Will Rogers center chosen as venue for national Western riding event

The Will Rogers Equestrian Center has been chosen as the new venue for the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Snaffle Bit Futurity, a Western riding competition has taken place in Reno, Nevada, for the past 30 years.

The first event will take place in 2017, with the dates tentatively scheduled for Oct. 1-14. Will Rogers Equestrian Center will continue to host the event until at least 2019.

NRCHA Executive Director Jay Winborn said past competitions have attracted about 5,000 people, and he expects that number to grow once the event moves to Fort Worth.

“The facility itself is one of the premiere facilities in the country,” NRCHA Executive Director Jay Winborn said.

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The NRCHA Board of Directors chose the Will Rogers Equestrian Center over facilities in Denver, Scottsdale and its previous location, Reno. NRCHA President Todd Bergen said in a news release that the board chose the Will Rogers facility due to its affordability, amenities, cattle supply and location.

“All the proposals we received were attractive, with Fort Worth providing the most appealing package overall,” Bergen said.

Winborn said Will Rogers’ upcoming arena renovation, which is expected to open by 2021, “somewhat” played a role in the decision to choose Fort Worth.

He said the NRCHA will wait before deciding whether to host events in the new arena.

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“We will see what happens,” he said.

Another factor that influenced the board’s decision was the donation of money from reined cow horse owners, breeders and other professionals from around the U.S., who promised to provide monetary support for the event if it moved to Fort Worth. With the donations, the 2017 champion will receive a $125,000 check, as opposed to a $100,000 check as awarded previously. Other finalists will receive checks of at least $10,000.

“We anticipate growth across the board at the Snaffle Bit Futurity in 2017 and beyond,” Bergen said. “Moving to Fort Worth puts our biggest event in the middle of the country, within easier reach for participants, and we are expecting growth in entries. As if the Futurity didn’t give a reined cow horse fan enough reason to come to Fort Worth in early October, that time of year usually means wonderful weather, not to mention all the recreational and cultural opportunities outside the show arena.”