Young riders in the National Reining Horse Youth Association enjoy being part of the reining world. It’s all about competition, camaraderie, and the fun of reining. They develop a love for reining and create friendships and long-lasting ties. Most plan to continue competing as they attend college and embark on their careers. Others dream of reining fulltime as an NRHA professional.
The NRHA Non Pro Committee has worked to provide opportunities for youth riders on a variety of levels. One that began in 2022 was a rule change to allow youth to work for professional reining trainers.
Relaxing the restriction to allow youth riders to work for NRHA Professionals provides multiple benefits. It creates a pathway for young riders who want to hone their horsemanship skills, plus they can offset the financial obstacles of showing or pursuing a career in training while learning more about the industry without sacrificing their Non Pro status. When youths reach the age of 19, they can make the decision to retain their Non Pro status and abide by the Non Pro conditions or become an NRHA Professional.
NRHA Non Pro Committee Chair Ginger Schmersal shared, “Horses and horse shows are expensive, which means that reining might not be an option for some youth. By relaxing these restrictions, we can welcome even more youth into the industry who want to ride or learn to ride without having to worry about losing their Non Pro status.”
The lack of available assistant trainers and barn help is another aspect the Non Pro Committee hopes to address with the change. Many professionals experience difficulty finding training assistants, especially those with show experience. It is hoped that this program will create more riders with the skills necessary to go on to that next level and eventually have careers of their own.
Although this rule is new to the reining industry, it is common practice in other disciplines. For example, in the English industry, many people would not be where they are today if they had not had the opportunity to gain experience and knowledge as working students.
Any rider who is a current youth member of NRHA is eligible to reside with and/or work for any NRHA Professional in good standing. Remuneration can include housing and food. Youth riders are allowed to have their personal horse or horses with the trainer, and details of board and training shall be decided between those parties.
Youth riders are allowed to ride any horses both at home and at horse shows while working for the trainer. Youth riders are allowed to compete in the youth and non pro based on current NRHA ownership rules. In classes that do not have ownership restrictions (Rookie 1 & 2, Green Reiner 1 & 2, Youth Rookie, Unrestricted Youth, and all open classes, except Rookie Professional), youth riders may compete on any horse regardless of ownership.
For more information, please contact the NRHA Member & Show Services Department at (405) 946-7400 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Complete rules can be found in the NRHA Handbook under the “Non Pro Membership Conditions” in the Allowances section.