Recent NRHA Rule Changes Create Opportunities for Non Pros and Youth

On August 22, 2021, the National Reining Horse Association Board of Directors reviewed and unanimously approved two of the proposed rule changes presented by the Non Pro Committee.

The proposals addressed issues related to working student allowances for Youth as well as sponsorship endorsements for Non Pros. According to Non Pro Committee Chair Ginger Schmersal, the changes, which will go into effect January 1, 2022, were proposed in hopes of not only opening up opportunities for members but also to benefit the industry as a whole. These changes were approved according to the process that allows the board to approve proposals that do not directly impact the rules of competition, such as the rules for judging, equipment, patterns, show rules, etc., on an abbreviated path in comparison to the traditional review process. This rule change process was proposed in 2018 and approved for the 2019 NRHA Handbook.

Schmersal added that the rule changes were proposed after months of deliberation and research. “Our Non Pro Committee is incredible. We had nearly 100 percent participation on every phone call, and each member worked hard to think through any consequences – both positive and negative – of the proposals we made,” she said. “We have a very diverse committee, comprised of people from all different levels of riding and a variety of careers. The insight from this group, and its commitment to getting it right, is something I am very proud of.”

Rule Change 1 – Youth Riders May Work for NRHA Professionals

The Non Pro Committee recommended allowing youth riders to work for professional trainers. The Committee felt relaxing the restriction will serve several purposes of providing a pathway for young riders who are interested in honing their horsemanship skills, working for an NRHA Professional to offset the financial obstacles of showing, or pursuing a career in training, while learning more about the industry and not having to sacrifice their Non Pro status. When the Youth turns 19 years old, they will be able to make the decision to retain their Non Pro status or become an NRHA Professional.

“There are a few problems we wanted to address, and we are excited that this new change will accomplish that,” Schmersal shared. “First, we all know horses and horse shows are expensive right now, and that means that reining might not be an option for many youth. By relaxing the restrictions on our young members, we have the opportunity to welcome even more youth into the industry. Now kids who want to ride or learn to ride can go work for a trainer without having to worry about losing their Non Pro status.”

The lack of experienced assistant trainers and barn help is another aspect the Non Pro Committee hopes to address with this change. “Everyone is looking for help, and there is a shortage of assistant trainers, especially those with show experience. This will create more riders who have the skills necessary to go on to that next level and eventually have careers of their own,” she said. 

Schmersal noted that while this rule is revolutionary to the reining industry, it’s common practice in other disciplines. “Working students are the norm in the English industry. I, and several people I know, would not be where we are today if we had not had the opportunity to gain experience and knowledge as a working student,” she said. “I am excited for these new opportunities for our youth.”

The new rule will read:

  • Any youth rider 18 years of age or younger who is a current member of NRHA is eligible to reside and/or work for any NRHA Professional in good standing. Remuneration can include housing and food. Youth riders are allowed to have their personal horse or horses with the trainer, and details of board and training shall be decided between those parties. Youth riders are allowed to ride any horses both at home and at horse shows while working for the trainer. Youth riders are allowed to compete in the youth and non pro based on current NRHA ownership rules. 

It is important to note that the following section regarding Youth riders and horse ownership remains unchanged from previous years. 

  • In classes that do not have ownership restrictions (Rookie 1 & 2, Green Reiner 1 & 2, Youth Rookie, Unrestricted Youth, and all open classes, except Rookie Professional), youth riders may compete on any horse regardless of ownership.

Rule Change 2 – NRHA Non Pros can have Sponsorships and Endorsements 

Beginning in 2022, Non Pro members will be able to endorse products and have sponsorships with a very important restriction remaining; they must abide by all other requirements of the Non Pro Conditions restricting the receipt of remuneration for training or showing in any equine discipline or giving instruction on the showing or training of a performance horse. While this issue had been on the shortlist of issues for the Non Pro Committee, the decision of the National Collegiate Athletics Association to allow collegiate athletes to benefit from their names, images, and likenesses spurred the issue forward.

“Without the allowance for advertisements and endorsements, collegiate reining athletes would have to deny endorsements and activities, become an NRHA Professional, or stop showing NRHA,” Schmersal explained. 

