IEA Holds Second Annual Western Semi-Final Competitions in Tennessee and Ohio

March 29, 2019 – Columbus, Ohio – The Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) will hold the second annual Western semi-final competitions on April 6–7, 2019 in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and April 13–14, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio, for IEA riders in grades 6–12 from across the nation.

Youth Western riders competed in regular season shows in their respective regions using a draw-based system, whereby riders draw their mount from a supplied pool of horses. Each region also conducted a post-season Regional Finals to determine which teams and individual riders qualified for these semi-final events. The top three riders and teams from each region move on to the semi-finals.

The first semi-final will be held at Middle Tennessee State University Miller Horse Science Center & Coliseum in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This event will be judged by Allen Mitchels (AQHA, NRHA, NSBA, NCHA, NRCHA) and Kim Myers (AQHA, NRHA, NSBA, APHA). The second semi-final will be held at the Ohio State Fairgrounds and Expo Center in Columbus, Ohio, and will coincide with Equine Affaire—one of the largest equine expos in the United States. This event will be judged by Debbie Kail (AQHA, NSBA) and Carla Wennburg (AQHA, NRHA, NSBA). Over 150 qualified riders will attend each semi-final competition.

The top six teams and individual riders from each semi-final will progress to the IEA Western National Finals to be held on June 15–16, 2019 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, during the NRHA Derby.

Major sponsors for the 2019 IEA Western Semi-Finals include the title sponsor, the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA), along with Bob’s Custom Saddles (Official Western Saddle Sponsor of the IEA), C4 Belts, Cinch Jeans, Equine Affaire, Kimes Ranch, and Matt Mills Reining Horses.

A full schedule for both Western Semi-Final events can be found at


About the Interscholastic Equestrian Association:

Now in its 17th year, the IEA has nearly 14,000 members across the United States riding and coaching Hunt Seat, Western, and Dressage disciplines. The non-profit (501(c)3) IEA was organized to promote and improve the quality of equestrian competition and instruction available to middle and secondary school students and is open to public and private schools and barn teams. There is no need for a rider to own a horse because the IEA supplies a mount and tack to each equestrian for competitions. Its purpose is to set minimum standards for competition, provide information concerning the creation and development of school associated equestrian sport programs, to generally promote the common interests of safe riding instruction and competition, and education on matters related to equestrian competition at the middle and secondary school levels. For more information, please visit

Kimber Whanger
IEA Communications Coordinator

More opportunities for Novice Horses at the NRHA Derby

$25,000-added Bob’s Custom Saddles Novice Horse Derby added to this year’s event

Providing more opportunities for derby-aged horses is the name of the game with the Bob’s Custom Saddles Novice Horse Derby – to be held during the 2019 National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Derby presented by Markel Insurance in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. An additional $25,000 in added money is available to a group of horses looking to expand their earnings and careers in reining. The general conditions have been provided below. More details and an entry form will be made available at in the coming weeks.

  • Age/Earnings Cap: For 4-, 5-, and 6-year-olds who have won less than $10,000 as of May 1
  • Open: $15,000-added L4 open with a $300 entry fee
  • Non Pro: $10,000-added L4 non pro with a $200 entry fee
  • When: To run concurrent with the 1stgo of the NRHA Derby
    • Horses entered in the NRHA Derby can add this, if eligible
    • Horses not entered in the Derby can make a stand-alone entry in the Novice Horse Derby
  • Other fees: Discounted judges and video fees apply for horses not entered in the Derby

“We’re proud to provide this offering to our members and horses and are very thankful for Bob’s Custom Saddles’ sponsorship of the Novice Horse Derby. We see this as a great opportunity for horses who had a late start or haven’t quite found their stride in the show pen. They have another place to compete and add NRHA earnings to their records,” said Sammi Miller, NRHA Senior Director of Corporate Relations & Communications.

