Category Archives: NRHA News

Legal Update – Honstetter

The National Reining Horse Association was served with a lawsuit in October filed by NRHA Professional Arno Honstetter after the Association took action pursuant to the NRHA Handbook’s protest procedures earlier this year. The protest involved an animal welfare issue. NRHA takes animal welfare issues very seriously and wishes to provide members with correct, concise information regarding its position on this pending legal matter.
The matter was initially referred to NRHA General Counsel and then taken through the disciplinary action phase; to the NRHA Investigative Review Committee and then Hearing Body which suspended and sanctioned Honstetter. Honstetter appealed the Hearing Body decision to the NRHA Executive Committee. The Executive Committee considered Honstetter’s appeal and affirmed the decision of the Hearing Body. Honstetter then filed a lawsuit against the Association and requested a Temporary Injunction of NRHA’s suspension and sanctions. On October 20, the court granted Honstetter’s motion for temporary injunction. As a result, after Honstetter posted a $50,000 bond, enforcement of NRHA’s suspension and sanctions against Honstetter have been stayed pending the outcome of the lawsuit.
NRHA legal counsel is in the process of appealing the court’s temporary injunction order and is proceeding with litigation until the matter is resolved.

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NRHA Election Results

The NRHA Executive Committee and Board of Directors are responsible for managing the business of the association and for representing the best interests of its members and the Association as a whole.

For this year’s elections ending November 1, two Director-At-Large seats and one Northeast Region Director seat was filled by a vote of members. The results of this election can be found by logging in to the Members Only section on

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NRHA Elections are Underway

Did you know…

On average, only about 6% of eligible members vote in NRHA elections. This means that 94% of members do not participate in the voting process! We encourage you to take advantage of this often-missed opportunity, cast your ballot to elect NRHA’s leaders, and make a decision for the future of your Association! Voting ends Novembr 1 at noon CDT, so log in now to participate!


Click Here to Vote Now!


  1. Click the voting link above
  2. Enter your current NRHA Member Number  
  3. Enter your NRHA PIN as of September 1, 2017
    – This PIN is the one you use to on
    – Resetting your PIN at will not grant you access to vote

OR – Watch the video on the right to see how it works!

You can find more details online on the NRHA Elections page. Contact NRHA’s Christa Morris-Stone for assistance ( or 405-946-7400, ext. 105). Emails sent during an election weekend will be responded to within 24 hours.

NOTE: Voters must be individual NRHA members who are at least 19 years of age by January 1, 2017. Associate Members are not eligible to vote in this election, neither are joint, corporate or syndicate members. The Northeast election is for members in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and District of Columbia.

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NRHA Named in Lawsuit

On September 20, 2017, the National Reining Horse Association was served with a lawsuit filed by Shannon Rafacz against the Association. The lawsuit follows action taken pursuant to the NRHA Handbook’s protest and complaint filing procedures earlier this year. NRHA leadership believes it is important that its membership is aware of this pending legal matter.
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NRHA Reiner Advertiser Guidelines Approved

The NRHA Executive Committee met on August 17, 2017 and among their business items they approved advertising guidelines for the NRHA Reiner magazine. These guidelines will be used when advertisements are submitted to the magazine and to determine if they are appropriate for the publication and its audience. These are the first set of written guidelines for the NRHA Reiner and come in response to member input regarding their expectations.


All advertisements submitted to the NRHA Reiner magazine shall be in support of the Association’s belief in family values, sportsmanship and proper care of the horse. All advertisements should be suitable for the target audience: NRHA members and their families which often include young children. As these pages are highly visible, the magazine cover pages, including the inside covers, must be suitable for that audience. Advertising shall not include violence, profanity or sexually explicit or provocative images.

Ads featuring partial nudity may be accepted if models are posed in an unprovocative way and are partially covered (ex. wearing modest swim suits or sports attire). Ads with sexual innuendo are discouraged. However, ads featuring human models with nudity or partial nudity along with any level of sexual innuendo will not be accepted under any circumstance.


Additional news from the August NRHA Board of Directors meeting will shared soon.

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The Candidates Are Set – NRHA Elections

Each year, NRHA members are given the opportunity to nominate and elect representatives to serve on the NRHA Executive Committee and Board of Directors. The final deadline to nominate candidates passed on August 2, so a complete slate of candidates now can be presented to the membership for consideration.

Votes in this year’s election (October 1 – November 1) will determine the names of:

  • Two members to serve on the Executive Committee as a Director-At-Large
  • One member per region to serve as a North American Regional Director (On a rotational basis, approximately half of the regions have this opportunity each year)

Eligible voting members will receive voting information via email prior to October 1.


