OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – The National Reining Horse Association Futurity was held November 26 thru December 5, 2020. It is deemed one of the several “major” events in reining. Traditionally, the event starts on the Thanksgiving holiday and runs through the following weekend.

It is an impressive event with over 300 entries in the Pro Futurity with the purse for the winner being $250,000 this year. There were over 200 entries in the Non-Pro Futurity. The Futurity year for Reining horses is three-years-old only and also the first year a horse can show in the NRHA. Besides the Futurity classes going on in the main stadium, the North American Affiliate Championships are also held at the same time in the Adequan Arena. This year saw a record numbers for entries, sometimes splitting classes like the Rookie into two sections (days).

In the NRHA, the earnings follow the rider as well as the horse. For example, for the riders there is the green division, rookie, then levels one through four for earnings. Depending on the class title, there will also be wording for the earnings on the horse also. A horse or a rider can stay in that division even if they passed the earnings mark until the first of January the following year. A fun fact, any registered breed can show in the NRHA.

Despite a lot of shows being cancelled or rescheduled, Allison Thorson attended over 12 shows this year all over the country including: Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio, Arizona and Oklahoma. The horses Turn Down For What and Pale Whiz are on the “East Coast” circuit and the horses, Smart Cowboy Whiz and Gunner Be Custom are on the “West Coast” circuit with all of the mounts coming together at the major events such as this one.

To compete at the North American Affiliate Championships, each horse and rider team had to qualify at a prior show that calendar year denoting a “regional championship.” Thorson competed with all four of her horses in the Rookie division. With the class being so large, they split it up into two sections. Three of Thorson’s horses drew on the first day and one drew on the second day. The rookie class had a total of 201 entries all to run pattern 8 out of the 16 listed patterns in the NRHA rulebook. With the class having so many entries, one bobble or step quickly takes the horse and rider from the top to the 20s-40s in placings with the competition being so stiff and salty. Unfortunately, the first two horses did have bobbles, but luckily for Thorson and knowing that it is part of the sport, she still had two more horses to show. Towards the end of the first section, Smart Cowboy Whiz showed off his pretty looks and powerful maneuvers to result in a score of 218.

Little did the team know that it was the score to beat after all of the 201 horses. On the second day, Allison rode Gunner Be Custom, to a very pretty pattern and earned 217, only to come in second to Smart Cowboy Whiz.

Normally at all reining events there are three or five judges, this event having three judges. Every entry goes into the class at a 70 score and can go up or down from there by placing the maneuvers, -1, 1/2, 0, +1/2, +1.

Smart Cowboy Whiz is a seven-year-old stallion by Who Whiz It and out of Little Smart Jac. He and Thorson have been very successful together winning at many events and qualifying for the Run For A Million show last year. By becoming the Rookie of the Year and Rookie World Champions, the team took home money, two saddles, two buckles, two trophies, a jacket and lots of other horse equipment goodies. The buckskin stallion is in training at Schmersal Reining horses in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Craig Schmersal has lifetime earnings of over four million dollars in the reining industry and
also won the Run For A Million show last year on No Smoking Required, a seven-year-old stallion that is the highest money earning stallion in the reining horse industry with earnings over $490,000 and is owned in a partnership between Schmersal Reining Horses and ThorSport Farm.

Thorson is no stranger to the winner’s circle and she continues to set goals and expand her horizons. “Now that I have won a world championship in reining, I am now going to try for AQHA and APHA World Championships next year,” said Thorson. “I would like to be able to say I’ve won TWH, NRHA, AQHA, and APHA and most of my quarter horses are registered as Paint horses as well as registered NRHA horses.”.

“Growing up with the Tennessee Walking Horse breed and competing at the shows in numerous disciplines offered as well making goals with the TWH has lead me to this point,” continued Thorson. “I wanted to try something new and learn the training techniques as well as the showmanship skills. This sport is extremely detail oriented and difficult and I love the challenge. I have a TWH that I put in training with a reining trainer last year that I now practice with at home. Hopefully next year I will start showing him at TWH shows and shed light that the TWH can do this discipline as well. I have taken this horse named, Roll Sevens, to reining shows and people actually are amazed when they see him stop! This horse wasn’t going to fit as the perfect rail class horse even considering his sire is Roll The Gold and dam is Sweet Sevens. Both of these horses have been very successful for me, so I thought why not try something he loves to do!

“I am so appreciative of the team it takes to get to this point! A lot of saddle time is required and luckily I am able to work hard at this new endeavor because of the team I’m supported and surrounded by.”

Click here to watch Smart Cowboy Whiz shown by Allison Thorson.