Story Book Stables Amateur Division to Debut at NRHA Derby presented by Markel

Competing at the National Reining Horse Association Derby presented by Markel is thrilling, and beginning in 2021, a new division has been added for Non Pros. The Story Book Stables Amateur Derby will debut this year, featuring $25,000 added money for this special segment of riders.

Creating this new opportunity was a goal for Brenda Joyce, owner of Story Book Stables – NRHA Corporate Partner since 2017. Brenda noted, “My husband, Rick Christen, and I are so excited to be sponsoring an Amateur Derby in conjunction with the NRHA Derby presented by Markel. As always, we want to support the grassroots of the industry and encourage newcomers. We believe that these groups are critical to the health, vitality and future of the Industry. So come on Amateurs, get ready for the Derby in June!”

NRHA President Rick Clark’s enthusiasm for this new division and the opportunities it will offer to reiners is palpable.  “I appreciate Brenda and Rick for their support in getting this going. They are willing to try something new and I predict that we will get a large number of entries in this division. We look forward to seeing new faces and new winners in the Story Book Stables Amateur Derby.”

To compete in the Amateur division at the NRHA Derby presented by Markel, the same horse and rider must be fully entered in the Non Pro Derby. Excluded riders include those whose NRHA Lifetime Earnings exceed $100,000 in Categories 1-12 as of Dec. 31, 2020. Also excluded are riders currently only eligible for Level 4 Non Pro only. Other exclusions include Youth riders, legal dependents of professional equine trainers, and spouses or legal partners of professional equine trainers.

The Amateur Derby Champion will be determined during the preliminary round of competition, which concludes on Tuesday, June 22, during the 2021 NRHA Derby presented by Markel.

For more information about the Story Book Stables Amateur Derby, visit

NRBC Announces Schooling Protocol Change for 2021

Believing strongly in creating a positive future for the reining industry has long been a hallmark of the leadership of the National Reining Breeders Classic. Throughout its 24-year history, the Board and staff have explored new directions, tested innovative new ideas and adjusted their course with a laser focus on improving reining year by year. Many of the fruits of their labors have become accepted as industry standards.

So, it is not surprising that the NRBC leadership team is once again addressing an issue – one that invites strong opinions for and against change. NRBC President Tom McCutcheon explains, “It’s a new stage of history for reining. We are not where we were 20 or even 10 years ago. We feel that it’s time to evolve with the times for the betterment of our industry.”

To that end, the NRBC has announced a new protocol for its 2021 event. “All the arenas will be closed at 7 pm each night and will reopen for riding two hours before time to prep the arena the next morning,” Tom noted, then added, “If classes run past 5 PM in a particular arena, it will be open for two hours following the end of the class.”

The NRBC Board was unanimous in making this change and the decision was based on two important facets of reining. Paramount in the decision was the welfare of the horse, and the board felt that this new direction was essential to the soundness, health and longevity of reining horses.

The second reason for the decision was in consideration of the experience of participating in reining events as trainers, owners and riders. McCutcheon said. “It’s really about taking an opportunity to try to change the culture of our industry – trying to find a balance between the normal 24-hour schedule that can be fatiguing for horses, trainers, assistants, owners and Non Pros. We have to remember that we are competing for the discretionary dollars of today’s horse owners and they have many options both inside and outside the equine industry. It’s really about the NRBC trying to take the opportunity to have an amazing, fun show for exhibitors and owners alike.”

NRBC Vice President Colleen McQuay noted, “Schooling at night has always been a part of reining. Reiners have felt since day one that they had to get on the ground. It’s time to change that old mindset to today’s needs.”

The new policy has already sparked plenty of discussion. Some trainers are glad to hear of the change and others are concerned with getting their horses prepared.

NRHA $6 Million Rider Andrea Fappani said, “I’m excited about limiting riding hours at the NRBC. The Derby-aged horses know their jobs and are for the most part very comfortable in a show arena. Once they test out the ground a few times, they should be good to show. I’m looking forward to being able to have a normal schedule for a change and enjoy spending some quality time with my customers.”

