Open riders took the stage on Saturday, March 6 at the Oklahoma Reining Horse Association (OKRHA) Ride & Slide, held March 3-7 at the Tulsa Expo Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Seventy-one riders went through the pen, and when it was all said and done, Makendiamonds and Abby Lengel came out on top in the Silver Spurs Equine – Oklahoma Derby Levels 4 & 3 Open with their score of 223.5.
Winning at such a prized venue with 5-year-old Makendiamonds (Whizkey N Diamonds x Makeit In Tinseltown x Hollywoodstinseltown), who is owned by 70+ Performance Horses, made the victory especially meaningful. The mare has been in Lengel’s program since midway through her 3-year-old year, and Lengel said she has been special every step of the way.
“It was my first year on my own, and I didn’t even have a futurity horse,” Lengel said of when Makendiamonds entered her program. “Her owners sent her to me, and I originally didn’t think she was going to be enough for the Open, not even close — especially the time of year that it was and everything — but she started learning so fast, she really surprised me.”
Lengel and “Josie” posted their first checks at the 2019 Southwest Reining Horse Association Futurity, then made the Level 4 Open finals at the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Futurity, where they tied for eighth. At the end of the year, Lengel and the mare bred by CDR Farms LLC had collected nearly $40,000 together.
“It was my very first Level 4 Futurity finals and my only 3-year-old that I had,” Lengel said. “She has a lot of heart because she wasn’t ready for that, and she did it anyway.”
In 2020, Lengel and the mare made the Level 4 Open finals at the NRHA Derby and the High Roller Reining Classic. The mare had $46,693 in earnings when she went to Oklahoma this year, and her wins gained her another $13,845.
“She feels the absolute best that she ever has, so she just keeps getting more strong and more solid,” Lengel said. “[The OKRHA Ride & Slide] was the best she’s felt.”
The OKRHA Ride & Slide was the first big show of the year for Lengel, who added that the Tulsa Expo Center is one of her favorite facilities to show at.
“Everything is top of the line,” Lengel. “The arena is big — I love showing in a big arena. The stalls are awesome, and there’s a lot of places to ride. Tulsa itself has a lot of good places to eat. I just really enjoy coming here.”
The National Reining Breeders Classic is the next event on Lengel and Josie’s schedule, but first, Lengel had important business to attend to with the mare.
“They [owners Gary and Dallas Schwerdt] made a deal with me when they sent her to me that if I could make the Level 4 Open finals at the NRHA Futurity, they’d give me an embryo,” Lengel said. “I’m going to flush her as soon as we get home from this horse show.”
Lengel thanked the Schwerdts for their faith in her, along with her team assisting her at the show.
“I have the most amazing team helping me out here,” Lengel said. “I have one of the best assistants — Molly Von Oepen — in the business helping me. There’s no way I could do it without them.”