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The First Woman to Win the NRHA Derby Open Division
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When the first woman to win the NRHA Derby, Kelly Zweifel, was growing up in Evansville, Wisconsin, she was determined to have a career training reining horses. Kelly’s parents, Ron and Suzy, were not enthusiastic. But Kelly was determined, and she pursued her goals at the University of Wisconsin, River Falls (UW-RF) with the guidance of Larry Kasten, recently retired Instructor of UW-RF Equine Science program.

Kelly Zweifel auf Master Snapper (Bild: NRHA USA)


Upon graduation, Kelly worked for renowned horseman Jack Brainard, then apprenticed with NRHA Two Million Dollar Rider and NRHA Hall of Fame member Tim McQuay. While working for Brainard, Kelly met Pietro Artinghelli and returned with him to his native country, Italy. For the past eight years, Kelly and Pietro have worked for Roberto Cuoghi at Impresa Agricola Cuoghi, a facility that has consistently bred, raised and/or trained winners. In European Reining competition, Kelly and Master Snapper have accumulated earnings of approximately 50,000 euros. Kelly and Roberto felt the time was right to ride in the US. It was a move they will not soon regret.


On Saturday night May 20th, Kelly, 34, became the first woman to win the NRHA Derby Open Division and Master Snapper became the first European born, bred, raised and trained horse to win the title. Kelly also earned another entry in the NRHA history books when she became the first rider to win the Open, Intermediate Open and Limited Open divisions in one Derby.

Kelly’s parents, and other family members, were on hand to watch her victory. “This was the first time they ever saw me show in real life,” she said. Kelly was cheered by enthusiastic spectators as she walked to the center of the arena to begin her Derby Finals’ ride and received a standing ovation when she completed her pattern. “I thought the standing ovation was really neat,” said Kelly. “It was really super special that my family was there to see it.”

Kelly and Master Snapper have already returned to Italy where they plan to compete in major NRHA-approved reinings such as the Americana in Germany and the Mallorca Western Festival in Spain.



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