He continued, “Derby horses don’t need to be ridden hard at the shows. If we have prepared them properly at home, getting them comfortable with the ground is the only thing we have left to do once we get to a show. This new format will be fair for all of us and it will prevent a lot of horses from getting overworked and stressed.”

NRHA Professional Kole Price welcomes the chance to try something different. He said, “I’ve been to shows where you don’t get to go out once with your customers. I’m thinking that maybe knowing that the schooling time will be during certain times will also encourage people to watch and enjoy the time to interact with their friends.”
He added, “It should allow riders and horses to get a good night’s sleep. So both can perform better.”

NRHA Professional Brian Bell said, “There are enough other arenas to ride in so you can get your horse loped around and relaxed. The horses need to be ready to show and getting to ride in the middle of the night when you get there isn’t going to change them if they are not. With paid warmups and schooling classes and the other opportunities where arenas are open, if that doesn’t get you ready, I don’t know what would. My Non Pros just don’t want to come out and ride at three am. The way NRBC gets over early enough in the day, there are plenty of opportunities to ride. I remember the first couple years we went to South Point; they didn’t let anyone ride at night and I think the horses showed just as good.”

Former NRBC Open Champion Martin Muehlstaetter said that he, too, would welcome a scenario where the showing experience was not as exhausting. He said, “There are shows that, for different reasons, do not have riding at night. I believe that does not change the outcome of the show. When it’s the same for everyone and there are plenty of places during the day to ride, it could be a good thing to try. If we are not able to ride during the day, though, because of rain or bad weather, there would need to be an adjustment.”

That’s exactly what the NRBC’s Board has considered. McQuay added, “We definitely have a Plan B for days when it might rain and, in that case, would adjust the schedule accordingly.”

NRHA Professional Matt Palmer was also interested in the change. He said, “For me, anything we can do to improve our industry and culture is good. It’s sure worth giving it a try, and the NRBC has proven to be a great place over the years to test different ideas.”

Colleen said, “We want to thank our riders and trainers in advance for their support in taking the next step to ensure the health and welfare of our riders and horses to secure the future of our sport.”

The following protocol will be in place for the 2021 NRBC, set for April 18-25 in Katy, Texas. Arenas will be closed two hours after the end of the last event of the day in that arena or at 7 pm, whichever is later. For the ensuing two hours, there will be fencing (stopping) only, and the arena will be worked every 20 minutes. After closing for the night, the arena will reopen two hours before the beginning of ground preparation for that day’s classes.

Non-competition arenas will be closed at 7 pm each day and open at 7 the next morning. Adjustment to the schedule will be made in the case of inclement weather.

For nearly 25 years, the National Reining Breeders Classic program and show have held a singular place in the reining industry. For information on the NRBC, visit the website at, email to or call 580-759-3939.

2021 Health Requirements for NRBC at Great Southwest Equestrian Center

Influenza & Herpes Vaccine within 6 months
Negative Coggins within 1 year
21-day health certificate that states that the horse has not been treated for a temperature or other herd health issues within the last 30 days.

The National Reining Horse Association is not responsible for the information contained in this press release. Please contact the author or submitting organization for further information, requests, or questions.

Why You Should Join Time To Ride

Hint: Increased Success for Your Lesson Program

Washington, DC – Time To Ride®, a FREE program created by the American Horse Council Marketing Alliance, can help build your lesson program by setting you apart from other instructors in your area.

Equine facilities and instructors must meet specific staff and physical property requirements to be designated as Time To Ride Program Facilities. Similar to receiving the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, achieving Time To Ride Program Facility status verifies that your facility and instructors meet a stringent set of requirements for safety and professionalism.

