6666 NRHA Derby Presented by Markel: Schumacher and Muehlstaetter Tie For the Non Pro Championship

June 21, 2024

Split Decision
June 22 - Hopes and dreams were fulfilled today at the 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel. More than 100 of the world’s best non pro reiners teamed up with their horses to compete for their piece of glory and record-breaking purses across all levels of the Non Pro in Oklahoma City. They were led by Kim Muehlstaetter and Gina Schumacher, who clinched the Level 4 Non Pro Co-Championship and the lion’s share of the purse. A pair of huge 227.5 scores from Draws 31 and 33 earned each pair a paycheck for $32,697.


Level 4 Non Pro Co-Champions: Kim Muehlstaetter and Gina Schumacher
Kim Muehlstaetter blasted into the pen aboard Smoky Mountain Rein with something to prove. She’s always believed her 4-year-old gelding had the talent of a champion, and she was ready to make the judges agree.


“He just has a special feel,” Muehlstaetter said of the Texas Horse Power Ranch LLC-nominated son of NRHA $7 Million Sire Spooks Gotta Whiz and Sprats Electricspark. “When you lope him, it feels like his feet don’t hit the ground. When he turns, when he circles, when he stops, his lead changes … he doesn’t have to think about it. It’s just so natural for him.”
Smoky Mountain Rein stayed hooked with Muehlstaetter, unfazed by the pressure that comes with competing as a 4-year-old against older, more seasoned horses.
“My horse gave me everything,” Muehlstaetter said of the ride. “He stepped it up, and he was with me every single stride in there. I just kept saying, ‘I know this horse is special,’ and I just wouldn’t let go working at it. Finally, tonight, he was on, and I was on, and it all just went perfectly.” Muehlstaetter said she and husband Martin, an NRHA Million Dollar Rider, found Smoky Mountain Rein as a yearling. Martin trained the horse, who they purchased from Sleipner LLC in 2023 so Muehlstaetter could take over the reins to prepare for the NRHA Futurity.


“I’ve always been a fan of the Spooks Gotta Whizes,” she said. “He just had that special look to him. Like any 3-year-old, you have your ups and downs. He was good for me at the Futurity, then in the finals I had a huge bobble that kept me out of the money. I just knew he always had it in there; it was just a matter of putting it all together in the same run. We know each other like the back of our hand. ”
When it all came together in the Jim Norick Arena dirt tonight, Muehlstaetter breathed a sigh of relief that she’d done her horse justice. When the announcer called her score, she was stunned.
“I thought my horse showed pure. He felt like he had big maneuvers, but I really had no clue how big the score would be,” she said. “It’s what you work for all the time, to get that feeling. It’s all the countless hours, and the sweat and tears. It just makes that moment so much sweeter.” Muehlstaetter, who thanked her family and team, said her plan is to show her gelding at one more derby this year, then give him time to rest to help ensure his longevity. “I don’t want to run his wheels off. I’d like to save him,” she said. “I’ve always believed in this horse, and tonight he proved that he could do it.”


Just two runs after Muehlstatter shook up the leaderboard, Gina Schumacher tied her 227.5 on her 6-year-old stallion, bred and nominated by NRHA Corporate Partner Toyon Ranch, Gunin Addy Tude (Gunnatrashya x Miss Lil Addy Tude). After coming off a win in the 2024 National Reining Breeders Classic Non Pro, the pair continued the same game plan hoping for big scores in OKC.
“I was really sweating,” she said. “I was not sure I was going to get this done. I just tried to stay clean and not make mistakes, and tried to push my horse to the point that he was still comfortable, but that it would be enough to mark — that was the strategy.” Although NRHA $2 Million Rider Duane Latimer is the head trainer at the Schumacher family’s XCS Ranch, Schumacher rides all of her horses five days a week. That helps her know when she can push, and fosters a strong bond with them. “‘Guapo’ is a very kind horse to be around, super sweet in the stall, and it’s nice having him around,” she said. “In my head, I can only do good with my horse Gunnastepya, and it was actually really good for me to go and do this with another horse, just for my own feeling. It was really fun.
“He is like the kid in school who never wants to be in trouble and always does his homework and is always really good,” she continued of Gunin Addy Tude. “That would describe him best. He is very quiet and loves to play in the pasture. He likes cookies, he likes apples, and I think that sums him up.” Schumacher expressed her gratitude for everyone who had a hand in reaching this historic milestone tonight.
“We have an amazing team — my family, of course, and all of the great people we get to meet at events … thank you to everybody,” she said. When it came time to decide whether to share the title or compete in a runoff, both women had a clear answer.

