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WOODSIDE – Pardon the prejudice, but last August when Dana Avila was looking for a new reining horse, the 4-year-old filly that her husband, Bob, asked her to try had one major flaw. She was a she.

“I loved her, but I’m not a mare person,” says Dana, who had watched the filly work under Bob since he first started her two years earlier for a client at their Temecula ranch. “Every day, Bob walked into the arena on her, and I’d be on another horse watching her and think, ‘she’s gorgeous’. And she was always a sweetheart.”

Finally, Bob suggested Dana try her, and after she told her NRHA Top 25 Rider husband that the horse was nice — but still a mare –he offered a professional opinion.

“He told me, ‘no, I think you’ll get along with this mare — I’m sure of it,” said Dana. “He was 100 percent right.”

After buying the Smart Little Lena granddaughter, One Smart Pepto (One Time Pepto x Smart Little Margie), the good fit has been evident. At the 2013 Reining By The Bay July 17-21, Dana and her new horse marked a 221 to sweep all four levels on Non Pro Derby. With the money earned from the show, Dana has the lead for the Trifecta Non Pro Challenge award – one of Reining By The Bay’s innovative contests that rewards the top Non Pro Derby rider of three Brumley Management Group events (Cactus Reining, Reining By The Bay, High Roller Reining). The High Roller Reining will take place Sept. 6-14 at South Point Equestrian Complex.

“She and I just clicked right from the get-go,” says Dana, who was competing this year in her first Reining By The Bay. “I walk by her stall 10, 15, 20 times a day, and I hear this little, low nicker every time I walk by. I asked the boys if she does that when I’m gone, and they said no – she only does it when I walk by.”

She’s not the only admirer of One Smart Pepto in the Avila household.

“Bob loves her, too,” Dana said of her husband who won checks of his own at Reining By The Bay on Lil Mr Smarty Pants, owned by Margene Mooney.

“I think there might even be a tiny part of him that holds a grudge that I bought her because I ride her and he really doesn’t,” she laughs.

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