Time To Ride Program Facilities receive access to specially created marketing materials and support to help them succeed in gaining new lesson riders. These materials highlight the qualifications that Time To Ride Program Facilities must meet, and how that makes them different from other lesson barns. The Time To Ride marketing toolkit includes logos, press releases, letters, flyers, social media posts and more to help participating instructors promote their lesson programs to kids and their parents in their local area.

One TTR participant said, “We are absolutely in love with the Time To Ride program and have had huge success here at our facility.”  Another participant stated, “We used our Time To Ride Program Facility status to reach an entire school district and become part of their physical education program.”

If you want to build your lesson program and set yourself apart from other instructors in your area, then Time To Ride is for you. Check out the requirements and apply here:

For more information visit, email, or call 202-891-7971.

About Time To Ride

Time To Ride is managed and funded by the American Horse Council Marketing Alliance. The Marketing Alliance was founded to encourage and support the growth of the U.S. horse industry. Current members of the Marketing Alliance include: Active Interest Media/Equine Network, American Horse Council, Purina, Spalding Laboratories and Zoetis. Additional support is provided by the American Paint Horse Association, American Quarter Horse Association, National Reining Horse Association, Troxel Helmets and Weaver Leather. Educational support is provided by Certified Horsemanship Association, United States Equestrian Federation and United States Pony Clubs.

For more information contact Molly O’Brien, Time To Ride Program Manager:; 202-891-7971.

The National Reining Horse Association is not responsible for the information contained in this press release. Please contact the author or submitting organization for further information, requests, or questions.

NRHA’s ReinerSuite Celebrates First Anniversary

For Immediate Release – March 11, 2021 – Although a one-year anniversary is traditionally celebrated with gifts of paper, paper is just what the National Reining Horse Association’s phenomenally successful ReinerSuite has helped to reduce. That is because the online membership tool has already significantly lessened the need for printed forms and applications in its very first year of existence.

NRHA Commissioner Gary Carpenter was the driving force behind the creation of ReinerSuite, a program released in late February 2020. The web-based software was developed in concert with The Jockey Club Technology Services. TJCTS, a sister company to The Jockey Club, is a worldwide leader in the equine industry as far as technology and responsible for the custom system that powers Thoroughbred horse racing.

Looking back on last year’s successful rollout of ReinerSuite, Carpenter said. “We are proud of where we are today. In the next three to five years, we will look back and be amazed at the progress it has allowed us to make. We have a data-rich environment and there is so much information floating around that can be used more effectively for the good of our industry.”

ReinerSuite remains a work in progress as it continues with improvements and additions. Such was the case with the Eligibility Checker, which came four months after the release. “New features will be added as the NRHA staff and members use it and know what we need. Next will be offerings in the show program, but the whole process is continuous,” he added.

There will be new milestones to come, but a glitch-free rollout and a year of successful usage is something to celebrate!  Former NRHA President Mike Hancock said, “I believe this is one of the most significant projects in the history of the NRHA. It allows us to be more accurate, faster, and opens the door for more information at our fingertips.”

According to Angie Honeywell, NRHA Senior Manager of ReinerSuite and Futurity Sale, the association’s membership has overwhelmingly embraced the new technology. “Currently more than 73 percent of our members are using it,” Honeywell shared. “We continue to receive positive feedback about the convenience of being able to do tasks online, like renewing memberships, checking eligibility, and more.”

“ReinerSuite is loaded with features to help our members. They can use the Eligibility Checker, make nominations, access member reports and the calendar, and their membership card is available digitally,” she said. “All this is available to members 24/7. Memberships are effective immediately upon purchase, and competition licenses and transfers completed in ReinerSuite allow for a much quicker turnaround time, typically only a few days.”

The long-awaited technology has not only been a success for members but for show management and offices, as well. Kathy Gould, show secretary for the three largest NRHA-approved events, said, “During a show, people can use their phone to transfer a horse or update their memberships and get an immediate email confirmation, and using it saves them money as well. In the show office, we rely on it for eligibility verification.”

