2021 Affiliate Regional Championships and Adequan® North American Affiliate Championships Qualification Criteria Announced

For Immediate Release – February 20, 2021 – Oklahoma City, Okla. – In 2020, the Adequan® North American Affiliate Championships (NAAC) held during the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Futurity paid out an incredible $107,000 to more than 900 entries from all across the country. The fantastic prizes, large purses, and prestige of being a NAAC Champion helped the event grow, and it nearly doubled in size from the previous year.

The NRHA Board of Directors has announced the qualification criteria for the 2021 Adequan® NAAC. The rules for the current year are the same as in 2020 when the pandemic forced changes to accommodate both the riders and the local affiliates and Affiliate Regional Championships (ARC). The only addition is that riders must be an affiliate member to show at an ARC.

Once again, anyone receiving a score higher than a zero at an ARC will be able to enter that class at the NAAC in Oklahoma City. There are no requirements to compete at an ARC other than the rider must be a member of an NRHA affiliate, which they are encouraged to join beforehand. The objective of the NRHA Board is to encourage people to attend the ARCs and support the affiliate program without limiting the number of horses that attend the Adequan® NAAC.

“Numbers at the 2020 Adequan® NAAC grew by almost 100% and the competition was tougher than ever. Although there were multiple factors that led to this, including doubling the added money, the Affiliate Committee believes that the eased qualification structure was pivotal. It not only allows more people to come to Oklahoma City, but it is also easier to understand the process if you are new to the sport,” noted NRHA Affiliate Committee Staff Liaison Sara Honegger. “We want reiners to have a chance to enjoy competing at the Adequan® NAAC and don’t want circumstances out of their control to impact that.”

As in 2020, riders will be allowed to participate in multiple ARCs with one exception; if they win a class, they cannot compete on the same horse in the same class at another ARC.

“For example, a horse and rider that won the ARC Non Pro class at the Northwest Affiliate Regional Championships would not be allowed to compete in the ARC Non Pro class at the Southwest Affiliate Regional Championships,” Honegger explained. “We want to make sure that we continue to promote the affiliates and their membership, and the Affiliate Committee felt this was a good way to make sure those living in regions with more restrictions are still able to attend an ARC while also supporting an affiliate.”

Honegger added, “We are extremely grateful to all the sponsors and participants who made the 2020 Adequan® NAAC such a success and hope to continue that trend into 2021.”

For more information about NRHA membership or the NRHA Affiliate program, visit nrha.com/affiliate.

Longtime NRHA Partner Horse of the West Presents NRHA Futurity Coverage

For Immediate Release – Feb. 11, 2021 – Oklahoma City, Okla. – Horse of the West will present highlights from the 2020 National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Futurity on Monday, February 15 and 22, at 9:30 p.m., CST on RFD-TV. The first show will focus on the CINCH Non Pro Futurity Championship, where Mandy McCutcheon won her record 10th Non Pro Championship on Shining At Nite (Gunners Special Nite x A Shining Sidekick).

On March 1 and 8, enthusiasts can relive all the action of the MS Diamonds TX Open Futurity, including NRHA Six Million Dollar Rider Andrea Fappani’s winning ride on All Bettss Are Off (Gunner x Wimpys Little Chic).

While the names and faces of the winners change regularly, Jenifer Reynolds and Chris Cook have been a constant presence over the past two decades. Co-owners of Sandbur Productions, which produces Horse of the West, they’ve captured the excitement and pageantry of the event for 19 years.

“At our first event in 2002, Chris was rolling as Shawn Flarida won on Wimpys Little Step with an incredible score of 233 – astonishing even to Shawn,” Reynolds recalled. “His reaction was the first major reining moment we recorded. We knew it was a big deal but didn’t realize how big at the time.”

She added, “We have covered the NRHA Futurity and Derby every year since then. We love the horses as well as the people and have particularly enjoyed watching the kids grow up. Cade McCutcheon was a toddler when we first met him, playing with NRHA Hall of Fame Stallion Hollywood Dun It. We’ve covered Caden & Lauren Hanson, Taylor and Jacob Zimmeran, Madison Rafacz, and others since they were in Short Stirrup classes. It’s been rewarding to see them grow into such earnest and polished performers.“

Both Chris and Jenifer have become fans of reining, first for the excitement of the sports and the incredible horsemanship, and then for the people and the horses themselves. They have become close with many of the participants.

