- Location, location, location. Held in the Alltech Arena at the world-famous Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky., one of the most awesome equine tourism opportunities is available right outside the event, not to mention all that the Horse Capital of the World and famed Bluegrass horse country has to offer.
- AQHA eye candy. You’re guaranteed to get goosebumps watching the remuda of 6666 Ranch-bred Quarter Horses thunder into the arena.
- Who will the wild card competitor be? Oh, the anticipation! This year, Trevor Carter took the 2015 Ram Trucks Wildcard Championship title prior to the main competition. Carter and his 6666 Ranch bred gelding Royal Wall (aka Sailor) also earned Fan Favorite honors.
- Double the fun. This year’s event featured a new twist with each competitor working two horses.
- Announcer and official Horseman’s Host Richard Winters. The play-by-play from 2009 Road to the Horse champion Winters brought a unique and knowledgeable perspective as the contestants worked their colts. On-the-spot roundpen interviews also added insight to what the clinicians were doing and experiencing in the moment.
- A cool $100K prize money. What would you do with $100,000? Buy more horses? A fabulous new trailer with living quarters? The possibilities are endless. Plus, there was a $10,000 prize offered to one lucky fan this year.
- Looking for an action-packed riding sport? The Mounted Shooters of America put on exciting all-star demos in this event combining speed, horsemanship and shooting skills. (Don’t worry—the bullets are actually black powder blanks for safety.)
- Junk food junkies need to try Oreo churros, the most unique food offering at the event this year.
- If you want to know how the west is being worn, you’ll enjoy checking out the wide range of western style the crowd sports, from bling to fringe, all kinds of denim, and of course, boots and hats.
- A full house—that’s about 6,500 horse lovers filling the seats. The Alltech Arena was sold out again this year, as well as the last two years since the event moved to Lexington from Murfreesboro, Tenn. in 2013.
- Retail therapy, anyone? The shopping at this event offered plenty of temptation. Sparkly belts, cowgirl fashions and jewelry, plus boots, western saddles and tack, farm equipment, horse health products and more. Plus, you could pick up souvenir apparel from the event and the 6666 Ranch and visit clinician booths as well.
- A few wild rides. As Richard Winters commented about the rodeo bronc moments, there’s no behavior that horse people hate so much (bucking), yet love to watch when it happens to other people. “It’s like NASCAR,” he said. “No one wants to wreck their own car, but they sure love to watch someone else do it,”
- Dance party! During downtime, the crowd was encouraged to get up, get down and dance. This is one horse event where whooping and cheering is OK, too. Golf clap not required.
- RFD-TV piloted a drone over the final obstacle course during intermission, and also did a fly-by around the arena. Pretty cool! The event was scheduled to air on RFD-TV for the first time starting April 1, 2015 to bring the action from this sellout event to even more fans.
- Chris Cox’s final round on the colt Rockin’ History certainly made history as Cox became the unprecedented four time winner of the event. Cox completed the rail work and navigated the entire obstacle course successfully—including a fire-breathing dragon—with time to spare. Cox led the competition from start to finish and showed why he is the master of colt starting.
2014 wild card champion and winner Jim Anderson placed second and 2015 wild card competitor Trevor Carter finished in third place.
Liked this article? Here’s more on Road to the Horse:
Scenes from the 2015 Road to the Horse
Jim Anderson Wins Road to the Horse 2014
Photoset: Road to the Horse 2014
Slideshow: 2013 Road to the Horse