NRHA Professional Shannon Rafacz is an ardent fan of the program, and noted, “First and foremost, having everything online is super-efficient for me. Between the online memberships and the ability to do competition licenses ourselves, it has been a very helpful and simple process. Three or four clicks and it’s all done.”

Rafacz added that, although the program can seem imposing at first, help is only a phone call away. “Change is hard for anyone, for sure. But if we as members take time to learn how it works, it’s actually very simple. My advice is to just ask questions if you have them because the people at the NRHA have been great to help,” she said.

Honeywell added that one still under-utilized feature of ReinerSuite is the completion of competition license applications and license transfers. As user-friendly as the system is, additional learning materials like video tutorials, are being added so that members can benefit even more from what ReinerSuite has to offer.

To register for a ReinerSuite account, visit Questions can be submitted via email to

Reining Horse Foundation Turns 20

Two Decades of Helping Reiners

Reiners helping reiners is a story that never gets old, and the Reining Horse Foundation, which turns 20 in 2021, has been helping that happen for two decades.

It’s often a real eye-opener to find how much help is available. When Bud Roebuck, an NRHA Professional, had his Florida training facility destroyed by a tornado he did not even think of reaching out until a friend urged him to do so. He said, “I guess I thought that the Foundation help was mostly for people who had injuries or illnesses.”

But the RHF has a broader focus and its Dale Wilkinson Memorial Crisis Fund helped Bud and his family survive the setback. “Like most people in the horse world, it was hard to admit we needed help, but the funds really took the pressure off while we rebuilt and got our business going again.” These days, Roebuck, like many others who have received assistance, is committed to giving back to the Foundation.

That same giving spirit from people around the globe is allowing the charitable arm of the National Reining Horse Association to kick off its milestone year announcing increases in grants available through its cornerstone program, the Dale Wilkinson Memorial Crisis Fund. NRHA members impacted by medical, accident and disaster hardships will find that the Foundation grant maximums are now 20 percent greater and that is on top of previous increases made in 2016 and 2017. Go here for complete details on grant tiers and criteria.

“Increasing these grants is an ideal way to commemorate two decades of support for the reining community. The Dale Wilkinson Memorial Crisis Fund has been helping reiners since shortly after it was established in 2001,” said RHF President Tim Anderson. “In recent years our Board of Directors has been dedicated to substantially increasing the amount of financial support we can provide to NRHA members in crisis. Thankfully, donors from around the world are stepping up to make these larger grants possible.”

Other welcome news for this anniversary year is that the Foundation plans to host its largest annual fundraiser, Sliders’ Night Out presented by Toyon Ranch. The event, which takes place annually during the NRHA Futurity, was postponed in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions, but it is expected to come back bigger than ever in 2021 to celebrate the RHF’s 20th-anniversary theme.

“We hope that continued strong donor support will allow us to make additional announcements around our core programs in 2021,” said Rick Clark, NRHA president and member of the RHF Board of Directors. Clark also chairs the Foundation’s Development Committee and is enthusiastic about future projects.  “We have some ambitious goals to expand the scholarship programs for members of the National Reining Horse Youth Association and establish an endowment that will support this organization’s work for decades to come.”

The Dale Wilkinson Memorial Crisis Fund exists to help reiners and in 2021, has increased most grant maximums by 20 percent. That increase is in addition to the substantial increases made in 2016 and 2017.

The RHF Crisis Fund criteria separates grant applications into a four-tier system depending on the type of hardship. With this increase, Tier 1 medical and Tier 2 accident grants will increase to a maximum of $3,600 each, and Tier 3 disaster grants will increase to a maximum of $6,000.

NRHA members in need of assistance can get a Crisis Fund application and see details here or contact Leslie Baker, RHF Executive Director, at or (405) 946-7400.

Follow RHF on NRHA’s social media channels, including weekly #FoundationFriday posts on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.  For details on how you can help support the Crisis Fund or any of the RHF programs, contact any RHF Board member or Leslie Baker, RHF Executive Director, at or (405) 946-7400.