Updates from the 2023 NRHA Winter Meeting

The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) held its annual Winter Meeting February 5–7 at the Embassy Suites by Hilton in downtown Fort Worth, Texas. The venue was the meeting place for NRHA Board, staff, committee members, and the membership to meet and to review and guide the association’s direction going forward.

During the three days of meetings, the board, executive committee, the Reining Horse Foundation Board of Directors, and several advisory committees convened. The Annual General Membership Meeting was also held Tuesday morning and gave members the opportunity to receive an update from NRHA Leadership and ask questions.

“It was an outstanding meeting, with the committee and board members working together wonderfully to begin the year,” said NRHA President Mark Blake. “The judges committee especially did an outstanding job with the review session, and overall, I am very happy with how the 2023 NRHA Winter Meeting went.”

Blake also highlighted the success NRHA saw in 2022, including a 14% increase in approved events worldwide with a record-setting 125,000 total entries. Additionally, the nomination program saw its highest numbers since its inception, topping 3,000 North American weanling nominations for the first time. NRHA membership remains stable, with non professionals boasting its highest membership rates since 2015. Read more on the 2022 Statistics Overview posted on the “About” page at nrha.com. Blake also announced that a membership survey would be distributed to members and reviewed by the board during the future Strategic Planning Session.

NRHA Chief Financial Officer John Foy also gave an extremely positive, in-depth financial overview of the association, which included an explanation of the new 4-year-old nomination component that will begin with 2023 foals, NRHA Futurity purse milestones, and an update on the annual audit that will be posted online for members in the next few weeks. You can read more about the program here. He also addressed the association will continue to invest in high-performing assets and has the liquidity to navigate even during economic downturn.

Gary Carpenter, NRHA Commissioner, also announced his planned retirement after leading NRHA since 2014. During Carpenter’s time with NRHA, the association has seen massive expansion, boasting the lowest turnover rates and a well-tenured staff speaking to his incredible leadership. An official search committee has been formed, and you can read more about his retirement here.

Following the annual general membership meeting, The Judges Committee also held a review of the top 2022 NRHA Futurity runs with an open dialogue regarding scoring while watching videos of selected runs. Patti Carter, Senior Director of Education & Officials, and the judges committee teaching panel talked through the evaluation of the runs, answered questions, and provided clarity on current judging standards.

The following items were also discussed:

2023 Affiliate Regional Championship and Adequan® North American Affiliate Championship Conditions

The Board moved to approve keeping the Affiliate Regional Championship (ARC) and Adequan® North American Affiliate Championship (NAAC) qualification the same as the previous year. To compete at an ARC, a rider must be an NRHA member and a member of an NRHA affiliate. Any exhibitor who receives a score higher than a zero at an ARC will be able to enter that class, on that specific horse, at the Adequan® NAAC in Oklahoma City.

2024 NRHA Elections

Submissions for 2024 NRHA Regional Director and NRHA Director-at-Large elections are due in office on June 1. For more information, including open seats and qualifications for running, visit nhra.com/elections.

Rule Change Proposals

The 2023 Rule Change Proposals were reviewed by the Board for the first time. The Board will review them again prior to voting, and they will be sent to committees and will soon be available online to the NRHA membership for feedback.

Recommended Judges Fee Increase

The Board approved a recommendation from the Judges Committee to recommend that all “AA” events pay their judges a minimum of $750 per day along with reasonable travel expenses. For all other events, the committee recommended judge fees be increased to a minimum of $600/day, plus reasonable travel expenses. The committee also recommended judges be compensated 10% of their day fee for every hour over 10 hours spent judging (not including breaks).

NRHA Owned Event Schedules Approved

The 2023 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel and the 2023 NRHA Futurity & Adequan® North American Affiliate Championship schedules were approved by the NRHA Board of Directors. The Derby schedule is available on nrhaderby.com, and the Futurity schedule will be available soon on nrhafuturity.com. A change to note was the approval to switch the Open and Non Pro go-round order at the NRHA Derby to be more accommodating to non pros who make the finals.

Reining Horse Foundation Board Meeting

The Reining Horse Foundation (RHF) Board of Directors approved significant expansion to two of its flagship programs: the Dale Wilkinson Memorial Crisis Fund and the RHF Scholarship program. Increased donor support in recent years has made it feasible for more dollars to be returned to the reining community, which is the heart of the RHF mission. In November 2022, the board designated up to $250,000 in additional funding support for core programs, with proposals to be brought forward from RHF standing committees. These program expansions are the result. The Crisis Fund grant maximums are being increased substantially, more than double previous funding thresholds. Four RHF Scholarships amounts are being increased immediately, and five new scholarships will be added in 2024.