NRHA Ceases Negotiations with FEI

The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) and the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) collaborated for more than 20 years to showcase and expand the sport of reining worldwide while creating historic memories valued by many.

Unfortunately, countless impediments throughout the relationship – legal, cultural, structural, and financial in nature –  presented numerous hurdles over that time, and include recent FEI actions. Therefore, the NRHA leadership made the decision not to move forward with a new FEI agreement.

Although it was announced that FEI had terminated the original agreement in 2020, a new Memorandum of Understanding between the two organizations was approved by the FEI Board of Directors in June 2021. The NRHA Board of Directors, Executive Committee, and Task Force members were comfortable with that agreement, which would have created a framework for a limited group of international championships.

Then, an entirely different agreement was drafted and submitted to NRHA on September 15, 2021. “We are unsure of what led up to this development, and why NRHA was not consulted,” noted NRHA President Rick Clark. “At this time, the Executive Committee, with the support of the NRHA Board of Directors, has made the decision to not move forward with a new agreement with FEI.”

NRHA Commissioner Gary Carpenter expanded on Clark’s statement. “NRHA has worked diligently over the past two years to collaboratively negotiate a new agreement and made it a top priority for the association. Through our Executive Committee, Board, FEI Task Force, and staff, we remained fully committed to working closely with the FEI, and were excited for what the future held,” he said. “Unfortunately, a lack of direct and clear communication from FEI has been one of the biggest hurdles. We have constantly seen the goal post move further out of reach, to the point where a relationship is no longer feasible or beneficial to our members.”

Both Clark and Carpenter noted there is no ill will towards the FEI, its leadership, staff, and members. “We are thankful for everything the FEI has done for reining and the reining horse over the years, and proud that reining was able to contribute excitement in the form of an alternative discipline in the FEI World Equestrian Games™. We hope that in the future we may be able to work together in some capacity,” Clark shared.

NRHA Reiner Receives Awards and Recognition at 2021 AHP Equine Media Awards Banquet

The annual American Horse Publications three-day conference features the Equine Media Awards Banquet. Held September 16 – 18 in Irving, Texas, this year, AHP’s Equine Media Awards competition featured nearly 600 entries for materials published in 2020. After the entries were reviewed and the judging was complete, the National Reining Horse Association’s monthly publication, the NRHA Reiner, and the marketing department received multiple awards.

Sara Honegger, Manager of Youth, Professional, and Affiliate Programs, helped create one of the award-winning entries. She also works closely with the production team of the Reiner. “These awards are such an honor to be a part of, and we couldn’t be successful without such a strong team. Between our marketing, media and Reiner departments, we have such passion and talent, and I am proud to be part of the team,” she said.

Gary Carpenter, NRHA Commissioner, reflected on the awards received by NRHA. “As proud as I am of what our Reiner and marketing staff accomplished in this competition, the key to me is that competition helps us stay sharp and keep our edge. Ultimately, it’s the value we bring to NRHA members that matters.”

Top NRHA Placing Entries

1st Place – ASSOCIATION PUBLICATION SERVICE TO THE CONSUMER SINGLE ARTICLE

Megan Arszman, Author – Jennifer Paulson, Editor

The Breeding Game: To Show or To Sell? June 2020

Judge’s Comments – This was a great article that easily rose to the top of this class; it was clear, concise, and incorporated a variety of quotes from varied breeders in the industry. All of that input and variability is what made this story so interesting.

2nd Place – BUSINESS EQUINE-RELATED SHORT VIDEO (2 MINUTES OR UNDER)

Together, We Rein On

Sara Honegger, NRHA Youth & Professionals Programs Manager – Lindsay Humphrey, NRHA Public Relations and Communications

Judge’s Comments – This touching, bittersweet short video conveys the plaintive status of the reining horse world in pandemic times. Great footage and stills and the soft background music come together with the voiceover. A good script with a natural delivery that sounds as if it’s spoken by a rider. That much narration is often way too much, but it works here as a special message to the reining horse world.

For more information about the American Horse Publications, visit AmericanHorsePubs.org

NRHA Official Commentators to Call the Action for the All American Quarter Horse Congress Reining Futurity Open Finals

Get ready to watch the live internet feed of the All American Quarter Horse Congress Reining Futurity Open Finals on October 2. The free webcast will feature the National Reining Horse Association’s premier team of Steve Ross and Rocky Dare, who will call the action and provide insights drawn from their long tenure within the reining industry.

