It's not usual to see interviews with such great trainers.
Andrea Fappani is considered to be currently one of the best reiners.
He is the first European rider to win the prestigious NRHA Open
Futurity and multiple NRHA Derby and Futurity. We invite you to
discover our exclusive interview with Andrea.
He started riding horses as a child. Reining was a love on a first
sight for him. He earned his first titles in Italy, where he won
two Non Pro Reserve Champion titles at the Italian Futurity and
was twice Derby and Maturity Champion. After finishing his studies,
he went to the States, where he was working for John Slack and
Todd Bergen. Aboard his own horse he won the Non Pro division
at the West Coast Spectacular. Four month later he was crowned
NRHA Limited Non Pro Futurity Champion.
After a 10-month break, when Andrea had to return to Italy for
military service, he went to Medford, Oregon, to work with Todd
Bergen. In 2000 he won the NRHA Intermediate Open Futurity. One
year later he guided RR Star to the Open Championship title thus
becoming the first European rider to win the NRHA Open Futurity.
This success allowed him to make a decision of running his own
business. Since then, he is always at the top of almost every
single reining show.
- We always start with presenting the rider to our
readers. Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself,
about how did you get involved with horses and reining? I grew up on a dairy farm which my father owns. When
I was young I rode English. I was nine I started riding reining
horses and I was hooked. I won numerous titles as a non pro in
Italy. Once I was finished with high school I came to the states
to ride with John Slack and Todd Bergen. I was the 1997 MEC Non
pro Futurity Champion and the NRHA Limited Non Pro Champion. I
had to go back to Italy for the mandatory military service and
returned to the states in 1999 to work for Todd Bergen in Medford
- You are working in USA for several years. Please tell us what
pushed you to move there. What is for you the biggest difference
between Europe and USA? It has always been my dream to show and be competitive
in the states. I started spending my summers with different trainers
when I was a teenager in the states. My family has always been
very supportive of me and that has helped a lot. I moved to the
states to be with the best of the best in reining.
- Do you think that there are any differences in how reining horses
are trained in Europe and in USA? I feel that the horses in Europe are trained for the
maneuvers, there´s not the horsemanship involved. I
learned there is a lot more a horse stopping big and turning big.
We always ask riders about their mentors. Do you have a trainer
that you can say he is your mentor? Do you have any favorite riders/trainers
from USA or Europe? I always look up to Todd Bergen. He has such ability
in the show pen and can adapt to different types of horses.
- In Europe people often say than Italian riders have their
own style of showing reining horses. What do you think about it?
Is there really an Italian reining style? Some of the Italian ( European) riders can be too aggressive
and it looks dirty in the show pen.
- You are the first European rider to win the NRHA Open Futurity.
Please tell us how it was to win the most important reining show?
Tell us also a little bit more about RR Star. It was an honor to win the NRHA Futurity. RR Star will
always be one of my favorites because he made my dream come true.
He has had some health problems which is a shame, but it sounds
like he is doing well now. I look forward to riding his babies.
In last few years you always finish the NRHA Derby and Futurity
among the top riders. For a reining fan these are great results.
Are you satisfied with your achievements? Are there any mistakes
take you could have avoided or have you had higher expectations
for any of your horses? As for any competitor, you are never really satisfied
unless you win and sometimes when you win you think you could
have done better. I look at my mistakes as a lesson learned. Of
course I always try to be professional and avoid them before they
- Your wife Tish is showing reiners in Non Pro disivision. Do
you work together on preparing her horses? Do you often exchange
your oppinions about your training methods and showing horses? My wife grew up riding and showing horses. We actually
met in OKC at the futurity in 1996. Tish rides and trains her
own. Every now and then I will try them. We both give each other
advice and are honest about what looks good and what doesn´t.
year you were NRHA Open Futurity Reserve Champion with Big Chex
To Cash. Please tell us more about this horse. Will you show him
in aged events this year? Yes, I will show Big Chex To Cash at the aged special
events this year. We ( 23 Partnership ) decided to breed him to
limited number of mares for 2006 and will stand him in 2007 open
more to the public. We feel it is very important to get his babies
on the ground while he is still in his prime. He is from a very
strong family and hope that he throws to his babies his mind and
athletic abilities. I have ridden his older brother Hot Smokin
Chex and have his younger brother and sister.
- Do you already know which horses will you show at the 2006
Futurity? When do you start working with futurity prospects? How
many times do you usually show them prior to the Futurity in Oklahoma
City? No, I don´t know which horses I will show at the
2003 Futurity. I start riding my prospects as 2 year olds, once
the have about 60-90 days on them. I like having the opportunity
to spend 2 years on them rather than doing everything in a year.
I think it´s much easier on them too. By the time
they are 3 year olds I will weed out the ones that don´t
have it ( at least to be competitive with me in the open ). I
usually have about 5 3 yr olds that I will show at the pre futurities
then I will choose. Some I will show only once, others a couple
times. I do haul them out in the beginning of their 3 yr old year
to start getting them used to being away from home.
are you looking for when choosing a reining prospect? What is
the most important for you in a reining horse? Do you have a favorite
reining sire or is there a reining line that you particularly
like? When I choose a prospect, I look at how they are on the
ground to on their backs. I feel a good minded colt is easier
to train. Breeding is important, but I will admit I have been
very successful on horses that weren’t sired by the trendiest
studs at the time. I will try anything and everything; you
just never know when you´ll come across a great one.
you could have a ride on any horse from history which one you
would choose and why?
Boomernic and Trashadeous are a couple of my favorites from the
past they were freaky and looked like a blast to show.
- What are your plans for the 2006 season? Of course my priority is showing here in the states.
It´s hard to say what my schedule will be at the time.
Photos: Waltenberry, photos of Chocolate Chic Olena courtesy of
Ms. Carter Smith Ellingson