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    Up to the Challenge

    CRHA show, Southwest Affiliate finals draw top reiners to LAEC

    From releases and staff reports - November 20th, 2014 - Cover Story, Show & Event News

    11B Cover shotBURBANK — With the last big derby of the year, a tough pre-futurity and the NRHA Southwest Regional Affiliate Finals, it’s no wonder the Los Angeles Equestrian Center was at near-capacity for the California Challenge, held Oct. 22-26 by the California Reining Horse Association.

    Perfect weather and good ground greeted a talented group of competitors from throughout California as well as five other states. CRHA officials said they sold a record number of stalls.

    The futurity, always a big draw as NRHA Futurity hopefuls enter the show pen, showcased potential finalists for the Oklahoma City event Nov. 28-Dec. 6. Competing at home, Tom Foran took Gunnin For A Shine to the Open L4 Futurity Championship, topping reserve co-champions Tracer Gilson of Sanger on Gunna Spank You and Randy Paul on Gunnadeous.

    “He’s always been a very talented colt, and as he matures, he’s really learning how to put it all together,” Foran said of the handsome bay stallion that he has guided since picking him as a yearling at the Legacy sale. CJ’s Dream Performance Horses is the owner.

    Tom Foran rides Gunnin For A Shine to the L4 Open Futurity title at the 2014 California Reining Horse Association Challenge and Southwest Affiliate Finals event, held Oct. 22-26 at the L.A. Equestrian Center.

    Tom Foran rides Gunnin For A Shine to the L4 Open Futurity title at the 2014 California Reining Horse Association Challenge and Southwest Affiliate Finals event, held Oct. 22-26 at the L.A. Equestrian Center.

    John O’Hara photo

    Nicolas Barthelemy rode Sheri Jamieson’s versatile All That Boon to the other three futurity championships, in levels 1, 2 and 3. The cutting-bred colt, by Peptoboonsmal out of a High Brow Cat mare, received the highest futurity score in his first reining. A week later at the California Cow Horse Association Futurity in Bakersfield, Barthelemy showed “Brody” to the high herd work score.

    “When we saw Brody as a yearling, we really just liked his conformation, the way he was put together,” said Jamieson, who assumed he would be more of a cutter and would fashion him into enough of a reiner to do the reined cow horse work.

    “But, as we started to work with him in the reining,” she added, “we noticed that he was extremely talented. He started to move like a reiner.”

    Jamieson says Brody’s future likely will include reinings in 2015, along with NRCHA events and possibly even cutting.

    “We never make a decision that a horse is going to be a reiner, or a cutter, or a reined cow horse,” she said. “We put the horse into our training program, and then we see what their strengths are. The horse sort of leads us to where they want to go.”

    Both open futurity chempions, Barthelemy and Foran, apprenticed under the late trainer Yvon Mathieu, who, both men said, “is smiling down on us right now.”

    Nicolas Barthelemy takes Sheri Jamieson's versatile All That Boon to the L1, L2 and L3 Open Futurity titles at the 2014 CRHA Challenge.

    Nicolas Barthelemy takes Sheri Jamieson’s versatile All That Boon to the L1, L2 and L3 Open Futurity titles at the 2014 CRHA Challenge.

    John O’Hara photo

    In non pro futurities, Frederick Christen used a 145 on Roxannes First Light to the L4 and L3 titles. In L2, Laurie Ward and Mak Daddy tied with Melissa Compton on Dun Its Code for the L2 Championship. Ward also took the L1 Non Pro Futurity Championship on Chex Out The Crome.

    The final California derby of 2014 attracted top talent, with NRHA $3 Million Dollar rider Andrea Fappani teaming up with his NRHA Futurity Open Champion, Lil Joe Cash, to take home the L4 Open Derby and the accompanying Lawson bronze with a 155.5.

    Matt Mills, who took reserve to Fappani in the L4 Open Derby with a 151.5 on Gotta Trigger Man, owned by Tim Ruckman and Mary Beth Thompson of Scottsdale, also won the L3 Open Derby. He also was co-reserve champion, riding Rawhide Whiz Kid to a tie with Bill Norwood on Peggy Aldrete’s Quinberry with respective 149s.

    Mills and Rawhide Whiz Kid received the top gelding award, with the open division mare championship going to Foran on another horse owned by CJ’s Dream Horse, Hickory Holly Tag.

    In hotly contested NRHA Southwest Affiliate action, Donnie Bricker took the Open Affiliate Championship showing Wallas Wiley Whiz for Christine Lytle of Wickenburg, Ariz. Dallas Wedel was reserve on Juli Moran’s steady Downright Juicy. Both riders had qualified in this division through the CRHA, and both also qualified in the Intermediate Open division, too.

    Donnie Bricker slides to the Open Affilate championship on Wallas Wiley Whiz, owned by Christine Lytle.