Each voting member will be given the opportunity to cast a vote for two Director-At-Large candidates. The candidate receiving the largest number of votes will have a two-year term, and the second-largest vote-getter will have a one-year term.

Four members were nominated by the NRHA Nominating / Governance Committee: Shane Brown, George King, Brian Welman and Joe Wolfe. An additional candidate, Tom McCutcheon, was nominated via the write-in process. Therefore, a total of five candidates are campaigning for member votes.


North American Director elections will be held for the Northeast region featuring Kelly Hedges and Heather Powell. Only one candidate was nominated for the other four regions. Therefore, no elections will be held for these regions and these candidates will be elected by acclamation: East Central – Brett Walters, North Central – Larry Handley, Northwest – Jeanine Kern and South Central – Ann Salmon Anderman.


Shane Brown • Elbert, Colo.

SHANE image1 cropped“As a member of many NRHA committees and positions, currently and in the past, I am excited to be considered for an NRHA Executive Committee position. I look forward to becoming even more involved in programs that help to grow NRHA from the grass roots level at the Affiliates to my ongoing dedication to the Professional and non pro members at the trainer/ breeder/owner level. I am an active, dedicated NRHA non pro coach so it is important to me to continue the upward track that NRHA has established, taking all members into consideration. I would be honored to be a participant and pledge to be an active, productive member of the NRHA Executive Committee to help NRHA meet its goals for 2018.” ~READ MORE~

George King • Idaho Falls, Idaho

George King 2017 cropped“At the young age of 59, I have been a member of the NRHA for almost 30 years. I remember those early years when we gathered together at an outdoor arena in Montana for Dick Pieper clinics. In those days, a reining show only lasted one day. You would drive to the show in the morning and go home that evening (sometimes quite late). I’ve seen amazing growth in the NRHA and the reining horse industry; what an incredible journey it has been. You can see the results of our prosperity in that we now have 24 NRHA Million Dollar Riders, two of which are non pros; we have 36 NRHA Million Dollar Sires and several that have turned over nine million dollars. ~READ MORE~

Tom McCutcheon • Aubrey, Tex.

Tom McCutcheon copy croppedTom McCutcheon is one of the reining industry’s leading riders with lifetime earnings exceeding $1.7 million. His accolades include winning a National Reining Breeders Classic Open Championship, two NRHA Derby Reserve Championships, a Tradition Open Futurity Championship, a Southwest Reining Horse Association Open Futurity Championship, multiple North Central Reining Horse Association Open Futurity Championships and earning multiple NRHA Open Futurity finalist positions. On the International stage, Tom is a two-time United States Equestrian Team Reining Championship winner. As a member of the 2002 USA Reining Team at the Federation Equestre Internationale World (FEI) Equestrian Games in Jerez, Spain, Tom helped Team USA bring home the Gold Medal. Along with the Team Gold, Tom…” ~READ MORE~

Brian Welman • Hastings, Minn.brianwelman

“I have been an NRHA member for over 30 years and have been an NRHA Judge since 1990.  I attended the University of Wisconsin – River Falls, and then I went on to work for a few of the NRHA Hall of Fame inducted trainers until I started my own training business Brian Welman Training Center in Minnesota. I have been an active board member of the North Central Reining Horse Association (NCRHA) from the beginning and I have been a president of the NCRHA.  I have served on the NRHA Board of Directors in 2008 and 2011 through 2015, NRHA Judges Committee, Eligibility Committee and the NRHA Executive Committee since 2016. I am actively involved with all aspects of the reining horse industry.” ~READ MORE~

Joe Wolfe • Catlettsburg, Ky.

Joe Wolfe 2011 cropped“I have been married to my wife Emmy for 46 years. We have two grown daughters and four grandchildren. We live in Catlettsburg, Kentucky where we have been involved with horses and, at times, cattle. I attended Morehead State University where I earned my bachelors and masters degrees in math. I worked for Blue Cross Blue Shield in Kentucky for 26 years in sales and sales management.  I retired in December of 1999 and started my own small independent insurance agency in January of 2000 with my current partner George Arnold. My wife and I became involved with reining in the mid 1980s and became members of Ohio Valley Reining Horse Association (OVRHA) and NRHA at that time. Both of us continue to…” ~READ MORE~



Kelly Hedges • Perrysburg, N.Y.

