NRHA Derby – Part II

Ready or not, today's youth riders are not only competitive with their senior counterparts ... they are giving them a run for their money!Ready or not, today's youth riders are not only competitive with their senior counterparts ... they are giving them a run for their money!

Story originally posted by Staff

Reining teen-angel

Ready or not, today’s youth riders are not only competitive with their senior counterparts … they are giving them a run for their money!

Sixteen-year-old Rachel Eady seems to have swooped onto the reining scene just as in the song entitled – "On the Wings of a Snow White Dove."

And, she’s "dunnit" in championship style. Eady not only scored her first NRHA major reining event victory at the 2002 NRHA Derby – she won two championship titles, the Intermediate Non-Pro and the Limited Non-Pro, astride Dunnit By Chex. The pair scored a 216.5 in the first go-round to tie Timorie Budge and her mount, Its Just Cookie Dough, for the Limited Non-Pro Derby Championship. In accordance to NRHA Derby rules, when all five judges’ scores were totaled, Eady and Dunnit By Chex won the title with a 361.5, while Budge and Its Just Cookie Dough settled for the Reserve honor with a 360.5 score.

Consistent, Dunnit By Chex and Eady also scored a 216 in the Non-Pro and Intermediate Non-Pro Derby finals (which ran concurrently). They won the Intermediate Non-Pro finals by four points and tied for 12th and 13th-place in the Non-Pro Derby Division.

Although she’s actively participated within the reined cow horse event for several years, the reining scenario is a new discipline for the pretty teenager. While the reined cow horse event offers the horse and rider a number of challenges (herd work, reined work and cow, or fence, work), Eady has found the reining event to be more intimidating.

"I find the reining is kind of hard," she confessed.

"This (NRHA Derby) is the first time that I’ve gotten her shown in reining competition." Eady smiled big as she said, "We’re finally starting to get it together."

The teen-ager rides with some of the industry’s best trainers – NRHA Futurity Champion riders Todd Bergen and Andre Fappani.

Dunnit By Chex and Eady placed 12th in the Non-Pro Division of the 2001 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity, held last September in Reno, Nev. Then, in December at the NRHA Futurity in Oklahoma City, the pair placed 13th in the Intermediate Non-Pro Division and tied for third-place in the Limited Non-Pro.

Prior to the NRHA Derby, Dunnit By Chex and Eady competed in the NRCHA Stakes, held in March at Scottsdale, Ariz., and won the Non-Pro $50,000 Division and placed fourth in the Non-Pro Stakes Division.

Dunnit By Chex, nicknamed "Brandi," stays at home now between shows, which Eady feels also benefits the mare’s attitude. "She doesn’t ever get trained on; she is just the way she is. Then, at the shows sometimes, Andre will get on it her to tune on her," said Eady.

Born in Salem, Ore., Eady and her family moved to Sisters when she was 5. Other than Bergen and Fappani, Eady also rode for a time with California reined cow horse trainer Sandy Collier.

Eady’s NRHA Derby Intermediate Non-Pro and Limited Non-Pro official championship awards were not the only new items that Eady returned to Oregon with.

Eady was also toting home a new dog – which is not a new thing for her to do.

When she qualified for the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity’s Non-Pro finals, her father gave her a Corgi puppy as a congratulatory gift. Following this year’s Intermediate Non-Pro Derby finals victory, Dad purchased a Minature Australian Shepherd puppy to give Rachel.

Who knows if Eady’s winning streak continues, she might soon be seen with a "trail" of dogs following behind her!

Eady has one younger brother, Evan, who finds motor bikes to be more challenging and fun than showing horses.

Its all about winning …

French Canadian Andre Bellefeuille seems to have found a gold mine in his recent purchase – Its All About Cash, which Andre rode to the Reserve Championship in the Derby’s Intermediate Non-Pro finals.

Andre purchased the mare the first part of April from Mike Hancock, Rocky Mount, N.C. Soon after the purchase, Andre showed the mare at the Carolina Classic in Raleigh, N.C., where they placed second in the Non-Pro Derby and the Derby’s Prime Time Non-Pro Division.

Andre couldn’t be happier with the mare, one of several he currently owns and is riding.

"I think that I am getting along with them (mares)," said Andre. "You just have to be nice with them."

"And, you just have try to be wiser and ask when it’s time to ask – then leave them alone."

The Canadian rider has been reining for 14 years. While he mostly shows in Canada, Andre does travel to the U.S. for the larger shows (Congress, Futurity and Derby).

Andre and his wife, Danielle, have two children, a son named Francis, and a daughter, Gudieth.

