NRHA to Recognize Mike Carrier with Lifetime Achievement Award

OKC CVB head to receive honor from equine sport’s Oklahoma City-based organization

Following the presentation of the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Hall of Fame Committee’s recommended nominees, the Board of Directors and past Hall of Fame inductees voted to approve the late Sally Brown and the late Jerry Kimmel for induction into the NRHA Hall of Fame, a project of the Reining Horse Foundation (RHF). Also announced was selection of Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau President Mike Carrier as the 2020 NRHA Dale Wilkinson Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.

The Dale Wilkinson Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes people and horses who have contributed significantly to the sport or the NRHA. Nominees also must have a personal passion for the sport and have impacted reining in a positive way. They do not need to be NRHA members, active or former competitors, owners or breeders.

The award is named in honor of Dale Wilkinson, a multiple NRHA Futurity champion remembered as the “father of reining.” He was of the NRHA’s founding members, and an educator, promoter of the sport and mentor to reiners – professional and non pro – on how competitors should conduct themselves, and train and exhibit a horse.

The honorees will be recognized during the 2020 NRHA Futurity and then formally celebrated at a future banquet after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

Mike Carrier

Impact on reining, passion for the sport, and a record for drawing people to the industry are all selection criteria for the NRHA Dale Wilkinson Lifetime Achievement Award and the 2020 recipient, Mike Carrier, checks all the boxes. It’s hard to imagine where NRHA would be in recent years had he not been an advocate for the sport.

Mike is not a reiner, doesn’t own horses, and only recently got a really great hat, but he has been a champion of the association as a whole. As President of the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), Mike promoted both NRHA and the reining horse. Over the years his face has become familiar to reiners from around the world and his ebullient spirit and engaging personality have endeared him to those who have come to know him.

Mike’s retirement in the fall of 2020 marks the end of an era, and he will long be remembered for understanding the importance and impact of reining, not only to Oklahoma City, but to the entire equine industry throughout his 13 years with the Oklahoma City CVB. Whether through a corporate partnership, the NRHA Futurity Freestyle sponsorship, assisting with the NRHA Convention, or simply advocating for the association and its members at the government level, Mike has always been loyal to the association.

He was instrumental in helping secure the new Coliseum to be built at State Fair Park, and several years ago, recognized NRHA as a “Hometown Hero,” an award proudly displayed in the NRHA Office. Most recently, Mike was vital in conversations with the city and Mayor David Holt regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and pushing for NRHA to be able to hold the 2020 NRHA Derby. That was not unusual – he has consistently been a resource to the association by sharing introductions and contacts to help position NRHA as a pillar of the business community.

On a personal level, Mike has supported the nonprofit RHF and is a member of its Reiners Club recognizing unrestricted gifts. He regularly attends reining meetings and events and loves introducing his staff, friends, and family to the sport.

His contributions will have a long-lasting impact after he steps away at the professional level.

NRHA Announces 2020 Hall of Fame Inductees

Following the presentation of the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Hall of Fame Committee’s recommended nominees, the Board of Directors and past Hall of Fame inductees voted to approve Sally Brown and Jerry Kimmel for induction into the NRHA Hall of Fame, a project of the Reining Horse Foundation (RHF). Induction is recognized as the sport’s highest honor.

Also announced was the selection of Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau President Mike Carrier as the NRHA Dale Wilkinson Lifetime Achievement Award recipient for 2020.

These honorees will be recognized during the 2020 NRHA Futurity and then formally celebrated at a future banquet after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

Sally Brown

Sally Brown was first involved in breeding cutting horses but when she switched to reining, she changed the industry forever. Her vision, innovation, knowledge of pedigrees, and innate management style put her far ahead of her time, in an era when reining breeding programs did not yet exist.

Although an accident left her unable to ride, she impacted the industry with leadership and influence that will continue for generations. Of course, she is known for co-owning Hollywood Jac 86, reining’s first Million Dollar Sire, but as singular as he was, that was just the tip of the iceberg.

When Sally and lifetime partner Buck Hazledine moved her operation to Maple Plain, Minnesota, establishing Fox Meadow Farm, things began to take shape. With guidance from neighbor and friend NRHA Three Million Dollar Rider Tim McQuay, who counseled that having a great stallion was only part of the equation, Sally and Hall of Famer Richard Greenberg formed the Jac Pac breeding partnership. The Jac Pac alliance did center around Hollywood Jac 86, but it also included broodmares brought to the partnership by both parties.

Sally continued actively working to promote reining in Minnesota and supporting the local NRHA Affiliate, the North Central Reining Horse Association. She is credited, along with Tim and Colleen McQuay and Jim Robins, with initiating the NRHA Derby in St. Paul. Former Fox Meadow head trainer Troy Heikes said, “Many members told me that when they were putting that show together the question would come up, ‘How are we going to pay for that?’ and Sally would reply, ‘I’ve got that covered.’”