“This is a great opportunity to sponsor something that helps young horses who might have had late starts or haven’t had high earnings in their careers yet. We’re very excited to help NRHA with this program. Bob’s Custom Saddles has always been proud to be a part of the reining horse community through all levels from open and non pro to youth. This is just another avenue for us to widen our support in the reining horse community,” said Chris Weaver, Vice President of Bob’s Custom Saddles. Weaver will be on hand to for the awards presentation as the champion is recognized at the completion of the first go.


Over 43 years of craftsmanship at Bob’s Custom Saddles has seen countless hours go into building our saddles’ unique features that deliver a superior look, fit, and quality ride. Bob’s Custom Saddles has carried more premier horsemen to World, Futurity and Derby Championships than any other custom saddle maker. In the NRHA Open division alone, Bob’s Custom Reining Saddles have been ridden to earn more than $20 million. Learn more about Bob’s Custom Saddles:


Running for one week each summer, the NRHA Derby presented by Markel Insurance showcases the world’s best 4-, 5-, and 6-year-old reining horses and their riders. Thousands of exhibitors, horses, and spectators travel to Oklahoma City each year to compete, watch, and shop to their hearts’ content. Learn more about the event at

Sliding in Second

These reiners rose through the ranks in the Open division during the 2018 season, competing with the best horses and riders in the world to earn reserve world champion honors. We caught up with each of the riders to learn more about what it takes to achieve such a feat, and we’ve compiled their answers below. Watch the web in April for a special spotlight on the 2018 non pro and youth reserve world champs, too!

Open Reserve World Champion

Chicks Smokingun, ridden by Morey Fisk
2008 AQHA Stallion
Owner: Sabine Schmid, Oberwil, BL, Switzerland
Sire: Gunner
Dam: Dun It By Chick

Partnership Histo­­ry: I got the chance to start riding ‘Blue’ a couple months before the 2016 FEI World Equestrian Games™ (WE­G) in Switzerland. I showed him in 2017 and won just over $10,000 with him, including the CS Classic where we marked our highest score up to that point: a 225.5. He was really good there, so that was a great moment. As 2018 started, we decided to go for the world title. Was an awesome year with this horse, had some great wins and awesome scores. I’m so grateful for every minute I get to spend with horses like him. He really is just pure fun!

Blue’s Personality: Blue is awesome in every way. He’s so easy to be around. It doesn’t matter what you do with him, he’s going to try his best. I’m sure anyone who has been around horses knows what I’m talking about. Good horses like him don’t come around every day.

Proudest Moment: I would have to say winning the Horse Academy Trophy was one of my proudest moments with Blue. Winning it was great, but how he won was special to me, because he gave me one of those rides that was really fulfilling for me as a horse trainer. He was just about as perfect as could be, and we marked a 227.5.

Biggest Obstacle: Our biggest obstacle was Bernard Fonck! He is really competitive and seldom makes a mistake. Unfortunately, I did at the Matzendorf Reining Masters, where I accidentally turned five times. That cost me a lot and was enough to keep me from having a shot at winning the world title. But at the same time, I am happy for Bernard, so congratulations to you, Bernard! Great job again!

What Winning Means: Winning this title is really cool. It was my first run at a world title, and I had a blast doing it. Also, for me to have brought this horse to this title is great; He really deserves it. I could not have done it without the support of Blue’s owner Sabine Schmid and Terry Schultz. Thank you, guys!

The Future: Blue will start his stud career this year, and I will show him at the major events. We’re excited for another season!

Intermediate Open Reserve World Champion

Great King Jack, ridden by Bill Thomas, Jr.
2012 AQHA Stallion
Owner: Bill Thomas, Jr., Saginaw, Michigan
Sire: Great King Pine
Dam: Great Red Jackie

Partnership History: Great King Jack is out of my broodmare, Great Red Jackie. I showed another one of Great Red Jackie’s babies, Smart Red Jackie, to the Novice Horse Open Level 1 World Champion title in 2014.

