Kari Klingenberg Featured at Art of the Cowgirl

For Immediate Release – January 6, 2020 – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) and Art of the Cowgirl are teaming up to present NRHA Professional Kari Klingenberg during the 2020 event. As a first-year event sponsor, NRHA will be featured in the trade show while Klingenberg will talk about her career in a demanding, ever-evolving industry.

Hosted Jan. 24–26, 2020, in Phoenix, Arizona, the event features women every facet of the Western industry and celebrates their contributions to the Western way of life.

Klingenberg was the “horse-crazy girl” who simply never grew out of what most deem “just a phase.” At the ripe age of 12, this Stanwood, Washington, native tried every discipline under the sun until eventually landing in the stock horse and performance arena.

After a career as an assistant trainer riding a kaleidoscope of horses, Klingenberg found herself working for reining and cow horse trainer Sue Sultze. This propelled Klingenberg to become a top rider, and in 2008 she took a leap of faith as she struck out on her own and started Klingenberg Performance Horses.

“I have definitely taken the path less traveled,” Klingenber said. “When I started my own business I didn’t have the experience to do it; but I had the desire and the determination to try. I also had a strong belief that I was going to be successful.”

Both Bob Avila and Troy Heikes mentored and coached Klingenberg throughout her career. Shawna Sapergia was also a major influence, inspiring Klingenberg to believe that women have a place at the professional trainers’ table and are valuable contributors to the industry.

Women making waves in the Western industry is the vein of truth that formed Art of the Cowgirl. This speaks to Klingenberg on a personal level as she grew up with strong female role models who prepared her for this career path.

“I have a soft spot for little girls and teaching,” Klingenberg said. “I think girls of all ages need to be super tough and learn there are no limits of what they can accomplish. It’s important for girls of all ages to see other women who have conquered big things.”

Klingenberg will speak twice during the event: Friday, Jan. 24 at 3:30 p.m. Arizona time and Saturday, Jan. 25 at 1 p.m. Arizona time. Don’t miss out as Klingenberg travels down memory lane in hopes of inspiring the next generation of horsewomen.

“It’s an honor for me to be a part of this, and I’m really excited about it,” Klingenberg said. “Everyone makes huge scarifies to be able to live this lifestyle; to be a part of it and share the way that I’ve done it is very humbling.”

For more information about Klingenberg, visit kariklingenbergph.com/about. For ticket information and a detailed schedule for the Art of the Cowgirl, visit artofthecowgirl.com.

Francesca Sternberg Awarded 2019 British Equestrian Federation Medal of Honour

For immediate release – December 20, 2019 – Oklahoma City, OK –The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) is proud to congratulate longtime reiner Francesca Sternberg for being awarded the British Equestrian Federation Medal of Honour today at the Olympia International Horse Show in London. One of the highest accolades given by the British Equestrian Federation, the award recognizes Sternberg’s passion for equestrian sports in the United Kingdom and her achievements in the sport of reining.

“I would never have imagined the British Equestrian Federation would recognize a reiner,” Sternberg shared. “In the UK, we’re highly traditional—everything is eventing, show jumping, and dressage. To be recognized by my peers in my own country is quite overwhelming.”

Originally competing in top-level eventing and show jumping, Sternberg first became an NRHA member in 1995. Since then, she’s earned more than $418,500 in NRHA Lifetime Earnings (LTE) and experienced success at the highest levels, competing at five FEI World Equestrian Games and making numerous trips to the AQHA World Championship Show, NRHA Futurity, and NRHA Derby in Oklahoma City.

“The reining horse has taken me to places I would never have gone and allowed me to meet people I would never have met,” Sternberg revealed. “Although the accomplishments in the arena are hugely important, it’s not really all about that. It’s about the journey and the incredible experiences en route.”

In light of this latest honor, Sternberg credits the family she’s found within the sport of reining for helping her achieve such success.

“The heart of NRHA is a combination of the horse and the community,” Sternberg continued. “I haven’t found that in any other equestrian group. Everybody can be competitive, or just enjoy the ride. It’s a team effort.”

Sternberg’s two children, Tabitha Sternberg Allen and George Sternberg Allen, both share their mother’s passion for reining.

“I see the future containing exactly what the past has, but the difference is, I won’t be sitting in the saddle as much,” Sternberg laughed. “I’ve been beaten by both of my children in the past few months, and that was far better than anything I could win.”

