Thousands of people gathered Saturday at State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City for the National Reining Horse Association's 2012 Futurity Championship Show to watch 3-year-old horses and their owners compete for cash prizes.
The event began Thanksgiving Day and will finish Dec. 1.
It is hosted by the National Reining Horse Association, which is based in Oklahoma City.
This year marks the event's 26th anniversary
“We see people from all over the world. This year there are people from 20 different countries here. We're kind of like a hidden treasure in Oklahoma,” said Christa Morris, the association's senior director of marketing.
Morris said contestants are separated into two groups — an open futurity group for contestants who compete professionally, and a nonprofessional futurity group for contestants who compete as a hobby.
Every contestant must pay an entry fee of $2,000 and a nomination fee ranging from $250 to $10,000 to participate.
In return, participants have the opportunity to win at least $150,000, Morris said.
The money collected pays for each year's event and the winners' awards, she said.
According to the horse association's website, horses are taught reining skills, which derive from the practice of ushering cattle. The horses perform various maneuvers under controlled speed, which raises the difficulty level and makes the competition more exciting for the audience.
Morris said the event is not limited to reining.
Morris said many people come to sell or buy horses or simply to shop at the many booths outside the arena that sell merchandise ranging from cowboy boots to artwork to horse insurance.
Horse rider and competitor Becky Hanson said she and her husband, David, travel from California each year to participate in the competition.
She said they have been involved in horse reining and training for 20 years.