Great King Jack’s Personality: He is an easy stallion to be around. Honestly, anyone could show this horse, because he loves his job, and he wants to work. I have often thought at shows, “If I asked this horse to walk up those bleachers right now, he would.” He just wants to please.

Proudest Moment: I was proud the entire campaign. This is my horse, out of my broodmare, with my training, and he never disappointed me, ever.

Biggest Obstacle: My biggest obstacle was that I didn’t decide to run for the title until late in the season, so I had a lot of catching up to do.

What Winning Means: Winning this title is sentimental for me since I own Great King Jack’s mother. I love her babies. After winning a world title with Smart Red Jackie in 2014, I wanted to do it again on Great King Jack. Their dam is special, and it carries through to her offspring.

The Future: He has bred some mares and has offspring on the ground. I am looking forward to training and showing them, but Great King Jack isn’t done yet, either!

Limited Open Reserve World Champion:

Cornbreadntinseltown, ridden by Jesse Dillaman
2011 AQHA Stallion
Owner: James Dillaman, Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania
Sire: Hollywoodstinseltown
Dam: Cornbread N Chicn

Partnership History: I just started showing professional in April. We’ve been together about a year. We just started to click—he knows me, and I know him.

Cornbreadntinseltown’s Personality: He is a crowd-pleaser—just such a nice looking horse. He has a phenomenal mane and tail on him, as well as his mind. He’s still a stud, but he can be around any mare and not care. His personality is just great, I can just throw a lead rope about him and ride around the arena. He’s just a lot of fun to be around.

Best Moment: I enjoyed meeting so many different people. It was great to see how supportive people can be of you, even if they just met you.

Biggest Obstacle: There were no injuries during the year, but there was one maneuver that my horse and I just seemed to struggle with throughout the year. We were running large circles to the left, and he would fall out of lead in the back end. Over a period of time, though, I worked with some other professionals to figure out what was happening and fixed it.

What Winning Means: I just think it’s awesome how far I’ve come in just a year, especially coming from riding lower-level horses to now riding horses like Cornbreadntinseltown. I feel like I’ve gone from a nobody to a somebody.

The Future: He just turned 8, so we might hit some 7 & Up shows, but we’re also going to try to qualify and show at the Pinto World Championship Show, as well as maybe the Paint and Quarter Horse World Shows. I’ve got a 3-year-old that I’m working with for the futurities as well.

Rookie Professional Reserve World Champion

Juice Chex N, ridden by Suzanne E. Myers
2010 AQHA Gelding
Owner: Suzanne E. Myers, Port Matilda, Pennsylvania
Sire: Whiz N Tag Chex
Dam: Melodys Bug Juice

Partnership History: I bought ‘Cooper’ at the Congress in 2016. In 2017, we showed at the affiliates, then ran for the NRHA world title in 2018.

Cooper’s Personality: Cooper is a very feely horse. He is extremely responsive to my aids and wants to do his job, but I have to make sure that he gains confidence with every ride. He’s the type of horse who carries his sensitive nature into every part of his day and takes things very personally. He’s very aware of his surroundings and sometimes overreacts to little things when in-hand. However, when we are in the pen, he has a sense of confidence about him that makes me think he likes what he does. He’s been a really fun horse to take on this journey. Cooper has allowed me to push myself to be a better showman while perfecting my timing of when to back off the controls so as not to interfere with his job.

Proudest Moment: Without stating the obvious, my proudest moment was winning the Reserve Champion title. Next to that, at an affiliate show late in the season, the top three in the overall standings for Rookie Professional were all competing with each other. As it turns out, we all tied for first, so there was a runoff. Cooper and I won it, and that feeling will be hard to forget. It was particularly nice because some of my good friends were at that particular show so I was able to share that moment with them.

Biggest Obstacle: When I tried this horse at the Congress before I bought him, he felt like everything I’d been missing in the other horses I had shown. His spins were great, he guided well, and I thought he stopped well, too. As I began making him my personal horse, I found he was more inconsistent in his stops than I originally realized. He tended to pop up sometimes or land hard on his front end. I knew the stop was in there and he had the potential to stop big, but I struggled to get connected with him. Eventually, we figured it out, and by our second season together we were connecting much better, which allowed for more consistent scores.

