NRHA and AQHA Announce Cooperative Agreement Between Farnam AQHA World Championship Show and NRHA Futurity

Following discussions between American Quarter Horse Association Director of Competition Scott Neuman, National Reining Horse Association Commissioner Gary Carpenter, and NRHA Show Manager Cheryl Cody, an agreement has been reached regarding event dates. This pact will benefit the Farnam AQHA World Championship Show and the NRHA Futurity, both held at the Oklahoma State Fair Park in Oklahoma City.

The two organizations tackled a problem together and, beginning in 2023, tremendous changes will be made. The World Show will finish up with its reining world championships on Thursday, November 16, and the NRHA Futurity move-in will begin on Friday, November 17.

For NRHA, enhanced growth for the massive futurity show had created scheduling difficulties, and for AQHA, increasing participation in the reining classes was a goal.

“We value our long-time relationship with NRHA, and leasing two days over to them during the Farnam AQHA World Championship Show made sense for both associations and our exhibitors,” said Karl Stressman, AQHA chief executive officer. “We are proud to support growth in the equine industry and opportunities for American Quarter Horse owners, especially, to exhibit their American Quarter Horses. In turn, we are optimizing our own Farnam World Show schedule and are excited about the improvements we are making to our pinnacle event.”

The alliance creates sponsorship support for the AQHA World Championship Show from NRHA and will enhance the added money in AQHA World Show reining classes. It is hoped that this will begin a growth in participation.

Carpenter lauded AQHA leadership for the decision. “The long line of AQHA/NRHA partnerships began with our founding. This is a continuation of that rich history, which will benefit the members of both organizations,” Carpenter said. “As we both become more creative and flexible, I see a brighter and brighter future of cooperation.”

Horses will move in for the Futurity early Sunday morning, November 19, and NRHA Futurity competition will begin on Tuesday, November 21. The two additional days that will be added to the event will give relief to a schedule that has been bursting at the seams.

“We appreciate AQHA’s willingness to work together on this, and we are very excited to offer NRHA members an improved schedule with extra days of competition,” Cody said.

Further details will be forthcoming, but the new schedule is expected to have a positive impact on both events.

NRHA Hires Billy Smith as Next Commissioner

Following the announcement of current NRHA Commissioner Gary Carpenter’s retirement at the end of the year, NRHA has hired Billy Smith as his replacement to lead the association.

“We are thrilled to bring Billy on to take over the reins in the wake of Gary’s retirement”, said NRHA President Mark Blake. “I want to thank Jim Harlan and his team at MJM Global Search, Inc. as well as the official search committee, for all their hard work. I believe we have found the best possible individual to take over and help continue to move the association forward.”

Smith, who is stepping down as the Executive Director of the American Paint Horse Association (APHA), boasts a well-rounded resume of education and decades-long industry experience, including tenured positions at the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA).

During his time at APHA, the world’s second-largest breed association, Smith spearheaded several key initiatives, including the creation of the award-winning CHROME publication and overseeing a successful relocation of the headquarters to the Fort Worth Stockyards.

His extensive information and technology experience proved essential in the creation of the first-ever equine show judge, exhibitor, and trainer educational platform, HorseIQ.

Additionally, under his leadership, the American Paint Horse Association Junior Paint Horse Association World Championship Show was founded as an all-scholarship youth breed equine championship, achieving $1.5 million in funding.

The Chrome Cash Incentive, a program designed to directly impact Paint horses in western performance horse events, has garnished massive appeal under Smith’s direction. It was recently expanded to include even more traditional all-around events.

“NRHA is fortunate to have attracted a leader of the caliber of Billy Smith. I have known Billy for years, and he has always been an innovator, and I know he will bring that creativity, passion, and strategic thinking to NRHA. We have so many great opportunities at hand, and he is absolutely the right person to capitalize on them. I know I am leaving NRHA in capable hands. I look forward to seeing what he does for the association and industry,” said current Commissioner Carpenter.

Smith will begin work alongside Carpenter next month to ensure a smooth transition of power.

“Nothing is harder than leaving an organization you love unless it’s going to an organization you know you’ll grow to love. APHA has emerged as a leader in innovation, and I hope to carry that spirit to NRHA and honor the great work launched by Gary Carpenter,” said Billy Smith.

