Gunnastepya & Gina Schumacher
Gunnastepya & Gina Schumacher • Photo by Waltenberry

Gunnastepya and Gina Schumacher Earn Big Payday at Cactus Reining Classic

It was long day of competition at the Cactus Reining Classic on Saturday, March 25, at WestWorld of Scottsdale, in Scottsdale, Arizona. Not only were competitors riding for the Derby Open Championship, there were also 10 coveted spots up for grabs for the 2023 The Run For A Million competition, billed as “the richest event in the history of reining.” These top 10 placings will join the riders who already qualified, and a total of 16 riders will compete for a purse of $1 million.

At the end of the day, Gunnastepya and Gina Schumacher had scored a 230 to win the Level 4 Derby Open Championship and rank as the No. 1 qualifier for The Run For A Million, which will be held Aug. 16-19, at South Point Arena and Equestrian Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“We prepared like any other show,” Schumacher said. “The level was really high, more than it ever was I think, so I was a little bit nervous. I’ve never marked higher than a 24.5 [224.5], so I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it.”

Schumacher gave all the credit for the big qualifying run to Gunnastepya, saying he made it easy because he is so nice and relaxed.

“He’s really relaxed, super chilled out,” she said. “He never worries about anything and he gives me confidence rather than me giving him confidence. He is one of a kind and I am very lucky.”

The Million Dollar Competition at The Run For A Million, presented by Teton Ridge, is limited to 16 riders who had to qualify at one of two events: the $100,000 Open Shootout at the 2022 The Run For A Million or the 2023 Cactus Reining Classic.

Gunnastepya & Gina Schumacher • Photo by Waltenberry

There were 85 entries in the Cactus Classic Derby Level 4 Open, and Schumacher and Gunnastepya’s win paid $18,770. The Run For A Million also had a deep set of horses with 99 in the draw, and Schumacher and Gunnastepya also grabbed this win and another $13,814, for a $32,584 total payday. Schumacher’s lifetime earnings now total more than $1,092,427, according to EquiStat.

Schumacher was rather surprised by her success, and she and Duane Latimer, Head-Coach at XCS Ranch, are discussing what to do next with Gunnastepya before the big show in Vegas.

“I was talking with Duane, and we aren’t really sure what all we will do. First we’ll go to the NRBC [National Reining Breeders Classic] in a few weeks. I want to be sure and not over show him. He is talented enough so we don’t need to go crazy to mark. I just want to get him ready for August.”

Schumacher has had much success with her 2016 stallion, Gunnastepya (Gunnatrashya x SDP A Lasting Step x Wimpys Little Step), owned by her family’s XCS Ranch LLC. He was purchased as a 3-year-old by XCS Ranch at the National Reining Horse Association Futurity, but they had to wait to show him until he was 5 because of COVID.

Schumacher and Gunnastepya then won the 2021 Cactus Reining Classic Level 4 Non-Pro Championship, and were Reserve Champions at last year’s Cactus Reining Classic Non-Pro, as well as the 2022 National Reining Breeders Classic Level 4 Non-Pro and the 2022 National Reining Horse Association Derby Level 4 Non-Pro. Gunnastepya now has lifetime earnings of $117,447.

Below are the 10 who qualified for the Million Dollar Competition at The Run For A Million:

Money, Placing, Horse’s Name, Rider’s Name, Score, Owner’s Name

$13,814 1 Gunnastepya, Gina Schumacher, 230, XCS Ranch LLC

$8,409 2 Tinker With Dreams, Dany Tremblay, 229, Diamond Dub Quarter Horses

$6,307 3 Varsity Blu, Cade McCutcheon, 228.5, Clark Reining Horses LLC

$5,105 4T Best Shine, Jason Vanlandingham, 228, Robert Santagata

$5,105 4T Vintage Vinny, Gennaro Lendi, 228, Marc & Kathy Gordon

$4,204 6 Starlights Voodoo, Mandy McCutcheon, 227.5, Tom & Mandy McCutcheon

$3,303 7T Spat Toy Boy Gun, Trevor Elliott Dare, 227, Dana Wetherell

$3,303 7T Whoz Joe Daddy, Dan L Huss, 227, Chandler Winard

$2,252 9T Sassy Son Ofa Gun, Martin Muehlstaetter, 226.5, Michael A Garnett

$2,252 9T Magnums Custom Dream, Casey Hinton, 226.5, Casey & Kathy A Hinton

The Derby Open Level 4 Reserve Champions were Live N On A Prayer and Casey Deary, who marked a 229 and earned $11,425, moving the horse’s earnings to more than $50,000. Live N On A Prayer (In Like Flinn x Americasnextgunmodel x Colonels Smoking Gun “Gunner”) is owned by Neiberger Performance.

Live N On A Prayer & Casey Deary • Photo by Waltenberry

Deary has also ridden the colt’s sire, In Like Flinn, and piloted his dam, Americasnextgunmodel, to the 2012 National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Futurity Level 4 Open Championship – and also successfully shown some of the colt’s talented older siblings. Deary has more than $3,646,000 of lifetime earnings, according to EquiStat.

Deary qualified for the 2023 The Run For A Million with 2017 stallion Down Right Amazing (Colonels Smoking Gun “Gunner” x Shesouttayourleague x Walla Walla Whiz), owned by DAG Ventures, at the 2022 The Run For A Million, presented by Teton Ridge, $100,000 Open Shootout.

Click here to see all the results of the Derby Open.

Click here to see all the results of the TRFAM qualifier.