2015 Cactus Reining Classic

“Eleven Great Years and Counting”

byChristy Egan


   It was the eleventh anniversary of the Cactus Reining Classic at WestWorld in Scottsdale, Arizona. To say that the show has come a long way since its premier in 2005 is undoubtedly a king-sized understatement. Amanda Brumley and the Brumley Management Group, LLC rescued the show and the WestWorld dates, stubbornly struggled through the first, few tough years, and have worked hard to help it grow more successful annually ever since.

   “In 2014 the growth of the event was breathtaking and record breaking,” Amanda says smiling. “When this year came, I thought … there is no way it can have another increase in 2015, but I was delightfully wrong. We had over 600 stalls booked for the show and saw more entries in the Non Pro Derby, Youth and Non Pro Maturity. We had 15 horses in both slates of Short Stirrup, which were the biggest numbers we’ve ever had for those classes. I loved watching those kids. Everybody loved the kids. It all ran so smoothly. I could not have been more pleased with the event overall. It was another wonderful show and I am very grateful to everyone: the horsemen, the sponsors, and my staff … all of those who make the Cactus Reining Classic one of the best of the spring horse shows!”

   Certainly the circumstances of this show’s success have something to do with the winter weather in the desert, which (ignoring a bit of rain the first of the week) held to mid-seventies and low eighties throughout the show. And the WestWorld facility always gets glowing reviews from exhibitors and spectators. The groundskeepers make a real effort regarding the footing in the main rings and the warm-up, and the condition of the stabling always gets top marks from horsemen.

   Wednesday and Thursday were filled with great competition, though everyone was anxious for the arrival of Friday morning and the start of the $40,000 Added Protect The Harvest Non-Pro Derby. Winner of over $6,000 in the L4 Aged Event was Cade McCutcheon on Vintage Crome. “Vintage Crome is a very young mare,” says Cade. “I appreciated the facility having a lot of warm-up areas. She still needs to get out and look around at new things. It was only her fourth or fifth horse show.” Cade is 14 and still has several more years of high school. He’s a third generation horseman who started riding the show circuit when he was seven. Cade and Vintage Chrome won the L4 with an untouchable 221.5. Jessica Sternberg and Spook N Sparkle took Reserve honors and $3,000 in that same event. That team also won the Level 3 Intermediate and the Level 2 Limited Non Pro for total earnings of $8,569.09. First thing Saturday morning in the SmartPak $10,000 Added Non-Pro 7 & Up Maturity, Sternberg stepped aboard Shiners Chic and won $2,873.75 by taking second in the Level 4, first in the Level 3 and first in the Level 2 Limit Non Pro Maturity.  The top money of $1,205.69 for winning the Level 4 went to Tish Fappani and Premier Diamond.

   It was not a big surprise when Tish’s husband, Andrea Fappani, took top honors in the $70,000 Added Lucas Oil Open Derby, winning the L4 competition and nearly $13,000 aboard SG Frozen Enterprize for owners Silver Spurs Equine. But he also took third place and almost $7,000 on Electric Genes, and then, eighth place of $2,500+ with Gunna Sassya. Another of the Rio Verde Scottsdale trainers, Dan Huss, won the L3 with MS Dreamy after only having her in the barn for two months.

  “She’s a great horse. She had already won the amateur reining at the 2014 AQHA World Show and posted a 222 there,” says Dan. “The big plan was for her owner to ride her in the Non Pro. He arrived at the Cactus Reining Classic on crutches and told me he was going to check with the doctor and was sure that he would be riding. The doctor didn’t agree. He said Bob needed an operation and so, two days before she was due to show, I was suddenly personally riding Ms Dreamy in the Open Derby. Bob had shown her in January at the Sun Circuit in the Select and won under both judges, and he’ll be showing her in the Select in Amarillo at the end of August.” Dan Huss had a particularly good show with both his Non Pro and Select riders. His youth rider, Chandler Winard, was 2015 Cactus Reining Classic High Point Youth 14-18 riding Tags Golden Star.

   Kevin Williams and West Coast Beach Boy took High Point in his division by winning the Limited Non-Pro (one of the largest of the ancillary divisions with 42 entries) and the Limited Non-Pro (with 69 entries). The pair took home a Bob’s Custom Saddle with the High Point Limited Non Pro win. Sweeping the High Point in the Rookie and Prime Time divisions, Joe Moran had arrived at the Cactus Classic just hoping for a buckle win and instead went home with four!

   “Just to win a buckle was a dream for me,” laughs Joe. “So many cool people come to the Cactus Classic, I never thought I had a chance. It was a miracle! My first two trips into the pen I pulled 72.5 on each of my horses. Custom Smart Olena continued to shine and Cromed Out Chic did well too. It may never happen again. I appreciated winning the saddle, I really did. But the buckle … at last, I can wear a buckle like everybody else!

   Cory Vokoun and her horse Snow Star Wrangler were in the money consistently in the Novice divisions. Cori believes that the three Brumley shows are geared to reward consistent performers. “There are so many prizes and great programs at the three shows,” Cori says. “All the good shows offer buckles and saddles. The Brumley shows reward right down the line. It gives great purpose to the work of all the horses showing … not just the Futurity and Derby horses. That’s why we come back and bring our family to all of these shows.”

   Another perk for attending all three of the Brumley shows: The Cactus Reining Classic, Reining By The Bay and the Las Vegas High Roller is the Triffecta Non Pro Reining Challenge. The rider with the highest money earners at the end of the third show will win a trip to the Salamander Resort and Spa, Middleburg, Virginia. Harper Conner and Jacs Princess and Jessica Sternberg and Spook N Sparkle, are currently tied for the Triffecta lead.   



      Just about everybody who competes with reining horses in the West is familiar with Utah trainer, Travis Wigen, his wife Melissa and their two little girls, Kendall and Madison.  They are a wonderful family, which made it even more emotional when we all found out that Madison has been diagnosed with POTS Syndrome. POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachyeardia) effects the nervous system and manifests itself in a variety of ways in different people. Madison just turned 10. It’s hard for a little girl who did her first lead-line at 11 months of age on Whip That Peppy and started in the Short Stirrup division at four to be tired a great deal of the time and to have to go through a battery of blood tests and hospital visits. “She’s been riding less lately, of course,” says Melissa, “and the lack of exercise has brought on more symptoms.” Add this to an already busy life filled with hard work, an insurance company that is not cooperating, and worst of all … the fear and worry inherent to being a parent with a sick child, and you have some idea of how difficult these last few months have been for Melissa and Travis.

   The problem is relatively recent. Madison began to show symptoms last October. A friend set up a site at www.gofundme.com to help Madison and the family with the rapidly mounting medical bills. The upcoming Best Little Derby in the West show, April 22nd to 26th, is working on having trainers at the show donate a month of training or board to contribute to Madison’s aid, a fund raiser is being discussed in conjunction with the upcoming NRBC. If you would like to help, go to www.gofundme.com and reference Madison Wigen. It’s pretty straight forward and easy.

   What else can you do to help? Travis and Melissa would like to lease the right horse for Madison so that she can get back to riding and horse-related exercise, have something to look forward to and get some much needed relief and escape from the hospitals and doctors. If you know of a good, sound youth show horse for Madison, contact the family at 503-704-4529 (Melissa) or 503-784-2156 (Travis).  

   Perhaps most importantly, keep this family in your heartfelt thoughts and prayers. They are one of our own. Let’s take some time for them.  



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