Marking a 219 in the first-ever Wild Card Reining Challenge futurity for unshown 4-year-olds, Gabe Hutchins and his mare Wallawallawhizgun took home the win for owners Tamarack Ranch. We caught up with Gabe after the show. Here's what he has to say about the win, the event, and how it'll help the future of reining.
Horse&Rider: Tell us about your mare.
Gabe Hutchins: She came to me a year ago, and I really liked her. She had all the pieces to be a great reiner. But I didn't think she was far enough along to push her for the NRHA Futurity. She was very talented last year, but she wasn't physically or mentally ready for that kind of pressure. I planned to show her two-handed at a futurity in the fall, but then we heard about the Wild Card, and we decided to hold off and save her for this event. Then I'd be able to do the job right and build her confidence. It was the perfect opportunity for her. Next she'll show in the 4-year-old class at the High Roller Reining Classic this fall.
H&R: What are your thoughts about the 4-year-old futurity concept?
GH: This is a really great concept. And the addition of the 4-year-old stakes class next year will be great, too. It's so hard for a 4-year-old to be competitive against 5- and 6-year-olds. It's important to let them compete against other 4-year-olds, because very few have what it takes to go compete against the older horses in the derbies.
H&R: What did you think about the educational seminars at this event?
GH: That's what made this one of the best shows out there. As trainers, we've heard a lot of what was covered (judging, training, and veterinary practices). But it's always good to get a refresher and keep those ideas top of mind. For nonpros of all levels, they were very educational, too.
H&R: How will this help with longevity of reining horses?
GH: With the addition of the 4-year-old stakes class next year, my 4-year-olds will have ample opportunities to find success. I can hold one back for the futurity here, and show my other 4-year-olds here. And then all of them can go show at the High Roller in the fall. that'll be the extent of my 4-year-olds' show schedules for that year, which will save them for the derbies as 5- and 6-year-olds.