Three Way Ride-Off Decides Medals, U.S. Settles for Silver and Bronze at the 2007 FEI Reining Masters
RELEASE: November 30, 2007
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Joanie Morris
Oklahoma City, OK - The 2007 FEI World Reining Masters drew riders from fifteen countries to the Oklahoma State Fair Grounds on November 29, but two riders from the United States that caught the judges attention - equally. Not to be outdone by the home team an Austrian rider answered their challenge with an equally stellar performance. This meant that at the end of the competition Americans Casey Hinton and Gabe Hutchins were tied with Rudi Kronsteiner for first place on a score of 221. Under FEI rules this situation warrants a ride off.
The first American was the second rider in the ring and Casey Hinton, from Whitesboro, TX, got the crowd going with Mr. Boomerjac. The palomino stallion was rock solid and put in a stellar performance to set the standard. Their ride was highlighted by excellent spins, good lead changes and impressive downwards transitions after speedy circles.
The 13-year-old Quarter Horse, owned by Robert LaPorta and George Easterday was lightly competed this year but didn't look rusty. Added to that it was the first competition in which Hinton had ridden.
“I've always had a lot of respect for him as a horse,” said Hinton. “But being around him - personality-wise, he is just awesome. He's a special horse and he darn sure gave everything he had tonight.”
The second American combination answered the challenge set down by their teammate. From Orland Park, IL., Gabe Hutchins and Juiced Up Doc, winners of the USEF/Adequan Open Reining Championships in June, continued to impress in their first year at FEI competition. In an aggressive ride Hutchins went for a big score and was rewarded with a score equal to Hinton's.
With a huge loop in the reins, Hutchins had total confidence in Smart Like Juice Inc.'s 7-year-old Juiced Up Doc. The pair had excellent spins and an impressive final slide to highlight a very professional effort.
Then the Austrian Kronsteiner walked into the ring on Smart Spook. The very seasoned stallion, produced by American rider Shawn Flarida, looked like he owned the main arena at the Oklahoma State Fair Grounds, his ride was highlighted by the best rollbacks of the night.
This unique situation meant that no matter where they finished in the order, the tie had to be broken, so all three combinations returned to the ring to decide the medals.
In the same order and riding the same pattern, Hinton led off the trio with a more tenacious effort on Mr Boomerjac. The classy stallion didn't seem to mind that it was almost 10 p.m. when he came back into the ring for the second time. He bested his first score by one point, wrapping up his evening on a 222. Then Hinton watched his teammate.
“I thought he was better the second time,” said Hutchins. “I think I under rode him a little bit the first time. There was nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
Hutchins, 27 and never one to ride passively with a high score on the board, put in another impressive performance on Juiced Up Doc. Gold slipped through Hutchins' hands during his second spin but he didn't let up with impressive lead changes and slides. A score of 211.5 meant that his medal would be silver or bronze.
“It was fun,” Hutchins said of the ride off. “I used up everything I had in the first ride. He tried hard. We've had a great year together.”
Smart Spook ambled back into the ring to an Austrian yodel call and Kronsteiner orchestrated another excellent effort from Rosanne Sternberg's stallion. Dynamite transitions and slides were marred only by finishing short on both spins. The Americans were denied Gold when the performance garnered a score of 227.
“I knew he was special when I saw him as a 2-year-old,” said Kronsteiner after a performance that pushed Smart Spook's earnings to $306,000 which makes him reining's all-time leading money earner.