US Equestrian is pleased to introduce the U.S. teams for the 2019 SVAG FEI Reining World Championships for Young Riders & Juniors, which takes place July 9-13 in Givrins, Switzerland. This talented group of young athletes hopes to gain valuable experience under the guidance of Chef d’Equipe Jeff Petska. At the 2017 edition of the championships, the U.S. Junior Team earned the silver medal. This year, both the U.S. Junior Team and the U.S. Young Rider Team hope to finish on the podium as they represent their country against some of the best young reining athletes in the world.
Charles Owen, the USEF’s Official Helmet Supplier and Safety Partner, has provided Ayrbrush helmets for the Junior Team members. The U.S. Junior and Young Rider Teams also will compete in shirts from Ariat, the USEF’s Official Footwear and Apparel Partner.
U.S. Junior Reining Team
Meet Sarah Armenta
Date of birth: March 6, 2002
Hometown: Whitesboro, Texas
High school: Whitesboro High School
University: Verbally committed to Texas Christian University’s equestrian team beginning in the 2020 academic year.
Trainer: Casey Hinton
Equestrian accomplishments: Making it into the finals in all four of the following events at the 2018 American Quarter Horse Association Youth World Championship Show: reined cow horse boxing, cutting, reining, and performance halter.
What she loves about her horse: My horse’s name is Gun Smoke Denis; we just call him Dennis. The thing I most love about him is his laid-back personality. He may be a stud, but you wouldn’t know it by the way he acts. Dennis loves his apples and bananas and also enjoys sitting in front of his fan most of the day and watching the world go by.
Equestrian goals: My goals are to make the finals in any major events that I show.
Most memorable competition moment: My most memorable moment would be making the American Quarter Horse Youth Association World Championship Show finals in cutting after only participating in it for four months.
Favorite television show: Grey's Anatomy
Favorite non-equestrian sport to watch: Volleyball
Meet Mattie Gustin
Date of birth: January 27, 2003
Hometown: Aledo, Texas
High School: Aledo High School
Trainer: Casey Deary
Equestrian accomplishments: 2018 Limited Non Pro Reserve World Champion; 2018 National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Derby Non Pro/Intermediate Non Pro/Limited Non Pro Slate 1 Champion; 2018 American Quarter Horse Youth Association (AQHYA) World Championship Show Top 10; 2018 North American Affiliate Championships (NAAC) Limited Non Pro Reserve Champion
What she loves about her horse: Avatar and I have been a team now for four years. He has definitely changed my life and made me a better rider! He can be very stubborn at times, but he never holds a grudge. We continue to learn together, and I wouldn’t trade him for the world.
Over time, we learned that Avatar has many quirks! He is very talented with his lips and can open almost any gate or stall door. One of his favorite things to do is to pull things off racks or fences. Anything that is hanging and within Avatar’s reach is sure to be pulled down to the ground. I quickly learned not to put my show shirt anywhere near Avatar as he likes to pull shirts off the hangers and put them in his water bucket!
Equestrian goals: My goals as an equestrian are to ride for a National Collegiate Athletic Association equestrian team and to compete in derby-aged events and maturities.
Other interests: I am a student athletic trainer at my high school and plan on becoming a physical therapist.
Most memorable competition moment: My most memorable moment was at the 2017 NRHA Futurity and NAAC Championships. I was showing in the Intermediate Non Pro and remember having so much fun during my run with Avatar with no worry in the world. When my score was announced as 218, I was ecstatic. That is our highest score. My mom went crazy and wouldn’t stop screaming. I was so happy and couldn’t stop smiling for the rest of the day.
Favorite television show: One Tree Hill
Favorite non-equestrian sport to watch: Football
Meet Emma Lane
Date of birth: October 14, 2002
Hometown: Gates, N.C.
High school: Ridgecroft School, Ahoskie, N.C.
Equestrian accomplishments: 2018 National Reining Breeders Classic seven-and-up challenge reserve champion, 2017 SVAG FEI Reining World Championships for Young Riders and Juniors junior team silver medalist, 2016 National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Youth World Champion, Multiple All American Quarter Horse Congress Champion
What she loves about her horse: His nickname is Grumpy. My family got him when he was four years old, and he has been spoiled ever since. At 11 years old, he continues to be honest in the show ring and dependable
Equestrian goals: To compete in as many NRHA events, including Futurities and Derbies, as I can and to compete on the University of South Carolina equestrian team in 2020
Most memorable competition moment: During my run at the 2017 FEI Reining World Championships for Juniors individual final, I had an unfortunate mishap. I was upset, but so many people that I did not know from all these different countries came up to me and tried to comfort me. Everyone was so nice. This is also one of the reasons I love reining.
If she could compete in another equestrian discipline: Jumping
Interests outside of riding: High school basketball and volleyball, going to the beach, offshore fishing, and hanging out with friends
Favorite television show: Friends
Favorite non-equestrian sport to watch: Baseball
Meet Raeanna Thayn
Date of birth: June 3, 2004
Hometown: Tioga, Texas
High school: Homeschooled
Trainer: Kole Price
Equestrian accomplishments: In 2019, Level 4 National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Non Pro Derby finalist. In 2017 and 2018, North American Affiliate Championships (NAAC) 13 and Under Champion. In 2017, NRHA Non Pro Derby Level 1, 2, and Youth Reserve Champion. In 2016, NRHA World Standings, 13 and Under Top 10. In 2015, 13 and Under Top 5.
