With stomping boots, clapping hands, whistles, cheers, whoops and hollers, the crowd at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center in Katy, Texas, cheered the 2016 National Reining Breeders Classic (NRBC) Level 4 Open Champion into the history books.
As draw 29 of the 30-horse finals, Jason Vanlandingham and Not Ruf At All entered the Coliseum arena, and from the first stop to the last, the crowd was with them. With National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Futurity and Derby titles under their belts, the only leg of reining’s triple crown that had eluded them was the NRBC – and this was the 6-year-old stallion’s last chance.
With even the competition cheering them on, the duo rose to the occasion, marking a 231 – one of the highest scores in NRBC history.
“I’m relieved, excited – there is a flood of emotions. I’m so very humbled,” Vanlandingham said. “I’m thankful to have a great horse, a great family to support us and a God that loves us. It’s been an amazing day for sure.”
When asked about winning all three of reining’s major events, Vanlandingham gave credit to his horse, a stallion by A Sparkling Vintage out of All Ruffed Up (by Lil Ruf Peppy).
“There aren’t many that have done it. It takes a very special animal to accomplish that. You know, we’ve had just weird stuff happen the last couple years. With that being said, it’s even more special for him to go out and take it in his last year,” he said.
The prestige of winning the NRBC is matched by the large payout and bevy of prizes the Champion receives. Along with a big check for $75,000, Vanlandingham was presented with a year’s use of a four-horse trailer from Twin Cities Featherlite and Twin Cities South, a Leson Classic Saddle, a pair of Rios of Mercedes boots, a saddle pad from Yucca Flats, gift certificates to Thomas Moore Feed and Santa Cruz Biotechnology, a Gist Silversmiths buckle and the signature NRBC blue crystal trophy.
Tom McCutcheon and The Wizster finished as NRBC Open Level 4 Reserve Champions after scoring a 230 and collected $51,000. The Wizster, by Gallo Del Cielo (Rooster) and out of Miss Whizard Jac (by Whizard Jac), is owned by Turnabout Farm Inc., of Gloucester, Massachusetts.