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Rookie to reckon with

Joey Pacini turns hard work, focus into Rookie of the Year

From Horsetrader staff reports - January 5th, 2012 - Cover Story, Show & Event News

NOVATO – Four years ago, Joey Pacini traveled to the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds with a friend to observe the NRHA Futurity. He was impressed.

“It was the real deal – it was huge,” said Pacini. “It left an impression.”

He made his first return visit to the Futurity last month, this time with Cash Me If You Can as a qualifier in the Adequan® North American Affiliate Championship (NAAC) Show, and the Fresno State senior left his own impression.

When the smoke cleared, the Fresno State senior and Cash Me If You Can came home with the Silver Spurs Equine Rookie of the Year Award, having topped 60 other competitors with a blistering 220.5 in the Dec. 1 championship class that topped reserve champion (and barnmate) Careena Laney with Reeboks Rerun by eight points.

All told, Pacini, who trains with Pat and Kim Yancey in Ione, earned $9,000 in 2011 with “Callie”, as he continues the mare’s transition from cow horse to reiner. He bought the own daughter of Shining Spark out of a Nu Cash mare from Ted Robinson early in her 3-year-old year, and Pacini’s No. 1 fan, his mother Cindy, says his dedication caught fire.

“For five or six months, he commuted down to Teddy’s from our house –- six hours — every other weekend, got two days of riding in with Ted, then drove home,” says Cindy. “He is a very committed child.”

Pacini showed the 3-year-old Callie both at the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity and the NSHA Futurity, but had to change course with the economic storm that soon hit.

“She’s a really talented horse, really good on the cow, but I just couldn’t afford to go to the cow horse stuff,” Pacini says. “I didn’t want to just let her sit, so I decided to go a different venue and contacted Pat and Kim. They’ve helped me on all my rein work.

“She’s such a natural horse,” he adds. “She has more heart than any horse I’ve ever ridden. We just knew that if we got her into that program, worked on her and got her in the bridle, it would be a successful year for us.”

Horses have motivated Pacini for a long time. Cindy says he took to horses at age 6, from his earliest horse camps.

“I put him in a couple of those horse camps during the summer, and he just kind of got addicted to it,” says Cindy. “Then he ended up helping out at the ranch just so he could ride a horse. He just grew so fond of it that eventually that’s what he chose to do.”

Joey, 22, is not the only competitor in the Pacini household.

Brother Danny, 20, has stayed with his passion for racing motorbikes and will race professionally this year in Supercross.

“As they say, we have a lot of horsepower in the house,” says Cindy. “One on a horse, one on a bike.”

For years, Cindy would travel with Joey with the horses, and father Steve would take Danny to motorcycle events.

“We always used to joke that we would always go two different directions on the weekend, and then we’d meet at the dinner table on Sunday evening to get ready to start our week,” says Joey. “It’s like two different types of horsepower.”

Joey had observed Yancey Performance Horses’ program over a few years and felt it would be a good fit for him and Callie.

“There weren’t any really huge milestones that we had hit during the year. We did have like a couple bobbles at Reining By The Bay. She just had gotten to be a little squirrelly in her circles and she had fallen a lead. But we went home and worked on it, and it just turned out she was doing the oppostite of what we thought she was doing – a typical horse thing. We got it lined out and I mean, I think probably the bigegst obstacle with her is that she over achieves. She just tries so hard that you almost have to kind of say no, you’re OK. Just be easy now. She doesn’t ever do anything…you know that she’s a horse that will have her bad days, but most of the time she has so much heart she just tries all the time.

“For me, last year was a matter of refinement. A lot about patience and just being able to work through things with my horse.”

In Oklahoma City, Joey and Callie were ready. When he warmed her up, it was the best she had warmed up all week. The run went even better.

“I jogged in because my horse is short and it takes so long to get her to the middle of the pen,” he recalls. “We turned left really well, then to the right really well, then I loped off.”

“I said she was an overachiever,” he adds. “Do you speed control this mare? She likes to lay tracks. So, I had to make sure that I’d just make a small move and be in control and don’t allow her to make such a big move to the ground. I made sure to think about that. I knew she’d change leads, and I knew she’d stop. After I got through my right circles and that speed control, I knew that my left speed control wasn’t going to be an issue. She changed leads, and by then I thought that if I could just go through and be clean and get her to stop real good and roll back, I should be sitting pretty.

He loved the run.

“It such a blast,” he said. “All Kim’s clients were there and the barn was there — everybody was so supportive. It was really neat.”

And Callie?

“She loves it,” he says. “She is definitely a show horse. She loves to be shown, and she’s the kind of horse — the harder you push her, the harder she tries. She was like that on a cow, and she’s like that on the rein work.”

The education of a reiner will continue this year in the derbies, a challenge Joey is looking forward to.

“Showing in the derbies will be a different level,” he says. “Money on the line. Higher pressue. Higher stakes. You’re competing against the best non pros in the industry.”

His preliminary itinerary includes Arizona in March, followed by Reining By The Bay in Woodside. Trips to Oklahoma City and Las Vegas are still pending.

“There’s a time and a place you need to lay it on the line,” he says. “Kim spends a lot of time making them confident in the pen. We spend a lot of time going to the shows, and we spend a lot of time schooling, making them confident in the pen so that when there’s a time we need to call on them to run hard or stop big or turn hard and do all that, we will have schooled for that all year long.”

He says he has learned that mental rehearsing is very important.

“That’s half the battle — the mental part of it,” he adds. “If I can stay out of my own way, I know when I go to call on my horse, she’s going to be there for me because we’ve worked on that all year.”

An Animal Science major with an almost lifelong affinity for pedigrees, Joey is itching to breed Callie.

“I’d like to focus on the derbies and show Callie, earning as much as we can, and when she turns seven breed her and get the babies on the ground,” he said.

More results: See website http://nrhafuturity.com/results.php

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