RANCHO MURIETA (CBS13) – World-class equestrian riders from all over the globe traveled to the Sacramento area with one goal, to qualify for the European World Cup for jumping.

"It's a pretty big deal and it's hard to qualify. The events range from Mexico to Canada to here and down in San Diego," said Karrie Rufer, a local and jumper in the main event.

These athletes get around a minute and a half to take a leap in hopes of qualifying for the World Cup in Paris.

"It's nice that a show of this caliber is in this area," she said.

Rufer is lucky enough to be competing in her own backyard.

"I started riding in Sacramento when I was three," she added.

Locally grown, Rufer said her real job is at her family's tomato farm, but she's just as committed to jumping.

"You got to be pretty tough as a competitor to keep on top of the horse and going and continue to want to do it even though you hit the ground a couple of times," she said.

In its first year, the Rancho Murieta Equestrian Center had 250 horses enter. Now, a decade later, there are 650 competitors.

"It's an event that brings probably 4,000 room nights, $2 million," said Mike Sophia, the Director of Sacramento Sports Commission.

That means big bucks for the local economy.

"When you have visitors come in they are spending their money at hotels, restaurants, shopping," she said.

The event even brings celebrities, and, of course, top-notch competition.

"Northern California has a special place in my heart," said Mandy Porter who’s also trying to qualify for Paris.

Porter is the best of the best, recently riding off with a million-dollar grand prize.

"I have been very, very fortunate this year…started it off with a bang," she said.

While only a select few will ever make it to Paris, competing in Sacramento is a tough hurdle and an accomplishment for these fierce athletes.

"It would be really fun to be able to go back to Europe and represent the United States on another team, and in Paris especially," she said.

As more people are exposed to the sport, organizers hope to keep attendance jumping for years to come.

The event continues through the weekend, October 5-8.


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