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.