Non Professional representatives from more than 70 affiliates and 11 regions descended on Oklahoma City, Okla., to battle it out for the Adequan® North American Affiliate Championships (NAAC), a culmination of a year’s worth of preparation and hard work.
NAAC Non Pro Champions, Shannon Rafacz & Better Not Rest
Shannon Rafacz and her 16-year-old gelding Better Not Rest are no strangers to the winner’s circle. The pair defended their Non Pro NAAC title with a score of 219, making a comeback after an injury earlier this year. The win earned the pair a check of $3,323.35.
“What a special horse…the past 365 days have been amazing,” says Rafacz. “He deserves his place in history as one of the great ones –to own him is a privilege.”
There was a three-way tie for reserve honors with a score of 218: Ashley Weaver riding Starlight Per Se, Cameron Sanford riding GS Smart Kitty Cat and Sheley Brien riding Wimpys Cat Step all earned a check for $1,613.51.
NAAC Intermediate Non Pro Champions, Alicia Rapp & Kelvins Spark
Alicia Rapp bested a field of 42 horse and rider pairings in the NAAC Intermediate Non Pro with a score of 217, earning $1,991.53. Her long-time partner, Kelvins Spark, a bay 2007 Quarter Horse gelding carried her throughout the year, culminating in their outstanding showing in Oklahoma City. In Reserve Champion position was Savannah Grace Ostner at the reins of Debbie Honeycutt’s A Bueno Chic. The pair earned $1,212.24 for their effort.
NAAC Limited Non Pro Champions, Paige Barton & Diamond Oak
Eighteen-year-old Paige Barton claims to be a perfectionist in the arena, and she couldn’t get any better with a score of 217 in the Limited Non Pro to win aboard Diamond Oak. The freshman at Fresno State University had been aiming to bring home a bronze from her trip this year.
“I got second last year, so I wanted to come back and win it. My trainer told me to just go show and forget about training,” she says.
Her score bested the reserve winner, Michelle Miola and Bella Juice by just a half point.
NAAC Prime Time Non Pro Champions, Cady Shaw & Dream Whiz Me
Prime Time Non Pro winner Cady Shaw has been competing in Reining for 33 years. She earned this year’s title on Dream Whiz Me, a second generation reining horse Shaw bred herself.
“I showed her mother, so this was a fun trip,” says Shaw. Her check totaled out to be $831.50 for the win with a score of 216.5.
James Windham and Walks With Swagger picked up the reserve check, equaling $506.13.
NAAC Novice Horse Non Pro Level 1 Champions, Kara Gray Frye & Juice N Silk
Kara Gray Frye capped off a storybook 2016 with a win in the Novice Horse Non Pro Level 1 aboard her Quarter Horse, Juice N Silk, with a score of 218.5. The pair also earned the reserve honors in the Novice Horse Non Pro Level 2.
“My ride was a lot of fun,” she says. “He’s been there for me all year, and today topped it off for me –this was a dream horse show.”
Shannon Kasten was reserve in the Novice Horse Non Pro Level 1 aboard Schoen Smart.
NAAC Novice Horse Non Pro Level 2 Champions, Shannon Rafacz & Iboom
Shannon Rafacz made another appearance in the winner’s circle with Iboom in the Novice Horse Non Pro Level 2 with a score of 219. The win was an unexpected one for Rafacz, but one that she’ll treasure.
“I was hoping to do well, I’ve been doing well with him (this year), but you never really know,” says Rafacz. “He’s been steadily getting better, so I’m excited for the future.”
Silver Spurs Equine Rookie of the Year, Amy Rushing & West Coast Magnum
Amy Rushing’s debut year in the reining show pen culminated in a big way, winning the Silver Spurs Equine Rookie of the Year aboard West Coast Magnum, a horse she leased from Karen Marie Elliot. The former hunter/jumper and Dressage rider decided it was time to join her husband’s discipline and help one of his customers who was sidelined with an injury.
“I had hoped to win this title, but I was trying not to think about it,” says Amy. “My husband says that I can’t think about winning, but to think about every maneuver.”
Her score was also good enough for reserve in the Rookie Level 2.
NAAC Rookie Level 2 Champions, Kylie Robinson & Wimpys Tonnob
Kylie Robinson and her Wimpys Tonnob, scored a 218.5 for the winner’s check of $163.92 to earn the Rookie Level 2 championship.
Robinson’s main goal for 2016 was to bring home the win from Oklahoma City, and after finding the perfect horse earlier this year, the 14-year-old did just that.
“I knew I had a chance of winning, and if he loped off well we’d be set,” says Robinson. “He loped off perfect, so I knew it was time to show.”
NAAC Youth 14-18 Champions, Dani Latimer & Snapbacks
Dani Latimer continued the Latimer family tradition in the reining pen, piloting Snapbacks to a score of 217.5 to secure the Youth 14-18 Youth championship. The 4-year-old mare and Latimer were finalists in the 2015 Futurity, and have spent the past year getting more miles under the saddle.
“She’s just gotten better and more consistent throughout the year,” says Latimer. “She finished the year really strong.”
The 2015 NRHA Youth 14-18 World Champion Terri June Granger was reserve aboard her mare Jeans N Reeboks.
NAAC Youth 13 & Under Champions, Ariana Kate Dejong and White Chocolat Chunk
Ariana Kate Dejong and her family travelled all the way from Canada for her to compete in her first NAAC, and the trip was well worth the drive as the 12-year-old and White Chocolat Chunk won the NAAC Youth 13 & Under championship with a score of 220.
“For our first time down here, I couldn’t ask for anything better out of Chip,” she says. “This is the horse I started reining on three and a half years ago.”
Emma Lane and Gunner Gump finished just a half point behind for the reserve title for their first trip to Oklahoma City.
The Palomino Horse Breeders of America (PHBA) awarded the highest scoring Palomino in each class during the NAAC. Ariana Kate Dejong and her White Chocolat Chunk earned the Youth PHBA Award and James Windham and Walks With Swagger earned the Non Pro PHBA Award.
Visit NRHAFuturity.com for photos, videos, and news from the event!