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Rayne Anderson and Pale Face Gunslinger * NRHA Photo

NRHA Adequan® NAAC Rookie and Toyon Ranch Rookie of the Year Champions Crowned

The Adequan® Arena at State Fair Park in Oklahoma City has been bustling with activity all week as riders from across North America compete in the Adequan® North American Affiliate Championships (NAAC). It was a full day of classes in the Adequan® Arena, with the remainder of the Rookie classes wrapping up Sunday afternoon. Making the classes even more exciting the Top 10, plus ties, in both NAAC Rookie Levels 1 (Toyon Ranch Rookie of the Year) and 2 earned a spot in the Toyon Ranch Rookie Showdown or Bob’s Custom Saddles Rookie Level 2 Showdown, set for Thursday, Nov. 30, in the Jim Norick Coliseum.

Toyon Ranch Rookie of the Year & Adequan® NAAC Rookie Level 2 Champions

After watching a friend claim the Toyon Ranch Rookie of the Year title, Rayne Anderson made it her top goal to do the same.

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Rayne Anderson and Pale Face Gunslinger * NRHA Photo

This year, she finally did it. After holding the lead with an impressive score of 218.5 for both days of the competition, she was crowned the Toyon Ranch Rookie of the Year as well as the Adequan® NAAC Rookie Level 2 Champion at the NRHA Futurity and Adequan® North American Affiliate Championships.

“As soon as we finished that first spin, I knew it was going to be a good run,” Anderson said. “I was going to be very happy with him no matter what we scored.”

Anderson rode Pale Face Gunslinger, a homegrown 9-year-old gelding by NRHA $3 Million Sire Pale Face Dunnit and out of Lost In Tinseltown (by Jacs Electric Spark), bred and owned by her grandfather, Tim Anderson.

Prior to being piloted by Anderson, who prefers to affectionately call him Simba, Pale Face Gunslinger was ridden by NRHA $5 Million Rider Craig Schmersal to several finalist placings during the NRHA Futurity and the National Reining Breeders Classic.

About the gelding, Anderson said, “Simba has such a kind soul; he’s my best friend. I’m so grateful to have him for his older years and to have the opportunity to ride him.”

Simba has impressive lifetime earnings of more than $141,000, and his Rookie wins will add another $1,432 to that number. For Anderson, it’s a great start to what will be a surely impressive career.

Claiming this title qualifies Anderson to compete in the Bob’s Custom Saddle Rookie 2 Showdown and the Toyon Ranch Rookie Showdown.

“I’ve only shown in the Jim Norrick once before, so I’m excited that the showdowns will give me an opportunity to get back out there through the ‘Gateway of Champions’ again,” said Anderson.

Adequan® NAAC and Ancillary Prime Time Rookie Co-Champions

The first time Susannah Rose saw Shining On Ruf (Not Ruf At All x Boom Shine Sally x Boom Shernic), she fell in love.

“Calvin – that’s his barn name – is a 7-year-old stallion by (NRHA $1 Million Sire) Not Ruf At All, and he is amazing,” Rose said. “The moment I laid eyes on him, I knew he was special. It was like love at first sight for me.”

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Susannah Rose and Shining On Ruf * NRHA Photo

Since Rose bought the horse in May, they’ve been developing a strong partnership that paid off Nov. 26 in the Adequan® NAAC Prime Time Rookie and the ancillary Prime Time Rookie. Their score of 216 tied them for the championship in both classes.

“I’d already had a really great run on my other horse, and I knew I had to score a little better to do better in the class,” Rose said. “My turns were great. I had some trouble in my departure, and I knew I had to go fast, so I was trying really hard, and he was just wonderful. His stops are amazing and just the most fun. He is so fun to ride. I’m very lucky.”

Rose and her horse had different paths to the NAAC. He was the 2022 National Reining Breeders Classic Non Pro champion, and he won the 2019 Southwest Reining Horse Association Futurity with NRHA Five Million Dollar Rider Craig Schmersal. His win in the Prime Time Rookie class adds $226 to his lifetime earnings of $92,086.

Rose spent many years in the hunter-jumper world before finding reining. She rides with NRHA Professional Dave Moore, the 2018 NRHA Non Pro Coach of the Year, and Nikki Tyndall.

