National Reining Horse Association and Markel Celebrate a 30-Year Partnership

The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) is thrilled to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the collaboration with long-standing corporate partner Markel, the official equine insurance partner of NRHA.

Many NRHA trainers, owners, and breeders trust Markel with their insurance needs for their horses, ranches, and businesses. Markel has attended every NRHA Derby and Futurity for the past 30 years and is a current NRHA Global Partner with the NRHA European Derby and Futurity. Markel is also a presenting sponsor of the 6666 NRHA Derby held annually at the Oklahoma Fairgrounds in June and the title sponsor of the NRHA Markel Futurity Sale. The sale is held during the NRHA Futurity in November and offers an outstanding group of two-year-old reining prospects, yearlings, stallions, broodmares, and show horses.

“These are unprecedented times for the sport of reining,” shared NRHA Commissioner Gary Carpenter. “The growth in activity in the past several months has even the most seasoned veterans shaking their heads in awe. Amid all this excitement, let’s remember that Markel has been with NRHA as a corporate partner for three decades. That is a lifetime for a partnership. We appreciate all Markel has done for us and is doing for us.”

With over 50 years of knowledge and experience in insuring horses, farms, and horse-related businesses, Markel remains committed to the horse industry. “A corporate partnership that endures for thirty years is a testament to the strength and integrity of the NRHA and Markel,” said Frank Costantini, Senior Director of Western Disciplines at Markel. “The meteoric rise of the Reining Horse Industry worldwide has been unprecedented. At Markel, we’re extremely proud to have been a part of that growth and look forward to an even bigger and brighter future for the NRHA and the sport of reining.”

NRHA is proud to have an immeasurable team of corporate partners that offer great benefits to the association’s members and supports NRHA events throughout the year. Contact Christy Landwehr, Senior Director of Corporate Relations, to learn more about NRHA Partnership opportunities by email at or

Markel is a diverse financial holding company serving a variety of niche markets. The company’s principal business markets and underwrites specialty insurance products. In each of the company’s businesses, it seeks to provide quality products and excellent customer service so that it can be a market leader. The financial goals of the company are to earn consistent underwriting and operating profits and superior investment returns to build shareholder value. Coverage is provided by one or more of the insurance companies within Markel,  Markel® is a registered trademark of the Markel Corporation. Visit Markel on the web at

2024 NRHA Rule Changes Approved—NRHA Board of Directors Spring Meeting a Success

The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Executive Committee and Board of Directors met via Zoom in early May to discuss and vote on 2024 Rule Changes and other topics relating to the future of reining.

Before diving into rule changes, NRHA Chief Financial Officer John Foy provided a financial overview of the current fiscal year’s nine months ending on March 31, 2023.

NRHA anticipates positive net income for the full fiscal year. NRHA’s balance sheet is strong, and cash flow continues to strengthen the Association. The NRHA has made significant investments within the industry over the last three years, highlighted by $1.165M in additional added money to the NRHA Futurity. The Association continues to focus on leveraging NRHA’s most valued assets to create incremental cash flow to be invested by the Association in our most valued assets while maintaining an adequate rainy-day fund.

Gary Carpenter, NRHA Commissioner, also gave an update to the Board. As most exhibitors know, Oklahoma State Fair Park has begun constructing a new $126 million coliseum. NRHA and event staff are working closely with the State Fair Park to keep inconveniences to NRHA Derby exhibitors as limited as possible. You can learn more about the new coliseum and the project timeline to be completed in 2025 here.

Carpenter also shared that the NRHA Board and Executive Committee will participate in a strategic planning session in July. This will continue to build a plan to update the Association’s vision and goals for the future and consider the membership survey responses received earlier this year.

At the Winter Meeting in February, a committee was appointed to assist in the search for a commissioner to replace Carpenter when he retires at the end of this year. Jim Harlan, with MJM Global Search, has interviewed NRHA’s executive committee and senior staff to determine the qualities and qualifications needed. The committee will meet with candidates in the next few weeks with the intent to come back to the board with a recommendation.

The Board also discussed an additional change to fund NRHA’s medications program expansion. A $35 medications fee and a 5% retainage increase will be instated at the 2023 NRHA Futurity to reflect increased testing throughout the event.

Each year, NRHA Members and committees may submit rule-change proposals for addition to the following year’s official handbook. The NRHA Board of Directors discusses the proposals, sends them to NRHA Committees for feedback, reviews opinions shared by the membership, and casts votes after two readings of the proposals, typically at their mid-year meeting.

The rule change meeting is always one of the most tedious, and it can be a hard meeting to go through because it only occurs every two years, so it builds up, but I thought the discussion we had was good,” said NRHA President Mark Blake. “The Board looked at the member and committee suggestions, and they did a good job of taking that into account when they made their decisions, and it went very well! We read the proposed changes at the Winter Meeting first. After that, it is up to Board members to do their research on what the impact of those rule changes would be. At this meeting, we spent four hours of intense talks, but, in total, this is a three-month process.”

