World's Richest Roping Futurity Coming to Fort Worth

Payoff will include $100,000 purse and new incentive for ropers with sub-7 classifications.

The American Quarter Horse Journal

Using a judged-and-timed format, horses ages 4-6 will vie for serious money at the first World Championship Rope Horse Futurity. (Journal photo)

Now that recreational team roping has become so popular and amateur competitions are so lucrative, the demand for quality rope horses is increasing. 

Enter Dean Tuftin, a former National Finals Rodeo heeler, and veteran AQHA showman Jay Wadhams, who has spent more than a decade producing events via his American Rope Horse Futurity Association. The two men have joined forces to spearhead a premier event.

The richest rope horse futurity in history is scheduled for this fall in Fort Worth, Texas, in conjunction with NRCHA’s Snaffle Bit Futurity. The World Championship Rope Horse Futurity promises a $100,000-added purse and is open to horses ages 4 to 6. The event is slated for October 13, with entries closing September 5.

Dean owns and operates DT Horses out of Oregon and has a mare line that has made a big splash in AQHA. Roping fans will remember George Strait’s DT Elenor Shine Whiz and Dean’s own DT Shesa Dun Whiz, full sisters by Kings Zantanon and out of Samantha Whiz. They won two straight Farnam AQHA year-end high-point awards: "Elenor" was the junior horse in 2016 and DT Shesa Dun Whiz was the senior horse in 2016. DT’s program also produced the recent two-time AQHA-PRCA Heel Horse of the Year Rey Shines On Top, who traces to Kings Zantanon on the bottom side.

Dean believes rope horses deserve a futurity of their own, one that will showcase young horses and compensate riders at the same time. He contracted Jay to produce it.

The format is unusual in that it will incorporate both a timed and judged component to determine the winners. The futurity will include three goes and a finals. Each run will be timed, and that number will be subtracted from 60 seconds. The resulting sum will then be added to the scores from each of two judges.

“This way, a one-leg catch is a five-point penalty,” explains Jay. “Traditional shows allow the possibility of a run with a one-leg catch to out-score a clean run. That’s one reason some ropers haven’t attended shows – because they don’t understand that. But I’ve showed and I’ve rodeoed, and I get it.”

Jay has assembled experienced judges for the $100,000 futurity who are known and respected by both rodeo and show ropers, and who know both sides of a good horse. One is five-time NFR header Jay Ellerman, who has ridden several AQHA world champions. The other is Justin Johnson, an AQHA World Show judge who heads and heels. Justin's younger brother is 2011 PRCA world champion heeler Jhett Johnson.

Format tweaks are providing further incentives to get ropers to come to Fort Worth to try their hand at part of that $100,000 purse.

“Quite a few guys at the shows rope really good, and a lot of the trainers are still numbered at a 6 or 7, so we’re offering an incentive that gives them a great chance for money,” says Jay. “And by making it three rounds plus a finals, as opposed to the rodeo-type one-header, we think the cream can rise to the top.”

Entrants can ride an unlimited number of horses per side for fees of $1,250. Jay says he is hearing good feedback from friends who train rope horses for rodeo and AQHA shows. By adding the time element, Jay expects to see entries start increasing at regional futurities, some of which will offer five-figure added purses on each end. “

People are looking for that high-end jackpot horse, and that’s what we’re looking to see,” Jay predicts. “There will be more of these futurities popping up.”

Entries for the World Championship Rope Horse Futurity close on September 5, and entries received September 5-25 will incur a $500 late fee. To enter or for more information, visit Facebook.com/ARHFA and www.AmericanRopeHorseFuturity.com.