The ensuing decades brought more success and laurels to Fox Meadow Farm. Hollywood Jac 86 would ultimately be inducted into the NRHA Hall of Fame. In 1999, Whizard Jac, a product of Sally’s breeding program, won the first United States Equestrian Team (USET) Reining Championship in Gladstone, New Jersey.

Her breeding program continued after Hollywood Jac 86’s passing as she booked her great mares to sires such as NRHA Four Million Dollar Sire Shining Spark and NRHA Twelve Million Dollar Sire Topsail Whiz. Sally was known for supporting local trainers throughout the area – and across the US. She wanted to give everyone and their career a chance with a good horse. Her generosity gave a jump-start to the careers of many young professionals.

She became the NRHA’s Leading Breeder and her program produced champions of every major reining competition and program that existed, but she remained humble about the accolades. No matter whether they were a champion or beginner, Sally always took the time to talk about horses with anyone she met. She wanted nothing more than to bring new people into reining and her kindness and love for the industry is still remembered – both in the hearts of reiners and on the pedigrees of great horses.

In 2008, the year after her passing, Sally was honored as the recipient of the first NRHA Dale Wilkinson Lifetime Achievement award in recognition of her contributions to and support of NRHA across so many platforms.

Jerry Kimmel

Jerry Kimmel is the hundredth inductee into the NRHA Hall of Fame. An extremely successful businessman who immersed himself into the horse world upon retirement, not even his vision could have predicted the impact he would have on the reining industry.

Jerry was born and raised in Marshall, Michigan, where he began a business called Kevco Inc. with his friend Bill Everett. Over three decades, the business expanded to become one of the country’s leading distributors of plumbing and building materials, and its headquarters were moved to Fort Worth, Texas. It continued to grow and went public in the 90s. Jerry thrived in the corporate world but after decades of hard work, retired and settled down with his wife, Carmen, on a 225-acre ranch in Granbury, Texas.

Shortly after his retirement began, Jerry got involved in the world of western pleasure with trainer Cleve Wells. He may not have stayed with that discipline, but its moniker accurately defined exactly what he got from horses – sheer pleasure. He once stated, “I retired totally from business. For me, horses are just fun.”

After making his mark in the western pleasure pen, Jerry began to pour his heart, soul, and wallet into the reining world.  Along the way, his love for horses created a legacy of friendship and goodwill that has seldom been replicated.

It all started with one reining horse, Indy Star Dun It, which Jerry showed in NRHA Non Pro competition, but it was soon apparent that one would never be enough. He loved showing as a Non Pro, and a finalist slot earned at an event like the National Reining Breeders Classic (NRBC) would have him bubbling with excitement. Through Jerry’s ability to make friends and the success of his horses, Kimmel Reining Horses became well known to reiners worldwide. His longtime relationship with NRHA Three Million Dollar Rider Tim McQuay and McQuay Stables centered around showing and breeding great horses and ultimately focused on his two beloved stallions, Dun Gotta Gun and Mister Nicadual.

His home base, J Bar C Ranch in Granbury, Texas, worked in tandem with McQuay Stables to produce top reining horses. Jerry and Carmen lived on the property and their granddaughter Lindsey Raymond subsequently oversaw much of the breeding and fitting operations.

Jerry’s love for the discipline expanded and he became an avid supporter of reining and reiners at all levels. Whether it was an auction for youth activities or a fundraiser for a fellow reiner in need, he was all in. His dream for reining was to have full stands and engaged fans, as he wanted to give others an opportunity to enjoy the horses he loved. Jerry became involved with horse show production, partnering with Ray Roles to found the Scottsdale Classic Futurity and Quarter Horse Show. Later he joined Colleen McQuay and Anne-Marie Burns in creating Global Reining Sport Group, which produces the Tulsa Reining Classic. He also was a donor to RHF and a member of its Reiners Club in recognition of his unrestricted annual gifts. In 2014, he was honored with NRHA’s Dale Wilkinson Lifetime Achievement Award.

A defining moment for Jerry came with the 2006 Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) World Equestrian Games when he paid for Team USA to travel to Aachen, Germany. His son, Greg Kimmel, recalled. “They couldn’t raise all of the money for the trip, and Dad said, ‘We’re going. We’re doing this.’ He told everybody on that team, ‘Pack your bags. We’re going!’”

It was the trip of a lifetime. With Tim McQuay aboard, Kimmel’s stallion Mister Nicadual won team gold and an individual silver. It was a treasured honor and a proud moment for the unassuming man who had literally made it happen from behind the scenes.

The man who “loved horses and the people who love them” passed away this year at the age of 82 but his impact on the reining horse world will live on forever. Kimmel Reining Horses is still in operation thanks to Jerry’s daughter, Chris Pearce, who relocated the business and its horses to her ranch in Weatherford, Texas, in 2018.

Andrea Stillo Elected to RHF Board of Directors

For Immediate Release – August 23, 2020 – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – The Reining Horse Foundation Board of Directors has elected Andrea Stillo of Pilot Point, Texas, to serve on the Board of Directors. Under RHF Bylaws, the recommendation was reviewed and approved by the NRHA Board of Directors at the August meeting.

