California Reining Horse Assn. secretary Marilyn Scheffers is a little worried that this year's Challenge is "going to be huge!" Slated for the Los Angeles Equestrian Center Oct. 24-28, this long-running show is once again serving as the Western Regional Affiliate Finals for the National Reining Horse Assn.'s national finals, which take place in Oklahoma City in late November.
That means LAEC will see a lot of out-of-towners, from Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona. The Affiliate Regional Finals have gone back and forth between California and Arizona for the past several years and this year marks the first of three consecutive years when it will be held here.
In addition to more horses and riders, the NRHA angle has attracted more sponsors to the Challenge, helping bump the total to over $100,000 in prizes and cash.
The more the merrier is the motto for the Challenge. New this year is the CRHA Reiner of the Year award. To enter, participants must have competed in at least two CRHA Jackpot classes throughout the year, but when they get to Burbank, everybody starts from scratch. The Reiner Of The Year distinction will be the horse/rider pair that earns the most points in their division during the Challenge, meaning the ultimate champs could come from the Green As Grass, Open or any division in between. Saddles, sashes and buckles, plus a lot of prestige, are at stake for the winner.
Reining competition is not the only source of excitement at the Challenge. Dogs get their due in both races and a costume competition, and the barn decorating competition is something people tend to go a little wild over. Last year featured a haunted house that Marilyn says was very popular.
Saturday is especially packed with good stuff. There's the dog races during a break in the action and a CHRA general membership meeting. That night, it's the Celebrity Slide Calcutta & Cocktail Party and the announcement of big time raffle winners. The action in between is the Futurity classes, ranging from Non Pro riders going for a $500 purse, to the Open classes where purses top out at $5,000.
On a sidenote, Marilyn points out it's time to start thinking about CRHA board of directors openings for next year. To throw your hat in the ring or to nominate someone else, contact Marilyn at CRHAsecretary@aol.com.
For more information on the Challenge, visit www.calreining.com.