Reining Horse Foundation Announces 2023 Scholarship Recipients

The Reining Horse Foundation (RHF) doubled the total amount of RHF Scholarship dollars awarded, added two additional scholarships, and raised the three top awards to $5,000 in 2022. The total was increased again in 2023, which raised four award amounts from previous levels. This growth in the program has been made possible by increased donor support for the RHF and its core programs, which include scholarships and youth leadership development.

The RHF scholarships are part of a larger program that awards over $60,000 annually combined with the Affiliate Regional Championship, CINCH Speaking Contest, and Varsity Reining Club scholarships.

The following levels organize the RHF scholarships: three recipients of $5,000, three recipients of $2,500, three recipients of $2,000, and one recipient of $1,500. Selection is based on financial need, academic record, involvement in the school and community, a special essay, and references. In total, $30,000 in RHF Scholarships are being given to 10 deserving students in 2023.

To apply, students must be members of the National Reining Horse Youth Association (NRHyA) for at least 24 months and be a senior in high school planning to pursue an undergraduate degree in a two- or four-year institution, trade, or technical school. A previous recipient of an RHF scholarship may reapply for a second scholarship if she or he meets all other criteria.

“These young people are impressive, not only for what they have accomplished through reining but for how they are involved in their schools, communities, and families,” said Terri Mainey, chairperson of the RHF Scholarship Committee. “It’s a great pleasure for the Reining Horse Foundation and its supporters to encourage them in their education.”

The scholarship program is open to NRHyA members from around the world. This year, the ten recipients represent nine different states. They are entering diverse programs of study.

The RHF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and the charitable arm of NRHA. It supports NRHyA, including youth leadership development woven throughout youth programming. Donors are invited to support NRHyA in numerous ways, including individual donations, memorials/honorariums, and fundraisers. To learn more, visit

Get to know more about each of these talented recipients.

$5,000 Scholarship Recipients

Kalena Reynolds

Kalena Reynolds of Cave Creek, Arizona, competes in the American Quarter Horse Youth Association (AQHYA), Texas Quarter Horse Youth Association, Arizona Reining Horse Association, and the Oklahoma Reining Horse Association. She has served as a National Reining Horse Youth Association delegate and a Texas Quarter Horse Association reporter and is an AQHYA Reining Reserve World Champion. This is her second year receiving an RHF scholarship.

Reynolds is currently attending Baylor University, pursuing a degree in journalism. She is an Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society and Baylor University Equestrian Team member.

Lillian Bains

Lillian Bains calls Gautier, Mississippi, home, where she has been a member of the Mississippi Quarter Horse Association, NRHyA Varsity Reining Club, 4-H, and National Honor Society. Bains also took part in Key Club and yearbook during high school.

She attends classes at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in a dual credit program and is pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering.

Hayden Kolb

When Hayden Kolb of Allegany, New York, had time open from being a snowboard instructor, she was an active member of 4-H, Youth Equestrian Development Association, AQHYA, American Ranch Horse Association, National Honor Society, cross country, and band. Kolb’s accomplishments while in school included IEA National Champion, 4-H regional qualifier, and 4-H Western/English High-Point Champion.

“It is a great honor to be chosen as a recipient of the RHF scholarship. It means so much to me that someone believes in me and is willing to invest in my future. I would like to thank my family and my trainers for all they have done to get me to where I am now,” Kolb says. “This recognition of my hard work and dedication throughout my years in high school means the world to me, and I couldn’t be more grateful.”

Kolb’s plan after high school involves pursuing equestrian studies and marketing and having a career involving horse breeding and training.

$2,500 Scholarship Recipients

Bridger Saxton 

Bridger Saxton, an avid horse trainer from Idaho Falls, Idaho, has the honor of obtaining this scholarship for a consecutive year. He competes and is involved in the American Stock Horse Association (ASHA) and the Idaho Reining Horse Association. He has had many accomplishments, including IDRHA Limited Non-Pro Champion, three-time ASHA Youth Champion, and many other equine awards.

“Receiving the Reining Horse Foundation’s scholarship has allowed me to continue my college career knowing that, when I graduate, I will be debt free. Having a debt-free experience has made it possible for me to concentrate on classes and showing my horses,” shares Saxton.

Saxton is pursuing a degree in business marketing while working toward his career goal of being an NRHA Professional.

