It was the final morning of the first Wild Card Reining Challenge show in Las Vegas, Nevada. The day was going to be short so everyone was getting horses ready to run and packing the rigs at the same time. Headed back to Arizona, California and Texas, there would be many driving into the evening to make it home before it got too late. At the South Point Arena at 9 am in the morning the first one in the gate was Martin Muehlstaetter on Michael Garnett’s Spooksgottachicolena. It must have been a charmed placement for the well turned out duo because the score they posted held right to the end of the session and the team won the Open. Ashley Kelkenberg, who had a very good show all the way around with Juli Moran’s horse Nite Eyes, added another good run to the list, winning both the Intermediate Open and the Limited. June Tabor and Vaquero In A Mask had their best run of the whole show, clearing up some bobbles that had haunted them earlier in the week, and running in the money for all of the Open divisions, while winning the Rookie Professional. Jessica Bein showed two Arabian horses, Twylite Zone and SH Karlotta, taking a second in the Intermediate Open with the former and placing one-two with the pair in the Breed Restricted.
There were so many things to discuss and applaud about the new show as it approached its closing hours on Sunday. The Wild Card Reining Challenge offered the first major 4-Year-Old Futurity, presenting a serious alternative to putting 3-year-olds into fierce competition too early in the game. The $65,000 Tamarack Four-Year-Old Futurity is an idea whose time has come. Hopefully it will give birth to other strictly 4-year-old competitions, both Futurities and Stakes.
“The four-year-old futurity horse concept has been discussed by good horsemen and breeders for years,” says Amanda Brumley, whose company produced the Wild Card Reining Challenge. “This show should challenge other horsemen to provide more opportunities for young horses that need extra time to mature, train and prepare for competitive reining, both physically and mentally.” The show also jumped ahead in providing free educational seminars and clinics.
Jody Brainard, respected NRHA judge, synopsized his world famous “Secrets of Judging” clinic for the Wild Card. Andrea Fappani’s clinic went over some of his unique and innovative training techniques. Fappani is an outstanding teacher and advocate of exceptional horsemanship. On Saturday morning veterinarian Khris Crowe actually gave two clinics, one that covered aspects of preparing athletes for high level competition and one that offered a delightful overview of the unique aspects of our beloved horses. In all, the show was exceptional, including over $125,000 in prize money for Pro and Non Pro horsemen, Youth and WPR riders. Certainly those who came and competed were delighted, impressed and promised to return to Las Vegas and the Wild Card Reining Challenge next year over Memorial Day weekend 2017.