The Nolan Watters Memorial Barrel Race was created to raise awareness and help open up conversations about suicide and depression. The 3rd annual event did not disappoint. Hosting over 942 runs over the 3 days in October came as no surprise to founder David Renier. After he lost his life partner Nolan Watters to suicide in October of 2015, Renier made the decision to host an event which brings awareness to mental illness and suicide, as well as its prevention. The Nolan Watters Memorial with $16,000 added, WCBRA approved, Epic two-day Barrel Race was a success. “Thanks to the support from key sponsors like Renew Gold, Spurr Ranch, AAA Arroyo Air, Usher Brand, The Rowdy Rose, Nutrena, Boot Barn, Professional Choice, Pala Casino, Triple Crown Feed, our amazing board of directors and the horse community, we were able to offer a race like no other in California once again,” exclaims Renier.
Held at Riverside Rancheros in Riverside, CA, on October 12, 13 and 14, 2018, the event boasted 942 entries over the three days. It paid out $81,079 and gave away over $30,000 worth of awards. Each day, division champions were awarded a beautiful Usher Brand buckle and reserve was given a gorgeous Rowdy Rose knife. All five divisions paid to 14thplace, and average prizes were awarded down to 5th. Additionally, each day had $5,500 added, with $5,000 added to the average. The cause was certainly enough to bring in the crowds of people, but the awards and money were an added bonus. “Our numbers stay high because we offer great payouts and awards. Having the whole weekend be WCBRA approved is huge, because our riders can literally get almost half their qualification runs in just one weekend!” says co-founder Virginia McClintock. The unexpected rain storm that hit Friday night and went through Saturday afternoon did not bring down the energy at this epic event. “Love and be loved” was the theme of this weekend, and even through the mud and hail everyone who attended kept up those spirits and smiles. Nolan’s loving and caring nature was evident all weekend as people remembered their friend as well as others that lost their fight against depression. “Thank you to everyone who put on this event. I can’t even begin to imagine how much work was put into planning and running this race. Such an amazing experience in an awesome atmosphere! Can’t wait till next year.” exclaims Brandi Wilson.
Rylea Platts riding JW Frenchmanicure (Frenchmans Guyx Famous Brandi), were not only the winners on Saturday with a time of 15.548, earning her $1,311.00, but took the top spot in the American Qualifier that night with the fastest time of the day after 360 runs on the amazing ground the tractor team worked hard on to maintain. Thirty-seven riders took part in the American Qualifier that ran Saturday night, during the Triple Crown Taco Party. The crowd watched in anticipation of who would be the top 10 advancing to the Semi Finals held Feb 24- Mar 1, 2019 at Cowtown Coliseum, Ft. Worth, TX.
“This was my first race to compete in California ever. I loved the placed. I thought it was a really cool facility. I thought the race was awesome.” Platts says, “Everyone one there was super nice and helpful throughout the whole race. I thought the ground was awesome for my horse. JW Frenchmanicure just floats above the ground, so it worked out great for us. There wasn’t anything they could of done about the rain.” She was very appreciative that they accommodated riders by letting them warm up in the main pen when they were tractoring since it was raining. Rylea wished she could have stayed to compete on Sunday; unfortunately, she had to go to work Monday morning. She adds, “This race was for a good cause, and I will definitely put it on my calendar for next year. Thank you to everyone who made this race possible it couldn’t of been easy.”
Kelsey Cadwell riding Shine On A Dime ran a smoking time of 15.338 to take the win on Sunday winning $1,162 and a beautiful Usher Brand belt buckle. Erin King was hot on her heels running a 15.352 on Streakin French Bullett winning $1,004, a Rowdy Rose knife and clinching the average title for the weekend with a 31.295, winning another $750, a custom Usher Brand saddle, Equerry’s Choice, Professional Choice boots, $50 Boot Barn gift card, HorseLogic bucket, Flair strip, Platinum gift certificate, Healthy Coat gallon and a Performance Microbial tub. Erin King had nothing but good to say about the event. “The energy at the Nolan Waters Race was incredible. You could feel the love!! Everyone was helpful, kind, thankful to be there, and cheering for each other, despite the rain!” King said, “I was honored to be apart of the race and just feel blessed to be able to ride this colt. He has tried 100% for me from day one and is so honest. It helps me to focus on me… that is really fun!”