What Winning Means: The title is very meaningful in multiple ways. In addition to validating my time and commitment to training Cooper, it allows others to view this win as a reflection on my training program. For me personally, it’s a stepping-stone to bigger and better things to come. I wasn’t really running for this title until mid- to late season when I realized I was in the top five. Before that, I was busy running my business at home and only showing here and there. Had I gone to a few more shows earlier in the year, our outcome may have been significantly different. Next time I run for a title, I’ll start showing a little earlier.

The Future: In 2019, Cooper and I will continue showing, but he is for sale to the right home. I own all the horses I show, and unfortunately, I cannot keep them all if I want to progress as a showman and ride new horses. I have a few prospects coming through the pipeline in my program, so I will need to make room for them. Part of my job as a trainer is to provide great quality prospects for others to ride, and Cooper is definitely one of them! I fully commit to all my horses, and when the time is right, Cooper will find his new match and help them be successful in their show career.

Novice Horse Open Level 1 and Level 2 Reserve World Champion

Cee Me Nic It, ridden by Matthew Noel Palmer
2014 AQHA Gelding
Owner: Warwick Schiller Performance Horses, Hollister, California
Sire: Smart And Shiney
Dam: Holly Cee N Nic

Partnership History: We bought ‘Fabio’ in January of his 3-year-old year. He was green, but we knew he had a lot of potential. We planned not to rush him, but he came on strong and made the Level 4 futurity finals at the Congress.

Fabio’s Personality: He is a very relaxed and kind horse. Fabio always relies on his rider for confidence because he never wants to get into trouble. The funniest thing about this horse is probably the irony in his name—Fabio. He has hardly any hair and essentially no forelock!

Proudest Moment: I am most proud that we earned this title with only a limited amount of showing all year. We did not even know Fabio was sitting reserve until someone told us at Congress! He was so dominant all year long at every show, so we are very proud to have achieved this through just a few shows, without running for a world title.

Biggest Obstacle: Since we realized what position we were in so late in the year, it was tough to make sure we attended enough shows so the title would count. We went to a few extra shows at the end of the year, and he continued to put up some big scores against tough competition!

What Winning Means: I always feel very grateful for winning titles like these because you know how hard it is to get there and appreciate the talent of the competition.

The Future: Fabio was sold at the Futurity and is now living in California. We look forward to seeing his success as a non pro derby horse!

To read about the 2018 Open World Champions, check out the digital edition of the NRHA Reiner here.

Inaugural NRHA Affiliate Summit Ends with a Bang

The first National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Affiliate Summit, presented by NRHA Corporate Partner Montana Silversmiths, concluded on March 16 after two days of networking and learning. Held in Las Vegas, Nevada, at Boyd Gaming’s newest property, Aliante Hotel Casino and Spa, the 2019 NRHA Affiliate Summit brought NRHA Affiliates together to discuss plans for the continued success of the Affiliate Regional Championships (ARC) in 2019 and beyond.

The Summit kicked off with a welcome reception on Thursday, March 14. Representatives from eight of the 11 North American Affiliate Regions met on Friday and Saturday to discuss the current structure of the Affiliate Regional Championships (ARC) and determine an approach to restructuring the existing program in the Adequan® North American Affiliate Program Conditions.

