Congress Clarifies That Horses are Not “Pets,” Advances Landmark Livestock Health Measures!

As the countdown to close the 115th Congress heads to the final stretch, on Wednesday, December 12, Congress passed the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (H.R. 2), sending the legislation to the president, who is expected to sign the bill into law this week. Horse industry highlights include a revised statutory definition that excludes equines from a blanket definition of “pets” and funding for key livestock and international market development programs through Fiscal Year (FY) 2023. In the wake of extensive horse industry outreach, lawmakers struck language in the senate version that defined horses as “pets” within the context of a “Pet and Women Safety” (PAWS) measure. Industry requested that lawmakers delete “horses” from the proposed statutory definition of “pets,” but retain “horses” as a stand-alone category. In response to industry messages communicated to congressional leaders during the past six months, the final conference report states that the bill “clarifies the definition of pet to include certain companion animals, while also providing protections for other animals such as horses, service animals, and emotional support animals.” The revised definition helps preserve the long-standing classification of horses as “livestock,” while allowing equines to fall within the scope of property damage subject to compensation within the parameters of the PAWS Act.

A preliminary review of the legislation shows that lawmakers are moving in the right direction with respect to funding important animal health programs. Unlike earlier versions of the bill, the legislation mandates rather than authorizes minimum appropriations totaling $150 million to fund the National Animal Vaccine Bank (NAVVCB), the National Animal Disaster Preparedness and Response Program (NADPRP) and National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN), among other programs, for FY 2019 to 2023. Of the $150 million of mandated funding, the bill stipulates that Congress will appropriate $112 million “to be allocated among the NAHLN, the NADPRP and the NAVVCB.” With respect to the NAHLN, a major priority for the horse industry, the legislation further authorizes up to $30 million per year over the five-year span of the farm bill, matching industry’s authorization request. Additionally, the legislation provides “$255 million in annual mandatory funding” for Foreign Market Development, the Market Access Program, and other programs that support the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).

To view a copy of the conference report to H.R. 2, please click here.

For more information related to legislative activity, please contact AHC’s Bryan Brendle at 202-296-4031.

NRHA statement concerning 2014 FEI Cooperation Agreement

Door still open to possible new agreement concerning reining in future

November 20, 2018 – Following months of ongoing discussions and negotiations involving all parties, the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) Bureau, at its November 16, 2018 meeting in Bahrain, chose to terminate the 2014 Cooperation Agreement with the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) and the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) effective November 19, 2018.

This 2014 Cooperation Agreement, for the most part, was first put together to cover such reining competitions as the World Equestrian Games and a small number of other horse shows, primarily in Europe, and reining demonstrations at Olympic-related events. NRHA leaders had offered to travel to FEI in January to negotiate a continued relationship. However, FEI chose to decline the opportunity and terminated the agreement.

Among the provisions FEI required was: “A competition which is specifically organized for horses of 7 years and older is required under the FEI Regulations to be held under the authority of the National Federation of that country and to be entered into the FEI Calendar for International events.” This would mean all NRHA reining classes held specifically for horses 7 and older would also need to be FEI-approved, run under FEI rules, and be held in accordance with the respective National Federation. NRHA Vice President Mike Hancock further explained the impact, “After discussions with show management teams, we discovered how complex and expensive this would be for them. In the end, we felt it would be more detrimental to the growth of older horse competition to move forward with this concept. However, we are hopeful to discuss other opportunities for future growth and mutual benefit with FEI.”

Other provisions included but were not limited to FEI stewarding requirements, medication regulations, and that any FEI penalties imposed on horses, owners, officials, riders, etc., be accepted and enforced by NRHA (even if they disagreed with the FEI penalty determinations). NRHA has established its own rules and guidelines in these areas to protect the welfare of the horse at all times during NRHA events. The safety and well-being of reining horses is the utmost priority for NRHA, and it will continue to take appropriate measures to maintain and enforce those rules, including its own set of medications rules and penalties.

The Notice of Termination of the 2014 Cooperation Agreement was received by AQHA and NRHA via an email from Sabrina Ibanez, FEI secretary general, on November 19. The letter did leave open the possibility of a new agreement with FEI in the future. The termination does not appear to impact FEI National Federations, such as US Equestrian, and their ability to host FEI reining events.