Stillo is an NRHA judge and steward and competes in reining as an NRHA Non Pro, serving as chairman of the NRHA Non Pro Committee. He has professional and volunteer experience in the fields of law, business management and fundraising. He is recognized as a 2020 RHF Reiners Club Contributor and provided volunteer support for the 2019 Sliders’ Night Out benefiting RHF. He is married to NRHA Professional Mirjam Stillo.

“I intend to support the important role of the Foundation in our industry and help to continue the growth and development of its core,” Stillo said. With his election, the RHF Board has 19 members, one shy of the maximum allowed under the bylaws. Elections for the 2021 Board are set to be held in September 2020.

The RHF Board meets via conference call at least quarterly. There are working committees and subcommittees to advance the work of the Foundation and make recommendations to the Board. Under the Bylaws, the Board is split to serve rotating terms, with members elected to serve for terms of three years.

Generally speaking, directors are eligible to serve two consecutive full, three-year terms before retiring for a minimum of one year. Officers may continue to serve while on the Executive Committee.

If you have an interest in serving, contact Tim Anderson, RHF president, at

2020 Northeast ARC Moves to New Jersey

For Immediate Release – August 22, 2020 – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Affiliate Committee recently made the recommendation that the Eastern Pennsylvania Reining Horse Association (EPRHA) host the Northeast Affiliate Regional Championship (ARC). The decision was finalized after the Central New York Reining Horse Association (CNYRHA) couldn’t host the ARC due to state COVID-19 restrictions. The November 5-8 event will now take place in Logan Township, New Jersey.

The Northeast ARC is the final qualifying show for the 2020 Adequan® North American Affiliate Championship (NAAC) held only two weeks after the conclusion of the ARC. This presented a challenge for meeting the November 6 NAAC entry deadline. NAAC entries for the Northeast region were extended to November 12 to accommodate this later show date.

“The Eastern Pennsylvania Reining Horse Association is pleased to host the Northeast Affiliate Regional Championship and give everyone in our region a place to show to stay on track with their year,” said EPRHA president Don Burgy. “We want to welcome everyone with open arms to the New Jersey Dream Park.”

At the July 2 Board of Directors meeting the qualification standards for the 2020 NAAC were altered to accommodate for the disrupted show season. Read more about those changes here.

NRHA Board of Directors Concludes August Meeting

For Immediate Release – August 20, 2020 – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Board of Directors met via video conference to conduct association business. The agenda included 2021 rule change proposals, review of the proposed 2021 fees policy and a financial report among other items of business.

“I commend our Board members from around the globe and our staff team for adapting to global conditions and making this such a productive meeting,” said Mike Hancock, NRHA President. “We appreciate their dedication to leading our association under any conditions and value members who provide input and take an active role in NRHA.”

Hancock also thanked for their service Board members whose terms will end December 31: Peter DeFreitas, Southeast Regional Director, and Bub Poplin, Mountain Regional Director. This also marked the final full Board meeting led by President Hancock, who completes his two-year term December 31. A respected businessman from Rocky Mount, North Carolina, Hancock has been a lifelong reiner, respected for his historical and contemporary knowledge of the sport and NRHA.

Rule changes formed a large portion of business for the August meeting. Complete details are available in ReinerSuite, the web-based portal for NRHA members, where members can find association business under the Library menu heading. Rules will be published in the 2021 NRHA Handbook.

Action items included:

  • Approving NRHA Board candidates by acclamation: Vice President Mark Blake, Director-At-Large John Tague; Southwest Regional Ginger Schmersal, Mountain Regional Director Drake Johnson, and Southeast Regional Director Karen Shedlauskas. All are to serve two-year terms that commence January 1, 2021
  • Moving the deadline to fill remaining NRHA Board of Directors seats to October 1 to improve the timeliness of filling vacant executive committee seats and appointing committees for the following year
  • Establishing two task forces: one to help identify additional opportunities to streamline NRHA programs and procedures and another to explore opportunities for international competition.
  • Approving the 2021 fees policy, with a move toward more digital options
  • Approving the 2021 worldwide eligibility policy with no changes from the 2020 policy
  • Changing NRHyA officer elections to include a scored interview in addition to member votes
  • Approving 2021 Adequan North American Affiliate Championship (NAAC) conditions
  • Confirming the 2020 NRHA Futurity schedule
  • Approving the 2021 NRHA Derby and Futurity conditions and 2021 Nomination conditions
  • Adding judges to the officials list
  • Approving the election of Andrea Stillo to the Reining Horse Foundation Board of Directors

Informational items covered included:

  • Financial update from Chief Financial Officer John Foy
  • Commissioner’s report from Gary Carpenter
  • Reining Horse Foundation update
  • Discussion of the 2021 NRHA Winter meeting
  • Update on the Oceania Council
  • Usage statistics for the new ReinerSuite member software
  • Futurity Challenge update
  • Corporate Partner update
  • NRHA Reiner update

Look for continued communication about NRHA news in the NRHA Reiner magazine and at