Cassidy Champlin on Casady was close behind in the average with a 31.311 winning $648, a blue quad, Equerry’s Choice, $50 Riding Warehouse gift card, Flair strip, Classic Equine boots, Performance Microbial tube, and light wrap. Third place in the average was Seanna Inderbieten on Pavos Salero with a 31.417 winning $542, Back on Track blankets donated by Sherri Kastilahn Law Services, custom bronc halter by Amanda Warren, Equerry’s Choice, MVP, Flair strip and a Farm Vet gift card. This was a close average race, and all the competitors should be very proud of their amazing runs in some difficult weather.
The youth race never disappoints; this year was no exception. Eighty eight kids entered the two-day race and rode hard for that top spot in the average. Each D winner of the youth average was allowed to draw a key that could start a new blue quad! Karli Hunguenard on Nicki Will Do took the 1D Average spot with a 31.563 winning a custom Rowdy Rose belt buckle, Trikee Tack Best Ever pad, MVP, Flair strip, Renew Gold Bisquit and a key for a chance to start that new quad! Samantha Dye riding Tender Atina, a long time supporter of the Nolan Race took the 2D average win with a 33.609. Hope Balog on Beda Cheng Money was the 3D average champion, and Emily Frakes riding Martini was the 4D average champion with a 37.979.
The youth champions each drew a key in hopes that their key would start the quad. 4D champion Emily Frakes was first to try out her key and to her disbelief it started! Emily’s horse Biggie was hurt a few months ago, so her trainer Jamie Harris offered her Martini to ride at the event. This was Emily’s first buckle win and was even more excited about the buckle than the quad. “We have such an amazing group of kids that participate each year, and we are so proud of them,” says Munson. The youth average winners went home with some great prizes like electric scooters, Professional Choice hay bags, Classic Equine totes, tail bags, Flair strips and Renew Gold Bisquits.
The 2018 Equerry’s Youth Challenge, sponsored by Equerry’s Animal Health Solutions and created by the Board, challenged all the kids to get sponsorships outside the horse community all year long. Twelve kids participated this year, and they were given raffle tickets for some amazing prizes. Bella Pate, Emily & Allison Frakes, Laney DeNuzio, Rylea Ryan, Courntey Walters, Audrey Morton, Lily Ann Sjem, Rylee Cooper, JoJo Hagerstrom, Eryn Warren, Maddy Munson, and Lynlee Crist brought in over $7,600 in sponsorships! The board and our awesome sponsors made sure the kids had some great raffle prizes like Troxel helmets, Scosche speakers, art sets, head phones, Renew Gold Bisquits, and so much more. Six of the kids brought in over $1,000 each and were given one raffle ticket for the grand prize drawing of the blue Equerry’s quad, Disneyland tickets, a custom Mohair halter, Southpoint hotel room and a small drone. “These kids worked hard, and we were so proud of them,” said Denise Munson, “there is nothing harder than asking for money, and they did such an amazing job. I wish I could have given them all a quad! I can’t thank Russ at Equerry’s enough for helping us at least give every one of them something really cool.”
There were many activities throughout the weekend that added to this Epic event. Renew Gold Balance Dog Food donated 16lb. bags of dog food for the fastest rider in every drag for the entire weekend. “The Renew Gold Balance was a huge hit!” exclaimed Munson, “I’ve never had every fast drag award get picked up and the dog food was gone Sunday!” Not only did exhibitors get to run their horses for a chance at $16,000 in prize money, but other happenings made the occasion even more exciting. Saturday evening Triple Crown Feed hosted the annual taco social party. Thanks to Triple Crown’s support, riders and family were able to enjoy a taco dinner while watching the American Qualifier and getting their final bids on the Silent auction. Once again on Saturday from noon until 8:00 P.M., the silent auction was held and coordinated by volunteer, Jeannie Malone, who had spent a year gathering up items. She did an amazing job setting them all into a beautiful presentation to help earn money for the cause. The silent auction made over $9,000 and included some amazing items donated by the community and companies to ensure a great turn out for this worthy cause.
This year Tana Castro organized a new twist to the auction bringing in several large raffle items; contestants and spectators bought tickets and dropped them in the bucket of the item they hoped to win. Thanks to some wonderful sponsors there were some pretty amazing items. Riverside County Les Schwab dealers came together and donated a set of 4 tires. Other great items were a complete trailer/camping package, a custom wood bench made by Bob Jones and donated by Kathleen Quick, a custom wood ice chest party package donated by Jodi Brewer and made by Robbie England, and a Halloween goodie basket donated by Lennie Meyer. This was a big hit with the crowd, who had a lot of fun buying tickets in hopes of winning their favorite item.