Even as the future of the FEI World Equestrian Games is being questioned, NRHA believes reining is on strong footing with members in approximately 40 countries. This includes a well-established membership in Europe who have helped solidify the expansion of reining and the NRHA European Futurity and Derby. 

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. 

NRHA Professional of the Year Nominations Open

For Immediate Release – October 19, 2018 – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – Nominations for 2018 NRHA Professional of the Year are now being accepted until November 1. This year marks the first year for the new nomination and selection process.

As a reminder, the new nomination and voting process will follow the procedures below.

  • NRHA Affiliates will submit one nomination for each of the five award categories. It will be up to each affiliate to determine how they select their nominees. Nominations for each category will need a separate form.
  • Nominations will remain at the current due date of November 1. Once the nomination period is complete, the NRHA Professionals Committee staff liaison will collect and compile all nominations for the committee to review.
  • The NRHA Professionals Committee will review all nominations, selecting the top five professionals for each category.
  • Once the top five are selected, an electronic vote will be sent to all current NRHA Professional members.
  • After the voting is closed, winners will be announced. Any ties will be broken by the NRHA Professionals Committee.

Affiliates are encouraged to send in nominations for each of the five categories which are:

  • NRHA Professional Horseman of the Year
  • NRHA Professional Horsewoman of the Year
  • NRHA Professional Youth Coach of the Year
  • NRHA Professional Non Pro Coach of the Year
  • NRHA Professional Up-and-Coming Trainer of the Year

However, they are not required to submit a nomination for every category. Winners will be honored at the NRHA Convention & Awards Banquet scheduled for February 6-9, 2019 in Oklahoma City.

The nomination form can be found by clicking here. For questions please contact Hayley Eberle, NRHA Professionals Committee staff liaison, at or (405) 946-7400 ext. 103.

2018 National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame Induction Award Recipients

Mongol Derby horse racer and NRHA Member Brooke Wharton receives the Mitzi Lucas Riley Award

Breyer Horse designer Kathleen Moody receives the Mary Jane Colter Award

Brooke Wharton

FORT WORTH, TEXAS (Oct. 9, 2018) The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame will recognize two special award winners at the annual National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame Induction Luncheon and Ceremony this year. Brooke Wharton, NRHA member, breeding program manager and equestrian endurance racer of the Mongol Derby, is the recipient of the Mitzi Lucas Riley Award. Kathleen Moody, designer at Breyer Horse Models, is the recipient of the Mary Jane Colter Award.

Brooke Wharton, 2018 Mitzi Lucas Riley Award recipient, joins a renowned group of horsewomen who have previously received this honor.

“I am incredibly honored to be chosen to receive any award that I would share with women as passionate and active as Adelaide Royer, Mary Margaret Richter, Missy Bonds, Amberley Snyder and Amy Doris Bell,” said Wharton. “The Mitzi Lucas Riley Award is especially humbling. She was an inspirational woman and a great ambassador of the cowgirl spirit; I hope to continue to follow in her footsteps.”

Patricia Riley said this award shines light on the modern day cowgirl and how Western heritage is still a value to strive for in this day and age.

“Brooke Wharton is so fitting as this year’s Mitzi Lucas Riley Award recipient as a sixth generation member of the W.T. Waggoner family, breeding manager and equestrian endurance racer of the Mongol Derby which is known as the world’s longest horse race,” said Riley. “She tied for sixth, making her the first American, and she tied as the first woman to cross the finish line that year.”

The Mary Jane Colter Award is named in honor of a 2009 Cowgirl Honoree and distinguishes those women who create, design, build and interpret the traditions of the American West.

National Cowgirl Museum Executive Director Patricia Riley said the museum pays tribute to the pioneer designer Mary Jane Colter by presenting an award in her name to a woman who has influenced the world through her Breyer Horse designs.

Kathleen Moody

“We cannot think of a more deserving 2018 Mary Jane Colter Award recipient than Kathleen Moody,” said Patricia Riley. “Through her life’s work creating artistically innovative and beautifully painted resin horses for Breyer and others, she has given girls and collectors around the world a lifetime of joy through these pieces of art that become treasured friends.”

