It was a fair question considering the Twilight Zone moment they had just encountered.
Was this Friday the sixth of December or Friday the 13th?
Luca Fappani and Gotta Get Diamonds, who just missed a sweep of levels before settling as Level 2 Non-Pro winners, wanted to know. On the first of what turned out to be two-and-a-half runs in the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Non-Pro Futurity finals, the duo appeared to be poised for a good score in Draw 30 at the State Fair Park in Oklahoma City.
“My run was going pretty good and I had just changed leads,” Fappani said. “I’m speeding up and I’m going pretty fast on my right circles and … I see something black and white fly right in front of me.
“I’m, like, ‘what?’”
A small cow dog, who in the morning saw in the mirror a lion, had jumped from the spectator seating at the Jim Norick Arena and sprinted with all due determination toward the action.
Staying on the heels of horse and rider, just as his instinct informed.
“Oh, goodness,” Fappani said afterward.
The 15-year-old and his gelding (Spooks Gotta Whiz x Tinker With Diamonds (PT) x Like A Diamond (PT)), owned by Andrea and Tish Fappani, tried briefly to continue, but finally had to stop under the persistent harassment from the determined little devil, who was insistent that he be included.
“The dog kept cutting the circle,” Fappani said. “I didn’t want to run him over, so I stopped. I’d never seen anything like it.”
As it turned out, Fappani and Gotta Get Diamonds tied leader Jesse Asmussen with a 220 on a rerun as the final pair.
Asmussen asked for a runoff, a wise choice considering he and Ruf Style of Play were Draw 1. They had plenty of rest – four good hours. It showed.
“I didn’t know [it was going to a runoff] when I came out, but Jesse was already back in the barn saddling his horse up,” Fappani said. “I was like this horse has got heart, he can do it again.”
According to NRHA rules, the runoff goes by the same draw order as the original. The eventual winners, going first, performed to a 222 in the extra run. Fappani and Gotta Get Diamonds fell short of that with a 218.
Gotta Get Diamonds “was pretty strong throughout. Of course, the last run I felt him, he was a little lazy in the turns. He didn’t get off my leg enough. He didn’t speed up enough.
“I can’t blame him, he showed great. He poured his heart out.”
Their consolation was the Level 2 and Youth Non-Pro titles, as well as Reserve in Levels 4 and 3.
Their earnings totaled more than $58,000.
That’s a nice little, albeit strange, Friday.
“I’d never heard anything like it,” Fappani said of the canine intruder. “I was lost. I didn’t know what happened.
“Not many horses can go out there and show three different times on the same night in a couple of hours. I’m proud of [Gotta Get Diamonds]. He was great. The heart in that horse is crazy. He poured it out for me. I’m super happy with him.”
He’ll now get a well-earned rest for his tired dogs.