The weather was almost perfect for the 2017 Cactus Reining Classic held March 22 to 26, 2017, at Scottsdale, Arizona, and there was definitely a great turnout of terrific exhibitors.

2017 has seen a considerable number of changes in schedule dates for horse shows, the Cactus Reining Classic included. This year the event was pushed two weeks further into March, a move that producer Amanda Brumley, of Brumley Management Group was not unhappy about.

“WestWorld changed the schedule for all winter/spring shows this year,” notes Brumley. “It always poses concerns having new dates, but the weather is often more stable in late March.” In the past, the Cactus Classic had experienced every type of weather from 90-plus degrees F to snowing. All in all, the new dates proved that change can be good. 

Along with good weather came awesome competition. Dana Avila from Temecula, California cleaned up with her gelding Gunna Spook Ya, by Smart Spook and out of Gitty Annie Gun, by Gunner. Dana won the High Point Championships in Novice Horse Non Pro Level 1 and 2, and Intermediate Non Pro.

“I opted not to show my horse in the Derby as my husband, Bob, and I felt he wasn’t quite as seasoned as the other Derby horses,” notes Dana. “I ended up having a terrific show. As they say, winning is always fun.”

Johanna “Jojo” Anstensen, from Anacortes, Washington and her horse SLJ Custom Style by Custom Legend and out of a Smart Like Juice mare, were all smiles after winning the Limited Non Pro High Point Championship. After an exciting run-off, the pair took home a gorgeous custom trophy saddle presented by Equine Oasis and custom Gist trophy buckle.

“This is my first time showing in Arizona,” comments Jojo. “I had a great time, and had lots of fun showing my horse. He was just amazing. Can’t wait to come back next year!” 

Jojo and SLJ Custom Style are coached by Jordan McBurney from Arlington, Washington. Jordan was very pleased with her students. “Jojo and Pailo are a great team and a pleasure to coach. It was great experience for Jojo to have a run-off for the win,” Jordan adds. “She just bought a three-year-old Whizkey (Whizkey N Diamonds) to show as her first Futurity horse. It’s going to be a fun year!”

The Rookie divisions were dominated by Robi-Kay Lynn Pederson. The 16-year-old from Scottsdale, Arizona won High Point Champion in three out of four Rookie divisions, Rookie 1 and 2, and DRHA Rookie on her horse Showhiz, an eight-year-old gelding by Conquistador Whiz. Some of the loot she collected included Gist custom trophy buckles, and two trophy saddles, the DRHA Rookie Silver Spurs Custom Saddle, and Rookie Level 2 Custom High Point Champion Saddle, presented by Equine Oasis. 

Wendy Claus aboard her horse Drag N Tail swept the Desert Reining Horse Association Green Divisions to win the High Point Championship in both DRHA Green Reiner and DRHA Green As Grass, while Laetitia Loubser and her mount Coronas In Hollywood were Reserve High Point Champion in both divisions.

This theme of big winning sweeps continued at the Cactus Reining Classic on Saturday with the SmartPak Non Pro Maturity. Shelby Clausen riding Smart Tinseltown, a seven-year-old gelding by Smart Spook, marked 219.5 to win the Levels 4, 3, 2 and 1 divisions and a paycheck of $1,566.53.

“We got Shelby’s horse from Robin Scholler last year at the NRHA Futurity,” commented Shelby’s trainer, Patrick Flaherty. “This is only the third time she has shown him. She did well on him at the Arizona Sun Country Circuit. Shelby is only 15 years old and has been riding with me for the last three years.”

Robi-Kay Lynn Pederson is also trained by Flaherty. When asked what he thought of the two performances Flaherty states, “They are both great kids. They work hard, love horses and deserve the success.”

The $40,000 Added Protect The Harvest Non Pro Derby saw 56 competitors all vying for the big money and prizes. Always a tough competitor, Morris Kulmer from Bountiful, Utah riding Chics Dream by Magnum Chic Dream, gave the others a run for their money by marking a 218.5 for the win in the Level 4 Non Pro, Prime Time and Masters Non Pro divisions. His award for his efforts was a check for $7,787.53, three Gist custom trophy buckles and lots of horse cookies. Dan Huss, Morris’ trainer, was extremely happy with their performance. 