The board considered and voted on the following proposals. To review a full list of rule changes, comments, and details, visit the members only section at

Approved/Approved as Amended

43-1-24: Amateur Derby Division for Category 2 & 6 – Approved as amended to follow current trial conditions.

42-1-24: Masters Non Pro – Approved

42-2-24: Legends Non Pro – Approved

44-1-24: Maturity Definition – Approved as amended

47-1-24: Updating the Definition of Category 8 – Approved as amended

51-1-24: Less Than 8 Horses Between Runs – Approved

53-1-24: General Show Conditions – Approved

54-1-24: Certified Show Secretary – Approved

54-2-24: Show Secretary Showing at Events – Approved

54-3-24: Official Videographer – Approved

54-4-24: Judges Monitor – Approved as amended 

56-1-24: Judge’s Score Sheets – Approved

56-2-24: Option to Require Jog In – Approved

60-1-24: Prime Time Non Pro Added Money Approved

61-1-24: Requiring a Level 4 Open and Level 4 Non Pro Class for Aged Shows – Approved

95-1-24: 65 and Older Holding Saddle Horn in Category 2 & 6 – Approved

99-1-24: Modified Patterns – Approved

132-1-24: Adding Lope In Pattern 17 – Approved as amended

No Action Taken

20-1-24: Tail Alterations

33-1-24: Adding an Amateur Division

37-1-24 Definition of Immediate Family

45-1-24: Change “Ancillary” to “Traditional” in All Instances

50-1-24: Block Draws

66-1-24: Removing the Requirement of Ordering the Lawson Trophy

67-1-24: Ties in Classes With $2,000 Added, Category 2 & 6, and NAAC

173-1-24: Removing Youth Points from the Eligibility of Rookie Levels 1 & 2

TBD-1-24: Soundness Check Before Showing

$20,000 Invitational Freestyle Reining Will Be Held at the 2023 6666 NRHA Derby Presented by Markel

The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) is excited to host the $20,000 Invitational Freestyle Reining held at the 2023 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel. Sponsored by the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, this must-see event will take place on Thursday, June 22 at 6 p.m., is free to the public, and is sure to have the whole family on the edge of their seats!

Hava Vital

Often compared to figure skating, the performances also use choreographed music and are paired with astounding costumes, props, or often additional characters! Freestyle reining allows one to creatively use core reining maneuvers (circles, spins, stops, flying lead changes, etc.) and magnify them with music and choreography. The fan-favorite freestyle reining has been an NRHA tradition since 1986, with the first-ever freestyle reining held at the NRHA Derby in St. Paul, MN. Veteran spectators of the event may mention it is always a surprise who may show up to compete.

The 2022 NRHA Invitational Freestyle Reining Champion, Hava Vital, blew away the competition last year with her breathtaking performance to the “Moulin Rouge” hit song “Lady Marmalade.” Coming in two points behind Hava as Reserve Champion, Abby Budd paired a bridleless routine with the song “Can’t Stop The Feeling!” Watch her performance here!

Abby Budd

“As the horse show capital of the world, we are always excited to host reining events here in OKC,” said Zac Craig, Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau president. “We look forward to welcoming these participants and showing them all there is to do in the Modern Frontier.”

Confirmed 2023 Freestyle contestants include Karen Knight, Gabe Garrison, Ari Mischo, Brogan Hill, and Caitie Holtzman.

The 2023 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel is full of other events throughout the week, including a tradeshow, Non Pro and Open Finals, and more. Visit or Facebook for the latest updates.

NRHyA CINCH Speaking Contest Celebrates Partnership with Added Scholarship Dollars

To celebrate their 25-year partnership anniversary with the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA), CINCH is offering increased scholarship opportunities for youth members at the CINCH Speaking Contest.

This annual event serves as an opportunity for National Reining Horse Youth Association (NRHyA) members to increase their skills and earn scholarship dollars regardless of their age.

Members compete to improve their skills, but also impressive scholarships. To celebrate CINCH’s milestone, the first-place scholarships have increased from $500 to $700, and a second-place scholarship of $200 has been added.

Participants will be divided into two age groups, 13 & Under and 14-18. The three categories will be Delivering A: General, Prepared Public Speaking, and Community Service Presentation. In the Delivering A: General, contestants recite A: General, a guide to judging reining horses and a hallmark of the NRHA Handbook. Prepared Public Speaking involves contestants delivering a five-to-eight-minute speech on either a leadership or equestrian topic. Lastly, the Community Service Presentation allows participants to create an eight-to-10-minute presentation showcasing a completed community service project.

