Horses and riders from all over Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri and Oklahoma are participating in the Quarter Horse Cottonwood Classic this weekend at the Kansas State Fairgrounds. The show begins at 8 a.m. and ends at varying times on each of the days from Feb. 28 through March 3.

The show features both English and Western styles, as well as ranch competition riding, hunting and halter events. The competitions are free and open to the public. With more than 120 horses and lots more riders – from youth to adults, the event will run both at the indoor and outdoor arenas.

“The ranch (competition) is what the cowboys would do out on the ranch,” said Sarina Nickel, of Scott City, the Cottonwood Classic’s show manager. “It’s an all-around show.”

This competition is approved by the American Quarter Horse Association and the KQHA. The AQHA headquarters, which began in 1940, are located in Amarillo, Texas. The association boosts more than 200,000 members.

According to the AQHA, the American Quarter Horse is a mixed breed of Spanish Barbs, Chickasaw Native American horses and Colonists’ English stock. The term “Quarter” refers to the distance, a quarter of a mile, the AQHA said, most commonly run in Colonial racing, often on the main streets of small villages along the East Coast.

Eventually, this quick horse moved west with the pioneers. Once on the Great Plains, the Mustang added to the quarter horse’s genetics. According to the AQHA, many other horses added to the breed, which was strong and fast.

Quarter Horses helped bring cattle along the Chisholm Trail. They trotted down streets in Dodge City, Abilene, Wichita and Ellsworth. Many cowboys called them Steeldusts.

“If you like horses,” Nickel said, “this will be a great event to watch.”

To learn more about the event, go to the Cottonwood Classic page on the AQHA website.