Even when the gates to the show pens close, reiners find a way.
By Jennifer Paulson and Kaycie Timm
Even if you’d had a crystal ball and an exceptional ability to predict the future, we doubt you could’ve foreseen the effects of COVID-19 on the world at large, and more specifically, in the horse industry. Never before have so many events been canceled or postponed. But also, never before has the horse community come together to support each other while being resourceful and creative to keep horses and riders sharp.
Here are just a few examples of what NRHA members and partners were doing in April, during the production of the May issue of the Reiner, to keep from going stir-crazy and to be ready to compete once horse shows are back in action.
Making the Most of the Time
Reiners are competitive achievers, so when there’s a virtual cessation to all horse shows, things can get tough. Circumstances like these can even lead to feelings of depression and despair. We talked to a handful of NRHA members to find out what they’re doing during the break from showing. They offer positive outlooks and proactive measures they’ve taken to stay motivated and keep their horses in shape.
NRHA Non Pro and Owner of Mechanics 4 the Equine Heidi Pichotta: “I’m taking this time to focus on my horse’s condition and getting him really physically fit and feeling great without overdoing the maneuvers. I think now is such a great time to give a very productive break where we focus on riding for soundness and not so much overdoing things. I’m doing a lot of long-trotting—sometimes 40 minutes of it. No matter a horse’s discipline, long-trotting is needed for conditioning and soundness.”
NRHA Professional Ryan Rushing: “I see a big silver lining for my 2- and 3-year-olds. Usually, we’d be at shows this time of year, losing about 25% of our time with these horses. That consistent time has allowed me to slow everything down and not feel as pressured. If I feel something I don’t like, I can work on it until I get it where I want it and my horse understands. I can really feel the patience benefitting my 2-year-olds.”
NRHA Professional Shannon Rafacz: “The best advice I’d give people is if your horse is in training, don’t panic. Let your trainers do what they do best. I think our customers are getting more for their money right now, because their horses are getting our undivided attention. We aren’t having to stop the process, go to a horse show, and start over again. We’re finding ourselves focusing more on every horse in the barn, not just the ones getting ready to go to a show. I think we are going to see better trained and better minded horses when this is over.”
NRHA Non Pro Lindsay Handren: “My horses are in Michigan, and I’m in California. Some of the ladies I ride with have asked how to deal with not seeing their horses every day, because they’re having a really hard time. We’ve stayed connected with a big group chat. We send pictures from last show season and remind each other that we’re still a barn family, and we’ll be back to showing again soon. This is a short-term sacrifice in the scheme of things. In the long run, we’ll all be healthier and safer, and our horses will still be there waiting when we can go back.”
NRHA Professional Matt Palmer: “I’ve done a few different things, like studying videos of my previous runs and working on what I see there. Then, I have someone here video when I’m running hard, stopping, or circling at home. That has helped me find problems in my program that I haven’t noticed before. When I’m on the road from show to show, the last thing on my mind is taking the time to video at home and study past runs. Doing that has helped me find things I’m doing personally—not just the horses—that I can correct and improve.”
Find complete interviews with these NRHA members on The Rundown blog.
If you’re at all active on social media, you’ve seen an uptick in offerings of virtual horse shows of all kinds and all disciplines, including reining. We’ve even seen “best bloopers” classes that are sure to give you a much-needed laugh. All it takes is a video camera (your phone works) and a videographer to get involved.
APHA launched AHPA e-Shows, an online showing experience. The all-breed reining classes will be judged by NRHA/APHA Judges according to the APHA Rulebook, including rules for tack, attire, and patterns. Submitted videos must be one continuous shot and filmed during the class’s posted “show dates.”
NRHA Professional Tell Edgmon was one of the first reiners we saw jump headfirst into this new endeavor. Edgmon, along with his wife, Ari, and Heather Marks, owner of Texas Horse Power Ranch where Edgmon trains, facilitated a virtual reining show with all proceeds benefitting locally-owned restaurants of the winner’s choosing, anywhere in the States.
“The idea behind this started the day before all the restaurants [in Texas] had to move to take-out only,” Ari shared. “Heather and I were sitting at the barn, talking about people [who work at local restaurants] losing their only source of income. I thought we should put on a simple virtual show and donate the entry fees to the local restaurants that are going to suffer the most. It just grew from there.”
After raising over $600 during their first show, the Edgmons decided to host a second virtual show, this time with fewer divisions and a longer entry period, in hopes of attracting even more entries—and more donations. Find more details about these events, here.
NRHA Corporate Partner Quarter Dream has plans to dive into the virtual horse-show experience by offering a way for NRHA Professionals to showcase their 3-year-olds leading up to the futurities.
“As a breeder and owner, I’d like to see the prospects and how they’re coming along in a professional manner,” said Pietro Marseglia, owner of Quarter Dream. “Trainers will show their horses on an easy pattern that can be part of their training session and be evaluated on their progress. This will only be for open riders at this time.”
Another virtual reining venture includes vreinworld.com, which features eligibility rules and handsome payouts. The first event is slated to start May 1.
NRHA and COVID-19
Members are, obviously, the heart of NRHA. So in the time of crisis surrounding the coronavirus, NRHA is doing its best to help members—especially NRHA Professionals and small-business owners—navigate the choppy, daunting waters surrounding the CARES Act. It involves the federal government’s pledge of $349 billion in forgivable loans for owners of small businesses and sole proprietors. Find all of the helpful information NRHA has compiled here.