Our Condolences: Becky Hanson

Wife, mother, daughter, sister, coach, trainer, friend, fighter: these all describe Becky Hanson who passed away on May 25, 2020, after a seven-year battle with glioblastoma multiforme. Along with the entire reining community, the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) mourns the loss of this NRHA Professional who leaves behind a legacy of philanthropy and tenacity, plus a vibrant zeal for life, horses, and family.

Born on September 1, 1971, in Mountain View, California, Becky essentially grew up in Eagle, Idaho. And that’s where she graduated high school. Life after that was a roller coaster, in the best way.

Long before the chemotherapy and radiation, Becky graduated from Eastern Oregon University in 1993 with an English literature degree and a minor in secondary education. She intended to teach high school students. Instead, she became a horse trainer.

Married in July 1994, Becky and her husband, David, moved to Italy the very next year. It was clear educating high school students wasn’t an option when Becky was training horses for Eleuterio Arcese and family. Becky’s love for horses stemmed from her foundation in cow horses, cutting, and college rodeo as a breakaway roper.

David said Becky loved teaching, and that made her a perfect match for working with young horses. She redirected her love for teaching into giving lessons and had an uncanny knack for pairing horses and riders that complimented each other.

Becky and David spent five years training reining horses in Italy before coming back to California. Becky made the NRHA Derby finals and earned several North American Affiliate Championship placings. She also won the rookie pro title in 2006 as well as major event awards across the globe, all while coaching countless non pros to victory.

In 2000, Becky and David made their home in Clements, California, where the pair raised and trained reining horses together as Hanson Performance Horses. They were blessed with two children: Caden, now 18, and Lauren, now 16.

Representing the West Coast, Becky served on the NRHA Board on a recommendation from Rick Clark and was on the Eligibility and Affiliate Committees. During that time, Becky became close with several members, but one, in particular, was Joao Marcos, NRHA Board member. This led Joao to invite Becky and David to serve as instructors at his facility, along with NRHA Professional Ruben Van Dorp, for the first Reining Horse Foundation Rookie Day in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2016.

Photo Courtesy of Kitti McMeel

After 20 years’ training reiners with her husband, Becky’s life was turned upside down with a diagnosis in March 2013. She never let cancer become the story of her life; it simply became a platform. Becky dubbed her dance with glioblastoma multiforme as “My Little Tumor Adventure.” Get Becky’s take on it, here.

In December 2019, the NRHA Professional Horsewoman of the Year Award was renamed to honor Becky. In naming this award, the Professional’s Committee hopes her legacy will serve as a continuous reminder about what it means to be named Horsewoman of the Year. Becky was honored, proud, and truly humbled by it. Her emotions bubbled to the surface every time it came up.

Becky is known for her incredible photos of the Western lifestyle. The hobby quickly evolved into a business after returning stateside when Becky went digital and started selling her photos. Perhaps she is best known for her image of a large oak tree that sits in the front yard of the Hanson’s family home. It helped shape her successful photography business. Get Becky’s view of “The Tree,” here.

Behind a lens, Becky was legendary. On a horse, she was iconic. But as a friend, she was irreplaceable. Upon her diagnosis, Becky felt the love of her horse community from near and far. It was the continuous display of humanity that hit harder than cancer ever could. It’s what helped Becky fight the good fight. Here is just a small example of the love and support from the reining community.

David said whenever Becky couldn’t ride, she would return to writing about her situation and taking photos. This allowed her to connect to a whole new group of people. It shouldn’t be surprising to all who knew her that Becky donated her body to science in hopes that she can help save at least one life.

Becky is survived by her parents, Rich and Diane, and is the eldest of three brothers: Scott and twins Kevin and Keith Anderson. The family will announce celebration of life information later this year. As more information is available, NRHA will provide it here.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers, gifts in Becky’s memory be made to the Reining Horse Foundation’s Crisis Fund. Donations can be made online at reiningfoundation.com or mailed to RHF, 3021 W Reno Ave, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 73107.

NRHA Suggestions for Safe Competitions

As competition resumes, keeping members, show staff, and competitors as safe as possible at National Reining Horse Association–approved events is an important priority.