“Our horses gave 100%,” Muehlstaetter said. “She [Schumacher] had a great run. Neither one of us wanted to run them again. They gave us everything they had. We always try to put them first and look at the big picture.”

Levels 3 and 2 Non Pro Champions: Lauren Love and Chexi Chic
With a 221, Lauren Love and her great mare Chexi Chic took the lead of the Levels 3 and 2 Non Pro Derby.



“Today was so fun; it was like going out there with my buddy,” Love said. “She was so good for me, and it was a blast. We didn’t ride her too much, and I didn’t want her to get tired. She was pretty happy the whole time we were here. I even said this was the happiest she had ever been at a long horse show.”
Love thanked NRHA Professional Arnaud Ferret, who has been the only other person to pilot the mare, as well as her parents and everybody who has helped her along the way. Between Ferret and Love, Chexi Chic had $124,087 in NRHA lifetime earnings (LTE) prior to their arrival in Oklahoma City. After winning both levels, they added an additional $35,000 to that sum.
“She knows her job, and we know how to prepare now,” Love said. “She is pretty easy; I just stay out of her way and keep her happy. We go to the barn every day, and she nickers. They [horses] just know their people. It is kind of surreal to think I own a horse of this caliber that has been this good for so long.”
The 6-year-old mare by Wimpy Chic and out of Chexanicki was nominated by breeder Alpha Quarter Horses LLC.
“I think that is why reining is so addicting, because when you get that great run, you want to go do it again,” Love said. “I am lucky enough to have a good partner to go out and show and give me a lot of confidence.”


Level 1 and Prime Time Non Pro Champions: Tricia Leone and Alpha Queen
Tricia Leone proved just how royal Alpha Queen is when she rode the 5-year-old mare to the Level 1 and Prime Time Non Pro Championships. The horse-and-rider team marked a 218.5 in the first section of the finals to secure the victory and a $10,000 paycheck, including nominator incentives.



“She’s just amazing,” Leone said of Alpha Queen (Wimpy Chic x Chexanicki), a full sister to Levels 3 and 2 Non Pro Champion Chexi Chic. “I absolutely adore her. We’re finally getting to know each other and getting a little more competitive with each ride. We feel like we’re in a really good place right now.”
Leone said Alpha Quarter Horses LLC-bred and -nominated Alpha Queen felt fresh for their finals run, where the mare’s stops were the highlight of her performance. She was thrilled to accomplish her goal for the show and said she’s looking forward to competing in the Amateur at The Run For A Million later this year.
“She’s so honest, and she’s just the coolest mare,” Leone said. “I feel like we get a little bit better each time we go out, so [I see] a bright future for this mare. It’s nice to have a mare that has such a sweet disposition because she wants to do the right thing. She’s right there for me.”
Leone, who thanked her husband for his support, credited NRHA Professional Trent Harvey and his team for elevating her confidence and showmanship after a 15-year hiatus from competing.
“I have a great team. Trent has a great staff and assistants, and everybody does such a great job,” she said. “It feels so good to be part of the family. I love my barn family. We all make a really good team.”


