NRHA Announces Judge’s Rating System

For Immediate Release – March 5, 2020 – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – During the 2020 National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) winter meeting, members learned about a new judge’s rating system that’ll be used on a trial basis during 2020. The rating system aims to serve as a guideline for show management in regard to hiring judges.

The proposed system will rate judges from high to low on the following scale: AAA, AA, and A. The ratings will be generated from seven areas of criteria: years of judging, number of shows judged, number of major events judged, lifetime earnings (LTE), personal conduct, ability as a horseman, and performance at judging schools.

“During my first year as chair of the NRHA Judges Committee, I asked everyone what their number one priority was and they all agreed it was developing a rating system for judges,” said Mike McEntire, former Judges Committee chair and NRHA Professional. “There are several reasons we needed this rating system, but one of those is to give show committees a better idea of who they are hiring.”

Many shows already have a preference for who they hire, but what if that pool of candidates got a bit bigger? Higher-ranking judges—AAA—are typically hired for events such as the National Reining Breeder’s Classic (NRBC) or the NRHA Futurity. NRHA hopes the rating system will provide judges with more opportunities to work in the industry.

“The biggest thing we want to do is know who the judges are and track their work better,” McEntire added. “With the rating system, we feel like we can do that better and be able to educate the judges. We’ve had a lot of A judges that get their card but don’t get any work. Hopefully, with this program, the show’s management can look at the list and use the A and AA judges more. We are also hoping that we can pair our AAA judges with our AA and As to get them more experience.”

Since 2020 is a trial period for the rating system, judges will be re-evaluated at the beginning of 2021. For a complete list of judges by rating, visit

Kyle Zanetti Trailers Joins NRHA as a Trailer Sponsor

For Immediate Release – March 4, 2020 – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) is proud to welcome Kyle Zanetti Trailers of Weatherford, Texas, as an NRHA Corporate Partner. The family-owned trailer manufacturing and repair company provides high-quality products and top-notch customer service to the equine industry.

Zanetti joins the association in 2020 as the official trailer of NRHA. They will sponsor the trailers awarded during the NRHA Derby and NRHA Futurity. Both the Level 4 (L4) Non Pro and Open champions will drive away with their very own Kyle Zanetti Trailer to use for 365 days.

With over 25 years of experience, Zanetti specializes in all things trailers: repairs, consignments, rebuilds, and custom manufacturing. Customers can rest assured they are driving away with a superior product from Zanetti. As a one-stop-shop, there is no need to go anywhere but Zanetti.

“It’s an honor and privilege to partner with a great association such as NRHA,” said owner and founder Kyle Zanetti. “We’re committed to providing a safe mode of transportation for these amazing equine athletes. Whether we build a custom trailer, customize your current trailer, or keep up with your routine maintenance, Kyle Zanetti Trailers is your one-stop trailer shop.”

This sponsorship arrives just in time for 2020 NRHA Derby presented by Markel as competitors get excited about the Oklahoma City event coming up in June. Horse-and-rider combinations from across the nation, and around the globe, will vie for the right to use the elite trailers provided by Kyle Zanetti and his family.

“Kyle Zanetti Trailers is in the business of manufacturing the best custom trailers within the reining industry,” said Sammi Miller, senior director of corporate relations & communications at NRHA. Developing a partnership with a dedicated industry builder like Kyle Zanetti Trailers is a positive move for NRHA events and our members.”

Stop by the Kyle Zanetti Trailers shop in Weatherford, Texas, to make your trailer dreams a reality. Learn more about Zanetti by visiting their website at

NRHA Winter Meeting Recap

For Immediate Release – March 3, 2020 – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) hosted its annual winter meeting in Denton, Texas, February 5–8, 2020. NRHA committees met to discuss plans for 2020 and beyond for the sport.

“The NRHA Board and the committees continue to produce good results for NRHA,” said NRHA President Mike Hancock. “Groundbreaking news about the added money for the 2020 NRHA Open and Non Pro Futurities along with the Adequan® North American Affiliate Championships was announced by a new task force. In addition, the judges’ ranking system was presented. This is a result of many years of hard work by several people. It’s amazing what can be accomplished when we all work together.”

