve reached in recent years for the NRHA Reiner magazine. Things like helping older broodmares stay healthy, and how to keep the golden stallions viable for years to come.
Read on to learn more about research from the December 2014 issue of the NRHA Reiner.

Reproducing Greatness with a Little Help

Reproducing Greatness with a Little Help, page 1

Reproducing Greatness with a Little Help, page 2

A Golden World Equestrian Games for USA Reining

Last week was a crazy one for me. I’ve learned it is particularly difficult to cover an event that is happening in France while you’re located in Kentucky. But, thanks to technology and social media, it wasn’t too bad. I was doing remote coverage of the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games for the EquineChronicle.com and HorsesDaily.com.

It was a lot of fun to watch as Team USA reasserted their dominance in the sport we’ve perfected, by not only winning the fourth (or four) Team gold medal, but also sweeping the individual podium, including having one of the few five-time WEG gold medalists in Shawn Flarida, and the first woman to stand on the individual podium with Mandy McCutcheon.

A patriot sight to see the American flag over some cowboys. Photo courtesy Dirk Caremans/FEI

A patriot sight to see the American flag over some cowboys. Photo courtesy Dirk Caremans/FEI

During the event, I was lucky to be in contact with the owner of Andrea Fappani’s ride–Custom Cash Advance. Michael Miola is one of those owners whose passion for his horses and the sport of reining might overwhelm you, but you know his heart is with his horse. In fact, Miola and his farm, Silver Spurs Equine, were lucky enough to have two horses qualified for reining Team USA with Fappani. However, when they determined Smoking Whiz wasn’t 100 percent, they decided to go all-in with “Cash.” Fappani and Cash came home with a Team Gold and Individual Silver, which is pretty good considering the pair had only competed together one time before heading to France, and that was for the team qualifier held in April in Kentucky. Each time they competed, though, their scores improved–220 in Lexington, 224 in the team competition in Caen, and 229 in the individual round. Pretty impressive.

Andrea Fappani and Custom Cash Advance set the tone early for USA reining with a great Team run.Photo courtesy Dirk Caremans/FEI

Andrea Fappani and Custom Cash Advance set the tone early for USA reining with a great Team run.Photo courtesy Dirk Caremans/FEI

What was equally impressive, to me, was the heart in both Jordan Larson and the big buckskin stallion, HF Mobster. Larson’s one of those trainers that I don’t believe gets a lot of credit, but he’s behind a lot of the top horses today–in fact, he was the last rider of Custom Cash Advance before Fappani took the reins. And when you see “Mobster” you can’t help but hold your breath just want to pet him–that big blue eye, beautifully put together… They earned the Team Gold as well, and could have possibly earned an individual medal, if it hadn’t been for a scary slip during the last of his big, fast circles. Mobster’s heart totally shown through, however, when he continued the pattern without missing a step. (You can see the video below.)

And, of course, there’s the golden girl in Mandy McCutcheon. Riding the big palomino stallion Yellow Jersey, she showed that her parents made the right decision in letting her take the reins for her first trip as a competitor (not a support like she has in the past for husband Tom, and father Tim McQuay). She lit up the arena with her smile every time she finished the pattern. She rode her heart out, and Yellow Jersey gave her everything he had. Mandy’s done just about all a Non Pro can do in her storied career, but to see a woman finally on the individual podium (and a German female rider came in fourth), was pretty awesome.

Read more from the WEG with my articles on EquineChronicle.com and HorsesDaily.com:

Team USA Reining Arrives in France for the World Equestrian Games
So what do you pack for a horse being shipped to Europe to compete in a world-class event? “Really nothing out of the ordinary,”  Michael explains. “The only thing different that was packed, besides Andrea’s saddle, bridles, blankets, etc., was that we sent a 50-pound bag of carrots for Cash’s treats along for the trip. He loves carrots!”

Team USA Starts Strong at 2014 World Equestrian Games
Miola said the “ear-splitting cheers” never subsided throughout Cash’s run and got even more intense as the pair set up for their closing rundowns and stops. “The scores before Cash’s run weren’t very high, with a 218 leading,” Miola explains. “When Andrea’s pattern was complete, the crowd continued cheering and stomping until the score was announced—a 224. Then, the crowd erupted again! I have never experienced this level of enthusiasm in my life. The Europeans really love reining.”