Every member of the Non Pro Committee felt receiving free products does not give an exhibitor an advantage in the show pen, nor does it make the person receiving those products a professional or a trainer. “A professional is someone who is paid to train, coach or show,” Schmersal explained. “Receiving free feed or leg boots or supplements won’t make an exhibitor perform better in the show pen. It will, however, help their checkbook, and that is something that can help every Non Pro.” 

Schmersal pointed to the growth of social media and the potential for income it provides users. “Someone may not be a top rider but might be an influencer on social media or have a loyal following. Even if a feed company just gives them a couple bags of feed, it can help,” she explained.

Schmersal added that allowing such a large group of reining enthusiasts to approach and garner new sponsorships will only help the reining industry and open the doors to those who may otherwise not be able to afford to compete in reining, especially youth riders. “This is a great opportunity for brand new sponsors to be introduced to reining. Our Non Pro members might have bosses or family members who want to sponsor them, which benefits not only that member, but also their sponsors and NRHA,” she said. 

The revised rule reads:

  • Non Pro may appear in advertisements and/or endorse products or services. Remuneration, direct or indirect, may be received for these activities. However, the Non Pro must abide by all other requirements of the Non Pro Conditions and refrain from engaging in Prohibited Activities.

Non pros must abide by all other requirements of the Non Pro Conditions and refrain from engaging in Prohibited Activity. Another example of this is that Non Pros still must follow the ownership and immediate family rules for Non Pro competition, as well as the rules regarding the sale or transfer of horses to Non Pros. In terms of payment of expenses, the following change was made:

  • Entry fees and/or show-related expenses paid by anyone other than the Non Pro, his/her immediate family, or a family-owned business entity as outlined above shall be considered remuneration and could jeopardize Non Pro status.

Schmersal added that she’s seen discussion on rule proposals that didn’t pass, and other misinformation being shared on social media. “Please don’t believe everything you read on social media, and if you have a question about one of the rules, don’t hesitate to contact me or anyone on the Non Pro Committee,” she said.

Non Pro Committee members include Jesse Asmussen, Daniel Schloemer, Karen Shedlauskas, Kevin Ball, Morris Kulmer, Kelsey Price, Kelli Brummett, Brooke Wharton, and Shane Brown (Ex Officio).

The NRHA Handbook can be found on the NRHA website at nrha.com/handbook

For more information about the proposals made, please click here to review the PowerPoint presentation presented to the Board of Directors by the Non Pro Committee.

Additional Showdowns at Adequan® North American Affiliate Championships

Exciting opportunities are available at the 2021 National Reining Horse Association Adequan® North American Affiliate Championships but are only available to exhibitors who first qualify through an Affiliate Regional Championship.

Exhibitors competing in select divisions at the Adequan® NAAC can earn the chance to perform center stage in the Jim Norick Coliseum thanks to an exciting sponsorship addition from NRHA Corporate Partners Bob’s Custom Saddles and Toyon Ranch. The two Corporate Partners have expanded their sponsorship to include a bonus round for four classes.

The Bob’s Custom Saddles Showdowns will be offered for the Intermediate Non Pro, Intermediate Open, and Rookie Level 2 and the Toyon Ranch Showdown will be offered for Rookie 1, also known as Rookie of the Year. The NAAC classes will be held in the Adequan® Arena as normal with entries competing for 2021 Adequan® NAAC titles. The top 10 for each class (plus ties) will advance to the clean-slate Showdowns in the Coliseum Arena, where they will compete for additional cash prizes.

To compete for these titles, it is critical that riders enter the respective classes at an Affiliate Regional Championship and score higher than a zero to qualify to enter Oklahoma City. NAAC hopefuls must specifically enter the ARC class, not just the ancillary version. Riders do not need to have an affiliate designation to enter, they just must be a member of an affiliate. The South Central Region ARC kicks off the qualifying season at the Tulsa Reining Classic on August 29, and the full list of ARCs can be found on the NRHA website.

A staggering $10,000 will be awarded during the Showdowns for each class. This means that, for no additional entry fee, the Bob’s Custom Saddles and Toyon Ranch Showdown Champions will win $5,000, the reserve champion will take home $2,500, third will receive $1,500, and fourth will earn $1,000. Money won in the Showdown will be considered Category 7 affiliate earnings.

