Lights, Cameras, Action ~ Cactus Reining Classic Style

2014 Cactus Reining Classic Wrap Up Article

  By Alden Corrigan for RBB, Inc.


Cactus Reining Classic held at WestWorld Scottsdale, Arizona March 5-9, 2014 had every element required for a star-studded action movie; top horses and riders filling each division and leaving nothing on the table day in and day out and a cliffhanger ending to the $65,500 Added Lucas Oil Open Derby Level 4 culminating in a run off to remember between Franco Bertolani on CFR Centenario Wimpy and Jordan Larson on Show Me The Buckles that had everyone in the Equidome and watching online on the edge of their seats.

And The Oscar Goes To

Just like the film industry Cactus Reining Classic had it’s own coveted awards for the victors: Markel Horse Insurance championship coolers, Gist buckles, Sami Fine Jewelry Championship rings, Back on Track Quick Wraps, Ice Horse Tendon Wraps, huge buckets of Finish Line product, PARW trophy buckles, David Yurman classic cable bracelet with diamonds, jackets from Cinch and Cowgirl Tuff Professional’s Choice bell boots, product from Equithrive, Auburn labs and gift certificates from Tom McCutcheon’s VirtualHorseHelp.com, Ariat, Equine Oasis, Pard’s Western Shop, Pacific Coast Journal, The Reiner, Reiner’s World and Santa Cruz Animal Health as well as prize money from a myriad of loyal sponsors totaling over $200,000 in added money and prizes.

 Cactus Reining Classic Box Office

2014 entries for the event were up a whopping 47% over 2013, which had also posted double digit increases over 2012.  The largest increases in entries were in the Salamander Resort & Spa Novice Horse Level 2 Non Pro, the $42,500 Added protect The Harvest Non Pro Derby, the SmartPak $15,000 added Non Pro 7 Up Maturity and the Youth divisions, confirmation that efforts made to support the Non Pro divisions with added incentives of 10 Bob’s Custom Saddles and a four night stay, daily breakfast for two and two spa treatments at the luxurious Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, Virginia significantly impacted the attendance numbers in these divisions.

 Audience Participation

The addition of state of the art cameras for the live streaming online coverage of every minute of the three-ring action was viewed worldwide via iEquine and HRTV.com.  The coverage had the highest viewership numbers in theUnited States, Canada, Italy, Germany, Australia and Brazil. Within the United States, residents of California, Arizona, Texas, Colorado, Washington and Florida were the most engaged viewers. In addition, a vibrant social media campaign anchored by HRTV.com resulted in a reach of over 480,000 fans on Facebook.

 RFD-TV.com Western Sports Roundup, aired arguably one of the most memorable run offs in recent history in the $65,500 Added Lucas Oil Open Derby to over 50 million homes as a part of their Rural Evening News, which brings viewers results and highlights from all Western Sports across the nation.


Non Pro Highlights

Kris Loewenthal of Sonoma, California: DRHA Rookie Reserve High Point Champion on Whattadualpep (Mister Dual Pep x Whattaroyalprincess)

Kris came to Reining in 2013 by way of Jumpers, which she still shows competitively in “I don’t know if it’s my experience or my age, but my nerves at the In Gate were almost overwhelming and I thought I need to do something that doesn’t have fences in it, to get control of my show nerves, and Reining looked like a lot of fun. A lot of people thought this would last for about a year, but I love Reining, it’s an amazing sport, and I couldn’t leave now…the people are great, the horses are insanely talented and it’s a beautiful sport to be a part of”.

Cactus Reining Classic is Kris’ first big show with “Wonton” who she purchased during the NRHA Futurity in early December. “This is my first time at Cactus Classic and I was honestly hoping to come away without a penalty, that was my major goal, and marking a 72.5 was way more than a zero!  Cactus Classic was big and full of  quality horses, but it wasn’t intimidating. While the quality and excitement were there for someone who is a real rookie, Mike Boyle and Martin Padilla made it possible for me to feel comfortable at the same time, and that was really special”.

In Kris’ “spare time” she is the Chairperson of Giant Steps Equestrian Therapeutic Center in Petaluma California  “Giant Steps has changed my life coming into horses late and on a competitive side, being able to see what they can do from a therapeutic angle for so many disabilities…from physical to mental, from Autism to PTSD to Cerebral Palsy….Having the opportunity to work with Giant Steps has really transformed the way I look at the animals and never under value them”.