“They’re just amazing,” Rose said. “They take great care of the horses. I moved to this discipline three years ago from hunters, and it’s been a long road, and they’ve been there every step of the way to get me to the next level. And they have found me two outstanding horses. This was my goal: to come here and do well. And I had two great runs.”

Rose will get a couple more chances to show this week: She qualified for the Toyon Ranch Rookie and the Bob’s Custom Saddles Rookie Showdowns both on Calvin and her other horse, Xtra Gotta Step. The Showdowns will be Nov. 30 in the Jim Norick Coliseum.

Christine Loper & A Ruf Spook

Christine Loper likes an orderly process, and it’s just one of the things she loves about reining – there’s a process.

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Christine Loper and A Ruf Spook * NRHA Photo

That process led to a score of 216 and a win in the Adequan ® NAAC and ancillary Prime Time Rookie classes on A Ruf Spook.

“He has been fantastic for me,” Loper said. “I actually did the reiners and the Quarter Horses all my life, and I got out, and I did hunter-jumpers for about 21 years. I’ve just come back to the reining for two years and have landed in the most perfect program for me with Jared Leclair. He has just helped me strategically figure out how to get in tune with this horse and how we peak and how we accelerate all of our learning. It has just been an amazing ride.”

A Ruf Spook is an 8-year-old gelding by NRHA $8 Million Sire Smart Spook out of A Ruf Gal. Rosanne Sternberg bred the horse now owned by Loper Performance Horses LLC. A Ruf Spook has more than $12,900 in lifetime earnings, and the win in the two classes added $226 to his earnings. Loper rode in the first section and then waited a full day to learn whether her score would hold up.

“What I know about my gelding is I’ve got to keep his feet moving,” Loper said. “So I trotted in and made sure I didn’t overspin because in my practices, I overspun. So I was just thrilled with him that he was right there in the spins. I pushed him harder in my large fast than I’ve ever done. He was with me all the way. I woke up at 3 in the morning, reliving my ride because it was so much fun.”

Since Loper purchased A Ruf Spook, NRHA $1 Million Rider Jared Leclair has helped her and her horse develop as a team, Loper said.

“He has been fantastic for me,” Loper said. “I actually did the reiners and the Quarter Horses all my life, and I got out and I did hunter-jumpers for about 21 years. I’ve just come back to the reining for two years and have landed in the most perfect program for me with Jared Leclair. He has just helped me strategically figure out how to get in tune with this horse and how we peak and how we accelerate all of our learning. It has just been an amazing ride.”

With her win, Loper qualified for the Toyon Ranch Rookie Showdown on Nov. 30 in the Jim Norick Coliseum.

Showdown Qualifiers

The top 10 finishers of the Toyon Ranch Rookie of the Year and the Adequan® NAAC Rookie Level 2 earn a spot in the Bob’s Custom Saddles or Toyon Ranch Showdowns, which will be Thursday, Nov. 30. All qualifiers must check in and confirm their spot in the Showdown no later than noon Nov. 27, or they will be removed from the draw, and the next place entry will be invited.

Toyon Ranch Rookie Showdown Qualifiers:

  • Rayne Anderson & Pale Face Gunslinger
  • Alea Lasaponara & Tagin Stiletto Chics
  • Logan Friedman & Hollywood Villain
  • Juliana Pearl Gonzales & Baileys Not Painted
  • Sophie Gibson & Magnum Diamond
  • Michael James Riley & Drivin By Shootin
  • Susannah Rose & Shining On Ruf
  • Christine Loper & A Ruf Spook
  • Kayden Kellmer & Xtra Ice Ice Wimpy
  • Susannah Rose & Xtra Gotta Step
  • Kent Ray Taylor & Xtra Wimpys Catalyst
  • Kalina Olmstead & Magnum Chicdraw

Bob’s Custom Saddles Rookie Level 2 Showdown Qualifiers:

  • Rayne Anderson & Pale Face Gunslinger
  • Alea Lasaponara & Tagin Stiletto Chics
  • Logan Friedman & Hollywood Villain
  • Juliana Pearl Gonzales & Baileys Not Painted
  • Sophie Gibson & Magnum Diamond
  • Eunice Ruiz Bravo & Lokotas Whizen April
  • Michael James Riley & Drivin By Shootin
  • Susannah Rose & Shining On Ruf
  • Lily Forzani & Annies Custom Pistol
  • Tyris Klynn Bowdle & Suga N Spice