We're catching up with participants in 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 NRHA $4 Million Rider Andrea Fappani.
Horse&Rider: What will you be showing at the Wild Card Reining Challenge?
Andrea Fappani: I have one horse for the 4-year-old futurity and one for the Arabian futurity.
H&R: What are your thoughts on the 4-year-old "red-shirt" futurity concept?
AF: The concept is great; I'm a big supporter. It will take a little bit of time to gain momentum because the horses that show in this event can't have been shown as 3-year-olds. We trainers are programmed to go try our 3-year-olds to see if they'll be able to compete at the NRHA Futurity at the end of each year, so it'll take us a while to adjust. With this type of event, trainers won't have to feel the pressure to show a horse as a 3-year-old if he's not ready. We can keep our customers (the owners) and our horses happy. If more events like this develop, then it'll help keep horses from burning out in the long run.
H&R: You're presenting a demo at the show. What can spectators expect to learn?
AF: I'll present my tips for speed control and lead changes. It'll mostly focus on horses that are already trained to do these things, but I'll touch a little on the early process. My tips will be more about fine-tuning, what the judges are looking for, and how to earn the most points with these maneuvers. I'll also discuss the importance of my horse's body position and where I want him to be when I ask him to slow down or speed up so that the transitions look clean and smooth.
H&R: You've been active with the Arabian/Half-Arabian reining futurities for a couple years now. What do you see them doing to grow the sport of reining?
AF: It's a great program where I've met new people and gained new customers. People who only have shown in the halter and pleasure with their Arabians are looking at reining now. It's sparking new interest in our sport. As they come to these events, they'll see the quality of these horses--the Arabians and the Quarter Horses and Paints.
Look for future posts with other Wild Card Reining Challenge competitors and clinic presenters as the show approaches.