NRHA Dale Wilkinson Lifetime Achievement Award Nominations Due June 1

Named for the man known as the “father of modern-day reining,” the National Reining Horse Association Dale Wilkinson Lifetime Achievement Award is a prestigious accolade.

Dale Wilkinson stood out among his peers as his technique and willingness to teach transformed the sport of reining into the model of collection and finesse that we know today. Wilkinson was one of the founding members of the NRHA and the first Hall of Fame inductee. During his lifetime, he was an educator, promoter, and mentor to all reiners. He set an example of how riders should conduct themselves, train and exhibit a horse. Due to his unmatched lifetime of accomplishment in reining, the NRHA Hall of Fame Committee created the NRHA Dale Wilkinson Lifetime Achievement Award, supported by the Reining Horse Foundation.

Each year, the NRHA Board of Directors and past Hall of Fame inductees vote to approve a worthy candidate for recognition. Unique among its counterparts, the criteria for the award is not centered around NRHA membership, competition/earning records or even status as a breeder or owner. It is solely based on the person’s positive impact on the sport of reining.

In keeping with the culture that Wilkinson helped to form, the NRHA Dale Wilkinson Lifetime Achievement Award nominee must have an inherent passion for the industry. They must have contributed to or changed the course of reining in a positive way irrespective of personal gain. Additionally, the recipient will have demonstrated the ability and desire to attract new people to the sport.

“To be nominated for and receive the Dale Wilkinson Lifetime Achievement Award is one of NRHA’s highest honors,” says NRHA Executive Assistant & Governance Coordinator Liz Kelsey, who also serves as the staff liaison to the NRHA Hall of Fame Committee. “When you look at who else has received the award, you will see some of reining’s most notable contributors.”

Any NRHA member can submit a nomination which is due on June 1, 2021. All nominations should be sent to Liz Kelsey at

This year’s recipient will be formally recognized during Sliders’ Night Out presented by Toyon Ranch held on December 1 during the NRHA Futurity and Adequan® North American Affiliate Championships in Oklahoma City.

Click here for the NRHA Dale Wilkinson Lifetime Achievement Award nomination form.

Event Sponsor Mental Athletics Offers Workshops to NRHyA Members

Since 2001, young reiners in the National Reining Horse Youth Association have benefited from their membership through college scholarships, learning and leadership experiences, life-long friendships and a whole lot of fun along the way.

That’s why NRHA Professional Gil Friedman of Mental Athletics is now a proud event sponsor of the National Reining Horse Association and is focusing on the association’s younger membership.

“I truly believe that the youth of the NRHA are the future of our industry and will frame the competitive culture for years to come,” Friedman shared. “This group of young and passionate riders will one day be the leaders of our sport. Mental toughness is widely considered a foundation for the development of successful athletes and leaders in the world of competitive sports. The reining industry deserves those kinds of athletes and leaders.”

Mental Athletics is a mindset coaching program practiced around the globe, and Friedman will be offering two separate three-part online workshops free of charge exclusively to NRHyA members. The first workshop is set and scheduled to begin May 22, giving youth members the opportunity to complete training prior to the NRHA Derby presented by Markel.

The second workshop will be held in the fall leading up to the NRHA Futurity and Adequan® North American Affiliate Championships.

The three-session workshops will provide knowledge, techniques and training tools for the personal development of every competitive rider. “We have two major goals. We want to help riders reach their peak performance and achieve a high level of wellbeing, all while living a competitive life,” Friedman said. “We hope to encourage every young rider to overcome unseen barriers and mental challenges, all while chasing their dreams.”

NRHA Manager of Youth and Professional Programs Sara Honegger says she is excited for the opportunity available to NRHyA members. “I believe it will be such a benefit to NRHyA members. The skills they will gain from Mental Athletics extend far past the show pen and I feel that our members will still use them long after their days as youth members. Gil is brilliant at what he does, and I cannot wait for NRHyA to experience it,” she said.

The scheduled dates for the first Mental Athletics Online Workshop are:

  • Saturday, May 22 at 12:00 pm CT
  • Thursday, June 3 at 12:00 pm CT
  • Thursday, June 10 at 12:00 pm CT

To sign up for the workshop email
For more information about Mental Athletics, visit the Facebook page at or the website at

Newest NRHA Corporate Partner Colston Paving, Inc. to Sponsor Non Pro Stakes

Frankfort, Kentucky’s Colston Paving, Inc., is the National Reining Horse Association’s newest Corporate Partner. Not only that, but this sponsorship helped create a new division at the NRHA Derby presented by Markel, the Non Pro Stakes.

The Non Pro Stakes, open to 4-year-old reiners, is an exceptional fit for the company, which is owned by Kevin and Amy Colston. Their son, Lane, is quickly rising in the ranks of Non Pro standings with more than $300,000 in lifetime earnings. The Colstons came onto the reining scene eight years ago following a 15-year hiatus from horses. “When my father passed, I was trying to run a construction company and didn’t have time for horses anymore, so we got out of it for a while,” Kevin shared. “When Lane expressed interest in showing, we decided to start again. Now we try to hit all the major events and show locally as much as we can.”

Kevin and Amy have been staunch supporters of their NRHA Affiliate, the Kentucky Reining Horse Association, and regularly sponsor events close to home. “We have always tried to support the KRHA and other events, and since we go to all the major events now, we believed we should support the NRHA at a national level,” Kevin explained.

