$15,000 Dodge Invitational Freestyle Reining at the 2010 NWSS | TheFencePost.com
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$15,000 Dodge Invitational Freestyle Reining at the 2010 NWSS

Lincoln RogersElbert, Colo., rider Shane Brown aboard Houston Shine grabbed the spotlight by pulling off a near-perfect routine in front of a boisterous crowd to win the $15,000 Dodge Invitational Freestyle Reining competition at the NWSS.

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Applause thundered throughout the National Western Stock Show’s (NWSS) Equestrian Center, engulfing every participant of the $15,000 Dodge Invitational Freestyle Reining competition in high-decibel enthusiasm.

On Jan. 10, 15 top-flight reiners executed enough moves in front of a sold-out crowd to satisfy every performance horse fan in the region. They were the “Rein Makers” for the afternoon.

First out of the gate riding to a Sinatra melody was Gabe Garrison, and he warmed the joint up with 215 points and all the cheering old blue eyes could have handled in his glory days. A few riders later, Sandy Kaplan dialed up the fun by wearing a jockey costume, painting her horse like a zebra, cueing up some Bryan Adams tunes and spinning her way to 216.5 points. The arena was rocking, but the best was yet to come.

Rider No. 5 was Kiowa, Colo., cowboy Guy Vernon aboard Nu Chex Royalty. He and the athletic bay delivered spins and slides to toe-tapping country music while the crowd yelled every step of the way. By the time they finished with a “Look ma! No-hands!” spin in the center of the ring; the judges were well on their way to awarding 224 points and a significant lead in the contest.

It didn’t last long …

In a black arena lit by a single spot, Elbert, Colo., reiner Shane Brown ripped his way through a dazzling performance aboard 6-year-old Houston Shine. The country song “In Color” blared the speakers and shook the house as Brown and the sorrel with a white blaze wowed everyone in sight.

Showing off numerous spins, slides and flying lead changes under control, Brown and Houston Shine never let up. Once the crowd finished roaring and hearing was restored, a near-perfect score of 229.5 was announced and bedlam broke out once more. The party was officially on.

Three contestants later, popular Drake Johnson gave it a solid effort aboard the palomino Hickory Chic Aholic, but the duo made a few small errors, sinking their score to 215 points, despite the protests of 5,000 spectators who loved the raw talent of the 5-year-old gelding and wanted a higher result. While the throng couldn’t raise the score, they were able to make their feelings known another way, showering ovations and full-throated cheers later in the evening to ensure Johnson and Houston Shines earned the People’s Choice award for the competition.

With Shane Brown still sitting pretty, five more contestants came and went before his lead was challenged.

Texan Pete Kyle rode out last and got the crowd hopping with a routine aboard Reminic N Poco set to the classic rock anthem “Smoking In The Boys Room.” Kyle and the palomino huffed and puffed, but couldn’t blow the lead down as they came up 3.5 points shy with a score of 226. After the satisfied multitudes used the exits, a few riders shared their thoughts on the freestyle competition at the historic venue.

“This is great,” said Aaron Ralston about the NWSS contest. Ralston, from Silt, Colo., is one of reining’s premier competitors and strives to preserve the Western heritage of the cowboy. “(In freestyle reining) you get to show off what you think is the best maneuver of your horse,” he continued. “For me to go in there and just be able to go and have fun and not hold back … is the fun thing. And then there’s the artful expression, trying to be creative. This is the only opportunity to do that, for me with the horse, in competition. So I love this event.”

When asked about the NWSS itself, Ralston revealed it was special to him.

“The stock show is amazing,” he said with conviction. “At this event there is 5,000 people in the stands, yelling and screaming and having a good time. And to be at this event and to be able to meet my friends and interact with everybody, it just really makes it special.”

People’s Choice winner Drake Johnson loves competing in freestyle as well.

“You know I think the freestyle is the most entertaining and the most fun to watch and it’s a chance for us to showcase the abilities of the horse and also entertain,” said the Wray, Colo., reiner with an impressive competition resume. “You get to put the two together, some music and then the choreography and the good reining maneuvers, and its definitely one of the most fun things to do.”

On the subject of the NWSS event, Johnson had high praise.

“In here, by far, this is the most competitive freestyle in the country,” he described. “I’ve shown everywhere and I’ve won about every competition there is, and out of the field here, there’s probably about 10 riders where any one of the 10 could win this. I think here, it really promotes such a great – I don’t know if the people here really realize sometimes what they really get to see. The caliber of horses that are shown here, the showmen that perform … everybody seems to do very well,” he summed up regarding the annual contest.

“They have brought the best of the best to this competition,” agreed champion Shane Brown. “You’ve got to give 100 percent and everybody feels that.”

When asked his thoughts of participating in a freestyle versus a regular reining competition, Brown was enthusiastic in his reply.

“It’s very fun,” he said without hesitation. “Part of your maturity (as a competitor) is realizing you do this for the people watching. It’s not all about you. That actually allows you to relax and go perform for the people watching.”

Queried on his winning ride, Brown shared his thoughts on the solid routine in front of thousands of excited fans.

“As we went along, I knew (Houston Shine) could accomplish what he could accomplish. So as the crowd is screaming I just am acknowledging that, yes, he is doing his job. And then as we got a little closer, he kept getting better and better and so I just knew, yes, he’s getting

it done.”

“Was it one of those things where you feel, oh, we’re going to get a huge score, like 229?” he asked in rhetorical fashion. “No, you don’t know that. You just feel, you know what, we did our job today and as long as we get a paycheck, we’ll be happy.”

