The owner of Curtain Call, the 11th-placed finisher in the $100,000 ASG Software Solutions/USHJA International Hunter Derby, may be new to the hunter scene, but she’s hardly a novice equestrian.
One of the top women ropers competing in the American Quarter Horse Association, Shannon Reid also made a name for herself riding and owning top cow horses at the National Reined Cow Horse Association.
When her daughter Taylor caught sight of the hunters competing at an AQHA show, she begged her mother to give it a try. Soon enough Shannon and Taylor found themselves talking to hunter/jumper trainer Courtney Calcagnini—a perfect fit as Calcagnini’s husband Stephano specializes in reining horses.
Calcagnini tracked down Curtain Call to be Shannon’s first adult amateur hunter, but Shannon lost the ride before she’d even gotten to her first show.
“Her daughter [Taylor] and I stole him!” said Calcagnini. “She started showing him in the children’s, and I was doing him in the workings. We did a derby in Tyler [Texas] and had a blast, and we did a couple more. We didn’t even know there was a final until a few months ago.”
But after learning about the derby finals, Calcagnini, Pilot Point, Texas, and Shannon decided to take a trip to Kentucky.
“I’ve never had a horse who wanted to do his job so much,” said Calcagnini, who lay fourth after the classic round. “He’ll jump 2′ one day with Shannon and then 4′ with me, and he’s perfect for all of it. He was phenomenal the whole week. I made one mistake that knocked us down in the handy, but he was amazing.”
Calcagnini got her start in the hunters with trainers Mike McCormick and Tracy Fenney before cutting her teeth as a working student with fellow reining/ hunter/jumper crossover team Colleen and Tim McQuay. Though she focuses on the hunters, she keeps her mind open to other horsemanship techniques to help her with “Lorenzo” and her other charges.
“When I started I had no idea what reining was, or western, or any of it,” she said. “I thought, ‘Those people are ridiculous.’ Now I ride Lorenzo around the farm in a western saddle with rowelled spurs. If I have a problem with a horse I’m not afraid to give him to my husband to work with.”
Trainer Otis Brown of Tennessee traveled to Texas to help Calcagnini prior to the derby finals and provided advice in Kentucky that helped her to succeed with the Reid family’s chestnut.
“They’re such special people. I think that’s how they ended up with such an incredible horse so early on,” said Calcagnini. “They don’t put any pressure on me; they really deserve this. They were thrilled to be there—they’ve been to Quarter Horse World Shows and big reining championships, but Shannon, her husband [Hershel] and Taylor thought this was the most spectacular event they’d ever seen. They had tears in their eyes.”