Riata's March Newsletter

Riata's March Newsletter

Feb 20, 2024

THE RIATA BUCKLE CHAMPIONSHIPS is moving to a NEW date, September 25th – 29th, 2024, which should be our new home indefinitely (view the schedule below). The date will keep us out of the cold, maybe away from a lot of other conflicts. More importantly, two arenas will be used for everything but the Pro Futurity and breakaway. The formats and schedule look similar, but there are some significant changes. We are going a day earlier this year to accommodate the Pro Futurity guys heading to Sioux Falls, SD, and breakaway ropers on Sunday.

We know everyone wants to know about money first, so here it is. Last year the event paid $2.6 million, making it the fourth richest roping event in the world, with the most added money in cowboy history. We expect the event to grow a little this year and it certainly will pass the $3 million dollar mark. In addition to the added money at the Riata Buckle, we will be spreading bonus money at over a half dozen ropings nationwide. We have a description of that later in this newsletter.

Below are the payoffs from 2023, and here is what the estimated payoffs for 2024 will look like using team counts from last year and committed added money. Obviously, we think both the 10.5 and the 9.5 are going to grow this year, but with that said, if the team counts are identical to 2023 and including an entry fee increase for this year, they would look like this:  

We believe $3 million is a soft target!

"We hope to present a million-dollar division by the fourth or fifth year of Riata!"


"No event within a roping association or a stallion program has ever grown as fast as The Riata Buckle. Riata Buckle will be the second or third richest roping in the world within the next two years!!"

So here are the most significant changes for the season:

NEW! For the 2024 season and beyond, the 10% Breeder Bonus changes to Nominator Bonus.  The 10% Nominator Bonus is paid to the first person or entity who nominates a Riata Buckle eligible offspring.
No doubt this rule change will ruffle a few feathers, but the fact remains that each year much of locating breeder and their addresses is a big challenge.  When found, many are surprised as they did not breed these horses for the "Riata Buckle" program. We contacted several operations that nominate lots of colts and asked the question, "will you nominate more or less colts under this rule?" With some variation in the discussion, the answer was generally, "probably not."
It is our hope that it will encourage anyone purchasing a Riata "eligible" horse who wants to train, rope, or even resell, to go ahead and nominate a Riata. If someone leaves a horse merely "eligible," we want the rising bonus money to go people who are investing in these horses. For those of you who always thought that horse owners should get a bonus, it is probable that quite a few owners will be the first nominator.

We are more than doubling our 2023 guarantee to $250,000 which includes $50,000 guaranteed money paid in the 5-year-old incentive.  This most certainly will be one of the richest breakaway ropings in the country. The Breakaway roping is a grand experiment this year collaborating efforts between Riata Buckle, Pink Buckle, and Ruby Buckle. Breakaway ropers riding nominated progeny from any of these three stallion incentives will be eligible to enter.
The Pink and Ruby breakaway programs have become stagnant over the past few seasons. Beyond the debate over formats, there are increasing concerns that breakaway may not be sustainable within stallion incentive programs because of the filter on total number of breakaway horses available, particularly with the overall number of participants limited by the stallion filter. The Pink and Ruby breakaways have not grown and there was much discussion about discontinuing the program. With that thought in mind, the potential with the Riata Buckle split short round format did not escape anyone's attention—leading to this collaboration. One way or another, $250,000 should reveal the real potential in a stallion incentive program for breakaway roping horses.
With all the debate concerning whether breakaway ropers have enough volume to sustain a stallion incentive division, which is a different situation with lady team ropers.  Recently, Global announced that it has over 4,300 active lady ropers in the country, which has grown from 10% of the total ropers a few years ago to 15% of all active ropers by the end of 2023. Relatively speaking that is a huge jump in a very short time. As you are aware, within that group, well over 90% are headers, but there are only 14 with a handicap of #6 or higher. Therefore, to kick this program off we will start with a Global cap of 5.5 and lower.  After we get a year or so of real-life analysis under our belt, the statistics will tell us everything we need to know. There are a few who will initially be left outside the cap, but once we get a good look, we will make a place for everyone.

We have dropped the requirement that both horses meet the age requirement to be in the Pro Futurity or compete in a Futurity Incentive. Guaranteed Futurity / Incentive money will be split evenly between head horses and heel horses, and the holes paid will be based on their respective rankings.

