BENTONVILLE (KFSM)— The Northwest Arkansas Hunter Jumpers Association (NWAHJA) kicked off its 12th annual Summer Classic Horse Show on Friday at the Benton County Fairgrounds.
According to the NWAHJA, about 100 of the area’s riders and horses will be competing in what they call their “biggest show of the year.”
The equestrians compete in basic classes Saturday and Sunday and after holding a Hunter Derby on Friday.
A Hunter Derby is a combination of the other classes and is designed to mimic a fox hunting field. Veteran riders in the show say the derby usually draws a crowd.
“Hunter Derby night, you’ll have a lot of people invite friends and family out, and you’ll fill up the stands and have a good time,” said show contestant Molly Wolf.
This year’s Summer Classic competitors can place first through 10th in each class and have the opportunity to win cash prizes. According to NWAHJA, usually there’s $500 of prize money, but this year an anonymous donor doubled that to $1,000.
“It’d be pretty awesome (to win). I’d like to have some more money to buy some things, but it’d be awesome because you get to do a big victory lap and it’s fun,” said Wolf.
Riders say they spend a lot of time preparing for this show, because it requires a lot of discipline.
“You have to be prepared, because it’s a lot of stress and time management at these shows and you have to know when you’re going to be on and events and certain courses. It’s really about managing yourself and your horse, because you have to take care of them the entire time,” said Wolf.
The horses’ performance isn’t the only thing being judged.
“We always braid our horses’ (hair) and I normally have to bathe my horse because he gets pretty dirty out in the pasture, and you want your horses to be shiny, super pretty — they want to look their best,” said show contestant Lilli Barlow.
The Summer Classic is free to spectators, and there will be food available for purchase.