As Montana’s premiere stock show, the NILE once again plans to pay homage to a cowboy’s greatest partner, the horse. With many equine events across the nation cancelled this year due to COVID-19, horse enthusiasts can get excited for the 2020 NILE horse events. The event locations may be different, but the caliber of competition and quality of horse flesh slated to attend this year’s NILE horse events on Oct. 9-18, will not disappoint.
For the 2020 NILE, all horse events will be held at the Miller’s Horse Palace, a top-notch equine facility located just off the interstate between Laurel and Billings. Bonnie DeVerniero, the Nile equine program director, says aside from the location change, all equine events will proceed as normal for this year.
“We are really lucky. Just the nature of horse events made it possible for us to fit into those social distancing guidelines a lot easier than some of the other events. In my mind, we are very blessed we have gotten to have an almost normal year,” she said.
The NILE horse events have been a popular draw, year after year. The strong interest in the events caused the NILE to make some changes to their horse event line up. DeVerniero noted, these changes were in motion before COVID-19.
Starting out the NILE’s week of equine events has traditionally been the Runnin’ the Rims Barrel Race. This open 4D race will once again kickoff the NILE on Friday, Oct. 9, but this year the event has been expanded to three days and will run until Oct. 11. Offering three full days of high speed can chasing, this is the barrel race to be at this fall.
Also new for 2020 will be the NILE Colt Classic, scheduled to follow the Runnin’ the Rims Barrel Race on Oct. 12-16. For this unique event the NILE has partnered with Oliver Horses of Cody, Wyo., with the plan of promoting education and showcasing top horse producers all while highlighting appreciation for the uniqueness of young equine minds.
The Colt Classic will be a five-day progressive clinic where pre-determined colts already consigned to the NILE Gold Buckle Select Horse Sale will participate. Bill Oliver of Oliver Horses will work with each horse and rider, approaching them in an individualized manner.
“This is a really neat clinic that will focus on young horses and how to work with them on a partnership so that everybody is safe and everybody has a good experience,” DeVerniero explained.
Each day of this clinic will be free to attend, offering an educational experience for spectators. Prospective buyers will also get the opportunity to observe these young horses preform under saddle. You can find the daily clinic schedule on the NILE website.
The heart of the NILE horse week will look similar to years past. The AQHA and All Breeds Versatility Ranch Horse Show will start at 4 p.m. on Oct. 12, and run through Oct. 14. The show will be both AQHA- and MQHA-sanctioned.
Also running Oct. 12-14 will be Montana’s only Ranching Heritage Challenge show. The Ranching Heritage Challenge classes are very similar to those offered in the Versatility Ranch Horse Show, but as DeVerniero explained, horses are only eligible to compete in the Ranching Heritage Challenge if they come from a AQHA-certified Ranching Heritage breeder.
“Not just anybody can enter the Ranching Heritage Challenge. You have to have a horse that is eligible because they came through a very specific ranch,” she said.
The NILE Gold Buckle Futurities will be on Thursday, Oct. 15. Yearlings and two-year-olds eligible for the futurity must have been purchased through a previous NILE Gold Buckle Select Sale. Three-, four- and five-year-olds eligible for the futurity could either have been purchased through the sale or be sired by a nominated stallion.
Saturday, Oct. 17, will be the highly acclaimed NILE Gold Buckle Select Horse Sale. This year all 125 cataloged horses will sell on Saturday – both the lead through weanlings/yearlings and the ride through performance horses. The sale catalog will be available on the NILE website or you can e-mail DeVerniero to request a copy in the mail.
At the sale on Saturday will also be the drawing for the NILE Raffle Filly. This year’s filly, Fiddle on Rita, was graciously donated by Matt and Cassie Winters of Spring Valley Ranch in Volga City, Iowa. Fiddle on Rita is an own granddaughter of High Brow Cat with a bottom side that traces back to solid foundation lines. She has been in training with Jonah Deines since July and will be ready to go in any direction.
Tickets for the 2020 NILE Raffle Filly can be purchased on the NILE’s website or by calling the NILE office at 406-256-2497.
The NILE’s week-long equine extravaganzas will conclude on Sunday, Oct. 18, with a Wrangler Team Roping Championship sanctioned team roping. The event, which is new for this year, will begin at 10 a.m. at the Miller’s Horse Palace.
Whether you are wanting to show a horse, buy a horse or maybe just look at a horse, the NILE’s week of horse-centric events is the place to do it all. For more information on the events, please visit www.thenile.org or e-mail Bonnie DeVerniero directly at email@example.com.