Ten riders led reining enthusiasts into the National Reining Horse Association Futurity’s climactic final two days with an entertaining and, in some cases, enchanting evening of the Invitational Freestyle event on Thursday.
For Emily Emerson, in a raincoat the picture of a rider astride her steed in a driving rain storm, the show represented a little redemption.
Aboard Give Me Starbucks, Emerson delighted judges and the Norick Arena crowd alike, performing to Gary Allen’s “Every Storm Runs Out of Rain and a best-of show 223.
She also did it bridleless.
“I didn’t have the best show year I wanted to have,” the Coloradan said. “I did this song a few years ago. It hits a certain spot inside of you when you had a year you had hoped would be better.
“Everybody has their bad years, their good years. In the end every storm runs out of rain.”
With her victory came a check of $6,936, the biggest share of a $20,000 purse.
Dan James and Don Magnum, going last, scored a 222.5.
Also appearing at the State Fair Park in Oklahoma City were swashbuckler Captain Jack Sparrow (Debi Murnan) and Santa Claus himself (Rocky Dare, who won the first NRHA freestyle in 1986).
The Kelly Rainford-owned Give Me Starbucks is a 2010 mare by Walla Whiz and out of Starbucks Rosy Blend (x Smart Starbuck), bred by Jimmy Pierce of Surf City, North Carolina.
“This was the first time I got to be super serious with her and so the fact that I took the bridle off without not knowing how she would be, shows what a rock solid, good mare she is,” Emerson said.
“I was feeling confident. When she walked in, she was really good. When I first loped her off, it didn’t go like I planned, but she locked in and gave me the run I was hoping for.”
The NRHA Futurity continues on Friday with Non-Pro finals. Open finals are Saturday, starting at 10 a.m. That’s a change from a later time in the day originally scheduled.