Indiana reiner Indy Roper may not have been prepared for Arizona’s extremely hot temperatures during the belated Arizona Reining Horse Association Mother’s Day Slide, but luckily her two Derby horses, who are full-time residents at trainer Marco Ricotta’s Scottsdale facility, were fully acclimated.
Roper’s first trip into the show pen was aboard Spooks Show Time (Spooks Gotta Whiz x Dolittle Lena x Shining Spark), a 7-year-old gelding bred by Bobby Lewis of Overbrook, Oklahoma, who carried Roper to a 219 score and a seventh-place finish.
Approximately 20 runs later, Roper and her father’s 6-year-old gelding, Lil Patron, used their finely honed skills to earn the highest score — a 221 to claim the Level 4 Non-Pro championship and collect a $6,253 check.
With horse shows virtually shut down because of COVID-19, it had been awhile since Roper had shown Lil Patron, whose lifetime earnings now are $73,452, according to Equi-Stat.
“He was fresh and ready to go,” said Roper, whose job as a law clerk for a federal judge doesn’t allow her much time to spend with Lil Patron.
“With me living in Indiana, I’m not able to fly in and out much, but I trust Marco in having my horses prepared,” Roper said. “He does a great job preparing them for me.
“He [Lil Patron] really showed up for me. He turned excellent, was really locked in when he went into his circles, so I knew I could push him, then really came back nice [fast to slow] and had good lead changes. I had a lot of confidence in the horse, so I ran him down very hard [in his stops] and he stopped probably the best that he’s ever stopped for me.”
Roper said she definitely believes one of the gelding’s best strengths is his consistency.
“Every day and every time I ride him, he is the same. And he can plus-half a maneuver everywhere, so he’s just solid all the way around.”
Roper and her father purchased Lil Patron during his 3-year-old year. Andrea Fappani showed the horse at the 2017 NRHA Futurity, and Roper successfully showed him in derbies as a 4 and 5-year-old and this year.
Growing up, Roper competed in all-around and hunter/jumper events and won numerous American Quarter Horse Youth Association World titles, as well as All American Quarter Horse Congress championships. She competed in collegiate horsemanship competition while attending Auburn University, where Roper said she fell in love with reining.
“I called my dad and told him, ‘I think we have a new sport to get into,’ and since then I haven’t shown an all-around horse or hunter/jumper.”
Grateful for the help she received along the way to the winner’s circle, Roper said: “It takes a whole team [to be successful]. I’m fortunate to have Marco, his help and his wife, Jenny. They were a big help, especially in all that heat and in having the horses prepared. And then there’s my family at home — I have a whole lot of cheerleaders and critics” who support her.
Roper, whose Equi-Stat record now totals $255,941, said there are no plans to sell Lil Patron.
“He’s a nice horse and we have no intention of selling him right now. I mean, honestly, he’s doing quite well for us and those special ones are tough to come by.”
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