“The reining industry is blessed with many generous sponsors, and Bob’s Custom Saddles and Toyon Ranch are two of the best. Their vision is to grow reining beginning with specific NAAC divisions while benefiting the industry as a whole,” noted Senior Director of Corporate Relations and Communications, Sammi Miller.

The Bob’s Custom Saddles Intermediate Non Pro and Intermediate Open Showdowns will be held in the Jim Norick Friday, Dec. 3, and the Bob’s Custom Saddles Rookie 2 Showdown and Toyon Ranch Rookie 1 Showdown will be held on Saturday, Dec. 4.

For more information about qualification for or about the Adequan® NAAC, visit https://bit.ly/2021NAACQualification.

Raise A Million Auctions Benefitting RHF Proceeds Exceed $500k

Electric. Exhilarating. Exciting.

That’s a trilogy of words that could easily describe the action in the arena at the 2021 The Run For A Million presented by Teton Ridge, which wrapped up August 21 at the South Point Arena and Equestrian Center in Las Vegas.

Taking part in the thrilling finish to the Raise A Million Live Auction are Kevin Truax, Jimmy Nichols and Nancy Wheeler Nichols, RHF Board President and high bidder Tim Anderson, Kim Niven, Janice Dickson, Mark Dickson, RHF Executive Director Leslie Baker, Taylor Sheridan, creator of The Run For A Million and producer for Paramount Network’s Yellowstone, and RHF Board member Andrea Stillo. (Photo by Kelsey Pecsek-Hruska)

They can also illustrate the fundraising efforts between the National Reining Horse Association’s Reining Horse Foundation and TRFAM. The two entities came together to produce and host the Raise a Million Auctions to benefit the reining community. Over the course of the event, more than a half-million dollars was raised between the live and silent auctions and pledged matches from RHF donors!

According to RHF Executive Director Leslie Baker, it was the largest single fundraising effort ever for the foundation. “This is probably one of the most exhilarating and sensational moments in the Reining Horse Foundation’s history, and we’ve already had some incredible ones,” she said. “It’s tremendous to be here at The Run For A Million. To have the industry step up this way is gratifying, especially as we celebrate our 20th Anniversary. It really shows that the future for the RHF is bright.”

The Live Auction, held just prior to the Million Dollar Competition Draw on Friday evening, featured five extraordinary items, ranging from a one-of-a-kind painting to incredible jewelry.

The headline item, though, was an official TRFAM jacket donated by TRFAM presented by Teton Ridge and arranged by Brumley Management. Taylor Sheridan, creator of TRFAM and producer for Paramount Network’s Yellowstone, had originally assured the jacket would be signed by him and the two Yellowstone cast members at the event.

Then Sheridan upped the ante, promising not only to get signatures from all the cast members but also to host the winning bidder and a guest to the set to get autographs from all the cast members in person. In addition to the meet and greet, the winners and their horses, if they chose to bring them – will be cast as extras in an episode of the hit show.

The bidding commenced, and the cheering and encouragement of the crowd rose to a crescendo. When the bidding stalled at $110,000, Sheridan said whoever would match that price would get the same treatment. When it was all over four bidders – each pledging $110,000 – won the prize.

“Taylor Sheridan was honored in 2019 as NRHA’s Reiner of the Year, and it’s an honor well deserved, because of his generosity. We thank TRFAM, Brumley Management, and Mr. Sheridan, all big supporters we are grateful for,” noted Baker. “There was an incredible group of buyers for the live auction items.  Thank you to each of them for showing their support in such a big way. Among the high bidders are Tim Anderson and Kim Niven, Mark and Janice Dickson, and Kevin Truax.”

Baker also added a thank you to the donors and buyers of the other live auction items.

