Starjac Vintage and Craig Schmersal on a stop
Craig Schmersal had a terrific time at the Mother’s Day Slide, as he piloted Starjac Vintage to triumph. Photo by Kirkbride/Schatzberg Photography

Sliding Back to the Show Pen in Belated Mother’s Day

Following months of quarantine, reiners were more than ready to get back in the show pen when they arrived at the Arizona Reining Horse Association’s Mother’s Day Slide May 28-31 at the Westworld of Scottsdale. 

Equi-Stat Elite $4 Million Rider Craig Schmersal said he had been feeling a lot of pent-up energy and was raring to go. And go he did — straight to the Derby Level 4 winner’s circle on Starjac Vintage. He also collected the Level 4 reserve and third-place checks on Pale Dun Star and Gun Dun It.

Including earnings on all three horses, Schmersal won $27,711 during the week. With his clients’ earnings added to his — one of whom, Kim Niven, tied for the Derby Level 3 and Prime Time Non-Pro titles and won the Level 2 Non-Pro championship on Pale Face Gunslinger — Schmersal estimated the barn walked away with close to $50,000. Schmersal’s 14-year-old daughter Addisyn, who tied for 13th in the Derby Level 4 Non-Pro, placed seventh in the Level 3 and fourth in the Level 2 on Black Gun Face.

All three of his horses, Schmersal said, were “super good and a lot of fun to show.”

“Because we’ve had such a long time at home, they were ready,” Schmersal said. “I felt they had been ready since the first of March, and I finally got to show them.”

Schmersal showed Pale Dun Star first, scoring a 226.

“I kind of let up just a little bit before I said ‘whoa,’” Schmersal said. “Then my second [horse] was Starjac Vintage and I got him stopped three times really good. On my last horse [Gun Dun It, who scored a 226.5], I just didn’t get him lined out as good as I could have on our second stop.” 

All three horses are so consistent, Schmersal said, that they give him a lot of confidence when he shows them.

“There’s not a lot of worrying,” Schmersal said. “They just come out and do their job every time and, for me in my old age, that’s what I seem to enjoy the most. I don’t want the [horse] that I can be a ‘78’ on or a ‘68’ on.”

Schmersal, who has had “Silas,” as he calls Starjac Vintage, since the 4-year-old stallion’s owner (Tim Anderson, who also owns Gun Dun It) purchased him as a long yearling and has done all of the training on the horse. Silas, whom Schmersal rode to a tie for eighth place in last year’s National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Futurity Open finals, has lifetime earnings of $49,791, which includes the money won at Scottsdale. 

Silas (A Sparkling Vintage x Starjac Miss x Hollywood Jac 86) was a pretty big yearling when Anderson purchased him, and he had never been halter-broke. Luckily, Schmersal said, they were able to “herd” him into the trailer. 

“And the rest is history,” he said.

What Schmersal likes best about Silas, aside that he’s a super pretty horse in the arena, is that the horse just has so much to give.

“He’ll never tell you no and he will never quit. I knew he had a big score in him — I just didn’t know when I’d get it. He’s so feeley-touchy, and he’s a timid horse. Of the three horses, he’s probably the most challenging one to ride for sure just because I could get myself in trouble so fast on him — because he’s just so quick to react.”

When the horse is “right,” Schmersal said he is super fun to ride.

 “The other two [Pale Dun Star and Gun Dun It] are super forgiving. While Silas is super sensitive, and he’s got a good memory, so you better not make any mistakes on him because he’s going to remember.”

Pale Dun Star is by Pale Face Dunnit and out of RR Star (PT) mare Get ya Some Stars (PT). Gun Dun is the son of Colonels Smoking Gun (Gunner) and out of Dun It In Tinseltown (x Hollywood Dun It).

Not having to travel far to show was definitely a plus for Schmersal and his horses, especially with the outdoor temperatures reaching 105-plus during the week.

“It was super, super hot, but we live here and we know how to deal with the heat,” Schmersal explained. “And, like I said, those horses are easy [to show], so you don’t have to over-ride them. They are prepared and just come out and do their job.”

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