NRHA Announces Patti Carter as New Director of Education and Officials

The National Reining Horse Association began its search for a Director of Education and Officials in late 2021. The purpose of the new position was to serve in an educator role while continuing to advance the NRHA Judges & Stewards programs, ensuring they remain the best in the western performance horse industry.

NRHA Commissioner Gary Carpenter announced in mid-February that the perfect candidate had been found, adding that Patti Carter will take the reins of the new position on March 7. “Patti will provide additional horsepower, insight, and experience to augment our judges’ program,” Carpenter said.

According to NRHA President Rick Clark, the leadership of the Association created the new position because of the incredible growth of the reining industry. “With all the wonderful developments in the sport of reining that are happening right in front of our eyes, the NRHA Executive Committee felt this was an opportune time to invest more resources into our judges’ program,” Clark explained. “We get tremendous reviews from those who attend our schools and seminars, but want our judging program to continually evolve and improve.”

Carter brings decades of experience to the position, both as a competitor and a judge. The former American Quarter Horse Association Professional Horsewoman of the Year has spent the last several years as AQHA’s Senior Director of Judges and Stewards, and prior to that served as AQHA’s Sr. Director of Shows and Professional Horsemen.

“I am over-the-top excited to be joining the NRHA team. I have so much respect for the NRHA and its leadership. The Association is on fire, and I’m looking forward to expanding the educational footprint for the judges and stewards at NRHA,” Carter said.

Education of judges and exhibitors is of utmost importance to Carter, which is why, during her tenure at AQHA, she helped create and implement AQH University. This platform was developed for AQHA Judges to continue their judge education and to give potential judges insight into what it takes to be an AQHA All Around Judge. Patti and her team recently launched “Behind the Clipboard.” This program offers competitors an in-depth look at how judges prepare and evaluate classes. “In addition, the program helps competitors understand not just the rules, but how judges evaluate runs during a show so they can improve their performances,” Carter explained. “I am blessed to have had the opportunity to serve AQHA, its membership, and the horses. AQHA is a part of my life and always will be. It’s great that NRHA and AQHA are Alliance Partners, and that these two incredible associations work so closely together.”

As an NRHA-accredited judge, she officiated numerous NRHA events worldwide, including the NRHA Futurity twice, the NRHA Derby, and twice for the World Equestrian Games. She has judged at every major show and multiple world championship shows for AQHA, the American Paint Horse Association, and the National Snaffle Bit Association, and held AAA status as a judge for the National Reined Cow Horse Association.

Carter currently lives in Amarillo, Texas, but plans to relocate to Oklahoma City near the NRHA headquarters. “I believe it’s important to be close to the office, and I look forward to working alongside the amazing staff in the day-to-day operations of serving NRHA members,” she said. “I can’t wait to roll up my sleeves and get to work.”

Carter will officially start work on March 7 and will be in Oklahoma City for the Judge Applicant School on March 9–10 and the Judges School March 11–13. “I want to expand on the already excellent education process NRHA has for judges and stewards, and I look forward to continuing the education of members and exhibitors,” she explained. “I’m humbled and honored to have the opportunity to collaborate with NRHA’s Commissioner, the NRHA Executive Committee and the NRHA Judges and Steward Committees and will strive to maintain the high standards for NRHA and its membership.”

For more information about NRHA’s Judges Program, visit