Believing strongly in creating a positive future for the reining industry has long been a hallmark of the leadership of the National Reining Breeders Classic. Throughout its 24-year history, the Board and staff have explored new directions, tested innovative new ideas and adjusted their course with a laser focus on improving reining year by year. Many of the fruits of their labors have become accepted as industry standards.
So, it is not surprising that the NRBC leadership team is once again addressing an issue – one that invites strong opinions for and against change. NRBC President Tom McCutcheon explains, “It’s a new stage of history for reining. We are not where we were 20 or even 10 years ago. We feel that it’s time to evolve with the times for the betterment of our industry.”
To that end, the NRBC has announced a new protocol for its 2021 event. “All the arenas will be closed at 7 pm each night and will reopen for riding two hours before time to prep the arena the next morning,” Tom noted, then added, “If classes run past 5 PM in a particular arena, it will be open for two hours following the end of the class.”
The NRBC Board was unanimous in making this change and the decision was based on two important facets of reining. Paramount in the decision was the welfare of the horse, and the board felt that this new direction was essential to the soundness, health and longevity of reining horses.
The second reason for the decision was in consideration of the experience of participating in reining events as trainers, owners and riders. McCutcheon said. “It’s really about taking an opportunity to try to change the culture of our industry – trying to find a balance between the normal 24-hour schedule that can be fatiguing for horses, trainers, assistants, owners and Non Pros. We have to remember that we are competing for the discretionary dollars of today’s horse owners and they have many options both inside and outside the equine industry. It’s really about the NRBC trying to take the opportunity to have an amazing, fun show for exhibitors and owners alike.”
NRBC Vice President Colleen McQuay noted, “Schooling at night has always been a part of reining. Reiners have felt since day one that they had to get on the ground. It’s time to change that old mindset to today’s needs.”
The new policy has already sparked plenty of discussion. Some trainers are glad to hear of the change and others are concerned with getting their horses prepared.
NRHA $6 Million Rider Andrea Fappani said, “I’m excited about limiting riding hours at the NRBC. The Derby-aged horses know their jobs and are for the most part very comfortable in a show arena. Once they test out the ground a few times, they should be good to show. I’m looking forward to being able to have a normal schedule for a change and enjoy spending some quality time with my customers.”
He continued, “Derby horses don’t need to be ridden hard at the shows. If we have prepared them properly at home, getting them comfortable with the ground is the only thing we have left to do once we get to a show. This new format will be fair for all of us and it will prevent a lot of horses from getting overworked and stressed.”
NRHA Professional Kole Price welcomes the chance to try something different. He said, “I’ve been to shows where you don’t get to go out once with your customers. I’m thinking that maybe knowing that the schooling time will be during certain times will also encourage people to watch and enjoy the time to interact with their friends.”
He added, “It should allow riders and horses to get a good night’s sleep. So both can perform better.”
NRHA Professional Brian Bell said, “There are enough other arenas to ride in so you can get your horse loped around and relaxed. The horses need to be ready to show and getting to ride in the middle of the night when you get there isn’t going to change them if they are not. With paid warmups and schooling classes and the other opportunities where arenas are open, if that doesn’t get you ready, I don’t know what would. My Non Pros just don’t want to come out and ride at three am. The way NRBC gets over early enough in the day, there are plenty of opportunities to ride. I remember the first couple years we went to South Point; they didn’t let anyone ride at night and I think the horses showed just as good.”
Former NRBC Open Champion Martin Muehlstaetter said that he, too, would welcome a scenario where the showing experience was not as exhausting. He said, “There are shows that, for different reasons, do not have riding at night. I believe that does not change the outcome of the show. When it’s the same for everyone and there are plenty of places during the day to ride, it could be a good thing to try. If we are not able to ride during the day, though, because of rain or bad weather, there would need to be an adjustment.”
That’s exactly what the NRBC’s Board has considered. McQuay added, “We definitely have a Plan B for days when it might rain and, in that case, would adjust the schedule accordingly.”
NRHA Professional Matt Palmer was also interested in the change. He said, “For me, anything we can do to improve our industry and culture is good. It’s sure worth giving it a try, and the NRBC has proven to be a great place over the years to test different ideas.”
Colleen said, “We want to thank our riders and trainers in advance for their support in taking the next step to ensure the health and welfare of our riders and horses to secure the future of our sport.”
The following protocol will be in place for the 2021 NRBC, set for April 18-25 in Katy, Texas. Arenas will be closed two hours after the end of the last event of the day in that arena or at 7 pm, whichever is later. For the ensuing two hours, there will be fencing (stopping) only, and the arena will be worked every 20 minutes. After closing for the night, the arena will reopen two hours before the beginning of ground preparation for that day’s classes.
Non-competition arenas will be closed at 7 pm each day and open at 7 the next morning. Adjustment to the schedule will be made in the case of inclement weather.
For nearly 25 years, the National Reining Breeders Classic program and show have held a singular place in the reining industry. For information on the NRBC, visit the website at www.nrbc.com, email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 580-759-3939.
2021 Health Requirements for NRBC at Great Southwest Equestrian Center
Influenza & Herpes Vaccine within 6 months
Negative Coggins within 1 year
21-day health certificate that states that the horse has not been treated for a temperature or other herd health issues within the last 30 days.