“Being with our friends in the reining industry as they achieve their lifelong goals is always a thrill, but we’ve also shared a lot of pain and disappointment with them,” Reynolds shared. “It’s a bond that makes our work feel very personal, and that’s one thing we really like about it. When you work with people you care about, it makes you care more about your work.”

Horse of the West began in 2007 as Inside Reining, a 13-episode TV show for NRHA. With NRHA’s support, Reynolds and Cook elected to change the name to Horse of the West to underscore their ongoing efforts to draw a more diverse equine audience. The show now includes reining, cow horse, and barrel racing, and the show’s ratings have gone from 1.5 million yearly to more than 5 million in 2020 (Nielsen 18+AA). “We have achieved our goal of building a bigger promotional tent for the horse industry,” Reynolds shared.
The upcoming 2021 NRHA Futurity & Adequan® North American Affiliate Championships (NAAC) will mark 20 years of Sandbur Productions’ cameras capturing the event’s action.

“We’ll do what we always do – cover it as it happens. Since Chris and I both have a background in news coverage, we don’t try to choreograph anything ahead of time,” Reynolds said. “We just roll as the event unfolds and let each episode tell its own story. Being there to witness the action in real time and trying to capture its essence for our audience is what we do and what we love. We feel privileged to have been able to do it for two decades, but we’re still trying to figure out how we got this old.”

Watch Horse of the West on RFD-TV (DirecTV 345 and Dish Network 231) Mondays at 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

Join Horse of the West crew Emmy Award Winning host Jenifer Reynolds and her husband, Emmy Award Winning Videographer Chris Cook as they cover reining action from events around the country and spanning the globe such as the NRHA Futurity, NRHA Derby, National Reining Breeders Classic (NRBC), Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games and Adequan® NAAC and many more. For more information, visit HorseoftheWest.tv.

Recognizing the 2020 NRHA Professionals of the Year

For Immediate Release – February 9, 2021 Oklahoma City, Okla. – The challenges of 2020 led the entire horse community to face uncertainty, unexpected change, and unprecedented challenges. The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) proudly salutes its NRHA Professionals for rising to the challenge, providing excellent care to their horses in spite of the circumstances, and ensuring that their customers—and NRHA members—found opportunities to enjoy their reining horses when they needed the outlet most.

The NRHA Professionals awards allow pros to honor their peers by selecting the NRHA Becky Hanson Horsewoman of the Year, the NRHA Professional Horseman of the year, the NRHA Non Pro Coach of the Year, the NRHA Youth Coach of the Year and the NRHA Up-and-Coming Trainer of the year.

NRHA affiliates may nominate pros for each of the awards to recognize their dedication to the reining industry—in and out of the show pen—and commitment to Respect the Horse. Respect the Sport.

“As the new chairman of the Professionals Committee, it’s exciting for me to make calls to the recipients of these awards,” said NRHA Professional Nick Valentine. “We’re thankful to the affiliates that take the time to submit nominations and let us know about the great work NRHA pros are doing in each region. These are very special awards for our professionals.”

Becky Hanson Horsewoman of the Year: Debbie Brown

She might be short in stature, but Debbie Brown is a powerhouse when it comes to the reining community. A staple at shows around the country, Brown has dedicated her life to reining horses for more than 35 years and continues to be a regular face in the finals of major events on top of coaching countless youth and non pro riders to success. She selflessly shares her expertise with reiners of all levels, from beginners to accomplished non pros to seasoned professionals.

Brown is a longtime team member of Tom McCutcheon Reining Horses in Aubrey, Texas. Her NRHA Lifetime Earnings (LTE) exceed $123,000.

Horseman of the Year: David Hanson

David Hanson faced many challenges in 2020, including the death of his wife, Becky, for whom the Horsewoman of the Year award is named. The longtime NRHA Professional put his own hardships aside and focused on ensuring that others could compete by championing a successful show season for his affiliate.