Samantha Rumpel

Samantha Rumpel from Athens, Georgia, competes in the AQHA, Tennessee Reining Horse Association, Heart of Dixie Reining Horse Association, and Interscholastic Equestrian Association. A few of her top accolades include an Honor Roll award, Varsity Athletic award, 2017 IEA Championship Team, and TNRHA Top Youth award.

Rumpel plans to pursue a degree in business.

Madison Wigen

Madison Wigen from Joseph, Oregon, is an active member of FFA, National Honor Society, basketball, volleyball, track and field, and Varsity Reining Club. A few of Wigen’s accolades include earning an FFA State Degree, serving as senior class vice president and basketball captain, and receiving a scholar athlete award in volleyball. She has held NRHyA national offices and is serving as the 2023 NRHyA vice president,

Wigen plans to pursue a degree in psychology and have a career as a substance abuse counselor.

“Being awarded this scholarship from the Reining Horse Foundation is very special to me because it means that I have the support of the reining industry behind me as I pursue my future and continue my education. I am so grateful for the Reining Horse Foundation and their support of the NRHyA,” Wigen shares. “This scholarship helps my family to have less worry when it comes to tuition costs and other expenses when I leave to begin working toward my degree. I cannot thank the RHF enough for their support and for their generosity.”

$2,000 Scholarship Recipients

Adrianna Runzo

Adrianna Runzo of North Canton, Ohio, is busy when it comes to equine and school activities such as 4-H, Northern Ohio Horse Youth Association, AQHyA, Ultimate Frisbee Club, cross country, track and field, Model United Nations, and National Honor Society. Her accomplishments include Northern Ohio Quarter Horse Youth Association director, NRHyA East Central Regional delegate, and various NRHyA officer positions, including serving as the 2023 NRHyA President. Runzo’s plans include pursuing a degree in physical therapy.

“Winning a scholarship from the Reining Horse Foundation means the world to me,” Runzo said. “This scholarship will not only help me pursue my dream of working as a physical therapist in the equine industry but will help support my family as my twin brother and I enter a new stage in our lives as well. I cannot thank the Reining Horse Foundation enough for what they do for our reining community!”

Katie Buckley

Katie Buckley of Anna, Texas, is a current student at Texas A&M Commerce and is on the Stock Horse and Horse Judging teams. While in high school, she was active in Student Council, AQHA, Texas Quarter Horse Youth Association, FFA, and track and cross country. Her accomplishments included FFA officer, FFA horse judging state qualifier, Arabian Horse Association four-time National Champion, and AQHA World Qualifier.

“Receiving this scholarship from the RHF for the second year in a row means the world to me,” she said. “RHF is such an amazing organization for giving back to our youth, branching out to go to college, and starting the next steps in our lives!”

She is currently pursuing a degree in physical therapy.

Ariel Wieferich

Ariel Wieferich of Shepherd, Michigan, is an eager volunteer for NRHyA and the Michigan Reining Horse Association, where she has been a lifetime member. Wieferich has shown her impact in the reining community as a scholarship recipient for two consecutive years. She attends the University of Michigan, pursuing an aerospace and astronautical engineering degree.

She spent her time in high school with the MASA rocket building team, book club, science club leader, and basketball.

$1,500 John McQuay Memorial Scholarship Recipient

Jenna Batton 

Located in Sidney, Ohio, Jenna Batton was an active member of FFA, Student Council, National Honor Society, basketball, volleyball, and cheerleading. Accomplishments of Batton’s include being an FFA officer, class president, earning an FFA State Degree, and being captain of her basketball team. She worked as a volunteer with local fundraisers.

“I am very grateful to be receiving this award because it will help me achieve my goals! I am also very thankful for the Reining Horse Foundation’s support as they continue to invest in the future of our industry’s youth!” Batton said. “I will put this scholarship money toward college tuition this fall while I attend Miami University!”

Jenna plans to pursue a degree in public relations.

About Reining Horse Foundation: We Care For and Honor Our Reining Community

For more than two decades, members of the equine community have been doing good things through the Reining Horse Foundation, the charitable arm of the National Reining Horse Association. With its mission of caring for and honoring the reining community, the RHF has supporters from around the world. Core programs include the Dale Wilkinson Memorial Crisis Fund helping reiners enduring major hardships; youth scholarship and leadership development through the National Reining Horse Youth Association; and perpetuation of the sport’s history through the NRHA Hall of Fame. For more information or to give, visit