Wild Card Reining: Amanda Brumley - Horse&Rider

Wild Card Reining: Amanda Brumley

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We're catching up with people involved with this month's Wild Card Reining Challenge, to be held May 25-29 in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the South Point Arena. The focus of the show is the 4-year-old "red-shirt" futurity (learn the requirements here), but the event also includes an Arabian/Half-Arabian Futurity, demos/clinics by industry leaders, and a full slate of NRHA classes.

This post's Q&A is with event producer Amanda Brumley.

Horse&Rider: Why did you choose to produce a show featuring a 4-year-old futurity? Why do you support this movement:

Amanda Brumley: The topic has been floating around for a while, and I’ve been talking about it for a long time. The big thing I’ve noticed in 20+ years with reining horses is that so few of the 3-year-olds can compete at such a high level at that age. As the industry has grown, there’s a greater push to get the horses ready as 3-year-olds. A lot of horses just can’t handle it. They’re good horses; they're just not ready. The percentage of horses that are born, raised, stay sound, go through training, and show at the NRHA Futurity is remarkably small. My biggest concern is that attrition rate. You see these really good horses just dropping off the grid. As an owner, rider, and breeder, I can say that it’s not good for the industry. There’s going to be an elite group of horses that make it to that level. But when you look at the industry as a whole, we need to strive for longevity. To pinpoint one event misses the big picture.

Credit: Courtesy of Amanda Brumley Amanda Brumley produces the Wild Card Reining Challenge.

Credit: Courtesy of Amanda Brumley Amanda Brumley produces the Wild Card Reining Challenge.

My goal was to create a program for horses that aren’t in that very small elite group. This allows trainers and owners to take their horses at their own pace. I think that instead of seeing them show until they're 5 to 7 years old, they’ll still be showing into their teens. They’ll go from being open horses to non-pro horses to being ridden by youths.

From a breeder’s standpoint, you’re producing these very well-bred offspring; you want to see them succeed to increase the value of your future horses. If all these great horses that are being bred don’t even make it to the show pen, that doesn't help the breeder.

As an owner, if you start paying training on a horse and have great expectations, but that horse can’t compete at the big show, it’s disheartening. With the 4-year-old futurity option, the trainer can say, “He's not ready at 3, but he’ll be ready to show in the 4-year-old futurity 9 months later.” That helps the trainer keep a nice horse in training to achieve the owner's goal. Then the breeder sees their horses succeed. Industry sees these horses competitive well into their later years of life.

I see this being a big thing for mares. They tend to be more fragile. But they’re a big portion of the offspring and what they become. I don’t see a down side to the concept anywhere. It’s something I’ve felt passionate about because I’ve seen the disappointment when the horse can’t compete as 3-year-olds.

H&R: Where did the education component of the show come from? Why the seminars?

AB: The educational piece is new to my shows, but it's something I've always wanted to offer. But with many shows, the schedule is so tight that it's just not feasible. But with this show, there's time when people aren't showing or spectators aren't watching that they can come learn. And it’s FREE. I want people to come, ask questions, learn. The sessions will also be broadcast on internet.

I’ve found, especially with the judging, that things have become so technical and athletically oriented, that the judging has had to get tighter. When people go show they don't always understand the scores they receive. It's not just non-pros who don't understand, but trainers, too. That’s what this judging seminar with Jody Brainard is about--what the judges are really looking for. It’s not how to judge a pattern. This is about the gray areas. Jody, being the chair of the judges committee, is able to explain those grey areas where you can earn credit in a pattern. 

In Andrea Fappani's seminar, I asked him to pick one maneuver that he sees people make the most mistakes. He said that’s in speed control and lead changes. That’s all he’s talking about. He feels like it’s a real weakness when he watches people show.

The veterinary session will be presented by Dr. Kris Crowe. She has many years of experience treating equine athletes, from Arabians to Quarter Horses, as well as with her breeding operation. She's incredibly experienced and will discuss caring for your horse in advance of going to a show. That’ll help a lot of people. They need to know all that goes into caring for these horses.

These are three areas of reining that are the most important to address. I’d like to expand on it in the future. I have a venue I can grow with. I think it’ll be a lot of fun.

H&R: Tell us about your interest in Arabian and Half-Arabian reining horses.

AB: The Arabian industry has been dying for a working Western Arabian reining program for a long time. I’ve been surprised to see how many Arabian owners have reached out to me to learn more. It’s a big area of the industry that’s been widely overlooked, but they’re very passionate. They love the sport. I’m taking Arabian reining to the next level. We’ve developed the National Arabian Reining Horse Association. It’ll give people goals to work toward. They can compete and have fun at all levels.

H&R: Finally, tell us about the para-reining classes for disabled riders.

AB: Lisa Coulter reached out to me to talk about it. Her organization is quite new. She’s providing horses, equipment, lessons for para-reiners. She’s gone above and beyond for this program and these riders. It’s amazing. It’s such a great cause. It’s a fantastic program.

Look for future posts with other Wild Card Reining Challenge competitors and clinic presenters as the show approaches.