The NRHA strongly recommends show producers abide by all guidelines in place by local, state, and federal entities when resuming competition. These differ from state to state and country to country and the show management team should understand and abide by all of the recommendations and requirements in place. They should also abide by any additional guidelines set by facilities where shows are held.

The NRHA has created the following list of suggestions for show producers to follow and exhibitors to expect to see in place. This list is subject to change as the situation continues to evolve and local, state, and federal guidelines are updated.

Pre-Show Preparation

  • Prepare all show staff and volunteers for new guidelines well in advance of the competition and communicate these policies to exhibitors ahead of the event.
  • When possible, hire local show officials to minimize travel.
  • Complete entries digitally and in advance and offer digital payment.
  • Produce polite, informative signage outlining new expectations.
  • Determine if the event discourages public attendance and promote that message as needed.
  • Encourage NRHA Professionals to bring only necessary personnel to minimize crowding and contact in barn areas, warm-up arenas, and surrounding the show pen.

Show Office & Staffing Procedures

  • All staff and volunteers should take their temperature before reporting to work and are encouraged to wear masks while working.
  • Staff and volunteers should practice physical distancing as much as possible; including, but not limited to: carpooling, meals, hotel rooms, workspaces, etc.
  • Plexiglass or glass barriers in the show office should be used if possible.
  • Show office appointments should be encouraged when possible to reduce the number of people in the office. Additional measures such as only allowing one person in the office per show staff member are also recommended.
  • Members are strongly encouraged to have completed all paperwork in advance prior to entering the show office. Forms should be available for pickup outside the office.
  • Provide staff, volunteers, and officials with disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer, masks, etc.
  • Provide an ‘in’ door and an ‘out’ door, if possible, in the show office.
  • Avoid sharing pens, computers, or any other supplies
  • Use digital communication for draws, scratches, announcements, etc. 

On the Grounds

  • Provide hand-washing/sanitization stations in barns and competition areas.
  • Allow the use of face masks.
  • Promote social distancing in all areas surrounding the show and post those restrictions in a visible place
  • Use your best judgment in determining how many horses/riders can be in any area—including warm-up pens, barn alleys, wash racks, and make-up areas and post that information in an easily-seen location.
  • Discourage/prohibit gathering in any one area and promote safe social distancing.
  • If possible, provide stalling separation, with maximum space between each group of stalls, along with sanitizing all stalls prior to and after use.
  • Ensure that available food services develop ways to eliminate lines and streamline services.
  • Clean and sanitize temporary and permanent restrooms often, and ensure that they’re stocked with wipes and hand sanitizer.
  • Clean and sanitize frequently touched items such as gates, door handles, railings, etc. throughout the day.
  • If possible, encourage drivers to provide adequate spacing between vehicles and trailers in designated parking areas.

For Judges and Scribes

  • Provide masks and strongly encourage that all judges and scribes wear them during the show.
  • Ask judges to provide their own pens.
  • Check each judge’s and scribe’s temperature before leaving the hotel for the show every morning.
  • Arrange judges’ and other officials’ areas to comply with social distancing requirements.
  • Provide rubber gloves to equipment judges for any unusual circumstance where they may need to touch something.
  • Disinfect chairs, radios, pencils, etc. every evening and morning. 

At the Show

  • Provide viewing and dining areas in line with state and local regulations.
  • Post and follow draw orders so exhibitors know when each horse will compete and to minimize traffic at the in gate.
  • Email, text, or post online draws, results, and judge’s scoresheets whenever possible.
  • Facilitate frequent communications from announcers to ensure that exhibitors are aware of and follow procedures and any new protocol.
  • Create a method of giving ribbons/trophies/awards to minimize hand-to-hand contact.
  • For win photos, allow only the rider plus one other person—owner, assistant, etc.—to gather in the photos.

Entries Strong for First Major Event of the Year

For Immediate Release – May 22, 2020 – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – Following the initial deadline for entries, the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Derby Presented by Markel reports entries are on track for a strong event. The preliminary numbers for 2020 are already at 96% of the 2019 Derby. This count does not include any late entries, which must be received in office by 10:00 am, CDT, on June 3, for the draw to be posted on June 5.

“This enthusiastic response shows the excitement reiners have to return to a major event,” said NRHA Commissioner Gary Carpenter. “We are thrilled to be able to welcome back our reining family to Oklahoma City.”