“Morris has put a lot of work in order to get better and it’s paying off. He is an awesome competitor and a pleasure to coach,” states Huss. 

Another Flaherty student, Kristin Darnall-Titov won $3,829.50 and a Bob’s Custom Trophy saddle for winning the Level 3 Non Pro Derby on her horse Walla Walla Barbie, by Walla Walla Whiz. Francesca Sternberg flew in from London, England to compete this year. It was well worth it as she and FS Gunner Got Lucky, rode to the Level 2 Championship win, Reserve in the Level 3 division and a paycheck of $4,546.19 in addition to the Silver Spurs Custom Trophy Saddle sponsored by Rancho Oso Rio.

The Level 1 Non Pro Derby Champion saw a fresh face in the winner’s circle this year. Bobbie Dykes from Temecula, California rode his entry Stepinoutinhollywood, by Wimpys Little Step, and marked a 214.5 to win the Level 1 division and Reserve in the Level 2 division of the Non Pro Derby. For their efforts Bobbie won $3,345.07.

Cactus Reining Classic, Horse Show Global, Wild Card Reining Challenge,  Reining by the Bay, High Roller Reining Classic, brumley management, Johanna “Jojo” Anstensen, SLJ Custom Style, Dana Avila, Gunna Spook Ya, Inferno 66, Franco Bertolani, Shelby Clausen, Smart Tinseltown, Morris Kulmer, Chics Dream, Tom Foran, Walla Walla Starbuck

Dana Avila and Gunna Spook Ya. Photo: Waltenberry

Cactus Reining Classic, Horse Show Global, Wild Card Reining Challenge,  Reining by the Bay, High Roller Reining Classic, brumley management, Johanna “Jojo” Anstensen, SLJ Custom Style, Dana Avila, Gunna Spook Ya, Inferno 66, Franco Bertolani, Shelby Clausen, Smart Tinseltown, Morris Kulmer, Chics Dream, Tom Foran, Walla Walla Starbuck

Inferno 66 ridden by Franco Bertolani. Photo: Waltenberry

Cactus Reining Classic, Horse Show Global, Wild Card Reining Challenge,  Reining by the Bay, High Roller Reining Classic, brumley management, Johanna “Jojo” Anstensen, SLJ Custom Style, Dana Avila, Gunna Spook Ya, Inferno 66, Franco Bertolani, Shelby Clausen, Smart Tinseltown, Morris Kulmer, Chics Dream, Tom Foran, Walla Walla Starbuck

Shelby Clausen riding Smart Tinseltown. Photo: Waltenberry

Cactus Reining Classic, Horse Show Global, Wild Card Reining Challenge,  Reining by the Bay, High Roller Reining Classic, brumley management, Johanna “Jojo” Anstensen, SLJ Custom Style, Dana Avila, Gunna Spook Ya, Inferno 66, Franco Bertolani, Shelby Clausen, Smart Tinseltown, Morris Kulmer, Chics Dream, Tom Foran, Walla Walla Starbuck

Morris Kulmer with Chics Dream. Photo: Waltenberry

Cactus Reining Classic, Horse Show Global, Wild Card Reining Challenge,  Reining by the Bay, High Roller Reining Classic, brumley management, Johanna “Jojo” Anstensen, SLJ Custom Style, Dana Avila, Gunna Spook Ya, Inferno 66, Franco Bertolani, Shelby Clausen, Smart Tinseltown, Morris Kulmer, Chics Dream, Tom Foran, Walla Walla Starbuck

