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West Coast take-off

Northwest Affiliate 1 reining kicks off 2013

From Horsetrader staff reports - March 7th, 2013 - Cover Story, Show & Event News

RANCHO MURIETA — A new season of West Coast Reining Horse Association competition was launched Feb. 8-10 at the Murieta Equine Complex, and with it was a familiar pattern: the nation’s largest affiliate continues to grow.

“We always judge our year on the first couple of turnouts,” said incoming WCRHA President Ollie Galligan. “We had our schooling show at the end of January, and it was a huge turnout, and then the Affiliate 1 show was good. We’re growing and growing some more.”

Galligan finished in a third-fourth tie aboard LaVonne Sturgeon’s California Shines in the Affiliate 1 Show Open Division, but he had a winner’s tone with respect to the rising popularity of reining in general and the Northwest Affiliate region in general.

“We actually have more members now than we had at the end of last year,” said Galligan, a 5-year WCRHA board member who took the president’s reins from David Hanson in 2013. “That gives you an idea how the membership is growing. That’s been our goal, and now that we’re the largest National Reining Horse Association affiliate in the nation, we’re looking at continuing to grow by the quality of our shows.”

John O’Hara photo

Mike Boyle pilots Susan Majauskas' Smart Movin Maserati to the Open Division title at the WCRHA Affiliate 1 show Feb. 8-10 in Rancho Murieta.

In addition to well-run competition, the WCRHA has built camaraderie among its barns with socials, parties and special events at the reinings that bring the competitors together socially. At the Affiliate 1 show, Hanson Performance Horses put on a popular exhibitor party.

“We’re building a real nice family environment and getting all the barns to come together with the pot lucks, parties and so on,” said Galligan. “Our shows are really fun.”

To see signs of a strong program, you don’t need to look further than the youngsters and the newcomers. Numbers of both have swelled in recent years, a positive sign that doesn’t elude the WCRHA board’s attention.

“I remember years when we struggled to have enough short stirrups to hold the class,” said Galligan. “Now it’s grown to the point where last year, for the first time, we actually had a year-end award for short stirrup. It’s so exciting to see the short stirrup show get to the point where people run up to the arena to watch the little kids go. Either the moms or dads were there at the gate, watching their kids go. It was crazy that it grew like it did last year, and this year we expect about the same.”

John O’Hara photo

Sandy Bentien and her Make It With A Twist had a great show, taking both Non Pro and Intermediate NP titles.

The number of WCRHA green-as-grass newcomers has grown, too.

“We really look after the new people coming in because we want to keep looking for them to grow — put more classes out there for the beginners so they can get more comfortable and also get more experience in the arena, rather than just having one class for them,” said Galligan. “Our gree-as-grass and our new entry-levels one and two are popular, and our Rookie Non Pro class gets bigger every year. It’s crazy — huge. We’re getting 60 to 70 in the class now.”

The competitive level of the club’s performers in the show pen is on the rise, too. At the NRHA Affiliate Finals last winter, the WCRHA was well represented with Top 10 finishers.

“We’ve been tough every year back in Oklahoma City,” said Galligan. “We are starting to put ourselves on the map — we have hellacious riders out here on the West Coast, and any time they go away from home, they really bring it on and bring home the trophies. They are such a great representation of our club.”

John O’Hara photo

Trigg McClellan takes his Rawhides Banjo to first place in the Limited Open division.

“We’ll have a bunch of members going down to the Cactus classic,” he added. “Everywhere we go, we give them a run for the money.”

In the money at the Affilate 1 show was Mike Boyle riding Susan Majauskas’s Smart Movin Maserati to the Open title that paid $292. In reserve was Christian Rammerstorfer riding his Maddox, earning $219. He also took Maddox to the Intermediate Open title, picking up another $236.

Sandy Bentien took both the Non Pro and Intermediate Non Pro titles on Make It With A Twist, earning $283 and $249, respectively. Finishing in reserve behind Bentien in both instances was Courtney Boesch on her Northwest Whiz, collecting $212 and $187, respectively.

The WCRHA All Rookie Day is just around the corner, scheduled April 20 at the Lost Trail Ranch in Ione.

MORE ONLINE: http://bit.ly/303A_Rein

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