Affiliate attendees included:

George King, Great Western Reining Horse Association, Northwest Region

Leigh Latham, Great Western Reining Horse Association, Northwest Region

Guy Vernon, Eastern Plains Reining Horse Association, Mountain Region

Val Vernon, Eastern Plains Reining Horse Association, Mountain Region

Kathy MacKenzie, Reining Alberta, Western Canada

Janice Hepburn, Reining Alberta, Western Canada

Mike Power, Quebec Reining Horse Association, Eastern Canada

Ben Drushal, Ohio Valley Reining Horse Association, East Central Region

Beth Henderson, Ohio Valley Reining Horse Association, East Central Region

Kelli Brummett, Chair of the Affiliate Committee, West Coast Reining Horse Association, Northwest Region

Heather Powell, Vice Chair of the Affiliate Committee, Eastern Pennsylvania Reining Horse Association, Northeast Region

Shannon Rafacz, Florida Reining Horse Association, Southeast Region

Mark Rafacz, Florida Reining Horse Association, Southeast Region

Rosie Irish, Oregon Reining Horse Association, Northwest Region

Brett Walters, NRHA Board of Directors member, Indiana Reining Horse Association, East Central Region

Marilyn Scheffers, California Reining Horse Association, Southwest Region

Rae Stambuck, California Reining Horse Association, Southwest Region

Also in attendance were NRHA President Mike Hancock, several NRHA staff members, and Montana Silversmiths representatives: Steve Miller, Lou Riley, Callie Adams, and Usiel Vargas.

Furthermore, the core group identified the positives of the current program and evaluated its shortcomings . Of the established difficulties, the top four issues were selected by the group as the main focus for this year. The selected action topics were:

  • Make the ARC special; increase host ownership of the ARC
  • Captivate the road to the ARC; educate on the process
  • Protect the ARC dates
  • Evaluate the designation process

Members voiced opinions of which topic they felt required improvement so summit attendees could identify a goal and form an action plan to achieve the solution. The Affiliates who attended responded positively, deeming the inaugural event a success.

“Thank you to the NRHA staff and board members for supporting this seminar, not only in your time and efforts but also with NRHA financial support and by encouraging Montana Silversmiths to help sponsor such an event,” George King said. “Not only did it exceed my expectations, but there’s something about getting a group of people together who are passionate about the NRHA, ARC, and their local affiliates—it’s inspiring! Way to go! If nothing else, every attendee now has a fact to take to the Affiliates in their region and entice them to help financially offset the ARC deficit, and take advantage of the Affiliate Incentive Program reimbursement for doing so. Thanks once again for everyone attending and sharing the passion they have for this sport.”

“It was great to find out that all of our ARCs are in the same boat,” Brett Walters said. “Great points.”

“Thank you to everyone! Absolutely enjoyed the workshop and everyone involved. Great way to ‘kickstart’ our show season,” Janice Hepburn said. “I came back to Alberta with so much positivity and a new outlook. Thank you NRHA and Montana Silversmiths for your continued sponsorship.”

A list of 2019 Affiliate Regional Championships can be found on the NRHA website.

Hall of Fame Nominations Due

Many individuals—human and equine—have contributed to the growth of reining and NRHA. Exceptional contributors are recognized through the NRHA Hall of Fame, a standing tribute to people and horses who’ve made a major impact in the reining community. Chances are you know someone deserving of this distinction, but have you submitted an application on their behalf? Nominations must be in the office by May 31, 2019 for the next review.

The perpetuation of the NRHA Hall of Fame is a project of the Reining Horse Foundation, which honors the sport’s legacy as part of its mission, but selection of inductees is handled through a special NRHA committee. Any NRHA member can nominate a deserving human or equine who meets the criteria, then NRHA Board and Hall of Fame members consider and vote on those nominees.

“Hall of Fame induction is considered the most prestigious award in reining, and we count on NRHA members to submit deserving people and horses for consideration,” said Rick Clark, chair of the NRHA Hall of Fame Selection Committee. “It is important, however, that people realize this honor requires more than success in the show pen. I encourage reiners to give thought to those who fulfill the requirements. Also, do not assume that your peers have submitted an application.”

Nominations for NRHA Dale Wilkinson Lifetime Achievement Award recipients follow the same process, so don’t delay if you know someone who should be recognized. Criteria and applications for the Hall of Fame and Lifetime Achievement Award are available here.