NRHA Winter Meeting Recap

For Immediate Release – March 3, 2020 – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) hosted its annual winter meeting in Denton, Texas, February 5–8, 2020. NRHA committees met to discuss plans for 2020 and beyond for the sport.

“The NRHA Board and the committees continue to produce good results for NRHA,” said NRHA President Mike Hancock. “Groundbreaking news about the added money for the 2020 NRHA Open and Non Pro Futurities along with the Adequan® North American Affiliate Championships was announced by a new task force. In addition, the judges’ ranking system was presented. This is a result of many years of hard work by several people. It’s amazing what can be accomplished when we all work together.”

Aged Events

The Aged Events Committee reviewed the 2021 rule change proposals and provided its official feedback for the NRHA Board. The committee discussed the 2019 NRHA Futurity and NRHA Derby presented by Markel, including improvements the management team will implement in 2020, which include, but are not limited to, cleaning up traffic in the super barn, managing dogs on the grounds, freestyle performance selection, drags during the go rounds, and the addition of a third steward at each major event. The committee also reviewed the schedules for the 2020 events, allowing the events management team time to work with the Futurity schedule in terms of fluidity. The group covered the Novice Horse Derby conditions and payout structure, recommending the NRHA Board approve the addition of the Novice Horse Open Level (L) 3 and Non Pro L3 to the 2020 NRHA Derby. Also, they’ll allow Prime Time Open to include L4 riders at both the NRHA Futurity and NRHA Derby. 


The Eligibility Committee met in conjunction with the Non Pro Committee. They discussed, in detail, amateur conditions and recommended their proposed changes to the Executive Committee. The committee also considered the Run for a Million, recommending the NRHA Board place the event in a category they deem appropriate once they receive the official conditions. Last year, the Run for a Million fell in the newly created Category 13.


Discussions in the Judges Committee meeting began with plans to develop educational videos about specific penalties that may occur and how they are assessed. These videos will be on the NRHA website and social media platforms. The group discussed the official monthly schedule of shows from which the Judges Committee would review videos in conjunction with the chair judges for each event. This review system is an educational tool for the live judges to evaluate themselves and their scores against those of the committee. 


The Professionals Committee focused much of its discussion on the importance of the 2020 Code of Ethics and how to streamline communication among the committee, NRHA Professionals, and the affiliates. The committee also shared that professionals who are reported to have violated the code of ethics will be brought to the attention of a subcommittee and the NRHA Executive Committee may approve that a violation letter be sent to them. This letter will then become part of their permanent file. The committee also made recommendations for the NRHA Board for which patterns to use at the 2020 NRHA Derby presented by Markel. 

Non Pro

The newly created amateur division and the 2020 Run for a Million were discussed during the Non Pro Committee meeting. The group emphasized ways to bring more people to the sport of reining, including opportunities for youth to compete on horses not owned by themselves or their family as a means to accomplish that goal. Programs like Interscholastic Equestrian Association, Intercollegiate Horse Show Association, and the National Collegiate Equestrian Association were identified as potential areas for outreach. The committee also reviewed current non pro conditions and if they should be adapted to allow professional English trainers to show in the non pro, and if so, what levels might be appropriate. The committee discussed the NRHA Non Pro Futurity Consolation structure in regard to the needs of the horses and exhibitors competing at the event.


The Stewards Committee discussed developing Emergency Preparedness Guidelines to assist NRHA-approved events in avoiding equine disease outbreaks and responding in the event of a natural disaster. The group also discussed increasing information and education provided to NRHA members about the steward’s program, including the scope of the work and ways stewards can assist members. To help stewards expand skills and knowledge, all NRHA stewards will be encouraged to take online courses in emergency procedures, Safe Sport, etc. The group also explored a plan to increase opportunities for international steward certification. 


The Youth Committee focused its attention on NRHyA delegates. Primarily, the committee brainstormed ways to enhance the delegate experience and pique interest for more youth to get involved in the program. The committee also discussed ways to entice youth to enter USA Reining and FEI Young Riders classes. The new structure of these classes makes them affordable for show management and participants. The committee also looked into changing the election process for the NRHyA officers.


Along with the committee discussions, several other monumental changes were implemented during the 2020 winter meeting. A task force increased the purse for the NRHA Futurity and Adequan® North American Affiliate Championships (NAAC) in the coming years. The group will also work to improve the format of the event itself. Get the details here.

NRHA will now require North American Affiliate Regional Championships (ARCs) to host the 10 & Under Short Stirrup class with awards provided by NRHA. More information on this topic will be available soon.

The NRHA Board moved forward with establishing an Oceana Council for the Oceana Region, which currently consists of Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, and Japan.

A new rating system for judges will have a trial run in 2020, and in the coming months, a show standards committee will be formed. More details will be available at a later time.

The next Board of Directors meeting will be April 27­–28, 2020, at NRHA headquarters in Oklahoma City.