NRHA Professional Jason Vanlandingham recently reached what many riders consider the “crowning achievement” in an NRHA competitor’s reining career when his NRHA earnings topped the million dollar mark. “It’s a big honor and a tribute to all the people who have supported you and all our clients who have put us on great horses,” shared Vanlandingham while discussing his recent achievement. “We have been blessed by God to be in a business that we love and be successful at it. It’s a very humbling thing.”
Vanlandingham has been at the reining game a relatively short time. He earned his first competitive pay check in 2000 when he guided Happy Moonshadow to a fifth place finish in a limited open class at the NRHA Derby Show. One could consider that $41 paycheck as the seed money that began his trek toward a million dollars.
Along the way Vanlandingham piloted some outstanding reining horses and won his share of events. Aboard Gallos Stylish Star he was third in the 2005 NRHA Futurity’s Intermediate Open division and in 2008 the pair was Co-champions in the Level 4 Open at the NRHA Derby. Riding Whizin Off Sparks, he was 2007 Derby Intermediate Open Champion and A Smokin Whiz carried Vanlandingham to the 2011 NRHA Derby’s Level 3 Open championship title. There were many more horses as well as trainers that helped earn Vanlandingham’s million. “It’s a great business to be in when the guys you’re competing against are willing to help you out,” stated Vanlandingham.
In 2013, Vanlandingham would have what he describes as “the most memorable ride as well as his biggest accomplishment on the back of a horse.”
He created quite a stir when he began showing Vaughn Zimmerman’s Not Ruf At All in the fall futurities to much success. The pair debuted at the Hollywoodstinseltown Open Futurity in Tulsa, winning the Level 4 Open title. Their next stop was Las Vegas where they topped the High Roller Reining Classic Futurity taking the championship and prize money home to Texas. It was on to Oklahoma City and the NRHA Futurity where they once again bested the rest of the competition to claim the ultimate Futurity win, banking $156,750 and earning $8,250 for breeder/nominator Petra Zeitler Connor! They hardly missed a beat, heading for Katy, Texas in 2014 and the National Reining Breeders Classic where they earned more than $23,000, placing seventh in the Level 4 Open. Back in Oklahoma City the partnership demonstrated that they were the real deal when they claimed the NRHA Derby Level 4 Champion title, adding another $61,000 to their substantial bank account. Altogether they’ve earned $328,149.
Vanlandingham attributes his success in the show pen to God. “It’s a humbling business, but it’s awesome to know that we have been blessed by the good Lord to have the success we have and to get us through the tough times,” said Vanlandingham. “If we didn’t have Him we would have nothing to live for.”