Sharee Schwartzenberger of Longmont, Colorado: Salamander Resort & Spa Novice Horse Level 2 Non Pro Challenge and Level 2 Non Pro High Point Division Champion on Game Day Surprize (Hang Ten Surprize & Dunnit N Continental)

Six year old Game Day Surprize and Sharee have been together since last year when she bought him as a Derby horse from a client of her fathers. “When the owner talked about selling him my dad said he thought he’d be a good Non Pro horse so I decided to invest in him as my ‘going to the big shows’ horse.  I showed him all last year and did well including winning the Novice Horse Level 2 Affiliate Championship and the Non Pro out in Oklahoma.   After Cactus Reining Classic my big show with him this year will be the NRBC”.

What brings the family all the way from Colorado to Arizona?  “We come every year.  It’s a great show, awesome weather, and if you have a solid run you’ll be in the money.  I won my check back on both horses”. 

Sharee manages her schedule to allow it her to help run her parents Schwartzenberger Equine, LLC business in Longmont, Colorado in addition to working part time for Greeley Hat Works and showing and now she’ll have to make time for her four night stay, daily breakfasts and spa treatments for two at the exclusive Salamander Spa & Resort in Middleburg, Virginia.  Who will be Sharee’s plus one for the Salamander Resort & Spa experience? Her sister who she surprised with the news by phone immediately after the win picture. “She’s been really busy and deserves some time off.  We’re both really excited”.


Cam Essick of Clements, California: $42,500 Added Protect the harvest Non Pro Derby: Level 3 and Prime Time Champion as well as tying for Level 4 Reserve Champion with Wimpys Little Roo and Kim Muehlstaetter and Shiney Enterprise Mandy McCutcheon on Who Loves You (Walla Walla Whiz x Love Em N Lena) of  $9,886.61

Five year-old Who Loves you is a gelding that Cam bred, raised and shown for almost a year under the guidance of Arno Honstetter at the shows. “He’s a horse that I keep at home, so my challenge as a Non Pro is to make the time while I’m working to manage a show horse and be competitive on a national level in the aged events.  That’s a huge challenge for me as I do not ride with a trainer at home.  I like that challenge, on the other hand, I’m probably the only one that does that. I have bred every horse I show, so I don’t have the liberty to give up on a horse.

It’s easy for me to come and show my horse because I really believe in my horse, and I have a really good coach behind me.   We marked a 220 at Reining By The Bay last year, and came back to High Roller Reining Classic and had a few challenges and then came back here.  It’s a fun challenge for me, and I’m appreciative that I can maintain my horse and go to the shows.  This is the third time I’ve gotten help from Arno and we’ve won just under $25,000 at Brumley Management Group shows. To be in good company makes it all the better”.

Cam is currently at the top of the leader board for the Four Seasons 2014 Trifecta Non Pro Reining Challenge as well.


Open Highlights

Ollie Galligan of Petaluma, California: NRHA Open and NRHA Intermediate Open High Point Champion with earnings of $1,078 on Lavonne Sturgeon’s California Shines (West Coast Whiz x Shining Maid)

Ollie Galligan of Petaluma, California set a goal at the beginning of the year for his clients and himself to work hard together to really step up their game in 2014. Team Galligan started the year off with 2 shows in Northern California before heading to the Cactus Reining Classic. Galligan explains, “We got our horses schooled, I pushed my clients, the clients pushed their horses, and we all focused on trying to get to that next level.

You have to set a goal of coming to a unique show like this if you want to get to that next level. You have to be able to compete under this kind of pressure…. against this level of rider…..and bring everyone with you in the barn, trying to win and compete together. 

Everyone has worked so hard to make it happen at this show, and it’s kind of a bonus because it’s my birthday! Doing well on Cal (California Shines) yesterday was great. We won in the NRHA $500 Added Intermediate Open and then last night in the $NRHA $1,000 Added Open and come back today and be in the running again and get a half point higher than we did yesterday we’re just tickled to death, and I want to thank Brumley Management Group does a beautiful job putting on this big show”.

A message from Ollie “I want to encourage everyone to keep following your dreams no matter who you are or where you’re from. If you work hard enough you’ll get there. I’d like to thank the owners for providing us with these horses, for trusting us with these horses, allowing us to take them down the road and show them and do what we love. Thank you.”