That thought led to discussions with NRHA Commissioner Gary Carpenter and NRHA President Rick Clark. “I brought up the idea of Corporate Partnership about a year ago with Gary. I think he and Rick really wanted to find something that would be a good match for us, and the Non Pro Stakes is definitely that,” Kevin shared. “Up until now, the only Stakes we have been able to attend was at the High Roller, and we have always looked forward to that. I think the Stakes at the Derby will be great for everyone because our futurity horses will have had time to rest after the Futurity and will be ready to roll.”

Carpenter said, “From the start, I knew Kevin had a genuine interest in making a difference in our industry. He is doing this for the sport above all and is part of the growth that we are seeing. I believe we will see increased participation in the 4-year-old division. We appreciate his foresight and vision.”

The Colston Paving, Inc. Non Pro Stakes boasts an impressive $20,000 in added money. The Stakes will run concurrently with the NRHA Derby go-rounds, and while cross-entry into the NRHA Derby is allowed, it is not mandatory. Horses may be shown one-handed in any legal bridle, and the winner will be determined in the go-round.

For more information, about the Colston Paving, Inc. Non Pro Stakes, visit


NRHA Hall of Fame Nomination Deadline is June 1

The National Reining Horse Association’s Hall of Fame is a collection of exceptional individuals, both human and equine. These industry pillars have contributed to the reining industry through immeasurable avenues. In the NRHA Hall of Fame, their accomplishments and extraordinary contributions of time, expertise, financial support, and commitment live on as their legacies.

The 2021 Hall of Fame inductees will be formally recognized during Sliders’ Night Out presented by Toyon Ranch. This very special event will be held December 1 during the NRHA Futurity and Adequan®­ North American Affiliate Championships.

NRHA Hall of Fame Committee Chairman Mike Hancock takes his position very seriously. “When I look back at all the previous Hall of Fame members, I am proud to say I knew most of them and saw most of the horses show,” he said. “They defined our industry, and it is important to remember them.”

The honor bestowed on these individuals by inclusion in the Hall of Fame is as immense.  Inducted into the NRHA Hall of Fame in 2017, Rosanne Sternberg remembers the emotional moment well. She said, “Being recognized by induction into the NRHA Hall of Fame is such a massive and cherished honor for a member. The association has been a wonderful organization to be part of. Meeting, learning from and working with many talented and dedicated people, who are fellow enthusiasts of the sport, give a lifetime of invaluable memories which accepting this honor commemorates.”

The deadline to nominate an individual or horse is June 1. Reining Horse Foundation Executive Director Leslie Baker explains the selection process.  “From the applications, the committee determined the nominees and then the NRHA Board and Hall of Fame members select people and horses worthy of reining’s highest honor. It is then the privilege of the Reining Horse Foundation to celebrate these individuals at our annual gala event. It is a wonderful collaboration.”

The path to nomination is rigorous in order to uphold the integrity of the Hall of Fame and the honor of the title. Hancock commented, “The criteria allow significant people and horses to be recognized for their contributions in and out of the arena. Coaches, breeders, outstanding sires or dams, owners or major influencers in the industry are all considered in the selection process. However, it is important that all are measured by the criteria that was established by the NRHA Board of Directors.”

Individuals are nominated by NRHA members, and the Hall of Fame Committee screens the nominees. Qualifying nominations are then brought before the NRHA Board of Directors and previous Hall of Fame inductees. Their attributes will be weighed against those of other nominees and a two-thirds majority vote must be achieved. The Nomination Criteria and Hall of Fame Nomination Forms can be found at

Creativity Comes to Life in NRHyA Art & Photo Contest Sponsored by the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum

The National Reining Horse Youth Association boasts a skilled group of members. Not only do these youth compete in the show pen, many have other talents. Thanks to a partnership with the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, some of the more creative members can compete for major recognition.

“We are thrilled that the NRHyA has once again partnered with the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum for the 2021 Art & Photo Contest. Last year this partnership not only created prize incentives for the winners but also allowed young artists to get exposure in a public setting,” explained Sara Honegger, NRHA Manager of Youth & Professional Programs. “Last year 17 NRHyA members participated with more than 30 entries. We hope to have even more of our members enter the contest this year.”

NRHyA President Olivia Klug entered the contest, finishing first in the Mixed Medium division for the 14-18 age group. “I chose to participate in the art contest last year because I thought it was a good opportunity to show something I am passionate about. I have always loved art, but have never had the chance to display my work. The NRHyA Art & Photo contest was the perfect way for me to share that part of me,” Klug said.

As in 2020, first place in each age group of each category will be displayed June 17–27 at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum for visitors to see during the 2021 NRHA Derby presented by Markel Insurance.

“Having my work displayed at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum was a surreal feeling. The museum is one of my favorite places to visit in Oklahoma. I felt extremely fortunate to have my work there along with that of many other talented artists. I cannot describe how grateful I am to the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum for providing the NRHyA this opportunity,” Klug noted.

Judges for this year’s contest include NRHA Commissioner Gary Carpenter, Michael R. Grauer, McCasland Chair of Cowboy Culture/Curator of Cowboy Collections and Western Art at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum; and Steve Miller, vice president, event marketing at NRHA Corporate Partner Montana Silversmiths.

Entry forms for the 2021 NRHyA Art & Photo Contest can be found at Entries will be accepted until May 14.

Klug added, “I would tell anyone considering entering the Art & Photo contest to do it! For a while I was nervous about entering my work, but I am so thankful I did. I enjoyed being able to see everyone’s entries, and I would love to see yours too! Each piece entered has a special story behind it, and NRHyA would love to be able to help display it.”