Last year there were roughly 350 proxy horses of the 2600 horses in 1300 teams. It was not that significant, and only had an impact on 15% of the winning teams. But we do need to support those developing the young horses.
Therefore, the proxy program will continue for Riata Buckle nominated horses 3 years old and younger with a couple of rule changes:

  • Proxy/helper horses are not allowed in the Pro Futurity. Additionally, proxy horses are not allowed in the Junior roping, or the Owner's #8.5 Roping.
  • The owner of the 3-year and under Riata Buckle horse is the only roper who can use their progeny for its proxy. Just to be clear, you cannot loan or borrow a nominated progeny.  A registration application on a pending colt will be required to show proof to ride a proxy.
  • Because of the verification difficulty, the In Utero proxy has been eliminated.
  • Proxy horses will be eligible for equal payoffs, including added money, less a 20% commission.

With the exception of the specialty events, entry fees will be $800 / roper.  We allow three entries, two All-Age and one Futurity Incentive or two Futurity Incentive and one All-Age, in order to promote the young horses.
The Pro Futurity has been raised to $1,000 / roper matching other major futurities in the country. Additionally, after last year the Pro Futurity contestants lobbied strongly for equal added money. This roping will always range between 75 and 100 teams and this entry fee change will create a fair financial ratio for roper participation.

We had quite a few owners and low number ropers who were having trouble getting partners last year. So, we decided to create a businessman's type roping with a "Draw-In" option. We also left the back door open so they can bring their regular partners who don't have Riata Buckle horses (yet) on any registered horse (not proxy). And in addition, the fees will be a little less and they can enter three times. This division also has an older age cap on it at 50+ for men or 40+ for women.

We are pleased to offer more opportunities and offer Bonus payments at some major ropings. Riata Bonus incentives will be advertised in specific divisions at various locations around the country. It may appear that we are randomly picking and choosing the number divisions, but there is a strategy. At some events we will offer only one division and at others we may offer several. But the goal is to promote our Riata Buckle stallions by providing additional opportunities to win money on Riata rope horses.
We will advertise Bonus money of usually $10,000 or $20,000 to the top Riata Buckle head and heel horses wherever they place within a selected division. We will use side pots as the vehicle in much the same manner WSTR handled the American rodeo qualifiers last year. You will be able to enter at the same time you enter the main ropings. The number of checks will be determined by the number of Riata entries. At the start we will offer these bonuses at events being live streamed by to assist us with horse verification. Below are the ropings we have selected for the Riata Bonus this time and obviously the Finale will have more divisions covered than the rest.
Patriot Team Roping, June, Reno, NV
WSTR Big Daddy, July, Cheyenne, WY
WSTR Title Fights, Sep, Abilene, TX
WSTR Finale, Dec, Las Vegas, NV

Next year, we will consider some of the big winter ropings in January and February, Arizona to Florida.  We are not ignoring the big Texas qualifiers with their Heartland and Bloomers, but those deals have not been nailed down yet. Sit tight and we will have you some announcement on a couple of those shortly.  This looks ambitious but ultimately Riata team ropers will determine the growth and location of thousands of dollars in Bonus money based on Riata participation. We will keep our fingers crossed and hope to see you at some of these ropings!!

There had always been a plan to offer a horse sale when the Riata Buckle program had enough momentum to support a first-class sale.  Our goal has been to debut the first sale in a premier location, offer the potential for the event to have growing room and make available the best Riata Buckle horses on the market.
We are pleased to announce that the first Riata Buckle Horse sale will be presented during the WSTR Finale in Vegas this year! The Finale is the biggest and best roping event in the world, with the largest concentration of team ropers for all across the country. We are working on details at this time and will be releasing that information in the next few weeks. You can expect the sale to be on the first Sunday of the Finale in December (which runs simultaneously with the WNFR).  Riata Buckle sponsored the Finale Open event so coincidently... The sale will coincide on the same day as the Riata Open roping. It will be limited to a very select 50 or 60 horses. 
WSTR continues to support this program and has sanctioned the Riata Buckle Championship event qualifying ropers for the 2024 Ariat WSTR Las Vegas Finale. It should become crystal clear that we are creating a symbiotic relationship with WSTR that absolutely brings Riata stallions to the forefront and is going to benefit everyone in the team roping industry. Visit for a complete Finale event schedule.

VIEW The Riata Buckle Championship Tentative Schedule