With two National Reining Horse Association Triple Crown victories under his belt, it’s no surprise that trainer Jason Vanlandingham recently became the newest NRHA Two Million Dollar Rider.
Vanlandingham, of Whitesboro, Texas, achieved the milestone after guiding A Vintage Smoke to this year’s NRHA Derby Level 4 Open championship. The win made the horse reining’s newest Triple Crown winner, as he and Vanlandingham previously won the NRHA Futurity Level 4 Open and tied for the National Reining Breeders Classic Level 4 Open title.
“The second million was a lot easier to get than the first million,” Vanlandingham said in a statement issued by the NRHA. “It took 15 years to get the first million and five to get the second. When you’re riding good horses and figure out how to get one shown, it comes faster.”
Jason Vanlandingham’s Top Horses
Vanlandingham began his career training horses in 1998. He reached his first major milestone in the NRHA – that of NRHA One Million Dollar Rider – in 2015.
Two of the top horses during his career were sons of the stallion A Sparkling Vintage – and both won the Triple Crown.
He won his first NRHA Futurity Open title in 2013 with Not Ruf At All, a 2010 stallion by A Sparkling Vintage and out of All Ruffed Up (by Lil Ruf Peppy). He and the horse owned by Vaughn Zimmerman went on to win top honors at the 2014 NRHA Derby and the 2016 National Reining Breeders Classic.
Many talented horses helped Vanlandingham bring in the checks to reach his second million, but one horse stands out. Arguably the most influential on the last five years of his career is A Vintage Smoke, Diane Mesmer’s 2015 stallion by A Sparkling Vintage and out of Lady Smoke Peppy (by Mister Dual Pep). Along with winning this year’s NRHA Derby Level 4 Open, Vanlandingham and the black stallion took top open honors at the 2018 NRHA Futurity and tied to win the 2019 National Reining Breeders Classic. The also placed fifth in the inaugural Run for a Million.
The list of top horses Vanlandingham’s ridden in the past five years also includes 2013 NRHA Derby Level 4 Open Reserve Champion A Smokin Whiz (by Topsail Whiz) and 2012 NRHA Futurity Level 3 Open Reserve Champion Wimpys High Bid (by Wimpys Little Step).
“The good horses have always taught me something,” Vanlandingham said in a statement from the NRHA. “Starting way back with A Smokin Whiz, he taught me how fast a horse can turn. Not Ruf At All taught me a whole different level of horse. I’ve learned something from all the good ones, and I try to make every horse I have be close to that, if not better. Good horses have taught me more than anything.”