Tom Foran with Walla Walla Starbuck. Photo: Waltenberry

Once again, the $70,000 Added Lucas Oil Open Derby, with 74 horses in the competition, did not disappoint the spectators. It took a 220.5 to place 15th and be in the money. When Arno Honstetter, of Scottsdale, Arizona left the arena after his run on Gunnafoolya, by Gunnatrashya, owned by Marilyn Overgaard, with a smoking score of 226 the crowd thought they had seen their winner. Then Arno’s assistant trainer Daniel Schloemer riding Dun Spooked Us, owned by Jenanne Overgaard, marked a 226 to tie his mentor and the crowd went wild with anticipation of a run-off. However, as they say it’s not over until….. Inferno 66 and rider Franco Bertolani entered the arena. The stunning chestnut stallion by NRHA Million Dollar Sire Gunnatrashya walked in as though he owned the place. The excited crowd fell silent in anticipation as the NRHA Level 4 Open Futurity Reserve Champion duo hesitated in the middle of the arena to begin their pattern. Soon the cheering, whistling and goosebumps came from the appreciative spectators. Then the ride was over. The moments waiting to hear the score had folks on the edge of their seat. When the score of 228.5 was announced there was an explosion of exhilaration for the 2017 winner of the Lucas Oil Level 4 Open Derby Champions Inferno 66 and Franco Bertolani. Their efforts earned them a custom Gist trophy buckle, custom bronze trophy and a check in the amount of $13,788.50. Arno Honstetter and Daniel Schloemer tied for Reserve Champions and each earned a check of $7,343.88 in the Level 4 division. Daniel Schloemer and Dun Spooked Us also won the Level 3 division adding another $6,203.10 for a total win of $13,546.98 and a Bob’s Custom Trophy Saddle.

The Level 2 Open Derby Championship and Level 3 Reserve Championship went to Tom Foran, of Burbank, California and Sleipner, LLC’s Walla Walla Starbuck, by NRHA Million Dollar Sire Walla Walla Whiz. Their paycheck totaled $7,780.10. The eye-stopping palomino stallion Woodys Toy Gun, sired by Hollywoodstinseltown and ridden by Chuy Chavez from Gilroy, California won the Level 1 Open Derby division, tied for third in the Level 2 and earned themselves a check in the amount of $3,770.63 for owner Karin DiNapoli.

When asked to sum up the show, Amanda Brumley showed her delight for the outcome of the event. “The show was great! Things went smoothly and people had a fabulous time. I am extremely pleased with the new bronze trophies that were awarded and that the winners loved them too. I would have liked to see more participation in the NARHA (National Arabian Reining Horse Association) divisions, but it’s new. This is the first year. The NARHA has so much to offer for the Arabian reining industry. Once it catches on, it will be huge!” 

What’s next on the BMG Events calendar? The Wild Card Reining Challenge to be held May 24 – 27 in Las Vegas, NV offering over $115,000 in added money and Reining Horse Expo. There are two FREE clinics being offered. Jordan Larson will be discussing the run down and NRHA Judge Jody Brainard will return to host “Inside the Mind of an NRHA Judge.” The entire event, including the clinics, will be broadcast live over the internet through HorseShowGlobal BMG Events Official Broadcasting Network. If you can’t be there in person, watch the live broadcast. You won’t be disappointed. 

Brumley Management Group, LLC produces four not-to-be-missed events annually. In addition to the Cactus Reining Classic in Scottsdale, Arizona in March and the Wild Card Reining Challenge in Las Vegas in May, there is Reining By The Bay in Woodside, California in July and the world famous High Roller Reining Classic in Las Vegas in September. BMG Events is so proud of its newest addition. The Wild Card Reining Challenge and Tamarack Ranch Four-Year-Old Futurity in Las Vegas over Memorial Day, May 24 - 27. The Wild Card Reining Challenge features the $65,000 Added Tamarack Ranch Four-Year-Old Futurity, $40,000 Added Four-Year-Old Stakes, two slates of NRHA Ancillary Affiliate qualifying divisions, the SmartPak Non Pro 7 & Up Maturity, as well as two slates of National Arabian Reining Horse Association World Championships qualifiers. Pre-entries are due April 23rd, 2017. 

For information go to the Wild Card Reining Challenge website at or contact Amanda Brumley via e-mail at brumleymanagementgroup@gmail.com

Main Photo: Johanna “Jojo” Anstensen and SLJ Custom Style. Credit: Waltenberry

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