NRHA and FEI Reach New Agreement

For Immediate Release – November 19, 2019 – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma –

After more than 20 years of cooperation, which produced some of the most exciting moments in World Equestrian Games’ history, the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) is pleased to announce a new agreement has been reached with the Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI). FEI unanimously approved the new agreement at its General Assembly, held in Moscow on November 19.

“I am so proud of our NRHA Task Force that worked diligently with the officials at FEI to come to a workable Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). All of these individuals have focused on our mission to promote the reining horse. Although each organization has different needs, we were able to meet those needs and agree on a path forward,” said NRHA President Mike Hancock.

“This MOU provides more clarity, and the conversations have brought about better understanding. This agreement preserves the progress we have made over the last two decades, provides a means to develop more joint competitions, and protects the heritage of both organizations!

Pertinent details on the agreement and its potential impact on the NRHA membership will be directly communicated in the near future as implementation plans are finalized.

NRHA looks forward to growing reining alongside FEI and through its affiliates around the globe.

Founded in 1966, the National Reining Horse Association is a nonprofit association dedicated to promoting and encouraging the development of and public interest in the sport of reining. The focus is on developing and maintaining suitable standards of performance and judging and in providing a fun filled, family-oriented atmosphere.

Toyon Ranch’s Rookie of the Year – Pathway for Lifelong Reiners

For Immediate Release – June 13, 2019 – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) and Toyon Ranch have partnered to support the grassroots of reining through the Rookie of the Year program. Sponsored by Toyon Ranch, the Rookie of the Year title is a goal that many beginning reiners strive for. Here, past contenders share their Rookie of the Year stories, advice for running at the title, and what it meant to them.

Their Time to Shine
The Rookie of the Year title is awarded during the Adequan® North American Affiliate Regional Championships (NAAC) held in Oklahoma City during the NRHA Futurity. It’s a chance for grassroots reiners to compete in close proximity to their reining idols—many of whom could be credited for inspiring people to get involved with reining—at one of the association’s major events.

Holly Valerio, 2015 NRHA Rookie of the Year, describes the competition as the Super Bowl of Reining. “As a beginner reiner, I had the opportunity to compete at the same shows as the celebrities of reining,” she said. “Rookie of the Year is the title wanted by any beginning reiner. It’s our place to play as beginners. Plus, the prizes were outstanding. It was something I worked hard for all year long. It was a dream come true on a high level. It was a huge accomplishment to me.”

Canadian reiner Magalie Boulanger, 2017 Reserve Rookie of the Year, said, “It was the most prestigious title to win as a rookie! I’ve always dreamed of showing in the United States, and it was such a great opportunity.” Boulanger is from Quebec, Canada.

Contenders for the Rookie of the Year must compete in qualifying shows held by their local affiliates. The top 15 riders in each region at the end of the season qualify for the Affiliate Regional Championships (ARCs). From each ARC, the top 10 horse-and-rider combinations, plus ties, earn the opportunity to travel to Oklahoma City to compete for the Toyon Ranch NRHA Rookie of the Year title, saddle, trophy, buckle, and other awards during the NRHA Futurity and Adequan® NAAC.

Insider Tip: Check with your local affiliate to find the closest qualifying events and learn more about qualifying for an ARC. Refer to the NRHA Adequan® NAAC Conditions for complete details.

First-Hand Advice
2015 Reserve Rookie of the Year Kathy Loudamy, from Whitesboro, Texas, advised anyone going out for any title to “set their goals, knows the rules, work hard, mentally prepare, be a good sport, trust their horse, and have fun. I lived and breathed all those rules from the start. I researched all the avenues. All the affiliates. I set small goals for myself to get to each step. I decided SWRHA was the affiliate I would designate as mine and mapped out all their shows needed to qualify for the South Central ARC in August. When I qualified for the finals in Tulsa, I never lost sight of the Adequan® NAAC Affiliate Finals.  But it was a much harder competition than I thought as there were so many good riders and horses. It’s people from all over, not just your next-door neighbors.”

“Going in with the big dogs was scary but awesome at the same time,” said Sandra Cochran, 2014 Reserve Rookie of the Year. “As a rookie, you have so much to overcome—learning how to deal with the pressure of the high-point competition and my own pressure was challenging. My trainer was able to keep me focused on the pattern one step/maneuver at a time.”

Memories That Last a Lifetime
“Giving an opportunity to the rookies to work hard and set goals for a prestigious title is such a great idea,” Loudany added. “It takes a lot of hard work and dedication. If you have something to work toward like this, it makes it even better. I’ll never forget the Adequan® NAAC. It was that important to me. It’s the accomplishment, the confidence it gave me, and knowing that I did it.”