The Board of Directors, including David Renier, Denise Munson, Virginia McClintock, Tana Castro, and Jamie Harris, workied like a “well-oiled machine.” As Munson says, the board was the driving force behind the event and assured that everything went off without a hitch. The event couldn’t happen without the help of some amazing volunteers who assisted in all of the “behind-the-scenes” action. “We had so many wonderful people that helped us with everything from office work to picking up trash,” says Munson. “Without them this event would not happen. We can’t thank them enough.” Culp Shirley, Eric Munson and Jimmy Daurio prepped the course and ran the tractor all weekend making sure that the ground was perfect for each and every rider. Tina Shaw spent 12 hours a day in the office writing times and making sure things ran quickly. Rachael Ross and Adam Horde ran the office impeccably the entire weekend, helping check riders in, answering questions, doing payouts, and so much more. “ I love helping, and for such a great cause. I look forward to it every year and look forward to the next one.” Adam says.Adam of Cabrillo Home Mortgage was a sponsor once again for the added money in the side pots each day.
The Nolan Watters Memorial partnered once again with the “With Hope Foundation”; both nonprofit organizations are dedicated to suicide prevention through improving mental health support services and education throughout our community. “With Hope” provides services such as programs for school-age students to educate about mental illness. www.withhopefoundation.org.
This year Nolan Watters Memorial decided to add S.A.W., Save a Warrior, into their donation fold. Twenty-two veterans lose their battle with depression every day. S.A.W. is a nationally-recognized program, offering novel, judgment-free solutions to returning Veterans, Active Duty Service Members, and First Responders with Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS). www.saveawarrior.org.
Photos and videos are so important to barrel racers everywhere. This event had the best of both. Mark Blakely who takes his personal time to sit for hours to shoot each and every rider. “Mark’s photos make an event so much more special,” says Denise, “We all appreciate him more than he knows. It’s so wonderful to see Facebook lit up for weeks after this event with the Nolan barrels on all his photos.” There may have been over 500 riders and spectators at the event all weekend; thanks to Jeff Frietas of wwwjfvideo.com hundreds more were able to watch the event from home with his live webcast all three days. Jeff offers riders a professional quality video of their run in regular and slow motion for only $15. He also had his timing reports available to show contestants how their run compares with the top three riders each day. Liz Pino gives thanks, “Big thank you to this event. Wow such fun. Thank you to Mark Blakley you are the MAN! You make all of us look even better! Thank you to JVF video I am stoked to see my runs! Thank you to all the Nolan Watters staff. It’s hard work and you guys ROCK!!”
“These charities truly save lives and that is why we do this event,” Board of Director member and event coordinator Denise Munson says. “We are so excited to have raised $30,000+ again this year, and it feels awesome knowing that all our hard work will help so many.” Some of the money raised from the event will be used to support therapy for people who are unable to afford the help they need. “We were saddened this year by so many people that have lost loved ones to this horrible disease,” says Munson, “ we can’t stress enough the importance of helping those who suffer from mental illness or depression.”
This event is so much more than just a barrel race. “Thank you just doesn’t seem like enough to say for the crew that is so dedicated to making this event a success! It is such an important cause today and so many are affected. Thank you for all that you all do! What a great race this year! Can’t wait till next year!” says Julie Lane. Everyone who attends this epic event is there to support the cause, and you can feel the energy flow throughout the entire weekend. “This was our first time running this event, and we couldn’t be happier. Great staff and photographer (Mark Blakley), amazing barrel racers, and some very helpful folks, who went out of their way to rescue us from the mud. And the best part is it’s such a worthy cause. I felt so blessed to be a part of this, and will be back next year. With all my heart, THANK YOU!!” from Nancy McIntyre.Love and be loved.
Thank you to our Epic Sponsors: Renew Gold, Spurr Ranch, AAA Arroyo Air, Professional Choice, Triple Crown Feed, Pala Casino, Running Horse Feed, Sherri Kastilahn law Services, Bernardo Winery, Nutena, Bootbarn, The Rowdy Rose, Horseman’s News, Horse Logic, Luther Construction, Healthy Coat, Summit Equipment, Creekside Vet, Oxy-Gen, Equerry’s, Diamond Bar Arena, Horseman’s News, MVP and so many more.
See you for next year’s Nolan Watters Memorial Barrel Race. For additional information, visit the Nolan Watters Memorial Barrel Race page on Facebook, the web site www.NolanWattersMemorial.org or contact us firstname.lastname@example.org.