The National Reining Horse Association announced its 2011 Hall of Fame inductees yesterday. Of the eight honorees, I've had the opportunity interviewing two of the people, and I've watched each of the four horses or their offspring compete in some of the largest-money events in the discipline. Here's a list and a little bit about each of these NRHA history-makers.
Shawn Flarida. Just about everyone in the horse world has heard of NRHA's highest earner, both for his winning ways and his humble, friendly personality. I've interviewed Shawn quite a few times, the latest being at the World Equestrian Games, and the guy is true blue--no hype, no arrogance, just a great horseman who wants to get his horses to the top.
Bob Kiser. I think I first ran into the NRHA's Ground Guru at the 1999 United States Equestrian Team festival, when reining was a test sport. This quiet, analytical, innovative dirt expert has prepped ground at the highest-caliber events, as well as at big-name trainers' barns.
Mandy McCutcheon. The first time I interviewed Mandy was at the 1998 NRHA Derby--the very first event I covered for the Quarter Horse Journal. When I showed reining horses, I was (and still am) in awe of her talent, drive, and passion. Those elements have come together to make her NRHA's only female non-pro Million Dollar Rider.
Ronnie Sharpe. I've never met Mr. Sharpe, but he had a large influence on the development of reining. As a judge, he's officiated the sport's biggest events, including the futurity, and he helped develop the sport's rules and judging system.
Boomernic. When he won the 1992 NRHA futurity, I was 16 and dreaming of riding reiners (from the back of my 4-H all-around horse). He introduced the world to the West Coast reining style that's still seen today.
Collena Chic Olena. The only mare in this class of inductees, she didn't have a notable show-pen career, but her influence as a broodmare can't be ignored. Her most notable offspring: Wimpys Little Chic, the only horse to exceed $500,000 in NRHA earnings.
Shining Spark. You've seen him twice on the cover of Horse&Rider, and his offspring can't be missed in the show pen. He's an NRHA Three Million Dollar sire, and I count myself as one of the many fans of his offspring.
Wimpys Little Step. This fancy horse ended his show career on top after winning the 2002 NRHA Futurity. He was crossed with fellow inductee Colleena Chic Olena to produce Wimpys Little Chic, and he's an NRHA Two Million Dollar sire. Of the inductees, he's the only one I saw perform in person, and it was a fantastic site to behold.
What are your memories of these riders and horses? Who do you predict will be inducted into the NRHA Hall of Fame in the future? The bar continues to rise, so it's exciting to see what horses and riders will accomplish in the future!