Cochran, the Colorado native that now lives in Sandy Valley, Nevada echoed that sentiment.

“The feeling of that ride, with all of the people from Colorado cheering for me, is so hard to explain,” she recalled. “It was like I won the biggest event there is; the screaming and yelling was so loud. Everyone was so supportive, even those who I competed against were amazing and there cheering everyone on. I can’t believe all of the prizes. It was just amazing.”

Long-Term Success
Helping educate reiners as they start their journeys with the sport is crucial to setting them up to succeed and understand the organization’s systems. “Aiming toward Rookie of the Year helped me understand the process of levels and accumulating scores (learning how the NRHA judging system works),” Cochran said.

Valerio advised starting with the basics at the green reiner level until they get the most out of it. “It’s a learning environment. Know your levels, and work them to their max. Work your way out of and up through the divisions one by one, because once you are out of that division, you’re out. Go to judges’ educational meetings and seminars. It’s amazing what you’ll learn. The more educated you are, the more successful you’ll be.”

Supporting Every Aspect of the Industry
Toyon Ranch of Pilot Point, Texas, focuses on breeding and bringing to market high-quality reining prospects by pairing a diverse and proven band of mares with the world’s leading stallions. Their dedication to the sport of reining encompasses all levels of riders and competition, from green to pro. They also sponsor the Affiliate Ambassador program, which brings together a diverse community of reiners and aims to connect the global reining community on multiple levels. Toyon Ranch also generously presents Slider’s Night Out, a fundraising event for the Reining Horse Foundation held during the NRHA Futurity. Sliders’ Night Out recognizes members of the NRHA Hall of Fame and raises funds for the nonprofit charitable foundation. In addition to their Presenting Donor role for the charity event, which will be held again December 4, 2019, Toyon Ranch underwrites an NRHA program to recognize and involve NRHA member volunteers at the grassroots level during Sliders’ Night Out.

Time To Ride Welcomes Pilot Program Participants

Over 60 Equine Facilities Accepted

For Immediate Release – June 6, 2019 – Washington, DC – Time To Ride®, a program of the American Horse Council’s Marketing Alliance, has accepted 62 lesson facilities for its 2019 pilot program.

The new Time To Ride program is designed to introduce school-age children to horseback riding and horse care in a safe, welcoming environment. The goal is to familiarize school-age children with horses through an initial series of six to eight lessons that include basic horse care as well as riding. The lesson series are offered through schools, local youth organizations and recreational leagues.

Equine facilities and instructors had to meet specific requirements to be considered for the pilot program, including SafeSport training and a criminal background check. All instructors either hold a current professional membership with one or more national breed or discipline associations, are certified as an instructor through a recognized program such as Certified Horsemanship Association or licensed as a riding instructor in the state in which they teach.

“We were expecting to get 20-30 qualified applicants for the pilot program,” said Molly O’Brien, Time To Ride Program Manager. “To our delight, we received over 100 inquiries and applications, and narrowed it down to the 62 selected.”

The facilities participating in the pilot program represent a broad cross-section of the equine industry, with representatives ranging from Arabian horse farms to AQHA professionals, dressage, hunter/jumpers, Saddlebreds, Morgans, Paint Horses, Certified Horsemanship Association, United States Pony Clubs and Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship instructors and more. O’Brien said, “It’s very encouraging to see the support we received promoting the program from so many breed and discipline organizations, and the response from their members. This points to the ongoing need for a program such as Time To Ride to help lesson barns bring new kids into the horse world in a structured, supported fashion.”

Barns and instructors accepted for the pilot program have been designated Time To Ride Program Facilities and are being given marketing tools, techniques and assistance to help with their local outreach. The Time To Ride program emulates the golf industry’s The First Tee, in which schools offer children a series of lessons at a local golf course. The First Tee has reached 15 million children since its start in 1997.

The pilot program will continue through the end of this year. The results and methods will be analyzed and adjustments made where necessary, with plans to roll the program out on a larger scale next year.

To learn more about Time To Ride, visit TimeToRide.org. To view the list of selected facilities, visit TimeToRide.org/news.

About Time To Ride

Time To Ride is managed and funded by the American Horse Council Marketing Alliance. The Marketing Alliance was founded by a consortium of equine-related corporations and organizations 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, Morris Media Network, Platinum Performance, Purina and Zoetis. Additional support is provided by the American Association of Equine Practitioners, 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: ttr@horsecouncil.org; 202-891-7971.

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