Youth Non Pro Champions: Michelle Fumagalli and TR Mr Joe
Eighteen-year-old Michelle Fumagalli has loved horses since she was 4 years old. Her connection was evident during the Non Pro Derby finals, where she rode TR Mr Joe to the Youth Non Pro Championship after scoring a 220.5. The duo also secured a Top 5 spot in the Level 4 Non Pro, along with the Levels 3 and 2 Non Pro Reserve Championships. In total, the pair took home $28,934, including nominator incentives.



“He is fun and high-spirited and sweet,” Fumagalli said. “It was a matter of being smart and not overdoing it or over-fixing it, but just riding the pattern and feeling the horse underneath me, and it turned out.”
TR Mr Joe, nominated by breeder Tamarack Ranch LLC, is by NRHA $2 Million Sire Lil Joe Cash and out of Ms Whiz Dunit, who has more than $30,000 in NRHA LTE. The gelding has been in Fumagalli’s family for two years, but she just started riding him in September.
Fumagalli said she enjoys sharing reining with her dad, Patrizio, who marked a 217.5 in the Non Pro Derby finals (handicapped to a 219) to finish third in the Prime Time. Fumagalli expressed immense gratitude for both her parents, as well as her entire support system and Huss Performance Horses for their time and effort.
“I have seen the progression in the confidence and trust in our relationship as we continue to get better, and I learn how to show him better,” Fumagalli said. “I hope to keep growing from here. He is one of the most talented ones I have ever ridden, and he is so sweet.”


Masters Non Pro Champions: Catherine Crandon and Flinns Dun Twistin
Catherine Crandon has owned 5-year-old Flinns Dun Twistin since she was 1 day old, and as of tonight, they are Masters Non Pro Derby Champions. The pair scored a 217.5 with their 3-point handicap to earn $2,000.

“She is the sweetest, kindest, and tries so hard,” Crandon said. “She really tried hard today. She is just a keeper. She was right on the money, and I couldn’t have asked her to be any better.”
Crandon, who nominated her Grace Reiners LLC-bred mare, has been reining for 24 years and says the sport found her. She first saw it at an American Quarter Horse Association show in Canada, and when she saw the maneuvers she thought, “I would like that!”
“She tries, and I trust her,” Crandon said of Flinns Dun Twistin (In Like Flinn x Wimpys Dun Twistin). “I think that is the most important bond of all. I pretty much ride her all the time, and I think that is the most important thing.
“I cannot thank Ruben Vandorp enough,” she continued. “He is a tremendous help, and I cannot thank him enough.”
The excitement continues to build at the OKC Fairgrounds as the NRHA Open Derby finals take place tomorrow, where the purses will again break records across all levels of the competition. Join to watch in person, or tune in on the Cowboy Channel or the free live feed at nrhaderby.com.

Join the Fun with Ride Guess
Whether you have an eye for a winning run or simply want to have fun by making predictions, join in with NRHA’s newest virtual game, Ride Guess, powered by Spooks Gotta Whiz. This addition gives fans a chance to be part of the finals, whether they are in OKC or tuning in via the live feed.
Ride Guess is a product of Inside Rodeo sweepstakes games, which have taken the Western industry by storm and are produced by NRHA Corporate Partner Teton Ridge. Visit nrha.com/rideguess and sign up to go head-to-head with other fans, showcasing your reining knowledge and competing for incredible prizes. Rack up points throughout the Level 4 Open finals, and the top three players will be crowned champions at the end of the evening. The winners will receive prizes such as an NRHA Futurity package.

June 20 - Record Purses Fuel Non Pro Preliminaries at 6666 NRHA Derby Presented by Markel
Excitement built as the 2024 6666 National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Derby presented by Markel reached a pivotal point. The conclusion of preliminary competition in the Non Pro Derby has set the stage for a thrilling finals showcase. With record-breaking purses on the line at every level, riders and their equine partners have delivered exceptional performances, captivating the audience and raising the bar for reining excellence.


