NRHA Begins Search for New Commissioner

Following the announcement of NRHA Commissioner Gary Carpenter’s impending retirement at the end of the year, the search for his replacement is officially underway. 

A subcommittee tasked with interviewing different executive search firms recently hired Jim Harlan, President & CEO of MJM Global Search, Inc.

“We wanted to ensure we did our due diligence since this will be one of the hardest positions NRHA has ever had to fill, and we are confident in Jim’s ability to find the best candidate for the association,” said NRHA President Mark Blake, who led the subcommittee.

“Jim was who we utilized when we hired Gary, and his expertise and experience within the equine industry is unparalleled. We also used his services last year to fill two positions, and they have been outstanding hires,” Blake added.

Harlan, an avid horseman in his own right, is responsible for the strategic leadership necessary to ensure the achievement of MJM Global Search’s performance goals and preservation of the core values established more than 25 years ago.

MJM Global Search, Inc. and its executive search specialists have decades of hands-on experience as senior managers, ranging from Fortune 500 corporations to small, fast-growing start-up companies. The firm has completed placements with more than 12 equine industry associations.

“Our goal is to have a hire made by this Summer to allow for the new individual to begin working alongside Gary for the remainder of the year,” Blake continued. “This will allow for a smooth transition of power and to allow them to hit the ground running in 2024”

The NRHA Commissioner’s primary role is to serve as the Chief Executive Officer responsible for leading the NRHA Office while reporting to and working with the NRHA Executive Committee and Board of Directors to ensure the association’s needs, goals, and objectives are met.

A detailed position description can be found here.

Qualified candidates who are interested in the position will need to contact Jim Harlan directly at:

MJM Global Search, Inc.
P.O. Box 883
Franktown, CO 80116
(303) 660-0766

NRHA Joins Horses in the Morning Podcast

The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) announced its partnership with the Equine Network owned podcast Horses in the Morning. This podcast is a part of one of the longest-running independent podcasting networks (Horse Radio Network) in the world, and NRHA is enthusiastic to see what opportunities will be produced from the partnership.

The National Reining Horse Association show on Horses in the Morning will be released on the second Thursday of every month. Fans can listen on any podcast player while in their cars, riding, or even grooming their horses. The first show is set to premiere Thursday, April 13, 2023. Search Horses in the Morning on your podcast player.

The podcast will be co-hosted by NRHA Senior Director of Corporate Relations Christy Landwehr and NRHA Marketing Director Sara Honegger.

“I am thrilled to be a host again on Horses in the Morning in my new role at the National Reining Horse Association,” shares Landwehr. “Our NRHA Marketing Director, Sara Honegger, and I are thrilled to bring you the expertise of our amazing riders, trainers, owners, breeders, and partners who will share our sport and the wonderful horses they work with every day with you!”

The daily show includes entertaining conversation, fun and educational guests, contests, giveaways, and more.

“We are so excited to have the NRHA as part of Horses in the Morning,” said Director of Podcasting Horse Radio Network Glenn Hebert. “Reining is not an area we have covered much on the show, and we are all looking forward to learning more about this amazing sport.”

To learn more about the “Horses In The Morning” podcast, visit

Equine Network’s membership services are designed to entertain, support, and inform the equine community. They include unique tech-enabled services for horse owners, live equestrian events, innovative content, and engaging digital experiences. For more information, visit

About Horses in the Morning:

Horses in the Morning is the leading daily morning podcast for the horse world, with listeners in over 90 countries. A light, lively, entertaining look at the horse world and the people in it. The show includes entertaining conversation, out-of-the-ordinary guests, numerous regular horse-related segments, training tips, health segments, contests, giveaways, and so much more.

Oklahoma City Hosts Groundbreaking for New Coliseum at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds

The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) was proud to join Oklahoma City officials on Wednesday, February 22, for a groundbreaking ceremony of the new coliseum at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds.

The beloved Jim Norick Coliseum, known by some as ‘The Big House,’ was built in 1965 and will be replaced by a new $126 million state-of-the-art coliseum. Set to be completed in 2025, the facility will feature a 216,000-square-foot building with 7,000 seats and a restaurant, lounge, and upscale concession areas. The current Jim Norick Coliseum will be utilized for all events until the new project is completed.

Speakers at the groundbreaking included Ron Norick, past Oklahoma City Mayor and son of the late Jim Norick, Oklahoma City Major David Holt, Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau president Zac Craig and president and CEO of the Oklahoma State Fair Kirk Slaughter.

“The Jim Norick Coliseum hosts two million people and 150 events per year,” said Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau president Zac Craig. “On any given week, you see the best riders in the world in their respective disciplines, and it is an economic engine for our community.”

Craig also highlighted the coliseum generates $350 million in annual economic impact for Oklahoma City and is an investment into tourism along with solidifying Oklahoma City’s reputation as a host for premier equine and livestock events. The project is funded through MAPS4, a debt-free public improvement program funded by a temporary penny sales tax, with additional funds coming from city hotel tax revenues.

“This project is about maintaining what this place provides our community, and it is tremendous,” said Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt. “I have always loved the idea of what this venue means to the entire state, and if you are a young person in Oklahoma and involved in agriculture, or basketball, or other sports, this is your mecca and where you dream of coming.

“I think it is cool that we love the history of this building; Elvis even played here, and it is really cool history. However, I think people will come to love the amenities and attractiveness provided by this future facility. History only takes you so far on a practical side, and what you are going to have with this new iteration is a practical, useful building to continue having economic impact on this community and bring people from around Oklahoma and the country. Congratulations to everyone involved in this!”