David and Becky spent five years training horses in Italy and showing them across Europe. When they returned to the U.S. in 2000, the couple settled in Clements, California, where they built a thriving non pro and youth program, on top of training numerous major event finalists and top finishers. David continues to build his own legacy and honor that of his wife as an outstanding NRHA Professional.

Non Pro Coach of the Year: Dany Tremblay

Dany Tremblay’s charisma and unrelenting smile make him one of the most approachable NRHA Professionals in the industry, which means non pro riders gravitate to him for his advice and insight. The Canadian, now living in the U.S., is willing to help all riders be all they can be, no matter if they are his own customers or non pros navigating the sport without a professional coach. Tremblay’s eager to share his expertise in all aspects of horsemanship, from training and showing to care and attention to detail.

Tremblay (NRHA LTE $905,000) and his brother, Fred, operate Tremblay Performance Horses, a full-service training, showing, marketing, and sakes program out of Overbrook, Oklahoma.

Youth Coach of the Year: Bobby Avila Jr.

Patience and persistence are the cornerstones of Bobby Avila Jr.’s youth program. He endeavors to teach every young rider the values of paying attention to the details, respect for the horse and the sport, and confidence. Young riders under his tutelage—from short-stirrup youngsters to those who compete among the elite riders in the Level (L) 4 non pro classes—start with the basics of horsemanship, which makes them solid riders who can make confident decisions in the show pen as well as in daily life.

Avila’s lifetime of experience showing horses allows him to relate to the youngsters in his program, which operates out of Zimmerman Performance Horses in Rogersville, Missouri. Avila has more than $278,000 in NRHA LTE.

Up-and-Coming Professional of the Year: Austin Roush

The young reining horses of today become tomorrow’s top mounts under riders of all skill levels. Austin Roush’s abilities with young horses—including impeccable timing and feel—make him a standout young trainer and one to watch at the futurities and derbies, which led him to be chosen by his peers as the 2020 Up-and-Coming Professional of the Year. Most notably, Roush piloted Gunna Stop (Gunnatrashya x Stop Little Sister) to the 2018 NRHA Futurity L1 and L2 champion titles.

Training from Southern Trace Ranch in Belle Center, Ohio, Roush (NRHA LTE more than $175,000) also enjoys preparing non pro horses and coaching their riders.

New Dates Announced for 2020 NRHA European Futurity

For Immediate Release – Feb. 2, 2021 – Oklahoma City, Okla. – The European Executive Board of the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) has made the difficult decision to move the already postponed 2020 NRHA European Futurity from March to April 17-24, 2021, in Cremona, Italy. It will run concurrently with the 2020 Italian Reining Horse Association/Italian Reining Horse Breeders Association Futurity and Italian Championship Finals.

As COVID-19 began to spread across the globe in 2020, changes and accommodations were made to every aspect of livelihood. As with every other industry, those involved with reining learned to evolve and adapt, evidenced by canceled and postponed shows. While many hoped the pandemic would slow in 2021, there are places still unsafe for people to safely travel.

“The European Executive Board and NRHA staff feel this is the best decision to move forward at this time,” noted Sam Oldfield, NRHA Director of Competition and Education and European Liaison. “Our management team for the event had been monitoring the situation closely and was prepared with dates should the March dates not prove possible. With the pandemic continuing worldwide, we felt it would be difficult for our European riders to travel across borders for the Futurity.”

While Oldfield is optimistic about the upcoming Futurity, noting COVID-19 protocols that will be in place at the event, she cautioned that the situation is still a fluid one. “As the pandemic is still prevalent in many areas, these new dates could still change. We will do our best to make decisions and notify our members as soon as possible should this be the case,” she said.

The 2021 European Futurity is currently scheduled for November 13-20, 2021, in Cremona, Italy during the 2021 Italian Reining Horse Association/Italian Reining Horse Breeders Association Futurity and Italian Championship Finals.

To keep up with the latest news about the European Futurity, visit nrhaeuropeanfuturity.com.