Colston Paving 4-year-old Stakes Champions – Indy Roper and Guns Required
Indy Roper and the Tim Roper-owned Guns Required remained at the top of the Colston Paving 4-year-old Stakes leaderboard after scoring a 220 in the second section of the non pro preliminary. Roper purchased Guns Required at the NRHA Markel Futurity Sales as a yearling, but this was only their second time together in the showpen.
“There was something that drew me to him in the stall; he was quiet and charismatic,” said Roper. “I showed him yesterday, and he was dialed in and exceptional. I have to thank [NRHA Professional] Brian Bell because he has put in a lot of time and effort and showed the horse as a 3-year-old.”
Nominated by NRHA Corporate Partner Toyon Ranch, the gelding by Gunners Tinseltown and out of Icing Required has over $21,000 in NRHA lifetime earnings (LTE), of which nearly half came with Roper at the reins.

Elementa Amateur Derby Co-Champions – Laura Bell and Ruf Smokin Gunner
After the third day of non pro competition, Laura Bell and her own Ruf Smokin Gunner entered the Jim Norick Arena as the Elementa Amateur Derby Co-Champions. The Karl Hapcic-bred gelding (Not Ruf At All x Smokin Lady Gunner) and Bell scored a 221 to claim the title.
‘“Franklin’ was maybe not the top pick for everybody for their horse,” said Bell. “I just saw something special in him and decided to give him a chance, and I’m glad I did because he’s turned out to be my little unicorn. He just shows up every day and does his job. Every horse show I go to, he exceeds the horse show before. He deserved to get the blue ribbon today. It was pretty cool.”


Elementa Amateur Derby Co-Champions, Clark’s Pump-N-Shop Novice Horse Non Pro Derby Champions, and APHA Chrome Cash Division Co-Champions – Joetta Bell and Trashy Little Dream
To say Joetta Bell and her horse, Trashy Little Dream, had a fantastic day would be an understatement. After scoring an impressive 221, the duo were named Elementa Amateur Derby Co-Champions, the Clark’s Pump-N-Shop Novice Horse Non Pro Derby Champions and the American Paint Horse Association (APHA) Chrome Cash Division Co-Champions.
“She is a really special horse that I had tried to buy for a long time from Steve Archer,” said Joetta. “She is more than just a show horse; she is part of our family. She is so easy and fun to ride that I feel like I am running faster than I actually am. A lot of times I need to step it up and have good eyes, and Kole [Price] helped me do that.”
The 6-year-old mare (Magnum Chic Dream x Shesa Little Trashy) was nominated for the Derby by NRHA Million Dollar Rider Justin Mathison.