Stephanie Macejko, vice president of marketing for Breyer Horses Reeves International, Inc., said during Kathleen Moody’s time at Breyer, she has brought to life all of the aspects of the horse.

“For over 25 years, Kathleen Moody has been capturing the beauty, power and spirit of the animal we’re so enthralled with: the horse,” said Macejko. “Her expressive, joyful sculptures have engaged and inspired horse lovers of all ages.”

The Mitzi Lucas Riley Award is named in honor of a 1996 Cowgirl Honoree and recognizes young adults who promote Western heritage in the community through education and volunteerism.

Please join us in celebrating these two special award recipients and five Cowgirl Inductees at the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame Induction Luncheon and Ceremony on Nov. 1 at the Will Rogers Memorial Complex Roundup Inn in Fort Worth, TX. If you are interested in purchasing tickets, please contact Emmy Lou Prescott at or 817-509-8965.

About the Mitzi Lucas Riley Award

Established in honor of 1996 Hall of Fame Honoree Mitzi Lucas Riley, this award recognizes young adults who promote Western heritage in the community through education and volunteerism and encourages involvement in preserving the Western culture and legacy. Mitzi Lucas Riley has said the saddle was her playpen as a baby. Born into rodeo royalty, Mitzi made her professional trick riding debut at age 6 and performed in rodeos across the country. She served on the board of the Rodeo Historical Society, establishing the Tad Lucas Award to recognize outstanding women in rodeo. Mitzi has held fast to a life-long dedication to the Western heritage and to promoting cowgirls.

About the Mary Jane Colter Award

This award was named for 2009 Honoree Mary Jane Colter, and it distinguishes those women who create, design, build and interpret the traditions of the American West. She was one of the few female architects of her era. Colter has 11 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, five of which have been designated National Historic Landmarks. Past Mary Jane Colter Award recipients include Jan Barboglio and Double D Ranch.
About the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame

The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame honors and celebrates women, past and present, whose lives exemplify the courage, resilience and independence that helped shape the American West, and fosters an appreciation of the ideals and spirit of self-reliance they inspire. Established in 1975, the Museum is considered an invaluable national educational resource for its exhibits, research library, rare photograph collection and award-winning distance-learning programs for grades K-12 and adults. The Hall of Fame’s purpose is to preserve history, foster an appreciation for their ideals and spirit of self-reliance.

For more news and information about the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, visit and follow on Face-book at, Twitter at, Instagram at, Pinterest at and YouTube at
Located at 1720 Gendy Street Fort Worth, Texas 76107, the Cowgirl hours and admission have adjusted during second floor renovations for the Kit Moncrief Galleries and It’s Never Just a Horse exhibition until spring 2019. Hours of operation are Tuesday – Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Discounted admission is $5 for adults (ages 13+) and senior citizens (60+), $3.50 for children (ages 3 to 12) and children 3 and under get in free with paid adult. For more information, please visit or call 817-336-4475.

MEDIA CONTACT – Madison Ward – 817.509.8969 –

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.

NRHA Video – Respect the horse. Respect the sport.

With the feedback of more than 1,000 members last year, the NRHA Board of Directors developed a mission statement and core strategies to guide the association’s work for the next several years: “To promote the reining horse worldwide, while celebrating and advancing the finest traditions of western horsemanship.” Supporting this statement are six core strategies including “Respect the horse, respect the sport.”

Respect the horse. Respect the sport.

“Respect the horse, respect the sport” ties back directly to NRHA members’ devotion and commitment to doing what’s best for their horses. Survey responses were open and passionate that the welfare of our horses should always come first. NRHA leadership believes just as strongly in this ideal. For many years, they have overseen rules and processes, and guided officials to do what’s best for the horse and the future of the industry. Many of these tactics, like medications testing, and rules for judging and stewarding, run behind the scenes making it easy for an onlooker to not realize the steps being taken to ensure the welfare of the horse.

To recognize the efforts of so many riders, trainers, owners, and reining horse lovers, NRHA is proud to share the following video with you.