FORT WORTH--The American Paint Horse Association (APHA) will take its innovative Gelding Plus program to an area known for its lively entertainment July 27-29, when it offers $20,000 in payouts at the National Snaffle Bit Association (NSBA) Southern Belle Invitation in Tunica, Miss.
Tunica, located about 40 miles south of Memphis, Tenn., is home to 10 casino resorts and the newly constructed Paul Battle Arena and Expo Center. It will be at that air-conditioned arena that the owners of the highest-advancing Paint geldings will collect a total of $20,000 in prize money from the association.
The Gelding Plus program-open to both Regular and Breeding Stock Registry horses-gives Paint gelding owners and breeders added opportunities to earn cash and increase the market value of their horses. APHA paid out $45,000 in prize money last year at select futurities. With $60,000 planned this year at several futurities around the country, the program is rapidly stimulating increased interest in performance-bred Paint Horse geldings.
The $20,000 to be given out at the NSBA Southern Belle Invitation will be split among four classes. The owners of the highest-advancing Paint geldings in 3-Year-Old Open Western Pleasure, 3-Year-Old Non-Pro Western Pleasure, 3-Year-Old Open Hunter Under Saddle and 3-Year-Old Non-Pro Hunter Under Saddle will each receive $5,000.
"What's so special about the Southern Belle Invitation," said APHA Assistant Executive Secretary Jim Kelley, "is that this is a not-for-profit show and the proceeds will be donated back to APHA and NSBA. This is a great opportunity to award our members with incentives and at the same time receive money back."
Connie Hill, show manager for the Southern Belle Invitation, said it has been a tradition since the show began in 1996 to return all proceeds, after expenses, to show affiliates. This year the recipients will be the APHA and NSBA. Past proceeds have averaged about $10,000, she said.
"When we started this show, so many people enjoyed it, and we just wanted to make sure it perpetuated itself," said Hill. "By giving money back to our affiliates, who can then channel it into educational programs for youth, it will help the industry as a whole. Our future is in our youth, and we feel this is one way we can help."
Hill added that each year the show usually attracts nearly 1,000 people who exhibit around 300 horses. She said the Southern Belle Invitation has $80,000 in guaranteed money added this year, with a total purse estimated at $200,000.
The APHA Gelding Plus incentive, she said, will add even more interest to the growing horse show.
This will be the first year the Southern Belle Invitation will hold the event at the new equestrian center in Tunica. Moving the show there from its former home in Memphis not only allowed organizers to hold the show at a modern venue, but also gave them the opportunity to locate it in an area that will draw exhibitors from throughout the country.
"When they're not at the show, people will find plenty of entertainment in Tunica," Hill said.
More Gelding Plus money to be awarded in 2001
In addition to the Gelding Plus payouts at the NSBA Southern Belle Invitation, APHA will award $5,000 to the owners of the highest-advancing Paint geldings in the Open and Non-Pro divisions at the following futurities:
-- National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Futurity-3-year-olds
-- National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Futurity-3-year-olds
-- National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Futurity-3-year-olds
-- Barrel Futurities of America (BFA) World Barrel Futurity -4-year-olds
To enter Gelding Plus events, a horse must be foaled in 1997 or later and registered as a gelding prior to his 3-year-old year, or gelded and his status change reported prior to his 3-year-old year. In addition, owners of the horses must be current APHA members and their horses must meet futurity age requirements.
Prepare now for 2002 Gelding Plus payouts
Don't miss out on the chance to earn Gelding Plus prize money in 2002 at the NSBA, NRCHA, NRHA and NCHA futurities. It's easy to participate in the Gelding Plus program, and enrollment is free.
Enrollment is automatic and applies to horses in the Regular or Breeding Stock registries. To qualify for Gelding Plus payouts in 2002:
-- The horse must have been foaled in 1999 or later and registered as a gelding prior to his 3-year-old year, or gelded and his status change reported prior to his 3-year-old year. Owners of horses foaled in 1999 must notify APHA of their horse's gelding status prior to December 31, 2001.
-- Owners of the horses must be current members of APHA.
Note: Since the BFA World Barrel Futurity is for 4-year-olds, horses foaled in 1999 and meeting the reporting requirements are eligible to compete in that event in 2003.
For more information on the Gelding Plus Program, visit the APHA's Gelding Plus Web site at http://www.apha.com/geldingplus.
For more information on the Southern Bell Invitation, visit http://www.tsbelle.com.
To learn more about the American Paint Horse Association, visit the association's Web site at http://apha.com or call (817) 834-2742, extension 788.