The $20,000 Invitational Freestyle is moving to a new National Reining Horse Association (NRHA)-produced event.
Officials announced the popular event will now be held at this year’s 6666 National Reining Horse Association Derby presented by Markel. Sponsored by the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, the $20,000 Invitational Freestyle is planned for 6 p.m., June 23.
Freestyle reining has been popular at the NRHA Futurity in the past, but officials say it was moved to the Derby this year in order to give it a more prominent position. Often compared to figure skating routines, freestyle reining pairs the athleticism and finesse of reining moves choreographed to music, often with clever costuming and props.
NRHA Professional and Executive Committee member Shane Brown, a former Invitational Freestyle champion, said in a statement the move returns the Invitational Freestyle to its roots.
“The freestyle event was created and began at the NRHA Derby in St. Paul, Minnesota,” he said in the statement, which was released by the NRHA. “We are happy to have it as a crowd favorite in Oklahoma City to showcase our sport.”
Brown noted that the invitation-only lineup will feature some of the top freestyle performers from around the country.
“It should really be a showcase of entertaining performances,” he said.
Sammi Miller, NRHA Senior Director of Corporate Relations and Communications, said the Freestyle has been a favorite with Oklahoma City audiences.
“The OKC CVB has been very loyal to the National Reining Horse Association,” she said in the statement. “We are proud that our events have a substantial economic impact and grateful that Oklahoma City continues to invest in the NRHA Futurity and Derby.”