Face Chics Love & Nicole Hutchings • Photo by Caleb Tipton

Face Chics Love Proves “Red Shirt” Concept Successful

The Red Shirt Futurity was created by the Great Western Reining Horse Association for 4-year-old equine competitors that didn’t compete in 3-year-old futurities, allowing them an arena in which to remain competitive.

The futurity, which is held in April during the Best Little Derby in the West, was designed in an effort to maintain the “value and longevity” of the equine athlete with the knowledge that often young horses are in need of additional time to reach physical and mental maturity in such a competitive field.

While the concept took time to develop, it has proven a worthy endeavor for the past couple years during the show held in Nampa, Idaho.

This year, 4-year-old Pale Face Dunnit stallion Face Chics Love was the recipient of top honors in the class. Owner Whitney Peterson was excited to see her faith in the stallion pay off after electing to not take him to the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Futurity and save him for the 4-year-old events instead.

“Last fall I decided I wanted to take up reining and a friend introduced me to Nicole Hutchings of Hutchings Performance Horses,” said Whitney Peterson, of Snohomish, Washington.

After a few lessons, she began looking for the “right show partner,” a quest which led her to Arizona.

“Our first stop was at Craig and Ginger Schmersal’s, and it ended up being our last stop, as well. We tried a variety of different horses from derby aged to seasoned veterans, but ultimately we settled on the unshown 3-year-old stallion Face Chics Love, known around the barn as ‘Kid,’” Peterson said. “He arrived two days after Thanksgiving and was the best early Christmas gift that I could have asked for.”

When Peterson purchased the stallion (out of She And Chic Dunit x Smart Chic Olena), he was slated to compete in the NRHA Futurity in just a few short weeks. Peterson and Hutchings decided to hold Kid back and save the KC Performance Horses LLC-bred stallion for the 2019 show season.

“For me, a lot of it depends on maturity level and size. I’ve seen ones that mentally are ready but size-wise just aren’t, and vice versa,” Hutchings said in regard to “red shirting,” or training but not showing, a 3-year-old athlete. “We chose to hold him back and do the 4-year-old futurities instead because I felt like he needed to mature more physically. He’s extremely talented, but he also needed that few more months of finishing touches.”

Their decision paid off, as Hutchings piloted Kid to the 4-Year-Old Derby Level 4 Open title as well as the Red Shirt Futurity Open title at this year’s Best Little Derby in the West.

“I’d like to thank Craig and Ginger [Schmersal] for allowing us the opportunity to own such a talented individual. We are so excited to be part of his show career!” Peterson said of the stallion, who also took third in the Derby Levels 4 and 3 Open, and Reserve in Level 2, cashing his first $7,864 in earnings, according to Equi-Stat.

According to Hutchings, what sets Face Chics Love apart is his attitude.

“He’s actually quite the character to be around,” she said of the stallion, who she described as mouthy, but sweet. “When you get on his back he’s all business and very trainable. He has a great work ethic.”

“Nicole and Kid have quite the partnership. She really cares for each horse like it’s her own, and Kid gives his all when they step foot in the show pen,” Peterson said. “He’s a really fun horse to circle and very honest in the show pen, has a huge spin and always stops big. It’s fun to watch and exciting to see all her hard work pay off!”

Hutchings is excited for Kid’s future as well, saying he has already come so far this year, and is bigger and stronger than ever.

“In Nampa, he showed great, and I still feel like I have more horse under there. I’m looking forward to future shows with him as he keeps getting better and better every day,” Hutchings said. 

Peterson and Hutchings haven’t been the only ones rooting for the stallion’s success. Peterson’s family has supported her horse show endeavors since before she purchased Kid, with her dad showing up early at events to drink his coffee and read the newspaper in the stands until Peterson entered the ring.

“Showing has always been a family affair. My mom has come to help groom the horses, and my dad always asked, ‘What time do you show?'” Peterson reminisced. “They really enjoyed me seeing me chasing my dreams in and out of the show pen.”

She is thankful for those memories, especially after the unexpected passing of her dad.

“My dad came to one of the lessons, too. He didn’t stay long, just enough to see me lope around and see the big smile on my face that this horse brought me. Little did I know that would be the last ride that he watched, as we lost him unexpectedly a few weeks later,” said Peterson, who found solace at the barn with Kid after the tragic loss of her father. “Since his passing, this horse and barn have been my sanctuary, and for the first month after his death, I spent almost every day there with Kid. It was both a great distraction and also allowed time to heal. Horses have a way of understanding, and Kid knew when I needed it most.”

While the stands in Idaho were missing an integral part of Peterson’s life, her arrival with Kid and Hutchings in the winner’s circle was celebrated by those near and far.

“This show season is dedicated to my dad,” Peterson said. “I know he’s with us every time Kid and Nicole step into that show pen to run their best run, and he’s probably holding a cup of coffee in one hand and newspaper in the other.”

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