Excitement broke among the crowd as shovels broke ground, including an extra shovel turned by Ron Norick to honor his father, Jim Norick.

“I am so proud of my father and what he did, and how proud I am that his name is on this building, and how proud he is going to be when we have the new building,” said Norick. “This building has served our community well. It is a wonderful day!”

NRHA Commissioner Gary Carpenter, who was present at the event along with NRHA staff, echoed the excitement.

“We are so fortunate to have great partnerships throughout Oklahoma City, and this project coming to fruition is just another example of the community coming together,” said Carpenter. “Our relationship with the Oklahoma State Fair is one we have always valued, and we look forward to supporting them through this process. This venue will be a stage worthy of our events, and our competitors will move to a new, elevated level not experienced before.”

For more information, including a concept video of the new facility, visit

NRHA 4-Year-Old Nomination Program Approved

The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Nomination Program summited a peak in January, welcoming the largest foal crops, in both North America and Europe, since the program’s inception. On the heels of this achievement, NRHA announces the official addition of a 4-year-old component to the North American program to begin with 2023 foals. For several years, NRHA has offered a 4-year-old division at the 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel. This change helps to bring this division to a new level by generating a greatly enhanced purse for NRHA Nominated 4-year-olds.

The NRHA is proud to provide new and significant additional investment in the industry by committing $100,000 in added money for the next 3 years to elevate the 4-Year-Old Derby and to grow the entire event and add further value to our horses. When the 2023 foal crop is of Derby age and the nomination program funds the 4-Year-Old Derby, NRHA will continue to invest $50,000 in added money. Approximately $285,000 in total added money based on a 3-year average of nominated weanlings will be provided to the purse once the 2023 foal crop is of derby age. For the next 3 years, total added money will be $160,000.

This is an exciting and unique opportunity for this specific group of horses as they progress in their show career from futurities to derbies. The support of this program will also draw more participation in the NRHA Derby, creating supplementary event success.

“It is incredible to witness an informal conversation between friends become reality,” said NRHA Commissioner Gary Carpenter. “Our 4-year-olds deserve a chance to show what they can do among their peers without trying to compete against the strength and experience that the older horses have. They have a chance to mature and shine at the same time.”

The existing North American weanling fee will increase $100 to help supplement the 4-year-old purse. Based on an estimated $285,000 in added money, the following is the estimated purse payout for each class of the 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel once the 2023 foal crop is of Derby age:

  • Level 4 Open = $106,000
  • Level 3 Open = $83,000
  • Level 2 Open = $47,000
  • Level 1 Open = $25,000
  • Level 4 Non Pro = $50,000
  • Level 3 Non Pro = $36,000
  • Level 2 Non Pro = $22,000
  • Level 1 Non Pro = $12,000

For more information on the nomination program, visit

Photo by Bee Silva

NRHA Commissioner Gary Carpenter Announces Planned Retirement

NRHA Commissioner Gary Carpenter has announced his plan to retire at the end of 2023, culminating a leadership role held since 2014. Carpenter made the announcement at the National Reining Horse Association Annual General Membership Meeting held on February 7 in Fort Worth, Texas.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to work alongside the executive committee, board of directors, and staff, and I appreciate their support during this transition,” said Carpenter.

Carpenter was hired at the end of 2013 after a lengthy search for a new individual to lead the NRHA Office and work alongside the NRHA Executive Committee and Board of Directors to grow the association and expand its events and programs.

“I was a part of the search committee that hired Gary and have worked with him every day since,” said immediate Past President and current Director-at-Large Rick Clark. “Gary has exceeded all of our expectations, and we cannot thank him enough for everything that he has done for NRHA and for reining.

“More importantly, I appreciate his friendship, leadership, and guidance all of these years,” Clark added.

Prior to NRHA, Carpenter had extensive equine industry experience, including leadership positions with the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), The Jockey Club, the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), and Colorado State University (CSU).

His start at NRHA was a breath of fresh air during a somewhat tumultuous time for the Association.

During Carpenter’s tenure at NRHA, the Association has seen explosive growth and widespread improvements, ensuring he will leave NRHA better than he found it.

“What is hardest to leave at NRHA are the relationships I have cultivated over the years with members and with our staff,” said Carpenter. “I am so incredibly proud of the team at NRHA. They are outstanding, passionate, and hard-working. I know I cannot work forever, but it does not make it any easier to leave.”

In an ode to his impeccable leadership and mentorship, the NRHA Office has seen its lowest turnover rates and boasts a well-tenured staff.

Notably, Carpenter was responsible for spearheading the highly successful development and launch of ReinerSuite, oversaw a much-needed relocation of the NRHA Headquarters, and helped make the NRHA Futurity and NRHA Derby record-setting events.

Additionally, he was the first to bring the idea of a formal strategic plan to the board of directors, allowing the Association to focus on developing goals, core strategies, and a mission statement to help guide the future of the association and strengthen its governing practices.

Carpenter remained steady during the global pandemic, having to make some hard decisions so NRHA did not succumb to the financial uncertainties many others faced. He was unwavering in his determination to ensure NRHA’s owned-events would continue to be held safely for staff and members.

“NRHA has been lucky to have Gary Carpenter for the past nine years, and we wish Gary nothing but the best in his retirement,” said NRHA President Mark Blake. “His knowledge, experience, and industry connections have proven invaluable.

“We know it will not be easy to replace him, but we are confident we have several qualified candidates for consideration,” Blake added. “NRHA will ensure a smooth transition and looks forward to beginning the process to find a replacement.”

An official search committee has been created to work alongside a professional executive recruiter in the coming months to find Carpenter’s replacement. A formal position description and details on applying are forthcoming.