Scholarships for the 2023 NRHyA CINCH Speaking Contest:

Age 14-18

Delivering A: General
1st place: $700
2nd place: $200

Prepared Public Speaking
1st place: $700
2nd place: $200

Community Service Presentation
1st place: $700
2nd place: $200

Age 13 & Under

Delivering A: General
1st place: $700
2nd place: $200

Prepared Public Speaking
1st place: $700
2nd place: $200

Community Service Presentation
1st place: $700
2nd place: $200

2022 NRHyA CINCH Speaking Contest Winners:

Becca Schaffhauser: 13 & Under Delivering A: General

McKylie Ivie: 13 & Under Prepared Public Speaking

Haley Turner: 14-18 Delivering A: General

Isabelle Hildebrandt: 14-18 Prepared Public Speaking

Faith Horner: 14-18 Community Service

Youth members interested in competing in this year’s CINCH NRHyA Speaking Contest can find more information, including the entry form at The entry deadline is June 1. Please email entries to

NRHA Celebrates CINCH & Classic Equine Silver Anniversary Partnerships

The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) is excited to honor two partner milestones of 25 years. CINCH is the official jeans and shirts of NRHA, and Classic Equine is the official equine leg protection of NRHA. Both have promoted NRHA, supported members for many years, and continue to do many great things for the equine industry. 

NRHA Commissioner Gary Carpenter shares, “Our relationships with Classic Equine and CINCH are remarkable. They are both celebrating a Silver Anniversary with us. Our members, board, and staff are proud to have partners with the staying power of these friends.”

CINCH jeans have stood at the forefront of the western clothing industry since their launch in 1996. As leaders in using innovative techniques to produce premium quality denim and shirts, the CINCH brand grew quickly. Unique prints and patterns found only on CINCH shirts are iconic in the western competitive riding world throughout the equine disciplines. The world champion athletes who ride with “CINCH” on their sleeves and collars stand proudly behind the brand.

“CINCH is proud to be celebrating our 25th year as a sponsor of the National Reining Horse Association,” said CINCH Marketing Coordinator Cassi Nichols. “There’s never been a more exciting time to be involved in the western industry, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with this outstanding organization as they forge the future in the sport of reining.”

Annually at the 6666 NRHA Derby Presented by Markel, CINCH sponsors the National Reining Horse Youth Association (NRHyA) Speaking Contest. To honor their 25-year partnership, CINCH will donate $2,500 in scholarship monies for the youth participating in the contest.

“It is incredible to see a sponsor support a program that directly encourages the practice of a life skill that is often very intimidating for youth members,” said Sara Honegger, NRHA Director of Marketing and youth programs manager. “The opportunity of earning scholarship dollars is great encouragement for youth to step out of their comfort zones.”

Classic Equine offers a complete line of products, including pads, leg boots, wraps, blankets, bits, and cinches. Their goal is to support every individual who strives to be the best at what they do. Classic Equine has always worked closely with professional men and women from all disciplines of the western performance-horse industry to test and perfect each product they manufacture. Because the company was founded and developed by professionals, the form and function of each product serves a specific purpose and is now the standard in equipment for top NRHA Champions.

The NRHA Green Reiner Program is sponsored by Classic Equine. This program recognizes achievement levels in a family-oriented, fun, and educational setting where exhibitors can gain more knowledge by being given the opportunity to talk to judges after the classes they compete in.

“Classic Equine and the NRHA have evolved right alongside each other over the last 25 years of our partnership. The NRHA was our first sponsorship in the Performance Industry. We appreciate and thank them for our growth in the industry,” said Billie Bray, Chief Marketing Officer. “Our shared goals in doing what we love while putting the horse’s well-being above all else has helped move the sport forward in a positive direction. We’re proud to be part of NRHA’s legacy, and we look forward to continuing our passion in supporting reining horses and their riders as the sport continues to grow, from the green classes to those competing at the highest levels under the brightest spotlights.”

NRHA is proud to have an immeasurable team of corporate partners that offers great benefits to the Association’s members and supports NRHA events throughout the year. Contact Christy Landwehr, Senior Director of Corporate Relations, to learn more about NRHA Partnership opportunities by email at or by visiting

About CINCH Jeans & Shirts: LEAD, DON’T FOLLOW.

Since 1996, the CINCH Clothing brand has been creating quality jeans and shirts for both in and out of the arena. Some of the best athletes from the rodeo, bull riding, and equine performance circles love CINCH jeans and shirts because of the quality fit and the authentic western look. From collared long sleeve shirts and classic short sleeved button ups to outerwear and fashion-forward western jeans, the CINCH brand puts fit and styling first. Whether fashion basics or premium styles, the designs and reputation of CINCH Jeans make CINCH Clothing the number one choice for those who live and breathe the western way of life. Visit CINCH online at

About Classic Equine: PLAY TO WIN! 

A leader in innovation, Classic Equine continues to be one of the most trusted sources for equine performance products. Combining top of line materials and original designs, Classic Equine provides the equipment riders rely on every day to enhance performance, protect, and support their horses. Manufacturing the finest quality in horse sport products has been the mission of Classic Equine since inception. Classic Equine is located in Granbury, Texas. Visit and remember to look for the chess head at your favorite tack dealer, it is the mark of true horsemen.

Founded in 1966, the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion of the reining horse in a fun-filled, family atmosphere. NRHA’s mission is to promote the reining horse worldwide while celebrating and advancing the finest traditions of Western horsemanship. To learn more about NRHA, how to join, or to become a fan, visit