Kelly Hedges Web cropped“I am 61-years-old and have been a professional in the equine industry for over 40 years. My wife Kim and I own and operate Hedges Reining Horses in western New York. I also own and operate Hedges Custom Carpentry which specializes in custom cabinetry and custom home interiors for over 30 years. I am currently the vice president of the Yankee Reining Horse Association (YRHA), and I am on the horse show committee, as well as the Bylaws Committee. I have been a judge for over 30 years. I hold cards with the National Snaffle Bit Association, Appaloosa Horse Club (ApHC) and NRHA. I have judged all the ApHC’s major events in The States, as well as the Aphc’s European Championship show three times. ~READ MORE~

Heather Powell • Chalfont, Penn.

Powell Heather HJP-2 cropped“In 1989, we bought a horse that we thought did tricks. A few weeks later we saw Richie Fisher giving a reining demonstration at Belmont Park Horse Fair and the “penny dropped.” I was introduced to trainer J.C. Daudelin from Quebec and started to learn about reining, ably assisted by our mare “April.” It has been a passion for me and the horses and people have kept me actively involved in the sport as an exhibitor (when the trainers let me have my horses back!), owner, breeder, judge, show secretary and steward since my first show at Willowbrook also in 1989. I have served as a director for Eastern Pennsylvania Reining Horse Association (EPRHA) for eight years. The past two years as NRHA Northeast Director have…” ~READ MORE~



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Non Pro Conditions Update from the Board

In May of this year, the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Board of Directors approved a proposal to change its Non Pro Conditions starting January 1, 2018. After receiving a tremendous amount of comments and questions from the membership, the Board met on June 15 to revisit the topic. Following discussion, they approved to rescind the proposal (#27-01-18) so that it will not go into effect next year.

See the Updated Listing of 2018 Approved Rule Changes

Following the May Board meeting, a great amount of feedback was given to the Board and NRHA’s Non Pro Committee. Many members expressed concerns about how the rule would impact them as Non Pros and how it could be detrimental to the industry overall. In response, the topic was added to the June 15 Board meeting agenda and was reviewed. As a result, a motion was put forward and approved to rescind the rule change that, in effect, leaves the rule unchanged from what is currently listed in the 2017 NRHA Handbook.

The Board intends to continue discussions regarding Non Pro Conditions, and appreciates receiving member feedback on programs and rules that are important to them. For a digital copy of the 2017 NRHA Handbook, visit

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NRHA Board of Directors May Meeting Recap

The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) hosted meetings for the Executive Committee and Board of Directors in Oklahoma City on May 1-2. The members, elected by the membership annually, reviewed and prepared for discussion of agenda items; raised issues and spoke of opportunities; and voted to make decisions to guide the progress of the Association. In total, the Board members committed nearly 250 hours of effort to NRHA over the course of two days. The largest topic on the agenda was 2018 rule change proposals. A brief overview is provided below along with information on other important discussions.

2017 Handbook cover2018 Rule Change Proposals – The Board of Directors reviewed 37 rule change proposals submitted by members, committees and staff. Prior to their vote, they considered feedback from NRHA Committees and from members via the online survey. Unless otherwise noted, approved rule changes become effective January 1, 2018. More details on what was approved, along with the new rule verbiage, can be found in the Members Only area of

Some of the most significant changes include the following changes or additions to NRHA rules:

  • Beginning in 2019, memberships will last for a complete 12-month or 36-month period, and will no longer expire on December 31.
  • Non Pro Conditions were changed with the approval of 27-01-18. The largest change came from the addition of this text:
    • Even without remuneration, a Non Pro may not train or participate in mounted preparation of a horse not owned or leased by the non pro or the non pro’s immediate family, at or for, a show. It is the intent of the NRHA to limit the ability of a non pro to assist a trainer or other person in the training or preparation of the horse while mounted for a show if that horse is not owned or leased by the non pro or the non pro’s immediate family.
  • World Para-Reining, USA Reining and approved breed restricted para-reining classes were added for Category 4 approval.
  • Event approval deadlines for BB and Top Ten Events changed to 60 days prior to the entry closing date.
  • Added money limits were removed from Category 7 Affiliate Championship classes.
  • The Single Purse Payout structure was approved for optional use in aged and closed aged shows.
  • NRHA Lawson bronzes must be presented when $2,000 or more in added money is offered and other special NRHA Lawson Bronze qualifications are met.
  • Show results now can be sent electronically as long as some requirements are met.
  • Guidelines were added for breaking first place ties.
  • Allowances for touching the horse with the freehand and holding the saddle horn in Freestyle Reining, Entry Level and Youth 10 & Under Short Stirrup classes.
  • Additional guidelines were added to determine when judges may judge an unapproved reining class.
  • Random equipment checks in classes with added money of $500 or less are allowed.
  • A 5-point penalty was added for a horse that loses forward motion and falls to knees or hocks while showing signs of disobedience, intimidation, exhaustion and/or distress.

