During the 2016 National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Futurity Non-Pro finals, Dr. James Morgan piloted Shiney Workboots through pattern No. 12. As they stopped, spun and circled through the pattern, ultimately winning the Prime Time Non-Pro, the moment was monumental to the veterinarian from Pilot Point, Texas, for several reasons.
As a former member of the board of directors who helped get the Prime Time added to the Futurity in 2000, Morgan holds the division dear to his heart. He mentioned that while it was a struggle to get approved, “as any change is,” it has paid off in spades.
“People are living longer. As they get older, they need to be assured they have places where they can play in their favorite sports. We don’t want to age them out of the sport,” Morgan said. “We struggled to get the Prime Time division in, and then when we did that, we added a handicapped division so that not the same people winning the Levels 1, 2, 3 and 4, but somebody new, would be winning the Prime Time division.”
The handicap process adds 1 point per judge to the scores of Level 2 and Level 1 riders and a half-point per judge to Level 3 scores. Level 4 riders take their scores as they are. The top handicapped score then wins the division.
Morgan and “Dave,” named after his breeder Dave Silva, compete in Levels 4 and 3, in addition to the Prime Time. They scored a 212.5 during the Futurity Non-Pro finals, which was handicapped to a 214, and thus won the Futurity Prime Time Non-Pro.
This year, the NRHA commemorated its 50th anniversary, two months after the All American Quarter Horse Congress celebrated its golden anniversary in October. At the Congress, Morgan and Shiney Workboots won the NRHA Non-Pro and Prime Time Non-Pro Reining Stakes.
“He won a class at both celebrations of 50th anniversaries,” Morgan said of his stallion (Smart And Shiney x Reminic At Work x Reminic N Dunit). “I’m excited about that. I’ve been involved in this sport for so many years, and it’s exciting to do something like that.”
Not all reining shows host Prime Time divisions, which Morgan believes could be preventing them from receiving additional entries. Seniors often have more discretionary income after retirement, he argued, and he believes those resources could help the association. He cited one NRHA member who paid to show at the NRHA Futurity and was eligible in all levels but knew she would be most competitive in the Prime Time. During the finals, “she won money in the Prime Time division, and she was the happiest person in Oklahoma City!”
“We have had people that have just said, ‘I’m going to be competitive in the Prime Time division.’ They bought a horse, and they so enjoyed just showing for the Prime Time division. And if you noticed, AQHA [American Quarter Horse Association] and some of the others have caught onto it, as well,” Morgan mentioned.
“We want to include people, not exclude people,” Morgan continued. With more than $800,000 in lifetime earnings, he has certainly been able to see quite a bit of success during his career and knows the value of being included as a senior rider.