The largest National Reining Breeders Classic (NRBC) Open in history culminated April 19 with the Open finals. While the field boasted many former Champions and multiple million-dollar riders, new names finished at the top. Martin Muehlstaetter wasn't planning to show Blue Collar Tag at the NRBC; his owner, former Non-Pro Champion Shaunda Rai Ruckman would be at the reins. However, a bobble in the Non-Pro prelims kept Ruckman and the 6-year-old gelding out of the finals. The reins then went to Muehlstaetter.
In the preliminary round, Muehlstaetter and Blue Collar Tag scored a 222. In the Open Level 4 finals, Muehlstaetter they scored a 226 – besting Open Level 4 Reserve Champion Craig Schmersal and What A Wave by a scant half-point. The winning duo picked up two checks – the $75,000 Level 4 check, and also $24,350 for winning the Level 3 title.
Among other prizes, he was presented with a year’s use of a Featherlite Trailer from Twin Cities Featherlite; a saddle from Continental Saddlery; a saddle from Martin Saddlery; two Gist Silversmiths buckles; two pairs of Rios of Mercedes boots; Whisper Bits from M3 Products; $200 in gift certificates from San Juan Ranch & Santa Cruz Biotechnology; two WonPads; a saddle pad from Yucca Flats; a 100% custom handmade had from Lone Star Hatters; and the signature blue crystal trophies from the NRBC.
Craig Schmersal piloted What A Wave, by Tidal Wave Jack out of What A Sunrise, to a 225.5, claiming the Reserve Championship, along with a check for $51,000, a Gist Silversmiths buckle, and a custom handmade bit from Jim Edwards. What A Wave is owned by Karl Roberts and Terri Roberts.
Sam Schaffhauser and Gunners Tinseltown took the Level 3 Reserve honors back to North Texas, after marking a 224 in the finals. Not only did the pair win $14,822 in the, they also finished tied for fourth in the Level 4, earning an additional $27,500. Gunners Tinseltown, by Colonels Smoking Gun out of Miss Tinseltown, is owned by David Silva.
In 2012, Ryan Rushing qualified for the Open Level 2 and 1 Open finals. He was winning the Level 1, up until his friend Fernando Salgado piloted his horse to a half-point higher score.
After qualifying Steppin On Sparks for the Level 3 and 2 Open finals this year, he knew history could repeat itself. Luckily, his score of 221 held up for the Level 2 Championship, and was good for a fourth place tie in the Level 1 Open.
All told, Rushing and Steppin On Sparks won $18,470, along with a custom saddle from the NRBC; a Gist Silversmiths buckle; a Whisper Bit; a WonPad; and natural alternative grazer from Ventures Vision.
Steppin On Sparks, by Jacs Electric Spark out of Mahoganys First Step, is owned by HDC Quarter Horses. The 5-year-old stallion was started by Andrea Fappani as a 3-year-old, then shown by Marco Ricotta before being shown by Jordan Larson.
There was a tie for Reserve between Debbie Arballo and A Shining Sidekick, and Trevor Dare and Roundabout Wrangler, who both marked a 219. Each took home a check for $5,044. A Shining Sidekick, by Starbucks Sidekick out of A Shining Starlett, is owned by Tom and Mandy McCutcheon, while Roundabout Wrangler, by Starlights Wrangler out of Hollywood China Chic, is owned by Juan Manuel Alanis.
Tell Edgmon might have had one of the biggest cheering section of anyone competing in the finals at the NRBC. Riding Cool N Dun Gunner, owned by Kevin Corcoran, Edgmon marked a 219 to win the Open Level 1 finals, good for $1,668.
Edgmon and Cool N Dun Gunner (Colonels Smoking Gun x Miss Cool Heat) competed at the 2013 NRBC, finishing fifth in the Level 1. “I showed her all last year and they let me have the chance to bring her back this year,” he said. “I was pretty sure we’d have a good run when she came in and she committed to her first stop. She turned ok, and then I was able to relax on the circles. When I came around the corner for the first stop I was feeling pretty comfortable. She was with me the whole time.”
Jordan McBurney and Hava Vital tied for Reserve in the Level 1, each winning $888. McBurney was riding Dun Step N Out (Wimpys Little Step x This Is How Its Done), owned by Rhodes River Ranch, while Vital rode MJ Roosters Gun (Colonels Smoking Gun x Gallo Del Blanco), owned by Rodion Cantacuzene.
With Randy Paul at the reins, Chics Dream About Me won the Prime Time Championship with a 223. “He felt really good,” noted Paul, who accepted the check for $1,950, as well as a Gist Silversmiths buckle, Rios of Mercedes boots, a WonPad, and a 100% beaver custom handmade hat from Lone Star Hatters.
Chics Dream About Me, by Wimpys Little Step out of This Chicsdundreamin, was started and shown as a 3-year-old by Cody Clock, before an injury sidelined him from competition most of his 4-year-old year.
Paul is the head trainer for Day Creek Ranch, located in Semi Valley, California. “I really love it. They have a beautiful place. I thank the Days for believing in me and sending me down the road with their horse. I’m so glad we were able to do well for them,” he said.
Debbie Arballo and A Shining Sidekick tied for the Prime Time Reserve title with Brent Wright and Spookaroanie. Each marked a 220.5, collecting $1,350. A Shining Sidekick, owned by Tom and Mandy McCutcheon, is by Smart Spook out of A Shining Starlett, while Wright’s horse, Spookaroanie, is by Smart Spook out of Little Roan Chick.