The Show Before the Show: Horse events kick off Black Hills Stock Show

Brad Lund competes in the NRCHA event at the Black Hills Stock Show. The reined cow horse is just one of many equine events taking place in Rapid City in January. | Photo by Scootem-N-Shootem.  
Brad Lund at Black Hills Stock Show

More than three weeks of equine and western activities are on the schedule for this year’s Black Hills Stock Show. 

Starting Jan. 14, a variety of events, from AQHA shows to NRCHA shows and everything in between, will be on the docket for the stock show. 

Ranch sorting, hosted by Zane and Stacey Thar, kicks off the stock show on Jan. 14, with the South Dakota Cutting Horse Association hosting the cutting January 16-18.  

Then more equine events take place, including the AQHA Versatility Ranch Horse Competition/Ranching Heritage Challenge (Jan. 19-20); the AQHA Winter Classic (various disciplines on each day, Jan. 21-26); the NRCHA All-Around Show and Bridle Spectacular Non-Pro (Jan. 22); the Best of the West Roping Futurity, Calf Roping and Team Roping (Jan. 22, 24); the Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo NRCHA All-around Show (Jan. 22); and the Winter Spectacular NRCHA Show.  

The Stock Show produces all the equine events except for the first two, the Ranch Sorting and SDCHA events.  

The events are a good fit for the Black Hills Stock Show, says John Kaiser, assistant general manager for the Stock Show. “It’s a nice healthy mixture of the events we produce and events that other promoters bring to us. It’s a nice contrast.” 

Each event brings its own unique flavor or twist for horse people.  

The AQHA Versatility Ranch Horse Competition and Ranching Heritage Challenge is well-suited for the geographical area, Kaiser said. “It showcases more of the ranch style competition, like trail ranch riding and ranch cutting. It’s a good event, especially for this area, where we have good ranches and good ranch horses.”  

The AQHA Winter Classic features several different disciplines: all-around, cutting, open ranch riding, halter class, roping, ranch riding, reining and working cow horse, which makes it possible for a horse to qualify in several disciplines at one event. “You can show your horses and qualify for the World Show in a bunch of different events at the same time,” Kaiser said.  

The Best of the West Roping Futurity is one of the best in the nation, he said. “We have a really good turnout of ropers that come to Rapid City. We’re big rope country here, and you’ll see some of the best.”  

Both local and national horse talent is on exhibit at the stock show horse events. “We have a healthy attendance of local horse enthusiasts and local trainers,” Kaiser said. “But the shows also bring in a lot of outside trainers as well. It’s a perfect mix.” The AQHA shows have multiple divisions, so different skill levels are competing against their own level.  

Brad Lund has competed in the reined cow horse at the Stock Show for more than a dozen years. 

The LaCygne, Kansas man likes being able to compete in a variety of events.  

“I enjoy going up there just because I get to do a lot of different events,” he said. “I use it as preparation for the World’s Greatest Horseman in Ft. Worth. The stock show has a four-eventer up there for bridle horses: cutting, reining, steer stopping, and go down the fence.”  

His business, Brad Lund Performance Horses, focuses on the cow horse and roping events, and the stock show is good for him. “The roping’s really big there, with the roping futurity, and with the NRCHA and NCHA events, those people have been good to us. They take care of us. 

“You get in that heated arena, and with another new stall barn, it’s really nice.” 

The equine events draw a minimum of 2,500 entries, not counting the ranch sorting and the SDCHA events.  

They are a big appeal for the stock show.  

“This event (the stock show) is so big and impacts so many people. It’s important to horsemen and the entire region.”  

A complete schedule can be found online at