It’s safe to say not only were Shane Brown and his fellow “Rein Makers” happy with the NWSS $15,000 Dodge Invitational Freestyle Reining competition, so were 5,000 fans on their way home expecting to wake up the next day without a voice.

Applause thundered throughout the National Western Stock Show’s (NWSS) Equestrian Center, engulfing every participant of the $15,000 Dodge Invitational Freestyle Reining competition in high-decibel enthusiasm.

On Jan. 10, 15 top-flight reiners executed enough moves in front of a sold-out crowd to satisfy every performance horse fan in the region. They were the “Rein Makers” for the afternoon.

First out of the gate riding to a Sinatra melody was Gabe Garrison, and he warmed the joint up with 215 points and all the cheering old blue eyes could have handled in his glory days. A few riders later, Sandy Kaplan dialed up the fun by wearing a jockey costume, painting her horse like a zebra, cueing up some Bryan Adams tunes and spinning her way to 216.5 points. The arena was rocking, but the best was yet to come.

Rider No. 5 was Kiowa, Colo., cowboy Guy Vernon aboard Nu Chex Royalty. He and the athletic bay delivered spins and slides to toe-tapping country music while the crowd yelled every step of the way. By the time they finished with a “Look ma! No-hands!” spin in the center of the ring; the judges were well on their way to awarding 224 points and a significant lead in the contest.

It didn’t last long …

In a black arena lit by a single spot, Elbert, Colo., reiner Shane Brown ripped his way through a dazzling performance aboard 6-year-old Houston Shine. The country song “In Color” blared the speakers and shook the house as Brown and the sorrel with a white blaze wowed everyone in sight.

Showing off numerous spins, slides and flying lead changes under control, Brown and Houston Shine never let up. Once the crowd finished roaring and hearing was restored, a near-perfect score of 229.5 was announced and bedlam broke out once more. The party was officially on.

Three contestants later, popular Drake Johnson gave it a solid effort aboard the palomino Hickory Chic Aholic, but the duo made a few small errors, sinking their score to 215 points, despite the protests of 5,000 spectators who loved the raw talent of the 5-year-old gelding and wanted a higher result. While the throng couldn’t raise the score, they were able to make their feelings known another way, showering ovations and full-throated cheers later in the evening to ensure Johnson and Houston Shines earned the People’s Choice award for the competition.

With Shane Brown still sitting pretty, five more contestants came and went before his lead was challenged.

Texan Pete Kyle rode out last and got the crowd hopping with a routine aboard Reminic N Poco set to the classic rock anthem “Smoking In The Boys Room.” Kyle and the palomino huffed and puffed, but couldn’t blow the lead down as they came up 3.5 points shy with a score of 226. After the satisfied multitudes used the exits, a few riders shared their thoughts on the freestyle competition at the historic venue.

“This is great,” said Aaron Ralston about the NWSS contest. Ralston, from Silt, Colo., is one of reining’s premier competitors and strives to preserve the Western heritage of the cowboy. “(In freestyle reining) you get to show off what you think is the best maneuver of your horse,” he continued. “For me to go in there and just be able to go and have fun and not hold back … is the fun thing. And then there’s the artful expression, trying to be creative. This is the only opportunity to do that, for me with the horse, in competition. So I love this event.”

When asked about the NWSS itself, Ralston revealed it was special to him.

“The stock show is amazing,” he said with conviction. “At this event there is 5,000 people in the stands, yelling and screaming and having a good time. And to be at this event and to be able to meet my friends and interact with everybody, it just really makes it special.”

People’s Choice winner Drake Johnson loves competing in freestyle as well.

“You know I think the freestyle is the most entertaining and the most fun to watch and it’s a chance for us to showcase the abilities of the horse and also entertain,” said the Wray, Colo., reiner with an impressive competition resume. “You get to put the two together, some music and then the choreography and the good reining maneuvers, and its definitely one of the most fun things to do.”

On the subject of the NWSS event, Johnson had high praise.

“In here, by far, this is the most competitive freestyle in the country,” he described. “I’ve shown everywhere and I’ve won about every competition there is, and out of the field here, there’s probably about 10 riders where any one of the 10 could win this. I think here, it really promotes such a great – I don’t know if the people here really realize sometimes what they really get to see. The caliber of horses that are shown here, the showmen that perform … everybody seems to do very well,” he summed up regarding the annual contest.

“They have brought the best of the best to this competition,” agreed champion Shane Brown. “You’ve got to give 100 percent and everybody feels that.”

When asked his thoughts of participating in a freestyle versus a regular reining competition, Brown was enthusiastic in his reply.

“It’s very fun,” he said without hesitation. “Part of your maturity (as a competitor) is realizing you do this for the people watching. It’s not all about you. That actually allows you to relax and go perform for the people watching.”

Queried on his winning ride, Brown shared his thoughts on the solid routine in front of thousands of excited fans.

“As we went along, I knew (Houston Shine) could accomplish what he could accomplish. So as the crowd is screaming I just am acknowledging that, yes, he is doing his job. And then as we got a little closer, he kept getting better and better and so I just knew, yes, he’s getting

it done.”

“Was it one of those things where you feel, oh, we’re going to get a huge score, like 229?” he asked in rhetorical fashion. “No, you don’t know that. You just feel, you know what, we did our job today and as long as we get a paycheck, we’ll be happy.”

It’s safe to say not only were Shane Brown and his fellow “Rein Makers” happy with the NWSS $15,000 Dodge Invitational Freestyle Reining competition, so were 5,000 fans on their way home expecting to wake up the next day without a voice.


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