    Donnie Bricker slides to the Open Affilate championship on Wallas Wiley Whiz, owned by Christine Lytle.

    John O’Hara photo

    Koby Kempel, a passionate reiner from Boston, Mass., tutored by Fappani, rode Starbucks Finest to the Non Pro Affiliate Championship in a duel with another tough competitor, reserve champion Marilyn Scheffers on her This Belles Smokin. Kempel, who also won the Intermediate Non Pro Championship over reserve champion Robin Aaker on Miss Winnie Tag, credits Fappani with his fast track to Oklahoma City.

    “It started by finding a really good trainer who was willing to train me,” said Kempel, an Israel native who moved to the U.S. in 2004 and launched a construction business. “I had had horses with Andrea Fappani for a few years, and two years ago we thought it would be interesting if I started showing, because I had never ridden reining. I was involved in it, but I had never really rode seriously.”

    Fappani paired Kempel with Starbucks Finest (Smart Starbuck X Dun It Sweetly), a 2003 gelding ridden by Randy Paul to several big wins – including his 2008 AQHA Junior Reining World Championship that made Paul the 12th NRHA Million Dollar Rider.

    “Starbucks is an amazing horse,” said Kempel, 46. “Andrea just had to make sure that I know how to use that amazing horse.” He credits Fappani with his successful first year of non pro competition, winning five of six shows.

    The L.A. Equestrian Center unveiled its new Rein Café, a place to eat, lounge and socialize while watching the show. A new Santa Maria-style barbeque provided tri-tip, and the patio was a hit with trainers, exhibitors and fans. LAEC Events Coordinator Jill Behunin says finishing touches will include televisions to view action in the Equidome and other arenas, lighting and a nice sound system.

    The L.A. Equestrian Center unveiled its new Rein Café, a place to eat, lounge and socialize while watching the show. A new Santa Maria-style barbeque provided tri-tip, and the patio was a hit with trainers, exhibitors and fans. LAEC Events Coordinator Jill Behunin says finishing touches will include televisions to view action in the Equidome and other arenas, lighting and a nice sound system.

    John O’Hara photo

    “He goes to horse shows to win,” Kempel said. “He expects the people around him to do things at a high level, just like he does. I meet him there at 4 a.m. with coffee, and start riding with him. If I am done showing my horse in my class and he thinks I need to ride again to improve some stuff, then I get on another horse and I fix those things.”

    “I can’t say that he’s been treating me like a non pro,” he adds. “He treats me like someone who he expects to do things like he does, in the way he does them. That resonates with me.”

    In the important Rookie Affiliate Finals, Micki Quinn and her 4-year-old mare, Hickory Holly Tag, topped 12 competitors. CRHA Reiner of the Year Adina Valenzuela (see related story) rode Zen Master to reserve.

    In the Novice Horse Affiliate divisions, Foran, marking a 145.5, tied himself for first in the Open Level 2. He was aboard Kimberly Adamic’s Step To The Bar Jac and Taylor Sheridan’s Wrangler Derby Dayz. Dallas and Downright Juicy finished third with Bricker and Lil Whiskey Rains fourth. Foran also won the Level 1 with Step To The Bar Jac. Dallas and Downright Juicy were Reserve in that division.

    In the Novice Non Pro Affiliates, top honors in the L2 went to Robin Aaker astride Miss Winnie Tag with Rebecca Armour and San Cielo Rey taking second. In the L1, Rebecca took the title and Michelle Miola riding SS Spyderman finishing reserve.

    A good crop of young riders come out to competethis year, several competing for a bid to Oklahoma City. In the 13-under Affiliate competition, Kelly Carson took first place on Great Grullo Pine, with Robbi-Kay Lynn Pederson on Sparks at Midnight in reserve. Sarah Scheinert showing her steady gelding, Go For It Topsail, won the 14-18 Affiliate Championship, with Kristi Wiggins piloting Gangsters Hitman to the reserve spot.

    The Challenge also saw some riders claim other prestigious titles. For the second year in a row, the show offered the No Wimpy Cowboys Non Pro Maturity. After a thrilling run-off, Kempel and Starbucks Finest won the championship, topping Bill Coburn on Nics Little Bud. In L3, the order was the same.

    In L2, Kempel took first, with Scheffers and This Belles Smokin in reserve. Scheffers, the hard-working CRHA Secretary, said the growth of the Challenge show in recent years is an indicator of reining’s popularity on the West Coast.

    “Many of the riders and horses that competed so successfully in Burbank will surely go on to Oklahoma and find success in the Affiliate Finals, as well as in the biggest 3-year-old event in the world,” she said. “It’s no wonder the Challenge has been so great for so many years — it offers everything that draws people to reining… fun, excitement, competition, and great horses. What could be a better way to end the show season in the West!”

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