A white Christmas. That’s all the Callinan family was searching for when they booked a trip to Vista Verde, a ranch near Steamboat Springs, Colorado. They never anticipated it would serve as the catalyst for a drastic lifestyle change.
“My poor husband took us on a holiday, and he didn’t know what would unfold by the time we got home,” Karen Callinan said. “While everyone was off skiing, Charlotte [Karen’s daughter] and I were in the arena learning about a new sport.”
Terry Wegener, NRHA Professional, was in the right place at the right time. He introduced Karen and Charlotte to reining not realizing how deeply the sport would take root.
“We went back to Australia and said, ‘we need to make this happen,’” Karen said. “We found horses, we put in arenas, we moved properties—we’ve basically fallen over ourselves to try and work out how to get into the sport. It’s just been fabulous.”
Now the mother-daughter duo train with NRHA Professional Rodney Peachey. They attended the NRHA Futurity and, naturally, fell in love with the bigger-than-life event.
They are at the 2019 NRHA Futurity in a little different capacity than their first trip. After starting a business – Genetically Gifted – in April of 2019, Karen’s marketing and administration skills have grown in strength as she represents prominent American reining stallions.
“The business itself came from a desire to make the high-quality American bloodlines as accessible to Australian reiners as affordably and efficiently as possible,” Karen added. “We also write for some magazines like the Australian Performance Horse and In The Pen.” With sights set on promoting and growing the sport of reining in Australia, Karen and Charlotte are excited about colts hitting the ground this spring harboring American genetics. The first stallion they introduced down under was Lil Dreamin Magnum.
“After launching in April, we came to Las Vegas for the Run for a Million where we had the opportunity to meet with the team from Cardinal and decided to offer their stallions in Australia,” she said.
The family of five breeds, raises, and trains at their home situated at the base of the Blue Mountains just outside Sydney.
“Once we caught the bug, we didn’t muck about,” Karen said. “It’s been great; we’ve met some of our very best friends through the sport.”