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Muehlstaetter and his ‘Buddy’ up to NRBC Challenge

Scottsdale trainer’s Non Pro client wins titles, $60,000, too

Special to the Horsetrader - May 5th, 2011 - Cover Story, Show & Event News

KATY, Texas – It’s been four years since Martin Muehlstatter established his own training barn in Scottsdale, Ariz., and the highly-regarded 31-year-old Austrian native continues his steady climb to recognition.

His latest step came at the 2011 National Reining Breeders Classic, where he rode Wimpys Little Buddy to a convincing win in the first NBRC Open Classic Challenge competition for horses 7-years-old and up. In a field of heavy-hitters, Muehlstatter deftly rode what he calls “the best-minded horse on the planet” to a score of 228.5 and the $6,147 champion’s paycheck.

Muehlstaetter said it was “pretty special” to win the inaugural Classic Challenge at the show, especially on a horse who’s shown consistently for the trainer and for his Non Pro wife, Kim Muehlstaetter.

Martin Muehlstaetter calls Wimpys Little Buddy, owned by Madalyn Roberts of San Diego, the best-minded horse he's ridden. The duo won the inaugural NRBC Open Classic Challenge April 23 in Katy, Texas.

Waltenberry photo

Martin Muehlstaetter calls Wimpys Little Buddy, owned by Madalyn Roberts of San Diego, the best-minded horse he's ridden. The duo won the inaugural NRBC Open Classic Challenge April 23 in Katy, Texas.

“The horse felt really good,” he said of the 7-year-old gelding, owned by Madalyn Roberts of San Diego. “He’s the most honest horse there is. He gave 110 percent — he’s just so good-minded.”

The Muehlstatters bought Wimpys Little Buddy as a 4-year-old from Andrea Fappani, who trained him and showed him in the futurities and derbies. Kim earned money on the horse during his 5- and 6-year-old show seasons, and Martin showed the horse at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games for Austria before selling him to a Roberts, who plans to show him in Rookie competition. Not only is Wimpys Little Buddy the first NRBC Open Classic/Challenge Champion, but his score also placed him at the top of the concurrently held National Reining Horse Association Open and FEI-CR12* classes. All things considered, Muehlstaetter earned $15,436.

His long-time client, Non-Pro Shaunda Rae Ruckman, was another NRBC head-liner, winning more than $60,000 by taking the NRBC Non Pro Levels 1 through 4 titles.

“I’m overwhelmed –- this is unbelievable!” the Scottsdale, Arizona, Non Pro exclaimed following the awards ceremony.

Ruckman’s goal was to make the finals at the largest added-money reining in the world. She knew she’d be ecstatic if she even made the top 10.

“I don’t recall much about the run,” she said. “I remember going into the first stop and he was so good. I don’t know that I’ve ever run him that fast in his circles. He was a little tired when he got to his stops but he gave it his all,” she said.

The judges awarded that run with a 224 – the highest score during the Finals – and Ruckman and Rufanicki, by Lil Ruf Peppy out of Chexanicki, were the Non Pro Champions. Along with the cash – a total to the tune of $60,000 – Ruckman received a bounty of prizes.

“She’s been a great client, and she is very deserving,” Muehlstaetter said of his Non Pro star client. “She is really dedicated and comes to ride as much as her schedule allows here.”

The National Reining Breeders Classic – the largest added-money reining event in the world – experienced an incredible increase in entry numbers this year. In 2010, the million-dollar show had entries 1,848 entries – this year the tally was 269 more to 2,117. As a result of the increased entries, the NRBC surpassed a $1.4 million payout for the second year in a row.

“We’re very proud that the NRBC has been able to continually have these large payouts,” said Chris Potter of the NRBC management team. “It’s a source of pride that all of the checks are ready within an hour of the show’s completion – people don’t have to wait for weeks to get the money. There are many shows that are struggling to stay afloat. We truly appreciate all the exhibitors, owners, and sponsors who help make the NRBC the show to go to.”

Taking the Classic Challenge Reserve Championship was Custom Harley, ridden by Jordan Larson for Rancho El Fortin, Del Rio, Texas. Their 228 score came with a paycheck for $4,180. Also earning a place on the podium was Andrea Fappani, who rode Robert Thompson’s Yellow Jersey to first place in the United States Equestrian Federation Open with a score of 226.5. This was only Fappani’s second time showing the horse, but the big score was no surprise from this mount who also won the $100,000-added Open Shootout at the 2010 NRHA Futurity.

“I think any time you have a chance to represent your country, it’s always good, so I enter any chance I get,” Fappani said of the USEF competition.

The NRBC also features a full-slate of National Reining Horse Association-approved classes, which run in the East Arena while the Classic is held in the Coliseum. The National Reining Breeders Classic is the most successful stallion incentive program in reining history. In just fourteen years, the NRBC has grown to include nearly 200 subscribed stallions. Annually, the payout at the National Reining Breeders Classic exceeds $1.4 million.

More online: See website: http://www.nrbc.com/index.php

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