New $1 Million Competition to be Held in Texas

The top riders in cutting, reining and reined cow horse will qualify next year to compete for a combined $1 million in a new competition at one of the country’s biggest rodeos, officials announced.

Called the American Performance Horseman, the event will feature five of the top riders in each discipline in a performance at the 2023 American Rodeo. The owner of the rodeo, Teton Ridge, announced the new competition on Friday, Aug. 19, during The Run For A Million horse show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

According to Teton Ridge, the top five riders will qualify based on their following earnings during this year’s show season:

  • NCHA: 2022 show season Limited Aged Event earnings
  • NRHA: 2022 show season Category 1-10
  • NRCHA: 2022 show season Category 1 and 2 earnings 

Officials say standings will be finalized and announced following each discipline’s 2022 Futurity event.

“The American Rodeo is an unrivaled celebration of the American West and represents the richest weekend in all of western sports,” Teton Ridge Sports President Joe Loverro said in a release announcing details of the event. “As Teton Ridge continues to make great strides to bring the iconic events in the western industry to a broader audience on an elevated platform, it was only natural to create an event to pay homage to the most prestigious competitors in western performance sports and their incredible equine athletes.”

The event itself will have an abbreviated reining pattern for the reiners — based on Pattern 10 with one large fast circle instead of two. An NRCHA-approved two-circle pattern will be chosen for the five cow horse competitors.

There will be an individual payout based on how the riders place in their own discipline – with the first-place rider in each discipline getting $100,000 – as well as a team payout, where the winning team shares $75,000. Officials say the event, though the American Performance Horseman was created by Teton Ridge, has the support of the NCHA, NRHA, NRCHA as well as the American Quarter Horse Association and American Paint Horse Association.

A venue wasn’t announced, though they did say it would be held in the city of Arlington, Texas.

Earnings will count toward the National Championship classification in the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA), Category 11 in the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) and Category 2 in the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA), according to Teton Ridge.

“The American Performance Horseman isn’t another horse show, it’s a celebration of western horse sport and our athletes at the highest level,” NRCHA Executive Director Anna Morrison was quoted in Teton Ridge’s announcement. “With a shortened format showcasing the top five riders of the year in each discipline, it will pack the excitement of our industry’s top talent in an hour-long production that will bring the sports we love to an entirely new audience.”

The goal, officials say, is to showcase the three Western performance horse disciplines on the large stage of the American, which Teton Ridge bought in September, 2021. The entity headed by entrepreneur Thomas Tull has in the last year has invested heavily in elite bloodstock and show horses in cutting, reining and reined cow horse disciplines.

Teton Ridge now owns EquiStat Elite $2 Million Sire and NCHA Open Horse of the Year Smooth Talkin Style, as well as several of the sport of cutting’s top broodmares or broodmare prospects — most notably EquiStat Elite $2 Million Dam Sweet Abra, NCHA Futurity Open Champion All Spice and NCHA Open Horse of the Year Twice In Santiago.

Last week, Teton Ridge bought NCHA Summer Spectacular Derby Open Champion Third Edge.

Officials with Teton Ridge details of a new, $1 million competition. * Photo by Molly Montag.