July 6, 2009 -- Record setting triple-digit temperatures and blazing hot scores were the buzz at the 2009 Adequan/USEF National Reining Championships presented by Equine Motorcoach in Oklahoma City, Okla. Held during the annual NRHA Derby, the championships determined the nation's top reining horses and riders after a year of qualification.
Using portable fans and high-powered misters to cut the heat for competing horses, the event was able to care for the horses and athletes alike in the unseasonably warm temperatures. This, combined with air-conditioned show rings, ensured that competing horses were safe and helped top riders keep their cool under intense competition.
Internationally renowned reining star Craig Schmersal claimed the USEF Mahajan Trophy for the Open Reining Championship with a scorching score of 224 on the finals night. Riding Mr Dual Rey owned by Holly Casey of Mansfield, Ga., Schmersal showed poise and experience in his claim of the Gold medal.
"Holly is a fantastic owner, and we have a terrific relationship," said Schmersal. "I've been riding this horse for five or six years now, and he just keeps getting better and better."
Schmersal elaborated, "The [USEF National Championship] was an extremely nice set of horses, and I feel very fortunate to be on top in a class of very tough competitors."
Scoring 221.5, longtime contender and household name, Shawn Flarida was the Silver medalist with KR Lil Conquistador owned by Cheree Kirkbride of Ocala, Fla.
Flarida has already secured a place on the U.S. team that will represent the United States at the Kentucky Cup CRIO4*, the official reining test event for the 2010 World Equestrian Games. The Kentucky Cup Reining will be held this month at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky., July 21-23.
Bronze medalist Casey Deary scored a 219.5 aboard Custom Margarita owned by Steve Simon of Marietta, Okla.
The Adequan/USEF National Reining Championship also hosted a CRI* National Championship. The one-star competition runs concurrently with the Open Championship and is a developing program for riders who are not yet on the Reining Long List. Lakshami Mahajan of Grafton, Ohio, was named the 2009 Adequan/USEF CRI* National Champion and earns her way onto the Reining Long List, an important step in an athlete's quest to qualify for the WEG.
A special thank-you goes to Jerry Kimmel and his stallion, Dun Gotta Gun, for his continued support of reining competitions at the USEF and of the U.S. Reining Team. Kimmel supplied the prize money for the 2009 Adequan/USEF National Open Reining Championship presented by Equine Motorcoach.