Exhibitors, owners, and vendors should expect this year’s event to look and feel different than those in the past due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Guidelines and requirements from Oklahoma State Fair Park and the city of Oklahoma City are pending, but exhibitors should expect them to be published next week so all can be prepared to comply.

In light of the situation, the NRHA team plans to provide robust digital coverage before and during the event, including the live stream, which will be available at NRHADerby.com. Look for further details for those who’ll take in all the action from home by following NRHA on Facebook and on NRHA.com. You won’t want to miss a single run from the non pro finals on June 19 or the open finals on June 20, in addition to coverage of the entire NRHA Derby Presented by Markel.

Reining Horse Foundation Show-entry Campaign Underway for 2020

For Immediate Release – May 22, 2020 – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – An exhibitor-based fundraising campaign to benefit the Reining Horse Foundation is underway for 2020 after generating $25,000 in support for the nonprofit in 2019. Based upon small donations that add up to make a big difference, the campaign encourages show entrants to make a $10 donation when they enter select shows.

The first 2020 reining offering this convenient donation opportunity is the Arizona Reining Horse Association Mother’s Day Slide, May 24-31, in Scottsdale, Arizona. AzRHA piloted the show-entry campaign in 2017. Tentatively, these additional shows also are expected to participate this year: NRHA Derby, North Carolina Classic, National Reining Breeders Classic, Tulsa Reining Classic, Southwest Futurity, Low Roller Reining Classic, and NRHA Futurity. It’s anticipated additional show managers and NRHA affiliates also may participate.

RHF is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that serves as the charitable arm of NRHA. In addition to the financial support offered through the campaign, it has helped increase awareness.

“There is power in $10, and every donor helps,” said Leslie Baker, RHF Executive Director, “We are so appreciative to have these shows offer this campaign. It provides visibility and funds that are significant in fulfilling our mission of caring for and honoring our reining community.”

Exhibitors will find the option to donate or opt-out on their show-entry form, making it a convenient way to support RHF. The most visible of the nonprofit’s core programs is the Dale Wilkinson Memorial Crisis Fund providing grants to reiners enduring hardships such as medical crises, accidents, and disasters. Other RHF programs include youth scholarships and leadership development through the National Reining Horse Youth Association and perpetuation of the NRHA Hall of Fame.

Affiliates and show managers willing to offer the entry-donation campaign are encouraged to notify RHF by contacting Leslie Baker at rhf@nrha.com, (405) 946-7400, ext. 106. Online giving—including monthly donations—also can be made conveniently at reiningfoundation.com/donate.

Get Ready to Derby!

For Immediate Release – May 15, 2020 – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Executive Committee and Board are pleased to announce that the 2020 NRHA Derby Presented by Markel looks to be on track to take place in Oklahoma City at State Fair Park June 13–21.

It’s the good news reiners have been looking for after the long hiatus from the show pen.

The green light to proceed follows the announcement on May 14, 2020, of Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt’s proclamation regarding the city’s COVID-19 regulations. With this announcement, the NRHA Derby Presented by Markel entry deadline has been extended to May 20, the same deadline date for the stabling reservations. Ancillary entries are still due on June 1.

“What a great opportunity to get back to what we love,” said NRHA President Mike Hancock. “The NRHA team has been working hard getting ready for this event. It may be somewhat different with new guidelines and restrictions, but I think all of us are ready to get out and go horse-show. I hope to see many of you there!”

Due to the effects of the pandemic, this year’s NRHA Derby Presented by Markel will have a different look and feel than those in the past. Expect a modified horse show with strict protocols to keep everyone healthy and safe. Those guidelines will incorporate the state and city ordinances, along with the processes put in place by the Oklahoma State Fair and best practices being developed by NRHA, which will be shared prior to the event.

In the event of a reduction in entries, the added-money portion of the purse will be adjusted. Depending on entries, the added money in the purse could vary from the projected $225,000 added down to no less than $125,000 added, in the case of a 25% decrease in entries. The nomination funds in the purse remain unchanged. Anyone who’s entered as of May 15 may withdraw based upon the condition change. Currently, it’s expected that entry numbers will support the larger purse as the 2020 NRHA Derby Presented by Markel will be the first major event of 2020 and one of the first opportunities to show.

Follow NRHA on Facebook and visit NRHA.com for up-to-date details.