The National Snaffle Bit Association's fourth Riders Cup event has attracted Non-Pro and Open riders looking to earn part of the $85,000 in payout for this year's event. This year's Riders Cup is being held in the West for the first time during the Arizona Sun Circuit AQHA circuit at West World in Scottsdale, Arizona..

Trainers Are Key

This unique all-breed futurity operates in a similar fashion to the Breeders Championship Futurity, in that the purse is funded through participant nominations. Trainers who donate one month's training and are sold through the NSBA Trainer Sale are eligible to participate in the Riders Cup. Owners then declare their nomination under the name of a sold trainer.

Also similar to the BCF program, the nominated trainer receives 20 percent of the purse from each of the money-earning entries shown under their nomination. It's one of the few futurity events that awards cash in Showmanship, Horsemanship and Hunt Seat Equitation as well as Trail and Western Riding in addition to Hunter Under Saddle and Western Pleasure classes.

2018 is the first time the program has been offered in the West. "It's always been our goal to offer the Riders Cup program at different locations to allow members in all parts of the country to benefit," noted Dianne Eppers, NSBA executive director. "In the past we've held the Riders Cup at the World Equestrian Center in Wilmington, Ohio, and in Perry, Georgia during the Georgia Classic."

Following A Money Trail

Trail exhibitors earned the first pay checks of the 2018 Riders Cup on Tuesday morning when the Open Trail classes were held at West World.

Kelly McDowall showed Moonlite Madnez to win Green Trail for owner Natalia Devencenty, earning an estimated $824.

"This is only the fifth time he's shown in Trail, and its brand new to him," Kelly said. "We got him from Aaron Moses last year at the NSBA World Show, and Bruce Vickery and Anthony Montes also helped with him."

Known as Moonie, the four year old gelding is by Only In The Moonlight and out of a Zippo Pine Chex mare. "We're working up to making him Natalia's next All Around horse," Kelly said.

"I thought this course was hard for the young horses. It had a lot of steering, but thankfully this one had a good foundation with Aaron, Bruce and Anthony, because I haven't had a lot of time to work on that with him yet."

In Junior Trail, Troy Lehn took Zippin A Breeze to the win for owner Alexandra Chavez, earning an estimated $1,060, while Heza Radical Zip teamed with Jason Martin to win Senior Trail for Bonnie Sheren, taking an estimated check of $1,200 for first.

Jason also commented on the Tim Kimura course. "The pattern today had a lot of transitions, and a lot of steering," he said. "But we had such a great group of horses. Any one of them could have won it. But Troy is such a great horse - I call him the Perfect Pony. I just try to stay out of his way."

Exhibitors were excited to earn a paycheck in the Trail events at the Riders Cup. "I love it," Kelly said. "I think it's great, because we don't always get to earn money in these classes. I think as more people understand the concept of the Riders Cup, these classes will really grow."

Dollars For Horsemanship 

Katherine Tobin was surprised to find herself the last one standing in the arena in the Riders Cup Amateur Select Horsemanship. "This was a really tough class," she said. "I was ready to step out of line basically starting with tenth place because everyone had a good ride in the pattern. It was a nice surprise."

Kathy showed RA Undisputed to the win, earning an estimated $800. "I really love being able to earn money in our pattern classes. Especially in Select Horsemanship, we don't have that many opportunities to earn a futurity pay check. I hope everyone else sees it and joins us," she said.

Hunting Money In Hunter Under Saddle

Shannon McCulloch Bacon guided her four year old double-registered gelding, WPQ Making It Always, to the win in the Limited Open Hunter Under Saddle, showing for owner Amy Floyd-Judson. They earned an estimated check of $1,350.

"We bought him at the Congress last year from Wade and Laura Spell," she said. "They had shown him mostly in APHA shows, but we show more AQHA shows, so we have lots of options for him. He's a big mover and has a sweet personality. Amy's daughter Samantha will be showing him in the Non-Pro futurity classes."

In the $2,500 Limited Horse Open Hunter Under Saddle, Beth Case showed Couture Blue Genes to first and an estimated $1,160 for Debbie Hodde. "He's super nice, and he just got started last September so he's come a long way in a short period of time," Beth said of the gelding by Allocate Your Assets and out of the show mare Only Blue Couture.

"He's going to be really fun when he gets more broke. We've qualified him for the AQHA World Show in Junior Hunter Under Saddle, and Debbie is working to qualify in Amateur. He'll be doing a few shows and he's eligible for the Green (Level 1) classes."

In only their second time to show, Only After You and Katie Buff won an estimated $770 and first in the Three and Four Year Old Non-Pro Hunter Under Saddle. "He's three years old, by Blazing Hot and out of Only Ever After," she said.

"He was raised by Capital Quarter Horses. He didn't want to go slow, so we said let's make him a Hunter Under Saddle horse. My boyfriend Andy Cochran started him but then I did most of the work on him. It's my first time back showing after seven years, after going to college and working."

Cashing In On Pleasure

Western Pleasure riders also earned their share of the Riders Cup cash on Tuesday.

Andrea Kail showed A Good N Hot Machine to win the $2,500 Limited Rider Open Western Pleasure for owner Ernest Branson, and got an estimated $840 pay check. "I've loved this horse for a long, long time," Andrea said.

"It's really special to get to show her because the Bransons took me in when I was riding at Highpoint with Jason Martin and Charlie Cole. I showed her at the NSBA World Show last year, and they asked me if I wanted to show her this year, and I said are you kidding me? She's a lot of fun to show."

William "Bill" Cox earned an estimated $991 as the champion of Amateur Select Western Pleasure with Sleep Machine. "It felt pretty good," Bill said.

"It was a small but very tough class, and I've had a hard time getting around a couple of the horses in this class. We had a really nice ride.

"We are working on Select Amateur and Senior Western Pleasure this year, and we are starting on Western Riding. They're going to see if they can teach this old dog new tricks. I'm pretty excited about it.".

Aaron Moses picked up where he left off last fall with his Congress champion, Lope With Grace, winning the Three Year Old Open Western Pleasure and earning an estimated $1,200 for BS Quarter Horses.

"She just keeps getting better and better," he said. "She's getting more broke and stronger. She's such a nice horse, and I really love showing her."

Bred and raised by Halle Baldwin and her family, the mare will be showing in Three Year Old Open and Non-Pro Western Pleasure futurities this year. "This is our first futurity show out this year," Aaron said. "We're excited to show her this year. Halle is doing great with her too."

The Riders Cup continues on Wednesday with Showmanship, Hunt Seat Equitation, Horsemanship, Western Riding, and Non-Pro Trail classes as well as Hunter Under Saddle and Western Pleasure.