What she loves about her horse: Coded N Karma is an eight-year-old Quarter Horse gelding by Electric Code out of Whiz N Snap. I love how Karma is always consistent in the show pen and just overall a great horse for me! I feel so blessed to own him!
Equestrian goals: To be a top-20 non pro, to ride on an equestrian team in college, and to make Level 4 Finals at all major NRHA events.
Most memorable competition moment: The 2019 NRHA Non Pro Derby. I made my first Level 4 Derby Finals with a horse (Coded N Color) we bred and raised!
Interests outside of riding: Photography, sports cars, interior design
Favorite television show: Yellowstone
Favorite non-equestrian sport to watch: Football
U.S. Young Rider Reining Team
Meet Dani Latimer
Date of birth: Jan. 13, 2001
Hometown: Marietta, Okla.
High school: Marietta High School
Equestrian accomplishments: Multiple National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Derby, Futurity, and NRBC Non Pro Finalist. In 2019, CRIYR champion at the Carolina Classic. Two-time NRHA North American Affiliate Championships (NAAC) youth 14-18 champion at NRHA Futurity. In 2018, American Quarter Horse Youth Association (AQHYA) World Championship Show qualifier, bronze trophy in Level 2. In 2017, FEI Young Rider Team USA. Multiple NRHA and OKRHA ancillary class championships and reserve championships. Year-end winner of OKRHA classes, top 10 NRHA Non Pro and Youth classes. Two-time silver medalist at Tulsa Reining Classic in the USEF Reining Youth National Championship.
What she loves about her horse: The horse I will be showing at the 2019 FEI World Championships is from Italy, so I will be meeting “Ninjo” at the show. He is an honest horse, so I can’t wait to meet him!
Equestrian goals: To be a positive rider, with best intentions for the horse. I set goals to always show competitively and smart, and to cheer my friends on to do their best. My goals when riding at home are to accomplish little things that could be a big step for certain horses.
Most memorable competition moment: Showing in Switzerland for the first time in 2017 was really memorable, because as a team we all learned that goals can’t be accomplished unless it’s done as a team. My most recent special moment would be winning the 2018 NAAC youth 14-18 on my last time showing Sparklin Nite.
Interests outside of riding: I enjoy going to the lake, watching movies, spending time with friends and family, watching basketball, listening to music, and going to concerts! I try finding fun in most situations and love learning new things!
Favorite television show: Anything on Netflix
Favorite non-equestrian sport to watch: NBA basketball or college football
Meet Cade McCutcheon
Date of birth: May 22, 2000
Hometown: Aubrey, Texas
High school: Aubrey High School
Trainer: Tom and Mandy McCutcheon, Tim and Colleen McQuay
Equestrian accomplishments: At age 18, named to the U.S. Reining Squad for the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018, making him the youngest ever U.S. athlete to represent reining at the competition; the team ultimately won gold, and McCutcheon took individual bronze. In 2018, CRIJ3* individual champion at Winter Slide with Custom Made Gun. Member of the 2017 Platinum Performance Young Rider team at the FEI Young Riders Team Competition in Givrins, Switzerland. Won 2017 USEF Reining Youth National Championship at the Tulsa Reining Classic with REF Sturgis. Youngest competitor to win the Level 4 National Reining Horse Association Non Pro Derby with Custom Made Gun in 2015 at 15 years old.
Equestrian goals: I hope to be on the Young Rider team for the [FEI Reining World Championship for Young Riders and Juniors] this year again. [Two years ago] we got beat, so this year I want to take home the team and individual gold medals! Of course, I would love to be on another WEG team and try to win another team gold.
What he loves about his horse, Smart Little Dunnit: His calm demeanor.
Most memorable competition moment: Winning team gold and individual bronze at the 2018 WEG
Favorite non-equestrian sport to watch: Basketball
Meet Taylor Zimmerman
Date of birth: July 14, 2001
Hometown: Rogersville, Mo.
High school: Logan-Rogersville High School
Trainer: Bobby Avila, Jr.
Equestrian accomplishments: 2015 American Quarter Horse Youth Association (AQHYA) Reining World Champion, 2015 National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Youth Non Pro Futurity Champion, 2016 National Reining Breeders Classic Level 1 Reserve Non Pro Champion, 2016 AQHYA Reining Bronze Champion, 2017 NRBC Non Pro Prelims High Score, 2018 AQHYA World Champion and Reserve World Champion in reining
What she loves about her horse: Wimpys Dolled Up (“Peaches”) is definitely the best horse I have ever had. She has taught me so much as a rider. Everyone that has met her loves her. She has the most fun and adventurous spirit.
Equestrian goals: My goal as an equestrian is to be able to breed, raise, and train my own horse.
If she could compete in another equestrian discipline: Working cowhorse
Other interests: Outside of reining, I enjoy tennis and family events.
Most memorable competition moment: Last year when I won first and second at the AQHYA World Championship Show was my most memorable moment.
Favorite television show: The Bachelor/The Bachelorette
Favorite non-equestrian sport to watch: Tennis