Augusta Futurity officials are excited about the addition of a new event to the 33rd annual cutting horse show, which returns in January.
The futurity is back with a jam-packed schedule of events, Jan. 21-28, at James Brown Arena. The biggest event is the Mercuria NCHA World Series of Cutting, a newcomer to the Augusta Futurity. Competitors in the Open and Non-Pro classes will vie for a share of the $50,000 in added money – $25,000 per class.
The Mercuria NCHA World Series of Cutting is making the Augusta Futurity, the largest cutting horse show east of the Mississippi River, its first stop on its season-long 2012 circuit. The event, which is open to horses of all ages, is expected bring high scores from the competitors.
“Truly, it’s a better cutting, because it’s older horses,” Augusta Futurity show manager Pete May said. “The difficulty in cutting is riding a younger horse and getting him to do what you want him to do. As the horses get older, they get much better.”
The Mercuria NCHA World Series of Cutting begins with go-rounds Tuesday, Jan. 24. The finals will be held two nights later.
“It sounds like a fantastic event,” said Ed Presnell, an Augusta Futurity board member overseeing community relations and fund-raising. “That’s one the cutters are excited about.”
The Augusta Futurity is also filling its show with a pair of unique events. For the first time, longtime Augusta Futurity competitor Mel Blount veteran will hold a clinic. Also, the Augusta Futurity will hold a night to honor the military.
“This has got to be the best futurity we’ve ever had,” Presnell said. “The planning for this futurity is as comprehensive as I’ve ever seen.”
This year’s Augusta Futurity features many highlights. The popular USC Aiken Benefit Bull Riding Championship kicks off the show on Saturday, Jan. 21. The following Saturday, the annual horse sale returns after a one-year absence. Also on Jan. 28 the Wrangler Family Fun Fest, a free event which features live music and a petting zoo, will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the Seventh Street Plaza side of James Brown Arena.
One of the show’s main highlights is the Mel Blount Clinic on Jan. 25. Blount, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Hall of Fame defensive back, is a longtime cutter who runs a pair of youth homes in Georgia and Pennsylvania. Blount will give a cutting-horse demonstration and hold an inspirational talk.
“We thought it’d be a great idea to ask him,” Presnell said, “and he was more than glad to do it.”
On Friday, Jan. 27, the Augusta Futurity will hold the long-running Area 18 Youth Scholarship finals, along with the annual Classic Non-Pro and Open competitions. Also that evening, the futurity will honor the Augusta Warrior Project, which provides comprehensive services and opportunities for past and present military personnel.