The grounds and stalls at Hardy Murphy Coliseum are already beginning to fill up in anticipation for the 35th annual Southwest Reining Horse Association Futurity and Show which begins next Tuesday. According to Event Manager Cheryl Cody, this year’s event is the largest one yet.
“The event that’s going on here is one of the very last events before the NRHA Futurity in Oklahoma City that starts around Thanksgiving and goes through December 7. That event is the biggest reining event in the world,” Cody said. “So there’s an attraction here, and it’s always drawn a good amount of people but never as much as this year. This is a record breaker. We’ve brought in extra portable stalls, and right now we’re at 600 stalls all together.”
In total, Cody estimates an increase of around eight to 10% over the amount of reining horses brought out to last year’s event.
Cody described reining horses as a bit like figure skating in that the horses have to make a compulsory pattern. A team of judges gives each horse a score, and whichever horse scores the highest wins the event.
“The reining itself is considered to be the very highest level of training for western performance horses,” Cody said. “Reining is the only western that’s ever been recognized by the Federation of Equestrian International as part of the World Equestrian games, so it’s very high profile.”
She said as the sport’s profile has grown, the competition has become increasingly international and riders and owners from all over the world will be in Ardmore taking part in the competition.
“There are going to be people here from all over Europe, Brazil and there is also a gentleman from Israel. It’s just so diverse,” Cody said. “When it became an international event it really changed the languages you hear as you are walking through the barn, so it’s a very exciting time.”
While the horses, riders, trainers and owners are here, they will also be making a large economic impact on the city. While some will stay in their trailers, many will spend several nights in local hotels. However, they will all be eating at local restaurants and shopping at local stores — even if only to purchase necessities like gas and groceries.
“The American Horse Council came up with a formula to figure out the amount of money brought into town for events,” Cody said. This formula takes the number of horses and multiplies it by 2.5 people. That number is then multiplied by the number of days in the show plus two extra days — one for a day in and one for a day out — then it is multiplied by $140, according to Cody.
“We’re really glad to do that because Ardmore has been a good home to this show, and it’s fun to give back and help support the town,” Cody said.
While the show itself will begin next Tuesday morning, paid practices began Thursday and will continue through this weekend. The Futurity itself will take place all day next Friday and Saturday. Cody encouraged anyone interested in the event to attend, and admission is free and open to all. The full schedule is posted at www.swrhra.com.