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 Jody Brainard, chair of NRHA's judges' committee, show official, and horse trainer.
Horse&Rider: Why do you think the 4-year-old futurity concept is positive for the horses and the reining industry?
Jody Brainard: I think the benefits are obvious. First of all, it will lengthen our horses' careers. Many of the 3-year-olds pointed at the futurity can't handle that pressure. So we lose a large number of horses that could've been excellent non-pro horses if they'd been trained at the level their comfortable. Ask anyone who's tried to buy a decent non-pro horse recently, and they'll tell you that they're hard to find and go for a premium.
In addition to that, I see the 4-year-olds that are held back having a better chance in the derbies when they compete as 5- and 6-year-olds.
H&R: Tell us about your seminar presentation during the show.
JB: It'll be based on what I present at riders' meetings before shows. The depth of the information will depend on who's in attendance. If it's an entry-level audience, I don't want to overwhelm them with too much technical information. I'd like to see what kind of questions they have and what they want to learn. But I do plan to cover penalty application, especially the 2-point penalties that now can be reviewed at the major events. I'll also discuss pattern placement, which is a hot topic right now. Guiding is also an important area to cover; that is, using your direct rein when the horse should be neck-reining. And finally, degree of difficulty. People need to understand that just because it's fast doesn't mean it'll earn big points.
Look for future posts with other Wild Card Reining Challenge competitors and clinic presenters as the show approaches.