Photo by Molly Montag

The Run For A Million Enters Next Chapter with Cutting Event

It started with a reining competition, but The Run For A Million has expanded every year in its first three editions in size and scope. Now, it’s adding a cutting competition.

Next week, riders will compete in The Run For A Million’s first-ever Open cutting qualifier at the Brazos Bash. The top 10 riders plus any ties will qualify for a spot in the field of the estimated $200,000 competition planned for next year at the South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa in Las Vegas, Nevada.

When that happens, cutting will join the disciplines already showcased at The Run For A Million: reining, reined cow horse and ranch work. This year’s show also had a $50,000 event for bull fighters.

Amanda Brumley, producer of The Run For A Million, said the addition of cutting is in line with the event’s mission of showcasing the Western way of life. The new cutting is currently scheduled to take place on Thursday, Aug. 17, during the show, which runs Aug. 16-19.

“I think it’s going to be a great addition and a great performance,” Brumley said.

The Open Cutting Qualifier

As with the headlining reining and reined cow horse events, the field for the new cutting competition at The Run For A Million will be based on the rider. The qualifier isn’t limited to Open riders. Non-Pro and Amateur riders also can enter.

Qualifying riders can choose any horse for The Run For A Million’s cutting competition, and do not need to qualify on the same horse as the one they eventually ride in the competition. There also is no restriction on the age of horse.

Unlike reining or reined cow horse, the qualifier for the cutting competition will not be held in a finals format. Qualifying will be based on a rider’s score in the first go-round of whatever Open class their horse is entered in at Brazos Bash.

If a rider is entered in the qualifier on a 3-year-old, their score would be based on the first go-round of that the 3-Year-Old Open, and if they entered the qualifier on a 4-year-old, their score would come from the first go-round of the 4-Year-Old Open, etc.

The Brazos Bash also has a class for 7-year-old horses and older, so it’s possible to enter the qualifier on a horse that is no longer young enough for limited-age events.

In the past, retired or semi-retired breeding reining stallions have returned to the show pen for the Million Dollar Competition at The Run For A Million. Several accomplished reined cow horse breeding stallions have competed in the Cow Horse Challenge, which is open to bridle horses.

World Championship Implications

The National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) added another wrinkle to the story last week when it announced that money won at the 2023 The Run For A Million – which estimates a $50,000 first-place prize – will count toward the NCHA Open World Championship standings.

NCHA World championships are won annually by the horse or rider who earns the most money in his or her division throughout the entire show year, which ends at the conclusion of the NCHA World Finals held in December in conjunction with the NCHA Futurity in Fort Worth, Texas.

The NCHA said in a statement that money won in the cutting competition at the 2023 The Run For A Million will only impact the Open division of the World Standings.

The Future

While cutters are the latest to join the party at The Run For A Million, Brumley said there could be more additions on the horizon. Currently, the show offers the Cow Horse Challenge for reined cow horses, the Cowboy Invitational for working ranch cowboys, the new cutting competition and four classes for reiners – the Million Dollar Competition, the Open Shootout, the Non-Pro Championships and the Rookie Championships.

Brumley said show organizers are currently discussing how they could add a youth reining championship, and will be making some tweaks to the Ranch Horse Invitational.

The question of whether the reined cow horse class or the new cutting event will be expanded to include additional classes, as is the case with reining, is yet to be determined. While organizers have added new events to The Run For A Million every year, Brumley said they always consider the impact putting new events on the schedule will have on viewership.

Officials don’t want to turn the show into a marathon, she said, with long days and nobody sitting in the seats watching the great performances.

“I think it’s going to really depend on how the actual overall event evolves. The biggest thing about this event is that it’s not just your average horse show, it’s an event,” she said. “The goal in mind of this event is to fill the facility with [spectators], which we’ve achieved.”