To use a high school football analogy, Shining On Ruf moved into the boundaries of his new school a month before the first day of class and, as a result, had very little time to make an impression on the coach in hopes of cracking the starting lineup.
Shining On Ruf, however, might well have done it.
With the National Reining Horse Association Futurity about a month out, the stallion, who has only been in Craig Schmersal’s barn about two months, made a strong case as to why he should be among the three the NRHA Four Million Dollar Rider takes to Oklahoma City.
Even with very little experience, Vaughn Zimmerman-owned Shining On Ruf was the best thing going on Saturday at the iconic Hardy Murphy Coliseum in Ardmore, Oklahoma, teaming with Schmersal to post a 225 to win the Southwest Reining Horse Association’s Billingsley Ford Level 4 Open Futurity.
“He’s fighting for a spot in my group for the Oklahoma City futurity,” said Schmersal, the Scottsdale, Arizona, trainer with NRHA star power, the co-champion of the Run For A Million in August. “I called on him and he came through. He showed good. He was right there for me. He turned big. He’s got a lot of try. He’s got a big turn. Circles like a machine.
“He looks like a pretty solid player.”
Schmersal had two other good Futurity candidates in his rotation on Saturday, a gorgeous cloudless fall day in this part of south-central Oklahoma. Mare Pale Whiz fired off a 221.5 and Red Dirt Paleface, another stallion, registered a 222.5, a top-10 finish.
Schmersal will take three from a pool of five candidates.
Schmersal’s potential good fortune with Shining On Ruf was at trainer Bobby Avila Jr.’s expense. Avila broke his leg getting off a horse, Schmersal said, making him unavailable for the Futurity.
“Bobby called and asked if I’d like to try him,” Schmersal recalled. “I said absolutely.”
While making history at the Run for a Million, Schmersal also picked up his new NRHA Futurity candidate, which Avila and wife, Kristen, bred at their place in Rogersville, Missouri.
Shining On Ruf is the son of a former NRHA champion, Not Ruf At All. He is out of Boom Shine Sally (x Tejons Peppy Doc). Not Ruf At was an NRHA triple crown winner with career triumphs in the NRHA’s Futurity and Derby as well as the National Reining Breeders Classic Level 4 Open championship on his résumé.
His career as a sire is evolving. Not Ruf At All’s freshman foal crop season was only in 2015. Shining On Ruf is an only child to Boom Shine Sally.
For the victory, Team Schmersal and Shining on Ruf collected a little more than $18,400.
“Bobby did a great job on this horse,” Schmersal said. “He put a lot of good stuff on him, I put a little of mine, and he was good to go.”
Zimmerman, Shining’s owner, will likely need to open a bank account for him. More checks are very likely, starting possibly with a big show in Oklahoma City.
Said Schmersal of Shining’s chances: “He sure moved up tonight.”