Steve Ross has become a strong voice for the NRHA, doing live interviews and explaining the intricacies of reining. An NRHA Judge who also worked NCAA sports and other broadcast gigs, he recently partnered with The Cowboy Channel’s Jeff Medders on multiple broadcasts of the NRHA Derby presented by Markel and the National Reining Breeders Classic.

NRHA Hall of Fame Inductee and Million Dollar Rider Rocky Dare purchased his lifetime NRHA membership while he was still a struggling neophyte horse trainer because he knew he wanted to ride reiners for a long time. Purchasing the membership, which represented more than two weeks of his salary at the time, was a prophetic move because he’s now been involved in reining in five different decades!

You can view the action and hear the commentary from these elite experts by clicking here or you can click on the link on the NRHA website to take you directly to the webcast, which is provided by the Congress through Bryan Morgan’s National Sports Broadcasting. A great feature of Morgan’s technology is that you can rewind up to four hours, as long as the event is still streaming.

The NRHA and its event management team have tapped Steve and Rocky to help add production value to the sport’s major events, and plans are in motion to grow this important facet going forward. NRHA Events Manager Cheryl Cody said, “Reining is an important sport, and we are poised to begin showcasing the industry and the people in it in a new light. With all the momentum in the industry now, we’ll be stepping up to a new ‘Game Day’ level at the 2021 NRHA Futurity and Adequan® North American Affiliate Championships, set for November 25 – December 4.”

NRHA Million Dollar Rider Matt Mills Will Compete at Road to the Horse 2022

The competition for Road to the Horse 2022 is heating up, and National Reining Horse Association Professional and Million Dollar Rider Matt Mills has been announced as one of the four selected trainers invited to compete in the elite competition.

Mills, of Scottsdale, Arizona, will join fellow competitors Brandi Lyons and Cole Cameron March 24-27, 2022, at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky, to compete for a purse exceeding $100,000.

“I feel honored to have been chosen and am excited to compete at the Road to the Horse. Starting colts is an aspect of training that most people don’t get to see. The thing about training reining horses, or any high-level horse, is that they all have to start somewhere,” Mills shared. “Training and showing top reining horses from start to finish has been my focus for years and making it a competition is right up my alley. I believe I will be a better horseman because of it.”

Consistently ranked among the top NRHA Professionals, Mills’ accomplishments include earning the NRHA Level 3 Open Futurity Reserve Championship and numerous titles at the National Reining Breeders Classic. He has also claimed several large futurity and derby wins at events including the Rocky Mountain Reining Horse Association Summer Slide, the High Roller Reining Classic, the Southwest Reining Horse Association Futurity and NRHA Cowtown Classic.

One of his most significant achievements entailed winning the 2006 USEF Open Reining Championship in Lexington, Kentucky on Easy Otie Whiz with a career-high score of 231.5. This feat earned him a spot on the U.S. Reining Team that claimed a gold medal at the World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany.

While his list of achievements is long, Mills is aware he’ll be competing in a brand-new arena and has already reached out to several accomplished colt starters for advice on navigating the competition’s three-day format. “I’m very green at colt starting competitions. I have never done anything like this before, and I am excited to do it. It is going to be a fun and new challenge, and I look forward to carrying the flag for fellow NRHA members,” he said.

To give himself even more practice, Mills recently purchased an un-started and untrained 7-year-old mustang. “His name is Raven, and I purchased him for a whopping $170,” Mills laughed. “He has quite the story, and it was quite the ruckus to even get him back to the ranch. My plan is to train him in the exact format as the Road to the Horse. This is just one of the ways I’ll be preparing for the event. I’m definitely not just going to show up and wing it; I’m putting in the work beforehand.”  

Mills’ horsemanship journey began when he was introduced to horses at eight years of age by a pony named Dizzy while taking lessons in a small round pen at the Lakewood Equestrian Center in Long Beach, California. As a youth rider, he earned multiple championships throughout California in a variety of disciplines including Western Pleasure, Horsemanship and Trail.

