At this time three years ago, they were weanlings. Now, hundreds of talented young horses from the foal crop of 2011 face the biggest test of their young lives: the National Reined Cow Horse Association Snaffle Bit Futurity. A $100,000 prize awaits the Open Futurity Champion, and the entire show is expected to pay out more than $1.1 million. The 44th annual NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity begins Monday, Sept. 22 and continues through Saturday, Oct. 4 at the Reno Livestock Events Center in Reno, Nev.
Entries in the 2014 Futurity are up 30% overall, compared with 2013. In the Open division, 235 horses will run at the $100,000 Championship, up from 179 entries last year – a 31% increase. The Non Pro division grew 6%, from 48 to 51 entries. The Non Pro Limited (herd work, rein work and boxing) exploded, from eight entries in 2013 to 21 entries this year – a huge 163% increase.
The NRCHA welcomes new Futurity Non Pro presenting sponsor Discount Tire, whose support has increased the Non Pro divisions' added money to $100,000. The CINCH Intermediate Open division, as it has since 2010, pays a guaranteed $30,000 to the Champion, thanks to continued support from NRCHA Corporate Partner CINCH.
These 3-year-old equine athletes and their riders have prepared diligently for the herd work, rein work and fence work triathlon awaiting them in Reno, Nevada at the Reno-Sparks Livestock Events Center. It all begins at 8:00 a.m. (PDT) Monday, Sept. 22, with the first leg of preliminary competition – the herd work – in the Futurity Open, Intermediate Open, Limited Open and Level 1 Limited Open divisions. Eight sets of Open horses walk to the herd on Monday, and another eight on Tuesday.
All the preliminary herd work action can be viewed live via webcast, thanks to the National Reined Cow Horse Association's official videographer, Equine Promotion. A link to the live feed can be found at www.NRCHA.com.
The first Snaffle Bit Futurity was held in 1970 in Sacramento, Calif., and boasted 27 entries. Over time, the Futurity has become a high-profile, major spectator event, drawing hundreds of entries and thousands of fans who make the trip to Reno each year. Many cow horse enthusiasts describe their first trip to the Snaffle Bit Futurity as the reason they became hooked on the spine-tingling sport.
Other fun Futurity-related activities include the annual NRCHA Hall of Fame Banquet; the enormous Best of the West trade show; the Snaffle Bit Futurity Horse Sales; a presentation by Hall of Fame horseman Bobby Ingersoll about traditional vaquero horsemanship; and a full slate of competitive hackamore, two-rein and bridle classes for horses aged four and up. The annual Raffle Colt giveaway also is a mainstay at Reno – for the price of a single $10.00 ticket, you could win your very own royally-bred, started 2-year-old with a paid entry to the 2014 Snaffle Bit Futurity! The Raffle Colt is generously donated every year by the Ward Ranch, Kingsburg, Calif.
For more information about the National Reined Cow Horse Association and the 2014 Snaffle Bit Futurity, visit www.NRCHA.com.