Aged Events

The Aged Events Committee reviewed the 2021 rule change proposals and provided its official feedback for the NRHA Board. The committee discussed the 2019 NRHA Futurity and NRHA Derby presented by Markel, including improvements the management team will implement in 2020, which include, but are not limited to, cleaning up traffic in the super barn, managing dogs on the grounds, freestyle performance selection, drags during the go rounds, and the addition of a third steward at each major event. The committee also reviewed the schedules for the 2020 events, allowing the events management team time to work with the Futurity schedule in terms of fluidity. The group covered the Novice Horse Derby conditions and payout structure, recommending the NRHA Board approve the addition of the Novice Horse Open Level (L) 3 and Non Pro L3 to the 2020 NRHA Derby. Also, they’ll allow Prime Time Open to include L4 riders at both the NRHA Futurity and NRHA Derby. 


The Eligibility Committee met in conjunction with the Non Pro Committee. They discussed, in detail, amateur conditions and recommended their proposed changes to the Executive Committee. The committee also considered the Run for a Million, recommending the NRHA Board place the event in a category they deem appropriate once they receive the official conditions. Last year, the Run for a Million fell in the newly created Category 13.


Discussions in the Judges Committee meeting began with plans to develop educational videos about specific penalties that may occur and how they are assessed. These videos will be on the NRHA website and social media platforms. The group discussed the official monthly schedule of shows from which the Judges Committee would review videos in conjunction with the chair judges for each event. This review system is an educational tool for the live judges to evaluate themselves and their scores against those of the committee. 


The Professionals Committee focused much of its discussion on the importance of the 2020 Code of Ethics and how to streamline communication among the committee, NRHA Professionals, and the affiliates. The committee also shared that professionals who are reported to have violated the code of ethics will be brought to the attention of a subcommittee and the NRHA Executive Committee may approve that a violation letter be sent to them. This letter will then become part of their permanent file. The committee also made recommendations for the NRHA Board for which patterns to use at the 2020 NRHA Derby presented by Markel. 

Non Pro

The newly created amateur division and the 2020 Run for a Million were discussed during the Non Pro Committee meeting. The group emphasized ways to bring more people to the sport of reining, including opportunities for youth to compete on horses not owned by themselves or their family as a means to accomplish that goal. Programs like Interscholastic Equestrian Association, Intercollegiate Horse Show Association, and the National Collegiate Equestrian Association were identified as potential areas for outreach. The committee also reviewed current non pro conditions and if they should be adapted to allow professional English trainers to show in the non pro, and if so, what levels might be appropriate. The committee discussed the NRHA Non Pro Futurity Consolation structure in regard to the needs of the horses and exhibitors competing at the event.


The Stewards Committee discussed developing Emergency Preparedness Guidelines to assist NRHA-approved events in avoiding equine disease outbreaks and responding in the event of a natural disaster. The group also discussed increasing information and education provided to NRHA members about the steward’s program, including the scope of the work and ways stewards can assist members. To help stewards expand skills and knowledge, all NRHA stewards will be encouraged to take online courses in emergency procedures, Safe Sport, etc. The group also explored a plan to increase opportunities for international steward certification. 


The Youth Committee focused its attention on NRHyA delegates. Primarily, the committee brainstormed ways to enhance the delegate experience and pique interest for more youth to get involved in the program. The committee also discussed ways to entice youth to enter USA Reining and FEI Young Riders classes. The new structure of these classes makes them affordable for show management and participants. The committee also looked into changing the election process for the NRHyA officers.


Along with the committee discussions, several other monumental changes were implemented during the 2020 winter meeting. A task force increased the purse for the NRHA Futurity and Adequan® North American Affiliate Championships (NAAC) in the coming years. The group will also work to improve the format of the event itself. Get the details here.

NRHA will now require North American Affiliate Regional Championships (ARCs) to host the 10 & Under Short Stirrup class with awards provided by NRHA. More information on this topic will be available soon.

The NRHA Board moved forward with establishing an Oceana Council for the Oceana Region, which currently consists of Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, and Japan.

A new rating system for judges will have a trial run in 2020, and in the coming months, a show standards committee will be formed. More details will be available at a later time.

The next Board of Directors meeting will be April 27­–28, 2020, at NRHA headquarters in Oklahoma City.