APHA Chrome Cash Division Co-Champions and Prime Time Non Pro Derby Preliminary Leaders – Julie Boer and Out Of The Furnace
Julie Boer and her own Out Of The Furnace (Inferno Sixty Six x Shinaka) were the other duo named APHA Chrome Cash Division Co-Champions with a 221. Their handicapped score of a 222.5 earned landed them in the top spot of the Prime Time Non Pro Derby after the preliminary round.
“Out of the Furnace, is affectionately known as ‘Joe Jingle,’ said Boer. “Joe got his name after the late Joe Hayes. Joe bred and raised him. He’s a pretty special horse—pretty mellow, easy going but gives 110, super talented, fun to be around” and loves his peppermints after I show him.
Level 4 and Level 3 Non Pro Derby Preliminary Round Winners – Emily Opell and Shining N Tinseltown
Emily Opell and Shining N Tinseltown’s 222 from the second section held on to take the top spot in the Level 4 and 3 non pro preliminary round.
“He is so consistent,” said Opell, who won the 2022 Level 2 Non Pro Derby Championship with the stallion. “He is very business-like, there is never any foolishness and he is a sweetheart. We have had him since he was a late 3-year-old.”
Opell says that NRHA Professional Brandon Brant trained the stallion, and since she has owned him, she has done the training herself.
“It means everything to me,” said Opell, reflecting on competing at the 2024 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel. “It is wild to me that we can come out and do this together, and I am so blessed to have a horse like this.”
Level 2 and Youth Non Pro Derby Preliminary Round Winners – Michelle Fumagalli and TR Mr Joe
18-year-old Michelle Fumagalli and TR Mr Joe’s 221.5 earned the duo top spots in both the Level 2 and Youth Non Pro Derbies after three days of preliminary competition. The Tamarack Ranch LLC-bred and -nominated horse is by NRHA $2 Million Sire Lil Joe Cash and out of Ms Whiz Dunit has over $30,000 in NRHA LTE.
Level 1 Non Pro Derby Preliminary Round Winners – Lindsey Lester and Pale Black
Lindsey Lester and Pale Black held onto their lead of the Level 1 after the non pro preliminary round concluded, which they set during the second section. Lester and the 6-year-old mare, by NRHA $3 Million Sire Pale Face Dunnit and out of Blazing In Black, scored a 219 to secure the top spot.
Seventeen-year-old Lindsey Lester had less than $2,300 in NRHA LTE before entering the Jim Norick Arena this week.
Pale Black was bred by Hickory Creek Ranch LLC and nominated by Ginger Schmersal.
Masters Non Pro Derby Preliminary Round Winners – Carol Bell and Vintage Couture
Carol Bell and Vintage Couture (Platinum Vintage x Couture Tag) were another duo who held onto their lead from section two. The pair scored a 220, including the handicap.
The 6-year-old stallion, bred by Bell’s husband George, has $76,000 in NRHA LTE with NRHA $2 Million Rider Brian Bell. Carol and George own the stallion together, making this win a celebration for the entire family.
As these talented Non Pro riders prepare to vie for championship glory, one thing is certain: the 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel promises a finals showdown unlike any other. With record-breaking payouts motivating every maneuver and a world-class field vying for the coveted titles, fans are in for a truly unforgettable reining experience. If you cannot be at OKC Fairgrounds, visit the free live feed at nrhaderby.com or watch on the Cowboy Channel.

June 17 - Preliminary Open Competition Concludes at the 6666 NRHA Derby Presented by Markel

The Jim Norick Arena at the Oklahoma City [OKC] Fairgrounds was electric as the preliminary round of Open competition at this year’s 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel came to a close. With record-breaking payouts on the line and a world-class field of riders and horses vying for coveted championship titles, the competition was fierce—exemplified by an ever-changing leaderboard throughout the last three days.

Level 4 Open Derby Preliminary Round Winners – Jason Vanlandingham with Plus Me Im Shiny and Craig Schmersal with Stopping In Jersey
Two NRHA Professionals scored a massive 229.5 during the third section, tying for the lead in the Level 4 Open Derby preliminary round. They also took home prize money in additional divisions due to the generous support of NRHA Corporate Partners.
NRHA $3 Million Rider Jason Vanlandingham rode Plus Me Im Shiny and was the first to claim a top slot in the preliminary round. The duo also took top honors in the Tamarack Ranch Open 4-Year-Old Stakes and the Clark’s Pump-N-Shop Novice Open Derby.
“This horse is special because it is actually my daughter’s [Emma] non pro horse,” said Vanlandingam. “We picked this horse up before the Southwest Futurity. She showed him there and won the 2023 NRHA Youth Futurity on him, showed him at the National Reining Breeders Classic, and again at the 100X. I stole him here, and the rest was history! Shout out to Emma; she did a good job training him for me.”
The 4-year-old gelding, by NRHA Million Dollar Sire Colonels Shining Gun and out of Plus One Chex, is owned by 2Star Investments LLC, bred by Upsteam Inc., and nominated by Layla Choate.