Mills switched his focus to reining in 1996, establishing his own training operation in Scottsdale, Arizona. In addition to training and showing futurity and derby horses, he also coaches several successful Non Pro and Youth riders, and has also hosted clinics in Europe and Mexico.

Mills likens training horses to being a doctor or a lawyer; no matter how good you are at it, there are always ways to improve. “Anything you can do to make the job easier for the horse and make you more competitive is important to learn. When you visit with top riders – regardless of their event – you start to see some constants,” he explained. “I am a student of the game and believe you can learn from almost everyone. I enjoy horses and know that every new experience I have can help me improve. I hope that by jumping out and doing this competition I can encourage other people to try something new.”

“We’re excited to welcome NRHA professional horseman Matt Mills to our Championship Competitor lineup,” Tina Battock, Morris Equine Group President, noted. “Road to the Horse strives to bring together the industry’s most elite colt starters who are not only stand-outs in their disciplines but most importantly, shining ambassadors of the horse.” 

Road to the Horse 2022 takes place at the Kentucky Horse Park on March 24-27, 2022. Tickets are available at www.RoadtotheHorse.com or by calling 800-514-3849. Follow Road to the Horse on Facebook for the latest information and stay tuned to find out who will be revealed as the next Road to the Horse 2022 competitor. 

About Road to the Horse

Founded in 2003, Road to the Horse strives to inspire people to reach a higher level of horsemanship and develop unity with a horse based on trust and not fear. The goal is, through education and entertainment, to can change people’s ideas and create a better world for the horse. The purpose of Road to the Horse is to identify the superior colt starter who accumulates the highest score throughout the competition. Judging focuses on the competitor and the effectiveness of their horsemanship methodology to communicate, educate, and build a partnership with their colt based on trust. Fans witness the entire journey, from colt selection to the final obstacle challenge. Purchase tickets and see the event schedule at www.RoadtotheHorse.com.

About Morris Equine Group

Morris Equine Group consists of some of the industry’s most recognized brands, including Western Horseman, Quarter Horse News and Barrel Horse News. The group also includes business-to-business publication Western Lifestyle Retailer and EquiStat, a statistical service offering detailed information and earnings for the performance horse industry. Morris Equine Group is also home to the National Barrel Horse Association, the West Coast Barrel Racing Association and the World Championship of Colt Starting, Road to the Horse.

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.

Teton Ridge Announces its First Team of Professional Riders

Andrea Fappani, Corey Cushing and Todd Bergen introduced as inaugural members of TEAM:TR

(AUGUST 2, 2021) TETONIA, IDAHO – Teton Ridge, a newly-formed brand created to preserve, promote, and protect America’s western way of life announced today that three elite professional riders will be joining TEAM:TR, the equine competition component of the brand.

Together, Andrea Fappani, Corey Cushing and Todd Bergen create a powerful team of best-in-class professional riders spanning the major disciplines of reining and reined cow horse. Teton Ridge is further expanding this team to include the disciplines of cutting, barrel racing and bull riding. 

Leading visionary entrepreneur and western enthusiast Thomas Tull formed Teton Ridge to honor western culture, expand interest in performance sports, and celebrate the top-tier athleticism and spirit of the men and women who compete in western riding disciplines every day. Teton Ridge is also breeding elite, equine athletes and provides programs that offer the finest quality horse and TEAM:TR trainer combinations, so the animals can reach their fullest potential.

Each horseman brings a different skillset and personality to TEAM:TR. Collectively that translates to a diverse roster of riders whose values and dedication will not only help elevate all western equine disciplines, but provide them with the type of respect and recognition they deserve.

Andrea Fappani, considered one of reining’s all-time greatest athletes, has captured multiple titles and won over $6 million in the saddle. Introduced at an early age to English riding and reining, Fappani has never known life without horses. He moved to the United States from his family’s farm in Italy to train with Todd Bergen, become a professional rider, and be the best horseman he could be.

In 2001, after five years of training, Andrea won his first NRHA Futurity at the age of 24.

Fappani is only the second person to become an NRHA Six Million Dollar Rider. Additionally, he is a four-time NRHA Futurity Champion, a four-time NRBC Champion, an NRHA Derby Champion and has captured multiple AQHA World Champion titles.

