After months of deliberation, the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) board of directors has announced the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity, one of the largest and most prestigious events in the Western performance horse industry, will be held at the historic Will Rogers Equestrian Center in Fort Worth, Texas, beginning in 2017. The NRCHA has committed to hold the Snaffle Bit Futurity in Fort Worth for the next three years, through 2019.
In December 2015, the NRCHA announced it was seeking a community partner to host the Snaffle Bit Futurity in 2017 and beyond. More than a dozen facilities made initial contact after the public request for proposal. Four facilities – located in Denver, Fort Worth, Reno, Nevada, and Scottsdale, Arizona – submitted complete written bids detailing suitability and interest. The NRCHA outlined specific selection criteria, including facility location and amenities, availability of incentive and sponsorship money, and reasonable access to cattle.
“The board took its time with this decision. All the proposals we received were attractive, with Fort Worth providing the most appealing package overall. The Will Rogers facility was much more affordable than the other locations, as far as what it is charging the NRCHA to hold the Futurity there. The amenities, cattle supply and the central location in a great city like Fort Worth convinced the board that it would be the ideal home for the Snaffle Bit Futurity,” said NRCHA President Todd Bergen, of Eagle Point, Oregon.
Further adding to Fort Worth’s appeal was a substantial Futurity added-money offer from a group of reined cow horse owners, breeders, exhibitors and professionals, representing all regions of the U.S. This coalition supported the Fort Worth location by pledging a large bonus to the payout for three years if the Futurity moved there. The bonus added money currently stands at six figures and growing, as more supporters join the effort.
“This additional money means we will be awarding the 2017 through 2019 Futurity Open Champion a check for $125,000, as compared to our traditional $100,000 payout,” said NRCHA Vice President Paul Bailey, of Sparta, Tennessee. “Furthermore, it is our hope that this funding will allow us to award all the Futurity Open finalists a check for at least $10,000, as well as increase the payout for the Futurity Non-Pro divisions.”
Besides the venue change, the 2017 Snaffle Bit Futurity will also come with a date change, tentatively scheduled for Oct. 1-14. Exhibitors can also look forward to a more forgiving show schedule, because the NRCHA will have access to the entire Will Rogers Equestrian Center, including all show, warm-up and sale arenas, barns and exhibit space. This will permit the association to streamline the schedule to better accommodate participants and spectators, while continuing to offer an exciting lineup of Snaffle Bit Futurity Horse Sales and a vibrant shopping experience at the popular Best of the West Trade Show.
“We anticipate growth across the board at the Snaffle Bit Futurity in 2017 and beyond,” Bergen said. “Moving to Fort Worth puts our biggest event in the middle of the country, within easier reach for participants, and we are expecting growth in entries. As if the Futurity didn’t give a reined cow horse fan enough reason to come to Fort Worth in early October, that time of year usually means wonderful weather, not to mention all the recreational and cultural opportunities outside the show arena.”
Bergen emphasized the gravity of the board’s decision to relocate the Futurity from its historic home on the West Coast. Reno has been home to the majority of Snaffle Bit futurities since the first event in 1970.
“There is an emotional attachment to the Snaffle Bit Futurity being a West Coast event, and I believe all of us on the board acknowledge the history with Reno. The board labored long and hard over this decision. We were very engaged in the process of trying to ensure that we chose what was in the best interest of the NRCHA for its future growth. We look to the future with optimism, feeling as if we have taken a positive step for the entire association,” Bergen said.