Mandy McCutcheon and Coronas At Nite.
Non-pros will be seeking to join Mandy McCutcheon, here aboard Coronas At Nite, in Las Vegas for the $50,000 Non-Pro Championship. Photo by Dieter Wahr

The Run For A Million Adds Unique Virtual Qualifiers for Rookies, Non-Pros

Necessity being what it is, the mother of invention and innovation, organizers of The Run For A Million announced this week they are putting in place an idea from outside the box.

Despite a number of qualifiers canceled because of the COVID-19 shutdown, hopeful rookie and non-pro riders still have a shot through Refine Your Reining, a virtual horse show turned qualifying mechanism unveiled on Wednesday. 

Riders can submit qualifying rides by video through two slates. The first slate runs through May 24. The deadline for videos in the second slate is June 7. Videos can be posted to the Refine Your Reining Facebook page or submitted through an email link from a video uploaded to YouTube.

Judging will be conducted by an approved judge of the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA). Judges will complete scoring runs within two days of the end of the show. 

Entry forms can be accessed at www.refineyourreining.com.

“We had so many of our rookie and non-pro host events cancel that a lot of people want to get qualified. This is a way they can do that,” said Mandy Brumley, show producer of The Run For A Million.

Video must be taken between the entry and close dates. The qualifying run must be done specifically for Refine Your Reining. Patterns for each class will posted online as well as included in an email confirming entries.

The Run For A Million will take the top 15, plus ties from both the rookie and non-pro qualifiers. An awards ceremony after each slate will announce winners on May 27 and June 10 on Facebook Live.

Qualifying for open riders will take place at The Run For A Million, to run concurrently with the $100,000-added open shootout July 30 in Las Vegas.

The much acclaimed and highly anticipated The Run For A Million, billed as the richest event in equine sports, debuted last year at the South Point Arena and Equestrian Center with 12 open reiners vying for the biggest share — $500,000 — of a $1 million purse.

Non-pro Mandy McCutcheon, aboard Coronas At Nite, qualified for The Run For A Million $50,000 Non-Pro Championship at the Ride & Slide in Tulsa Oklahoma, in March, the last event before local and state governments began mandating shutdowns in hopes of containing the spread of COVID-19.

Refine Your Reining was initially developed to give reiners a place to show without having to leave their home arenas. It actually wasn’t designed specifically with COVID-19 in mind, but rather a good place for inexperienced riders, even those who have never shown, to get their feet wet and learn. The site is ideal for a situation such as a shutdown caused by global pandemic, but it was built with growing the sport in mind.

Trainer Mack Weaver is available to give coaching and critiques online.

The site is in the same spirit as Debbie Cooper’s www.ranchridingonline.com, which is dedicated to virtual Ranch Riding shows and had been in the works since August.

Refine Your Reining is currently in the midst of its Buckle Series, which is comprised of three shows.

The concept was a natural solution to a bad situation for qualifying for The Run For A Million, which, organizers contend, will be a morale booster for an industry shaken by circumstances out of its control.

When organizers announced in early May that the event was on as planned, “I had a worldwide response of just excitement … just ‘thank God,’” Brumley said. “The people were like, ‘we need this.’ It’s one of those events that will end up kick starting a surge in the industry.”