Ralston Wins USEF Open Reining Qualifier in Denver

Aaron Ralston won the USEF Open Reining Championship Qualifier aboard Smart Paul Olena at the National Western Stock Show in Denver, Colo., on Jan. 10.

Jan. 24, 2005 — Aaron Ralston captured the win in the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Open Reining Championship Qualifier at the National Western Stock Show in Denver, Colo., on Jan. 10. The International Reining Competition (CRI) was the second in the USEF series, but the first for the Carbondale, Colo., resident, who defeated a group of veterans on Smart Paul Olena.

“It’s amazing to be able to compete with the likes of these guys,” said Ralston. “I am happy just to compete with them let alone beat them. My horse was the reason I did so well.”

Smart Paul Olena belongs to Ralston’s wife Meg Griffith-Ralston who rides the 11-year-old stallion in Non Pro classes, which has created a problem. Ralston plans to compete in the USEF Open Championship and hopes to fill one of two coveted spots at the FEI World Reining Masters Final in Italy this fall, which would mean that Griffith-Ralston would not have a horse to show.

“I’m holding the reins now,” said Ralston. “We caught a great wave and are going to try and hang on and see what happens. My wife won’t mind.”

Ralston received an impressive score of 221 and a check for $2,485.40. Another local rider, Shane Kelly of Elbert, Colo., and RS La Rooso, owned by Gail Klapper, finished in the silver medal winning position, scoring 219.5. Recent gold medal winner at the FEI World Reining Masters, Todd Crawford of Blanchard, Okla., settled for bronze this time with a score of 218.5 on Cowboy Smarts, owned by Jim Babcock.

The USEF qualifying season continues with the Gordyville Breeders Cup in Gifford, Ill., March 17-20 and ends with the National Reining Breeders Classic in Katy, Texas, April 21-24. The USEF Open Reining Championship will take place in Lexington, Ky., August 23-28, as part of Fiesta in the Park, a new mega show that features an entire slate of reining and hunter-jumper classes.

USEF Open Reining Qualifier Results

National Western Stock Show, Denver, Colo.

Rider, Horse, Score, Earnings

1. Aaron Ralston, Smart Paul Olena, 221, $2,485.40

2. Shane Kelley, RS La Rooso, 219. 5, $1,973.70

3. Todd Crawford, Cowboy Smarts, 218.5, $1,462.00

4. Jason Grimshaw (CAN), Setting Off Sparks, 216.5, $731.00

5. Pete Kyle, Tejons Impy, 216, $657.00

6. Todd Crawford, Tinsel NIC, 215

7. Dr. Steve Schwartzenberger, Shine A Whey, 214

8. Casey Hinton, Sunrise Enterprise, 213

9. Bob Poplin, Hesa Sonofa Dun, 212.5

10. Shane Allen Brown, Here I Whiz, 212

11. Casey Hinton, Bueno Starlight, 208.5

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