Articles: Press Release
A Late Night at the 2006 Adequan(r)/USEF(r) Open Reining Championship
Equals a Championship Title for Matt Mills and Easy Otie Whiz
Schmersal ties with Hendricks for Fourth, Steps Aside Giving Up World
United States Equestrian Federation, Inc.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 25, 2006
Lexington, KY - It was a night of upsets at the Kentucky Horse Park
during the 2006 Adequan(r)/United States Equestrian Federation(r) Open
Reining Championship, which was also the selection trial for the U.S
Reining Team for this summer's World Equestrian Games in Aachen,
Germany. Twenty-seven of the finest reiners our nation has to offer
competed in what many believed was one of the most competitive reining
competitions ever held. The top four finishers will comprise the Untied
States Reining Team pending the approval of the USEF Executive
When the dust settled from the sliding stops and spins, it was Matt
Mills on the top of the leader board with the ride of the night. Of the
27 competitors, two top riders zeroed early in the competition, another
kicked-out on a figure eight and saw his score drop too low to stay in
contention, and one left the ring early when the horse apparently
sustained a minor injury during his ride. That left four top place
finishers from very different worlds, two of the biggest names in the
reining world of legendary stature, and two that have never shown
internationally and are now scrambling to get a passport.
Mills and Easy Otie Whiz, a seven-year-old Quarter Horse stallion, owned
by Out West Stallion Station and Bobbie Cook took home top honors with a
score of 231. In addition to the title, Mills won the Don Burt Award,
given to the highest placed restricted reining rider in the Adequan/USEF
Open Reining Championship.
"It was a pretty tough group of riders and horses in this event. I was
just hoping to survive and be in the top four. You've got almost all of
the million dollar riders except for two of them here. It's pretty
tough competition...He felt on all week. I didn't do much preparation
on him. Everything I asked him to do, he did right off the bat. When I
walked in the pen and loped him off, he's been really good every time
I've shown him, but tonight he felt extra locked in and extra special
and I decided to go ahead and throw caution to the wind and see what
happened, it worked out alright."
Mills admitted that it can be easy to get really tense, really quickly
and forget to breathe, which is why he let out a deep breath before he
started. This time he knew right away that his horse was dialed in. "I
was along for the ride. I just kind of smiled and said, good boy."
Tied for reserve champion this evening were Aaron Ralston and Tim McQuay
with a score of 229.5. Ralston's horse Smart Paul Olena is a
12-year-old Quarter Horse stallion, owned by Meg Griffith-Ralston.
Ralston and his wife have owned him for some time; they pulled him out
of a pasture on a mountainside where his sole job was to breed mares all
day long. Ralston agreed his horse is certainly known for his beautiful
stops. "That's his deal. If you can just get him to run, you can get
him to heal. Sometimes I am not strong enough."
He is also known for his bareback freestyle. When asked about going
bridleless and bareback Ralston said, "You know I did that, but I got in
a lot of trouble because I did it at the National Western Stock Show and
it was the first time I did this routine. I was doing it with my
bridle, and I stopped in the center and was really getting into the
crowd because there are like five or six thousand people at the stock
show. They're all yelling and screaming and I am thinking I just can't
do anything wrong. I am superman. So I pulled my bridle off and threw
it on the ground, and I'd never practiced it at home and I'm doing it in
front of all these people. So I lope off in the left lead, and all I
had to do was lope off to the left, change leads and stop, so I lope off
to the left lead and I kind of start fading to the right. So I just
changed leads and drug a lead and got it, and came around and stopped
but my wife got kind of mad at me."
McQuay's horse, Mister Nicadual, earned a big pat when they completed
their ride that told the crowd immediately he was happy with his ride.
Mister Nicadual is a six-year-old Quarter Horse stallion, owned by Jerry
Kimmel. McQuay is the currently the NRHA's all time money winner.
National Reining Horse Association President Dell Hendricks and his
horse Starbucks Sidekick rounded out the top four with a score of 226.5.
Starbucks Sidekick is a six-year-old Quarter Horse stallion, owned by
Adair Reiners LLC. Ironically, one of Hendricks' best past apprentices
was top-place finisher Mills. In another interesting twist, Craig
Schmersal, who actually tied with Hendricks for fourth place generously
offered to step down after the World Games Team Selection tie-breaking
process that left them still in a tie. Schmersal was a member of the
Gold medal-winning team that competed in Jerez, Spain at the 2002 World
Hendricks bought Starbucks Sidekick from McQuay as a yearling and Mills
started him, so he is truly a team horse. "I won my very first NRHA
reining on this horse and he's just been a consistent little show horse
for me forever, and he did it again tonight."
When asked what he thought about his potential new U.S. Reining Team for
the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games, Chef d'Equipe Jeff Petska "I'm
excited, I knew looking at that list, no matter how it came down, we
were going to have a fantastic team. The first horse came in and marked
a big score and you never know what is going to happen from there.
Everybody continually stepped up, and these guys had some great runs.
As a chef, you watch the horses show and you're only focus is that the
soundest horses and the horses that look like they're the best prepared
make the team, and I think we've got an excellent group here. I feel
real good about our chances, and I'm proud of these guys. They've done
a great job and I'm looking forward to having a lot of fun with them."
For further information, please contact Jeannie Blancq Putney, National
Marketing Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org > or (859) 225-6974. USEF press
releases are available on our web site - www.usef.org.
As the National Governing Body (NGB) of Equestrian Sport, the United
States Equestrian Federation(r), Inc. (USEF) is the regulatory body for
28 breeds and disciplines, including our country's international teams
competing in the disciplines of dressage, driving, endurance, eventing,
para-equestrian, reining, show jumping and vaulting. With over 87,000
members, it is the country's largest multi-breed organization and
annually license more than 2,800 competitions nationwide. The USEF
governs all aspects of competition, including education and licensing of
all judges, stewards, and technical delegates who officiate shows.
Vision Statement: The vision of United States Equestrian Federation(r)
is to provide leadership for equestrian sport in the United States of
America, promoting the pursuit of excellence from the grassroots to the
Olympic Games, based on a foundation of fair, safe competition and the
welfare of its horses, and embracing this vision, to be the best
national equestrian federation in the world.