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It's a Wrap - Scottdale 2014 - ARHA Arabian and Half-Arabian Futurity Reining Classic

Special thanks to all of our exhibitors, generous sponsors, supporters and hard-working staff for making this show a fantastic Tenth Anniversay Celebration!


The ARHA Arabian and Half-Arabian Futurity Reining Classic celebrates a tenth anniversary with this Scottsdale Show and this event is marking far more than time. Indeed, realizing ten years is a significant achievement and a credit to all who believed from the very beginning. However, from the perspective of Joe Betten, who together with Tom Redmond and Dick Ames, is regarded as one the "Three Founding Fathers" of the Futurity, the reality may well have surpassed the dream.

"The quality of the horses showing this year reflects nearly a complete change over this decade," states Betten with pride. "If you lined up the horses from that first event with the competitors here now, we've got a completely different horse. And the quality of our trainers has grown up with our horses."

"The Show this year has a much deeper group of riders than ever before," he continues. "When we started we hoped to attract some top Quarter Horse people - and this year, they're here!"

A vision come to life - what a tribute to the first decade.

As a side note to a big difference between 2013 and 2014, the desert sun is shining, the weather is beautiful and Michelle and Joe Betten are not wearing their warm jackets from last year. photo top right


Frank Costantini, a past president of NRHA and NRHF along with numerous other equine industry credits, offered a single word assessment of the ARHA Arabian and Half-Arabian Futurity Reining Classic, "Fantastic!" A horse show veteran of many years, it is safe to say he knows horse shows.

"Now others are grasping what is happening here," Costantini continues. "Top level NHRA trainers are here because everyone sees that it doesn't matter what the bred, what really matters is the quality. And the quality is evident here as never before."

He is very impressed with what ARHA has accomplished here in working with NRHA. "This event speaks well to the biggest challenge facing the equine industry today, that of getting young people involved. This really shows what reining has to offer."

In Costantini's view the facility improvements over the past ten years have been a major boost to the elevation of the show. He credits the work of Westworld general manager, Brian Dygert, in upgrading of the venue and giving the reining competition the support to thrive.


Kyle's Tack first setup their mobile tack shop at the ARHA Futurity Reining Classic eight years ago. When asked what is different about the 2014 show, Marshall Kyle replied with a belly laugh, "The weather!" Indeed, everyone is pleased with the idyllic desert weather this year, especially given that the 2013 Show enjoyed an unusual sample of desert winter. Thankfully, Mother Nature is providing perfectly beautiful conditions for the tenth anniversary celebration of this event.

Kyle, whose tack shop boasts a great view of Wells Fargo Advisors Arena action, offered his assessment of the competition just before going into finals weekend. "This always a good show, but it is only getting better and better. The quality of horses and tremendous showmanship is impressive. Scores this year are close to NHRA average scores, not only in the Half-Arab classes but in purebred too."

Kyle went on to compliment the work of the staff in maintaining good ground in the ring and excellent conditions throughout the show area. "The staff here works to be certain everyone has fun. There's always help around and it's a great atmosphere. This show has really stepped up, and we're glad to be here again - for more than just the nice weather," he laughs.

Tim Anderson and Marshall Kyle pictured above.


Terry Thompson of Aubry, TX judged the ARHA Futurity Reining Classic four years ago. A NHRA judge for some 40 years, he holds eight judging cards, including FEI and quarter horse. His impressions of the tenth anniversary show reflect a view from eyes of a seasoned professional yet they echo the impressions of nearly everyone at the event this year.

""Everything is just better - better horses, better training, better breeding, better education. There are no gray areas here; the improvement is four times better, it's all positive." Thompson believes education has improved the competition. "Arabian people now have a better understanding of what makes a good reining horse, which in turn culls the competition but produces a higher level event," he explains.

In his view, reining is going to continue to grow, in good part because of the NHRA scoring system that is perceived by the competitors as fair, not a "sound up" system. "When people have a choice of disciplines in which to compete, they need to feel they have a fair chance to win and the NRHA system offers an appealing level of fairness that encourages participation." "Everyone should think about coming here, this Futurity has delivered," he states flatly.


Restaurant menu lingo took on a completely different meaning this past Christmas when Chicago Chef Rebecca LaMalfa-Lents opened her Christmas gift from her mother, Phyllis. No ugly Christmas sweater in this package! Instead Rebecca found one of those "dream-come-true gifts" that lasts forever in memory for all involved. To her complete surprise, she found that she was returning to the reining horse competition for the Arabian and Half-Arabian Futurity Reining Classic at the Scottsdale Show. She was entered in the competition riding Phantom Smoke, a Half-Arabian mare owned by Alexis Hedley of Paradise Valley and trained by Crystal McNutt.

A seasoned competitor, now 32, Rebecca made her first show ring appearance at the age of four. Like her mother, horses were just simply part of her life, she and her mother showed together, worked the horses together, dreamed about horses together. She won National Champion honors in Youth competition. While she was away in college, the beloved horse she had shown with such great success died. Her mother was unable to break the news for nearly three months because she knew the pain the loss would create.

Losing her horse took Rebecca from the ring for a while and after college, advancing her career as a prize-winning Chef required numerous relocations. However, through all of her moves, she joined her mom as show management support for Scottsdale and for the AHBA World Cup in Las Vegas. Last fall Rebecca married acclaimed Chef Tom Lents and while she is very comfortable in the cooking world, horses are a completely new experience for him.

Thus the "Chef's Surprise" Christmas gift was truly a surprise - and to more than one Chef. Excited and thrilled as she was, the gift presented quite a challenge. No time or opportunity for riding reiners in Chicago and barely time to arrive in Scottsdale late night before the first day of the Show.

Very little practice time was available, their first class was on Saturday. "Saturday was really a get-acquainted ride," explained Rebecca. "We learned a lot about each other and what to expect."

Sunday provided the ultimate outcome for Christmas wishes and Chef's surprises, Rebecca and Phantom Smoke claimed the Half Arabian Limit Rider Championship in a class of 19 competitors.

Just another example of the great "back side stories" at this year's Arabian and Half-Arabian Futurity Reining Classic.

2013 Nationals Winners Archieve click here

Archived News [click here]