It’s a phenomenon that’s ignited a resurgence in western culture around the country, and arguably around the globe. Few in the equine industry today are unfamiliar with Taylor Sheridan’s sphere of influence through his Academy Award-nominated films and the hugely popular television series, Yellowstone, and spinoffs 1883, and 1923, among many others. Sheridan is also responsible for the reality television series The Last Cowboy, which chronicles the industry’s best reining trainers in their quest to top the leaderboard at The Run for A Million, an elite reining competition held at Las Vegas’ South Point Hotel & Casino.
Launched in 2019, The Run For A Million was the first of its kind reining event, promising a million dollar purse–the largest in the sport’s history. In just four short years, The Run For A Million has grown in popularity, drawing spectators and competitors from around the world to stop, spin, and slide their way to glory across its growing divisions. In 2023, several horsemen from the AQHA all-around industry made the crossover into the fast-paced world of reining competition.
AQHA competitor Sissie Shank of Cave Creek, Arizona got her start in the world of all-around competition before venturing in to the faster pace of the reining arena. Close to 15 years ago, Shank began riding under the guidance of Holly Hover. Together, Shank and Hover be-gan setting goals for competing in the all-around. “Two years in a row I won the Nov-ice Amateur All-Ar-ound at The Sun Circuit,” shares Shank. “I had a great showmanship horse and we also competed in the horsemanship, trail, and equitation. We competed at the AQHA and NSBA World Shows where I was able to reach a lot of my goals.” Over the years, Shank showed multiple horses on both the APHA and AQHA circuits, including CL Lucky Money, Candlelight Invitation, and Oughta Be Western. With that success under her belt and a mind toward balancing the rigors of showing with her full-time job, Shank and Hover decided to venture in to the increasingly popular ranch riding divisions.