When the 55th National Reining Horse Association Futurity begins Nov. 26, it will launch a new chapter in its history. In early February of this year, the association made the landmark announcement that, thanks to the support of a committed group of donors, the 2020 NRHA Futurity champion will receive a quarter of a million dollars – a hundred thousand dollar increase from the previous year!
The news came during the association’s Annual General Meeting and was accompanied by the additional announcement that the Cinch Non Pro Futurity Champion would receive $60,000 and that the added money for the Adequan® North American Affiliate Championship classes would be doubled.
Now, as the momentous event approaches, the task force created to increase the futurity payout continues to plan ahead. Under the leadership of NRHA Vice President Rick Clark, the task force, which also includes NRHA President Mike Hancock, John Tague, Mark Blake, Doug Carpenter, Ginger Schmersal, Roseanne Sternberg and Shane Brown, is looking forward to even more growth in the next five years.
Clark said, “This is the beginning. We want to grow to awarding a half-million dollars to the open champion in the next five years and this will come from a combination of resources.”
Tague added, “The growth will initially come from supporters until we bridge to a more permanent and stable funding plan. There are many ways to build structural support for the purse. The most positive of all would be entry growth as a result of bigger purses. The work the association has done to become more efficient, along with the insights of its Board and the Executive Committee could well position the NRHA to be able to increase the added money in the years ahead.”
While the highlighted goal of the committee is the $500K Level 4 Open purse, its members also want to impact other open levels and the Non Pro divisions as well as funding additional improvements to the NAAC portion. In the coming weeks, members will reach out to other industry stakeholders, owners and trainers to join the effort.
It seems that this futurity, the exclamation point to an admittedly challenging year for the equine industry, is a perfect place to celebrate a new record payout for the Open and Non Pro Champions. With 344 entries in the Open Futurity and 176 in the Non Pro Futurity and the level of talent seen in earlier competitions, it promises to be an incredible show.
These numbers came in spite of the unfortunate cancellation of 20 international entries due to riders or horses not being able to enter the country due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. NRHA Commissioner Gary Carpenter noted, “Our hearts are with our international members who have devoted the last two years to preparing horses for this event. We share their disappointment in having their dreams delayed.”
The NRHA Futurity, although closed to the general public, is open to all horse people, who may enter through the barn areas to attend performances, the Futurity Trade Show held during the entire show and the NRHA Futurity Horse Sales, set for Thursday, Dec. 3. The event will follow whatever health mandates are in place for Oklahoma City at the time of the show, currently including masks being required and restrictions pertaining to social distancing.