Only six years into reining and Mary Anne Van Degna has already found a niche as a winning Non Pro and owner. Her latest success happened at the 2011 National Reining Breeders Classic in the National Reining Horse Association Ancillary Rookie Level 1 and Level 2 divisions. The NRBC first-timer clinched the No. 1 slot in each class with a score of 140.5 on Ruf N Dunit.
“He’s just such a great horse, and he does such a great job,” Van Degna said. “I could tell when we were warming up that he was really focused on what we were doing, and I was focused. When that happens, it just feels like it’s going to be a good run.”
Van Degna said that by working with her trainer, Marcy Ver Meer, she has been able to improve in her riding abilities to be able to match the skill of her 7-year-old reiner Ruf N Dunit, who she calls “Rocky.” “I’ve graduated to his level,” Van Degna said.
Ver Meer rode Rocky in the 2007 NRHA Futurity, claiming the Intermediate Open title. The trainer was also Open Reserve Champion at that year’s Futurity on another of Van Degna’s horses, Gunners Special Nite, now owned by Sarah Willeman and shown by Tom McCutcheon to two Reining gold medals at the 2010 FEI/Alltech World Equestrian Games.
“I just love horses, but I could never ride them full time until all my kids were grown,” Van Degna, a stay-at-home mom for over 20 years, said. As soon as their youngest child left for college, Van Degna and her husband, Bob, headed to Cave Creek, Arizona, and established Bar Double C ranch, where Ver Meer is resident reining trainer. “We feel very fortunate to have found Marcy. It worked out that I love her program, and she’s a great coach.”
Van Degna said that Ver Meer might also show Rocky in the NRBC Open Classic Challenge on Friday, April 22.
The Rookie Level 1 Reserve Champion was Jill Martin, Houston, Texas, who scored a 139.5 riding her New Olena Cash. Scoring a 140 and riding the No. 2 spot in the Rookie Level 2 was Tiffani Avery, Fulshear, Texas, and her Chullo Chic Dream.
The NRBC also features a full-slate of National Reining Horse Association-approved classes, which run in the East Arena while the Classic is held in the Coliseum. The National Reining Breeders Classic is the most successful stallion incentive program in reining history. In just fourteen years, the NRBC has grown to include nearly 200 subscribed stallions. Annually, the payout at the National Reining Breeders Classic exceeds $1.4 million. For information on the NRBC, visit the web site at www.nrbc.com or call 580-759-3939.