horse sliding in dirt
2017 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Open Champions Plain Catty and Jake Gorrell. • Photo by Primo Morales.

NRCHA Announces New Format For Snaffle Bit Futurity Open Finals

A new Open finals format will be implemented for the 2018 National Reined Cow Horse Association Futurity.

The association announced that the format, implemented by the NRCHA Board of Directors, is designed to put the health and safety of the horses first. The 2018 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity will be held Oct. 7 – 20, in Fort Worth, Texas.

New for 2018, riders that advance to the Open finals and any additional lower divisions will only make one run in each of the three events during the Open finals. Scores earned in the Open finals will be carried to the lower divisions.

For example, if a rider qualifies for the Open and Intermediate Open finals, he or she will complete the herd work, rein work and fence work during the Open finals. They will not show during the Intermediate and Limited Open finals. If a rider qualifies for the Intermediate and/or Limited Open finals only, he or she will compete in the Intermediate and Limited Open finals as usual.

The NRCHA says the Board of Directors took its time making this decision, considering every aspect of this new policy, and it determined the overall health of young equine athletes was a priority.

“We constantly worry about our horses’ physical and mental well-being throughout the process,” NRCHA President Todd Crawford said in a statement. “Not only do we want them to be successful at the Futurity, we also want them to have long, happy and productive careers beyond their 3-year-old year. The best cow horses are those who continue as happy, sound derby/hackamore horses, two rein horses and bridle horses.”

In addition to limiting the number of runs a multi-divisional Open finalists will make, the Board also approved a schedule that minimizes the number of times a horse will show in one day. Historically, 3-year-old finalists complete their herd work, rein work and fence work all in one day. This year, all finals herd work will be held on Thursday, Oct.18, while the rein work and fence work will be dispersed over Friday and Saturday.

The NRCHA said that by implementing this new format, the NRCHA Board of Directors hopes to decrease the wear and tear on young horses and to help secure the longevity of their future show career. Reined cow horse is a demanding sport where horses must be able to compete in three events with excellent athleticism, ability and stamina. Three-year-olds rise to this challenge at the Snaffle Bit Futurity.

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