This cookie’s for real …

Although the pair made a crucial error during the Non-Pro Derby finals and were disqualified, Timorie Budge and her fancy son of Smart Little Lena – Its Just Cookie Dough, didn’t go back home empty. They were awarded the Limited Non-Pro Derby Reserve Championship. Actually, they had tied for the championship (the Non-Pro Derby first go-round determined the Limited Non-Pro Division placings) but when all five judges scores were added together, Budge and Its Just Cookie Dough’s came up a point short (a 360.5 as compared to Rachel Eady and Dunnit By Chex’s 361.5).

Disappointed over her "pilot error" during the Non-Pro finals (she inadvertantly changed hands on the reins while the horse was in motion), Budge loaded up her horses and headed for home. Anxious to get back home to see her family, Budge, who traveled alone, drove pretty much straight home before stopping.

"They say in my ‘other life,’ that I must have been a truck driver,’ " joked Budge.

Budge purchased her stallion at the NRHA Derby Sale when he was 2. Craig Schmersal trained the horse and showed him in the 2001 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity in which they finished in the top 10.

Budge began showing the horse in reining competition this year and said that she gets along with the horse very well. The NRHA Derby Non-Pro finals was the first major reining competition for Budge.

"I was so nervous, but I don’t know why because he (Its Just Cookie Dough) is probably the best-minded horse I have ever been around. And, he’s really kind," she said.

Commenting on her finals disqualification, Budge explained, "He likes to go on a loose rein, so (when her reins became tangled together and were pulling her horse’s head to the side) – I’m thinking, ‘This is not going to work, so what do you do … what do you do?’ "

"Then," said Budge, "I remember thinking, ‘oh yeah, you take your right hand and go behind the other one and grab it (rein). "Yeah, but," Budge laughingly notes, "not when you are moving."

Budge has ridden reiners for three years and has been riding with Schmersal for the past two years. Previously, she’d ridden with Todd Crawford for a year.

Budge didn’t care for Its Just Cookie Dough’s name (Small Load) that he had when she purchased him. As the owner of a cookie business called "Cookie Creations," Budge appropriately renamed the horse "Its Just Cookie Dough" and calls him "Dough Boy," for short.

Budge and her husband, David, own a computer manufacturing business. The couple have a 7-year-old daughter named Karlee, and one son, Travis, who is 14.

David Archer… truly a "Super Senior"

avid Archer could surely attest to the validity of the adage, "Life begins at 30."

This 61-year-old "super senior" is having the time of his life – riding and showing his reiners.

The winner’s circle is becoming "second home" to Archer and his super horse, Dun It 1998. The pair have now won two major aged event titles within the last two months – the NRHA Derby’s Prime Time Non-Pro Championship and the NRBC Intermediate Non-Pro Championship. Dun It 1998 also did well as a 3-year-old, when he and Archer won the Non-Pro and Intermediate Non-Pro divisions of the Southwest Reining Horse Association Futurity.

Archer, a native of Canada, and Dun It 1998 won the Prime Time Non-Pro title with a high 218.5 score from the first go-round of the Non-Pro Derby. Although, in the Intermediate Non-Pro finals, the pair scored considerably lower, a 211.5, Archer was not discouraged.

"That’s the way it is sometimes when you go out there," he good-naturedly theorized.

Nothing is going to change the way Archer feels about this horse – one that he personally raised. In fact, Archer also raised the horse’s dam and granddam.

According to Archer, Dun It 1998’s dam, Dry Papoose’s offspring have earnings averaging $16,000.

"She’s going to be the most famous broodmare of all time," said Archer with in a big grin.

"She was my favorite horse. I rode and showed her," said Archer.

He has seen a lot of changes within the industry since he first started showing in the 70s.

"There are so many more people who can beat you nowdays – they’re coming out of the woodwork! " joked Archer.

The "senior" reiner rides and prepares his own horses once he arrives at a show. However, at home, Archer, who constructs barns, fences and such for a living, has to rely on his son, Steve, who is a professional trainer, to keep his horses ridden and tuned.

"I do ride whenever I can, but I’m working too hard. He (Steve) has to ride my horses for me," said Archer.

"I have to fix his barn, and he has to fix my horses."

Archer described Dun It 1998 as a really good-minded horse who "tries hard."

That try can be defined as "heart" – something Dun It 1998 has alot of.

He was kicked as a yearlng and suffered a broken knee. Then, when he was 2, the horse was kicked again – this time cracking his shoulder. After a lengthy recovery period, the horse returned to the showpen last fall for the SWRHA Futurity, only to suffer another injury – he stepped on a rock and injured a coffin bone. With the help of a specially designed shoe, the horse has able to continue his show career.