Fappani’s experience, enthusiasm and professionalism make him a crucial asset to TEAM:TR. “I’m committed to excellence with horses and always focused on what’s best for each individual. That is what drives me to be the best reining trainer and showman,” said Fappani. “To commit to understand the needs of a horse and how that particular horse learns is extremely rewarding. Developing confidence in each horse’s athletic abilities and becoming a trusted partner in the show arena and winners circle is our goal.”

TEAM:TR is “here to make a difference in western performance sports and bring them to a different level. I think that we’re going to see some great changes, both in the sports and to western culture.”

Corey Cushing specializes in reined cow horse and reining and is a best-in-class qualifier focused on the longevity of performance horses. Corey became involved in western performance sports at a young age. He honed his horsemanship skills under the eye of the late Noel Skinner and also John Slack directly out of high school.

Cushing had the opportunity to learn from Todd Bergen, who is widely recognized as one of the finest horseman in the business.

The assistant trainer turned athlete made his professional breakthrough at 19 when he won the NRHA Futurity Intermediate Open Championship. At the time, Cushing had only been reining for one year. Corey’s dedication also earned him the title of youngest National Reined Cow Horse Association Million Dollar honoree in 2012. And in 2018, Cory became the third NRCHA Two Million Dollar Rider in history.

Most recently, Cushing captured the 2021 NRCHA Open Derby Champion title, aboard Teton Ridge’s stallion, Hesa Dual Bet.

A perfect addition to TEAM:TR, Corey’s experience, confidence, poise, and sense of respect have all helped elevate him and his horses to the most elite levels.

“Teton Ridge appreciates us and our horses as athletes, and they truly respect and understand the hard work and long days that go into western life and sports,” said Cushing. “What drew me to join  TEAM:TR is the enthusiasm and appreciation that Thomas Tull has and the multiple disciplines that Teton Ridge is involved in and will be a part of one day.”

Todd Bergen, a familiar name in western sports, is a ten-time NRHA and NRCHA Futurity Champion and Reserve Champion Rider. He is the sixth NRCHA Million Dollar Rider and the first rider to achieve a Two Million Dollar status in both the NRCHA and NRHA.

Bergen started competing at the age of 11 and turned professional at 18. Todd was only an assistant when he started winning world championships. His most memorable win was in 1995, at age 25, when he won the NRHA Futurity.

Bergen’s vision of the future of equine events aligns with Teton Ridge’s strategies to grow western sports, noting that “the bigger the events and purses, the more people are going to want to participate and come see equine sports.”

“What Teton Ridge is doing for western culture and the horse industry is something a lot of people have dreamed about for a long time. Teton Ridge is paving the way for people in the future that want to do what we do. What I can bring to the table is experience in the industry. I can help guide Teton Ridge in the right direction.”

TEAM:TR is elevating western sports by assembling a roster of the world’s most elite western riders and broadening audience appeal and participation.

###

About Teton Ridge

Teton Ridge is a multi-platform brand devoted to the iconic American Western way of life and western equine sports. Teton Ridge will create a team of elite equine riders from multiple disciplines, invest in the breeding and training of the most sought-after pedigrees in the quarter horse industry and engage audiences to elevate and expand western equine sports through innovative technology. Additionally, Teton Ridge operates a philanthropic foundation that provides invaluable funding for land stewardship, fosters community by preserving the American West’s cultural heritage, and ensures the future of ranching and riding sports. For more information about Teton Ridge, please visit tetonridge.com or @tetonridge on Instagram @tetonridgeusa on Facebook.

About TEAM:TR

TEAM:TR, the equine competition component of the Teton Ridge Brand, is assembling a roster of the world’s most elite western riders to elevate equine sports while also broadening audience appeal and participation. Simultaneously, they are training and breeding the next generation of high-performance Quarter Horses to strengthen the breed based on superior bloodlines and genetic traits. Additionally, Teton Ridge is planning a new state-of-the-art training facility at TR9 Ranch in Weatherford, Texas, to be one of the world’s most advanced and innovative equine training facilities. For more information about Teton Ridge, please visit tetonridge.com or @tetonridge on Instagram @tetonridgeusa on Facebook.

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

Cody Shown
KGBTexas Communications
(210) 913-2639
codys@kgbtexas.com

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.