Franco Bertolani of Aubrey, Texas: $67,500 Added Lucas Oil Open Derby Level 4 Champion  with earnings of $13832.20 on Domenico Lomuto ~ Slide or Die’s CFR Centenario Wimpy (Wimpys Little Step x Miss Hollywood Whiz)

Brazilian rider Franco Bertolani and six year old stallion CFR Centenario Wimpy repeated their Open Derby Level 4 winning performance from High Roller Reining Classic 2013 in this year’s $67,500 Added Lucas Oil Open Derby with run that won’t soon be forgotten.  “I think the West Coast brings me luck.  I came back here after High Roller and he was really good.  Jordan Larson and Show Me The Buckles and I were both 225.5 in our first runs.  My horse was a little fresh in the first run and when we came back for the run off he was really good.  Much better than the first one and we marked 231.5.

Jordan put a lot of pressure on us going first and marking a 228.5.  I got in the arena and thought just do the best run you can. I had just shown him the first time 20 or 30 minutes before the run off.  He was great.  I felt really good with the first stop. It was long, and I think +1.5.  He has a big heart and gave me everything he had”.

The only person who was possibly even more excited than Franco with CFR Centenario Wimpy’s performance was his owner Domenico Lomuto who has owned the stallion since he was a four year old.

Domenico got into Reining in a very round about way. As owner of the largest collection of Leica cameras in the world Domenico was approached by a very good friend who asked to purchase one special camera about four years ago.  After repeatedly turning the friend down a photo of a palomino arrived in the mail.  “The note said, “If you send me the camera, the Palomino stud is yours”, so I did it.  The horse was a cow horse.  After that I bought an embryo in the U.S. and things go along then way, and I bought Rio”.

Now two years later, along with Show Me The Buckles’ owner Rebecca Martin Domenico had to make the call (literally from Rome, Italy) whether or not to go head to head in a run off for the Open Derby title.   “My wife and my daughter were sleeping because it was 3:00 a.m. in Italy when I was watching “Rio” on the computer. Then I received the call from Franco asking what he should do.  Franco said we are here I think we should go ahead (and run off) and I said yes, it’s good for the industry to have a run off.

When Jordan marked a 228.5 I was already thinking of writing a message congratulating him.  I thought I had made the worst decision…..And then when I heard 231.5 I was completely off my sofa sitting on the floor!  I had my headphones on because everyone was asleep, and I started screaming, my wife came out of the bedroom and said what is going on?  I said I want to explain to you how we won the Derby, and she said tell me in the morning”, Lomuto says with a laugh.

Rio’s 2014 calendar includes the NRHA Derby, High Roller Reining Classic, NRHA Shootout during the Futurity, the AQHA World Show and of course his breeding season.


Cactus Reining Classic Beneficiary Protect The Harvest

“We are extremely excited to welcome Protect The Harvest as the beneficiary for Cactus Reining Classic, Reining By The Bay and High Roller Reining Classic. The combined mission statement of the joint effort between Lucas Oil and Protect The Harvest is to inform and educate the public about the true intentions of groups like PETA and the Humane Society of the United States. If these groups were to achieve their overriding goal of legally banning all animal ownership, it will result in an irreversible impact to each and every one of us and to the livelihood of the entire equestrian community, and in particular the Western Performance Horse industry.

Cactus Reining Classic, Reining By The Bay and High Roller Reining Classic have committed to a $5.00 contribution per horse per class to Protect The Harvest at all three of our events in 2014. Our goal is to provide Protect The Harvest with over $20,000 in contributions to this 501 (c)(4) Non-Profit organization this competition year. We couldn’t be more pleased that our first donation from monies raised at Cactus Reining Classic was in excess of $10,000,” states Amanda Brumley of Brumley Management Group. To learn more about Protect the Harvest visit: protecttheharvest.com


The End

Brumley sums up the 2014 event “The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential... these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence ~ Confucius. In my opinion this is the perfect quote to describe the 2014 Cactus Reining Classic. As show producers, we could not have asked for a better group of exhibitors to compete at our event.  Everyone brought their ‘A’ game this week and it showed. I am still getting goose bumps thinking about that Open Derby run off Saturday night, and am so excited about the growth in the Non Pro and Youth divisions this year.”


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