  • Lot 1 – One-of-a-kind show headstall created and donated by Bob’s Custom Saddles, an NRHA Corporate Partner. Purchased by Elementa.
  • Lot 2 – Texas Rangers Tickets donated by Debbie Conway/Vaquero Midstream. Purchased by Pete Fulgham, 03 Animal Health LLC.
  • Lot 3 – Sleipner Trust Harmony Bracelet created and donated by MS Diamonds TX, an NRHA corporate partner.
  • Lot 4 – Remember Me original acrylic painting created and donated by MJ’s Equine Art Studios (Maggie Leverett). Purchased by Allison Thorson/ThorSport Inc. and Elementa.

The Silent Auction ran through Saturday afternoon and garnered an additional $24,495. Two items tied as the high selling lots in the Silent Auction at $2,000 each: a 2022 breeding to Spooks Gotta Spark donated by Kevin Truax and purchased by Ricardo and Kim Rivero, and an eye-catching show headstall made by Travis Stillson, donated by George & Chloe Lawrence and purchased by Laura Honstetter.  

According to Baker, the generosity surrounding the Raise a Million Auctions began well before anyone connected to the event set foot in Las Vegas. When word of the auctions got out, donors pledging to match money raised began to stack up. “We had an incredible group of 15 donors pledge to match the first $19,500 the auction raised, ensuring it would be successful from the start,” she said.

Donors contributing to the match include:

$2,500

Tim Anderson & Kim Niven

Booth Ranches

Rick Clark

Jennifer Greenleaf

John & Nancy Tague

Jamie Walters

$500

Gary & Marian Carpenter

Kevin & Amy Colston

Frank & Susan Costantini

John & Dawn Foy

John & Terri Mainey

Pro Management Inc./Cheryl Cody

Santa Hill Ranch

Andrea & Mirjam Stillo

Joe & Emmy Wolfe

With the matching dollars and both auctions combined, NRHA Chief Financial Officer John Foy says the weekend’s events generated the most net assets in NRHA and RHF history from an event.

The success of the Raise a Million Silent Auctions capped off an incredible week of charity for the RHF, as another major moment was the announcement of a $50,000 gift from the Teton Ridge Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Teton Ridge. Baker said, “The grant from the Teton Ridge Foundation is among the largest single gifts in our history. We thank Mr. Thomas Tull of Teton Ridge, and after meeting with him and other donors, it solidifies for me that every dollar raised means something, whether it’s $5, $50, $50,000, or $500,000. The RHF is going places and will continue to impact the reining community.”

The mission of the Reining Horse Foundation is to care for and honor the reining community. Core programs include the Dale Wilkinson Memorial Crisis Fund to benefit reiners enduring hardships such as major illness, accidents, and disasters; youth leadership development and scholarships for members of the National Reining Horse Youth Association, and perpetuation of the sport’s history through the NRHA Hall of Fame. For information on the RHF, visit ReiningFoundation.com.

Dany Tremblay Hits NRHA Million Dollar Rider Milestone

Dany & Tinker With Dreams

When Dany Tremblay marked a 224.5 on Tinker With Dreams in The Run For A Million presented by Teton Ridge Open Shootout, he not only guaranteed a spot in the 2022 Million Dollar Event but also secured his place in National Reining Horse Association history.

When Tremblay, of Overbrook, Oklahoma, traveled to Las Vegas for the event, he was less than $5,000 away from achieving NRHA Million Dollar Rider status. The tie for fifth place in the Shootout paid $9,991, more than enough to (unofficially) push the NRHA Professional past the career milestone.

Dany shared he was excited about the win but was adamant about crediting his brother, Fred, for his success.

Dany & Fred

“I remember when I was a kid and I had won my first $100,000, and it was just before I had to pick if I wanted to be a Non Pro or an Open rider. Fred told me, ‘Don’t worry. You got the $100,000, and the next party we are going to have will be for a million,’” Dany recalled. “Honestly, I never believed my brother until today. The reason I am here is because of him; he made everything happen, I was just the rider.”

He added, “We have been a team from the beginning, and are the best team. Fred has taught me so much in life as far as business and has been there and believed in me since day one. He always told people, ‘You’re going to see what my brother can do someday.’”

For Fred, seeing his younger brother reach one million in earnings was the culmination of a dream. “I have wanted this for him ever since he was a kid,” Fred shared following the Shootout.