Future plans call for Archer to show Dun It 1998 in next year’s NRBC and NRHA Derby competitions.

"I’m never going to sell him. I was offered a lot of money for him, but I want to keep him. He’s just like family," said Archer. Aside Steve, Archer and his wife, Millie, have one other son, Mark, who lives in Michigan, and two daughters, Cheryl and Susan, both of whom live in Canada, seven grandchildren and are awaiting the birth of their first great grandchild, who is due in September.

Prime Time Non-Pro Reserve Champion

Ron Fisher seems to be on a roll … to the winner’s circle that is.

He recorded his first major reining event victory in April at the International Livestock Exposition Derby in which he rode Toodies Big Gun to victory in the Intermediate Non-Pro and Limited Non-Pro divisions and tied for the Non-Pro title, but lost the run-off. Next, he traveled to Katy, Texas, for the NRBC, in which he rode Toodies Big Gun to the Limited Non-Pro Championship and also tied for 5th-6th in the Intermediate Non-Pro. Then, he traveled to OKC and slid to the Prime Time Non-Pro Reserve title on yet another mount – Gyrating Gentleman. Gyrating Gentleman and Fisher also placed seventh in the Derby’s Intermediate Non-Pro Division and third in the Limited Non-Pro Division.

Fisher has been riding for 15 years. He started out trail riding and then began showing pleasure and reining horses in the mid-90s. He has been riding with non-pro champion rider and coach, Charlie Smith, who works out of Fisher’s horse facility. Fisher and his wife, Jennifer, who incidently is Fisher’s No. 1 cheerleader in the stands – whistling and whooping with glee during the entire runs, own a business that specializes in cabinetry and high-end countertops, called Kitchen and Bath Center located in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. The couple have two daughters, Erin, 28, and Cassie, 24, both of whom live in Maine.

The phenonmenal Gunner "open fires" while marching toward another Gladstone victory
How did it feel to draw up No. 1 in a class filled-to-the-brim, per se, with talent?
"It was scary all the way through," proclaimed Bryant Pace, the rider who stands in the shadow of renown reining star-performer Gunner – which won his second consecutive Intervet/USET Semfinals Championship during the 2002 NRHA Derby Show.

It seems nowdays Gunner outshadows everyone and everything. With over $165,000 in earnings, the fancy Paint reiner is currently the second highest money-earner in NRHA history. In 2001, Pace and Gunner slid to the 2001 USET Semifinals Championship at OKC and followed that up with winning the prestigious $100,000 Cosequin/USET Reining Championship presented by Bayer, which was held in June at Gladstone, N.J.

Gunner, which was ridden to the 1996 NRHA Open Futurity Reserve Championship by Texas trainer Clint Haverty, qualified for this year’s Intervet/USET Semfinals at the Florida Reining Horse Classic in which he tied for second-place in the USET Qualifier competition.

A phenonmenal athlete who is fast becoming a household word when reining enthusiasts are asked to identify their favorite performer, Gunner just keeps firing "round-after-round" of awesome runs!

This 9-year-old superstar may just out-do the Energizer bunny, if he keeps this pace up.

Some fans have questioned why, when he has won nearly everything there is to win at this stage of his life hasn’t the stallion been retired from the showpen? Why not let him spend the remainder of his days trying to sire an offspring that might possibly fill his, or her, old man’s "sliders" (shoes)?

Pace admitted that if all there was left for the horse to win was the USET Reining Championships held in Gladstone, N.J., – a feat that the handsome Paint stallion, by Colonelfourfreckle and out of Katie Gun by John Gun, accomplished in 2001, then he would be living a life of leisure. The upcoming World Equestian Games (WEG) to be held this September in Spain served as the dangling carrot to entice the horse’s owners and his trainer to continue the horse’s career in hopes of qualifying for the WEG event.

Pace adamantly proclaims Gunner to be "one of a kind."

"There’s never been one like him before and probably never will be," Pace said.

No special preparations are needed to get Gunner ready for Gladstone.

"He’s a easy horse to be around. And, we’ve been breeding mares to him alot. In fact, as soon as this show (Derby) is over we’ve got to head home because we’ve got mares at home waiting to be bred," said Pace.

"We’ll just keep him exercised and legged up and school him a couple times a week – just to keep his ‘work ethics’ in line." "His training is basically done," explained Pace. "There’s just maintenance left to be done."

What about Gunner’s offspring? Are there any comparable to their sire?

"There is not but one Gunner," Pace said.

"It will be a long time before there will be a better horse and better reining horse. Maybe, there will never be another one as good. He’s just something super special."

"And," Pace noted, "most people won’t even argue, when I make a statement like that."