NRHA $5 Million Rider Craig Schmersal rode Stopping In Jersey, a 7-year-old stallion, to tie for the win in the Level 4 Open preliminary and earn the Prime Time Open Championship.
“I loved my horse today,” said Schmersal. “I love the way he stopped, I love the way he circled and I love the way he turned. I love his heart and his brain; he was a lot of fun to show.”
Stopping In Jersey was bred and nominated by NRHA Corporate Partner Toyon Ranch and is owned by Bosque Ranch Performance Horses LLC—the title sponsor of the Derby in conjunction with the 6666 Ranch.

Level 3 Open Derby Preliminary Round Winners – Jordan Larson and Need I Say More
Jordan Larson, an NRHA $3 Million Rider, rode Ixtul Quarter Horses LLC’s Need I Say Mor to top honors in the preliminary round of the Level 3 Open Derby.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bred by Curtis Performance Horse LLC and nominated by Brooke Wharton, Need I Say Mor is a 2020 stallion by NRHA Hall of Famer Gunnatrashya and out of Shesouttayourleague.
“He’s a 4-year-old Gunnatrashya stud,” said Larson. “We bought him in March from my good friend, [NRHA $4 Million Rider] Casey Deary. He had him in training last year, and then we bought him. This is the third time that I’ve shown him. He’s pretty good. We bought him because he’s a huge stopper, he’s beautiful, and we are just finally starting to get together. I am excited about the future.”


Level 2 Open Derby Preliminary Winners – Yonathan Baruch and Hot Guns N Candy
Israeli NRHA Professional Yonathan Baruch rode Hot Guns N Candy, a horse bred, owned and nominated by Antler Ridge Ranch LLC, to the top spot in the preliminary round of the Level 2 Open Derby.

“I rode Hot Guns N Candy, and he is a very special individual. We showed great in his three-year-old, and then we had an unfortunate setback. This is basically a long time coming.” Baruch said. “I’ve been waiting two years to show him. We showed in the Cactus [Reining Classic], and then came back over here even more prepared and made the Level 4 final.”
By Gunnatrashya and out of Candy Coded Diamonds, the 2018 stallion had nearly $34,000 in NRHA Lifetime Earnings [LTE] before the Derby, all with Baruch at the reins.

Level 1 Open Derby Preliminary Round Winners – Nimroid Vannietvelt and A Cool Back Story
Nimroid Vannietvelt, an NRHA Professional originally from Belgium, rode Jennifer Kasper’s A Cool Back Story to 221.5 and a preliminary round win in the Level 1 Open Derby.


“I rode A Cool Backstory. He’s an incredible horse,” said Vannietvelt. “I started riding him since the NRBC [National Reining Breeders Classic]. Jen Kasper, she rode him and gave him for me to show. I was really excited to do this with him. Super happy that I could do this. He’s an amazing horse!”
The 2017 gelding (NRHA $3 Million Sire SG Frozen Enterprize x Skeets Chexy Nic) was bred and nominated by Gabrielle Solum DVM and has over $70,000 in NRHA LTE.

American Paint Horse Association Chrome Cash – Casey Deary and Custom Dreams
At the end of section three, Casey Deary and Custom Dreams remained at the top of the Chrome Cash division with a 229.



The 4-year-old stallion, owned by Custom Dreams Brazil and bred by Devin Warren, is by NRHA Hall of Famer Magnum Chic Dream and out of Gunna Be Custom.
“He’s a workhorse; he shows up to work every day,” said Deary. “He is gifted in every maneuver, but he’s a really big stopper, so I know he is going to fit this pattern for Saturday [the Level 4 Open Final] really well.”
As tension builds up to the finals, spectators will witness spectacular displays of skill and synergy that have them on the edge of their seats. This year’s 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel is proving to be ‘The World’s Hottest Reining’ with record-breaking purses in all levels of Open competition and outstanding performances by equine athletes.
Join us for the record-breaking 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel Open Finals at the OKC Fairgrounds on June 22, through our free livestream at nrhaderby.com, or on the Cowboy Channel.

By NRHA Press Release - PHOTOS COURTESY NRHA