Since the Events Center opened seven years ago, horse exhibitors from throughout the nation are now looking to the National Western as the premier place to start their exhibition year.
The high level of competition and judges brought about by the new state-of-the-art equine venue has resulted in a five-fold increase in horse entries. The horse show includes one of the top five American Quarter Horse shows, a six-judge American Paint Horse Show, a two-judge Miniature Horse Show and the famous Draft Horse and Mule Show. In addition, there are American Horse Show Association (AHSA) approved shows of hunters and jumpers, and Open Division, including Arabians, American Saddlebreds, Appaloosas, Morgans and equitation.
While most horse judging and other activity in the 5,000-seat Events Center may be attended with the price of general admission, there are six ticketed horse shows, two Wild West Shows and a pair of "An Evening of Dancing Horses" scheduled in the arena.
Ticketed horse shows include the $10,000 Dodge Invitational Freestyle Reining Championship, at 1 p.m., Monday, Jan. 15; the $30,000 Crown Royal Grand Prix, presented by Pepsi, at 7 p.m., Jan. 15; and four Coors-sponsored Draft Horse and Mule Shows, with $50,000 in premiums over the final weekend, Jan, 18 to 21.
All shows are priced at $11, except the Grand Prix, which is $13 a seat. Each ticket includes grounds admission.
A special $26 "Draft Horse 4Pak" is available to those who wish to see all four shows and visit the show grounds.
Among the many equestrian events available to see with general admission this year is the $5,000 United States Equestrian Team (USET) Reining Championship Qualifiers, in the Events Center, at 12 noon, Jan. 17. The USET recently adopted reining as its sixth discipline and first Western discipline.
Except for the Crown Royal Grand Prix, all other AHSA classes and championship finals may be attended with a grounds admission.
The hunter and jumper and Open Division, including the American Saddlebred, Arabian, Appaloosa, Equitation, and Morgans, are presented in accordance with rules established by the AHSA. All these breeds are shown in performance classes only, where obedience of the horse to its rider and the way the horse moves are of paramount importance.
Some breeds, such as Quarter Horse, Paint, Miniature Horse, draft horse and mule, are shown in performance and halter classes. Halter judging can be compared to a "beauty contest," with the judge's decision based on conformation and the relationship of form and function for each animal. With the exception of most draft and mule competition, no separate ticket is necessary to watch these horses being judged.
Corral West Ranchwear presents trophy saddles to the high point winners in the Quarter Horse and Paint divisions. The AHSA, hunter and jumper and mule divisions also offer high point awards.