At Elementa Masters Premiere Non-Pro compeition the stands were packed and all tables were taken as the public flocked to watch the second section of the impressive Non Pro Class.
The arena lit up on the second day of Elementa Masters Premiere to host an impressive field of 107 participants fired up and ready to battle in the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Non Pro, Intermediate Non Pro and Limited Non Pro, with spirits undampened by the grey skies hanging over Verona.
The irrepressible Gina Schumacher slid to a thrilling 223 to clinch the title of the $40,000 Non Pro competition on Shine N Whiz (Topsail Whiz x Spark N Pretty x Shining Spark).
“This is actually my mum’s horse,” Schumacher explained, “in fact, I think he probably prefers her to me! I have not been riding him very long, but now mum has less time she has given him to me to show. This is our third outing together and he tries really hard, so I enjoy riding him every time.”
It was a long haul for the German 22-year-old who boasts the 2016 NRHA World Championship Non Pro and FEI Reigning World Young Riders Championship among many other titles, and needs little introduction to reining fans: she was the first and last rider to enter the arena in the second section of the Non Pro event that ran through Friday evening.
Her first draw was with the 8-year-old stallion Snip O Lution (Einsteins Revolution x Snip O Chex x Nu Chex To Cash) who officially retired tonight, closing his career on a strong 221 and placing third.
Just a single point shy of Gina’s score was Austrian Anna Lisec with a 222 aboard the flashy palomino This Wimps So Fly, by Wimpys Little Step x Fly Flashy Jac (by Boggies Flashy Jac). The 9-year-old gelding, bred by Ruben Vandorp and owned by Sabine Lisec & Chuck Klipfel, has partnered Anna through a series of ventures since 2014. In 2015 the duo was NRHA European Derby Non Pro Champion at all four levels, in 2017 at the Level 4 and was back in the finals of the same event last year, placing 4th at Level 4.
Elementa Masters Premiere Intermediate & Limited Non-Pro
Tying for first place on a score of 218 to triumph at both the Intermediate and Limited levels were German Justin Ketterer aboard his uncle’s 7-year-old Jacs Electric Snap by Jacs Electric Spark out of Shania Snapper (by Snapper Cal Bar) and Frenchman Gregory Morat on OK Spook, 12-year-old son of Smart Spook and OK Mate (by Smart Mate).
Ketterer, just 20 years old, hails from the Black Forest where his family has a farm.
“I have been reining since I was a kid and started competing more seriously when I was about 12; this is my third year showing this horse that was bred by my dad. I had a good feeling coming here and was really pleased with the way my horse went. The show was cool as well: everything looked nice, the ground was good, and the organisation went smoothly.” And Ketterer’s plans now? “I’m going to the States to watch my sister compete in the [Oklahoma] Futurity with a horse we have there.”
Maybe next year it will be Ketterer himself, although as he says: “You need the right horse!”
Co-champion Gregory Morat is a self-described “entrepreneur, globe-trotter and motor sports enthusiast.”
Morat has been reining since 2012 and chose to create his own facility in order to better enjoy the sport, the beautiful Bo Ranch located close to France’s “horse capital”, Fontainebleau.
The switch from bikes to horses was a very conscious choice for this competitor who earned the moniker of the “True Gentleman” after stopping to aid a Russian rival recover from a fall during the gruelling 2017 Dakar rally.
“I love competing with horses because they give so much to me, it is very different having a partnership with an animal to racing on a machine. I decided to abandon racing bikes after the Dakar to devote myself totally to horses. This particular horse, OK Spook, was really with me today and it was very exciting to be competing in the first Elementa event; he gave the maximum.”
Despite some nerves when passing the gate, Gregory thought he achieved about the right mix of control and adrenalin that allowed the pair to reach this result. His thanks go to Stefano Ferri, head trainer at Bo Ranch who was nearby to give support and “reveal some of reining’s secrets”.
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