Gold is the standard for the United States reining team, and this year is no exception. Since the addition of reining to the FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) in 2002, the United States has managed to take home gold in the team event every year, and out of those four times American riders have won three individual gold medals.
This year’s team is a mix of riders new to the WEG and veterans who’ve been part of Team USA since reining was introduced to the competition 16 years ago. Here’s a quick breakdown of the five horse-and-rider combinations headed to Tryon, North Carolina, to represent the United States this year.
Horse: Ms Dreamy, an 8-year-old Quarter Horse mare owned by Frederick R. Christen.
The Details: This will mark Dan Huss’ first World Equestrian Games following a standout performance during the U.S. qualifiers that took place in Tryon, where he and Ms Dreamy had a composite score of 450, putting them at the top of the podium and securing their place on Team USA.
Ms Dreamy, the only mare on the American reining roster, has accumulated more than $170,000 in lifetime earnings, and has won an AQHA world championship in amateur reining. The mare’s disposition is something Huss looks for in a horse at this level of competition and was the ultimate reason he decided to try for the team this year. “It takes a special horse to compete in an event like the World Equestrian Games. With Ms Dreamy, if you ask 110 percent from her she’s going to give it to you,” Huss shared. “She has a lot of grit and is looking to do something every time she walks into the arena.”
Horse: ARC Gunnabeabigstar, a 7-year-old Quarter Horse stallion owned by HDC Quarter Horses.
The Details: Jordan Larson is a returning team member for the United States after being part of the 2014 winning team aboard HF Mobster. In addition to his gold-medal win in Normandy, Larson is an NRHA Two Million Dollar Rider and a two-time NRHA Futurity winner.
This time around, Larson will compete with longtime mount ARC Gunnabeabigstar, a flashy palomino stallion that’s been in Larson’s program since his 2-year-old year. Throughout his show career, ARC Gunnabeabigstar has earned more than $260,000, and together the team won the 2014 NRHA Futurity and earned reserve at the 2017 NRHA Derby. Competing with ARC Gunnabeabigstar at WEG is something Larson has been counting on for a while. “This horse is an unbelievable athlete, and when I ride him he’s all business,” Larson shared. “I knew he would make a great horse for this type of competition.”
Horse: Custom Made Gun, a 7-year-old Quarter Horse stallion owned by Tim and Colleen McQuay.
The Details: Youth rider Cade McCutcheon is already in the record books before he even sets foot into the arena at Tryon this fall. At age 18, Cade is the youngest rider to compete for the United States in reining to date and is also a third-generation WEG rider, following in the footsteps of his father, Tom; his mother, Mandy; and his grandfather Tim McQuay.
Cade has won several major titles throughout his career including the NRHA Non Pro Derby with his mount for this year’s games. It’s been a new challenge competing against legendary professionals like his father, but Cade says he’s up for it. “I’ve really enjoyed getting out of my comfort zone and competing against riders like my dad,” Cade said with a smile. “It’s cool to share this experience with him. He and the rest of my family have been supportive and have offered great advice as I get ready for my first WEG.”
Horse: Heavy Duty Chex, a 7-year-old Quarter Horse stallion owned by Hilldale Farm.
The Details: This year’s games will be the second time NRHA Million Dollar Rider Casey Deary has represented the United States, the first time being the 2010 games where Deary served as the team’s alternate rider. Outside the WEG arena, Deary has an impressive show record that includes being a two-time NRHA Derby champion and a two-time NRHA Futurity winner.
Deary’s mount for the 2018 games is Heavy Duty Chex, a stallion that has more than $110,000 in lifetime earnings. Heavy Duty Chex has seen great success in the non-pro arena, including an AQHA reserve world championship in amateur reining and back-to-back non-pro National Reining Breeders Classic championships. When asked about his horse’s personality, Deary will tell you he’s a work horse. “He’s named appropriately,” Deary jokes. “He’s a big, strong horse that’s well-suited for an extensive competition like this.”
Horse: The Wizster, an 8-year-old Quarter Horse gelding owned by Turnabout Farms, Inc.
The Details: Tom McCutcheon is no stranger to the World Equestrian Games. He’s earned a spot on the U.S. reining team four different times and was a member of both the 2002 and 2010 gold-medal teams. In individual WEG competition, Tom won silver for Team USA in 2002 with Conquistador Whiz and in 2010 was a gold medalist with famed reining sire Gunners Special Nite. He was also named the 2010 USEF Equestrian of the Year.
This year Tom is back representing the U.S. aboard The Wizster, a gelding that's been in Tom’s barn since the beginning of his 4-year-old year. As a veteran to WEG competition, Tom knows what kind of horse it takes to go to an event like this. When asked about his mount for this year’s competition, Tom explained that The Wizster’s consistency in the show pen and hard-working attitude is what makes him a perfect contender for this year’s games.