Team USA is Golden at 2014 World Equestrian Games
“The feeling is very emotional—I didn’t think it would be, but it is,” Miola says. “Cash is such a pleasant horse to be around. To see him and Andrea being honored like this, along with the other members of the team, brought tears to both Michelle’s and my eyes, especially when they played the National Anthem.”

2014 World Equestrian Games Wrap-Up: Team USA Sweeps Podium
Mandy McCutcheon, who is the only non pro and female NRHA Million Dollar Rider, told the media she feels lucky to place behind Flarida and Fappani. “I’ve been lucky to have the opportunities I’ve had for my whole career and the opportunities my parents have given me,” she says. “I couldn’t be more thankful or appreciative to them; I wouldn’t be here without them and the same thing with Tom.”

Adequan USA Reining Reigns Supreme
“It’s hard to put all I feel in words,” Mandy told the media. “I couldn’t be happier, my horse stepped up for me tonight and when they do that, they are great horses. To be behind two such great athletes as Shawn and Andrea is just an amazing feeling. It is an honor for me and I couldn’t be luckier to have had the opportunities I’ve had in my career.”

Reining Team USA Announced

Six riders are now preparing their passports for Normandy, France, after a stellar showing at the 2014 Kentucky Cup Reining Event held during the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington over the weekend. Over the course of two rides, the top reiners in the country battled it out for the honor to represent the United States in reining at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG).

Shawn Flarida, riding Spooks Gotta Whiz, a 7-year-old stallion by Spooks Gotta Gun and out of Prettywhizprettydoes, won the CRI3* event with a cumulative score of 452.5. The “man in the green shirt” was untouchable as he claimed his fourth Kentucky Cup Championship. Finishing second was Mandy McCutcheon riding Yellow Jersey, a 10-year-old palomino stallion owned by her dad, Tim McQuay. Jordan Larson riding the buckskin stallion HF Mobster earned the bronze, and Andrea Fappani riding Smoking Whiz rounded out the top four.

Others chosen for the team included Fappani on Custom Cash Advance, Troy Heikes on Lil Gun Dunit, and Tom McCutcheon on Dun Git A Nicadual.

Kentucky Reining Cup Medalists: Shawn Flarida (gold), Mandy McCutchecon (silver), and Jordan Larson (bronze).

Kentucky Reining Cup Medalists: Shawn Flarida (gold), Mandy McCutchecon (silver), and Jordan Larson (bronze).

For Mandy and Heikes, it will be their first foray into the international spotlight, but both are seasoned competitors who are looking forward to the event.

“I’ll go into it just as another horse show,” said Heikes. “You go to horse shows for many years and you learn the psychology of how to prepare yourself, ready your horses, and not let the game beat you, so I’ll approach it like another horse show.”

For Mandy, she’s attended every WEG since reining joined the event in 2002. She attended as a supporter of either her father or husband, but this time she gets to compete, as the first woman on Team USA.

“I don’t really ever look at any of what I accomplish like [I’m the first woman to do this or that]. To me, we’re just competitors, not women and men,” she said. “It’s really fun. I get more nervous when either of them walk in the ring than when I do. This part is fun for me, just to enjoy it with them.”

While most of their horses still have to finish out the stallion season, the team will start to prepare for the trip across the ocean by keeping the horses on a conditioning program. “We’ve worked the last couple of years to get here with these horses, so there’s nothing that will distract us from [the WEG],” said Fappani. “From now until Normandy, that’s what we’re working towards.”

The team will learn about the different FEI rules, including riding schedules, team meetings, and more in the coming months, and they hope to be able to scout out the facilities before they ship their horses overseas. The games will take place August 23rd to September 7th, with reining being held August 25-30.

Who’s is the biggest competition for Team USA, a group that has claimed Team Gold ever since the first reining event at the WEG in Juerez, Spain, in 2002?

“Ourselves,” everyone stated in unison.

Team USA Reining: Shawn Flarida, Jordan Larson, Mandy McCutcheon, Andrea Fappani, Troy Heikes, and Tom McCutcheon.

Team USA Reining: Shawn Flarida, Jordan Larson, Mandy McCutcheon, Andrea Fappani, Troy Heikes, and Tom McCutcheon.

Here is Shawn Flarida and Spooks Gotta Whiz’s winning ride:

 

EquineChronicle.com