Dany and Fred’s father, Christian Tremblay, won the 1981 NRHA Futurity Non Pro Championship, so while he grew up riding different types of horses and disciplines, reining was always special.

The Tremblays relocated from Canada to the United States in 2014. Expanding upon their Canadian experience, Tremblay Performance Horses has become a premier reining horse training, coaching, and marketing programs in the industry.

Dany & Tinker With Dreams

“It was a little hard living in Canada because I always wanted to compete in the United States, so I traveled a lot,” Dany explained. “I used to come a month before the NRHA Futurity to learn more and work with great trainers. Then it was two months earlier, and soon I was splitting my time between the two countries almost equally.”

Dany has trained and worked with some of the industry’s best horsemen, including Mike Flarida, NRHA Million Dollar Rider Dell Hendricks and Two Million Dollar Rider Duane Latimer.

When asked what he credits most for his success, his answer was spending time in the show ring.

“I showed on as many horses as I could. I learned a lot from the good horses, but I think I learned even more from the bad and average ones,” he said. “Showing is probably the key to success. A lot of people can ride good horses but getting them shown is another story. Going into the show pen was where I learned the most. I can tell you that, in reining, I have figured out that you never lose: either you win, or you learn.”

Tremblay’s 10 most lucrative wins include:

  • 2021 National Reining Breeders Classic Level 4 Open Co-Champion – Tinker With Dreams – $62,500
  • 2017 National Reining Breeders Classic Level 4 Open Reserve Champion – PS Mega Shine Chic – $41,000
  • 2015 NRHA Futurity Level 4 Open 8th – Spooksgottachicolena – $32,110
  • 2019 TRFAM Open Shootout Champion – PS Mega Shine Chic – $26,337
  • 2013 NRHA Futurity Level 4 Open 11th – The Wizster – $22,800
  • 2013 NRHA Futurity Level 3 Open Reserve Champion – The Wizster – $21,899
  • 2019 National Reining Breeders Classic Level 3 Open Champion – PS Mega Shine Chic – $21,370
  • 2017 National Reining Breeders Classic Level 3 Open Champion – PS Mega Shine Chic – $20,589
  • 2018 NRHA Futurity Level 4 Open 12th – Thug Life – $20,392
  • 2017 NRHA Derby Level 3 Open Champion – Magnums Guns R Reddy – $18,586

Reining Horse Foundation Receives $50,000 Gift From the Teton Ridge Foundation

Newly formed brand’s contribution will help improve programs which support and honor the reining community, while celebrating the sport’s history

(August 20, 2021) OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA – The Reining Horse Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the National Reining Horse Association, recently received a generous gift of $50,000 from the Teton Ridge Foundation. The donation will help fund programs designed to support youth leadership development, members who are enduring hardships, and both individuals and horses who have made valuable contributions to the sport of reining.

The Teton Ridge Foundation serves as the philanthropic wing of the newly created western brand, Teton Ridge.

The brainchild of visionary entrepreneur Thomas Tull, Teton Ridge was formed to help preserve the values and traditions of America’s iconic western culture, by investing in western performance sports, sponsoring riders, trainers, and events, strategically breeding Quarter Horses, and focusing on long-term land conservation.

Thomas Tull’s appreciation for western culture’s core values — integrity, hard work, and respect, inspired his support of the Reining Horse Foundation, an organization dedicated to hard-working individuals whose livelihoods depend on the western way of life.

According to RHF President Tim Anderson, “The mission of Teton Ridge aligns with ours in many important ways. Certainly, the Reining Horse Foundation shares an interest in preserving the history of reining, which is widely recognized as one of the most exciting disciplines in all of western performance sports.”

The contribution will strengthen multiple programs, including the Dale Wilkinson Memorial Crisis Fund, which provides relief to NRHA Members experiencing hardships caused by injury, illness, and even natural disaster.

Additionally, Teton Ridge’s donation will support youth leadership development programs and educational scholarships for members of the National Reining Horse Youth Association.

Contacts:
Leslie Baker
Reining Horse Foundation
(405) 946-7400 x 106
rhf@nrha.com

Katie Harvey                          
KGBTexas Communications             
(210) 410-1139                                              
katie@kgbtexas.com