Equipment clarification – The NRHA Executive Committee recently made a clarification to Rules for Judging. B.(4)(b) and (i) concerning belly bands and belly wraps. This type of equipment, or other materials wrapped around the belly, can cover abuse prior to and during exhibition, and can give an unfair advantage. Therefore, the use of this type of equipment in pre-check or in the show pen is not allowed and will result in a no score.

Fappani Spooky Whiz2017 NRHA Futurity Updates –

  • Addition of the new Level 4 Open Semi-Finals (approved in February).
  • Open Futurity horses will not show on Sunday, November 26. This gives one-day off between the 1st go round and the semi-finals.
  • Sunday’s Non Pro 1st go, 1st section will be longer than the other sections. This allows the go round to end one day earlier and helps manage the overall length of days.
  • The Non Pro Consolation will be held one day earlier than usual on Wednesday, November 29.
  • Freestyle Reining will be held on Thursday, November 30.
  • Adequan North American Affiliate Championship and ancillary classes have been rearranged to avoid conflicts and to move the Silver Spurs Equine Rookie of the Year to later in the schedule.

Affiliate Regional Championship Trophies – If a class at an Affiliate Regional Championships does not offer the level of added money required to award an NRHA Morrison trophy ($1,000), the host can award an NRHA Morrison trophy for that class.

Collegiate Judging Contest – NRHA will work with the Horse Judging Team Coaches Association to implement a collegiate contest during the 2017 NRHA Futurity Level 4 Open Semi-Finals.

European Council Bylaws – Bylaws for the European Region were presented and approved. They consisted of definitions and guiding principles for the council and its executive board. It also included a list of responsibilities specific to the European Region.

IT Project – The Board was given an update on the IT project. Testing on tools for joining and renewing memberships has begun. These tools will become available to members when testing is complete.

Member Survey and Long-Range Planning – Approximately 1,000 members participate in the online survey. Results of the survey have been shared with the Long-Range Planning group and the Board of Directors. A plan, based on those responses and the group’s discussion, is being finalized at this time. It will be presented to the Board at a later date for review and approval.

Regions and Elections Procedures – The procedures were updated to better clarify voting regions for California, Nevada and Idaho residents. The voting region will be based on a member’s affiliate designation. If an affiliate if not designated, it will be based on the member’s state of residence. See the NRHA Regions and Elections Procedures for details.

Task Force Appointment – A task force was appointed to optimize the benefit of International Affiliate Program funds for affiliates and NRHA. The previously appointed Nomination/Payout Task Force will meet in Oklahoma City in the coming weeks.


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Equipment Clarification – Belly Bands

The NRHA Executive Committee recently made a clarification to Rules for Judging. B.(4)(b) and (i) concerning belly bands and belly wraps. This type of equipment, or other materials wrapped around the belly, can cover abuse prior to and during exhibition, and can give an unfair advantage. Therefore, the use of this type of equipment in pre-check or in the show pen is not allowed and will result in a no score.

NRHA’s equipment rules can be found starting on page 79 of the NRHA Handbook in the Rules for Judging Section.

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Our Loss – John Hoyt

NRHA is saddened to hear of the passing of John Hoyt on the morning of December 20, 2016. He was surrounded by family and friends in his cabin in Texas. Hoyt was loved and admired by many in the reining community and his presence truly will be missed.

John-hoyt-in-Germany-smallHoyt was a wonderful man and legendary horseman that influenced many of today’s top riders. Al Dunning summed up Hoyt’s influence on reining and other western disciplines by saying, “John is the Dale Wilkinson of the West!” NRHA Judge and long-time friend Greg Darnall added to that opinion by saying, “He’s the John Wayne of the horse training business. He backs away from nothing.” Hoyt was well-known for his ability to mentor others with blunt honesty and to get extraordinary performances out of ordinary horses.

Hoyt, a native Californian, was inducted into the NRHA Hall of Fame in 2010 after a decade-spanning and award-winning career. His accomplishments include more than $49,300 in NRHA earnings and multiple AQHA World Championships. Hoyt qualified for 21 AQHA World Championship Shows in a row. He was the 1986 NRHA Futurity Limited Open Reserve Champion on Okies Sure Bet. In 1988, he rode Lady Kiper to win the Intermediate and Limited Open ancillary classes at the NRHA Derby.

More information regarding John Hoyt’s celebration of life will be posted here when it becomes available.


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