The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Professional of the Year Awards recognizes and honors individuals who exemplify excellence in the NRHA community as an NRHA Professional. These awards are presented in five different categories based on 2012 involvement. This distinction is reserved exclusively for the elite individuals who, in all aspects of their career, consistently excel in perpetuating the growth of the NRHA, both in and out of the show pen, while maintaining the ideals of good horsemanship, sportsmanship and welfare of the reining horse.
Award recipients will be recognized at the NRHA Awards Banquet on Thursday, June 27 at 5:45 p.m. They will be awarded custom Montana Silversmiths Spurs.
NRHA Professional Horseman of the Year
Mike McEntire, Selma, N.C. has been an NRHA Professional since 2003. With NRHA Lifetime Earnings of over $950,000, he has placed on the Top 20 Professionals list for several years. McEntire is a perennial finalist in NRHA major events; his accomplishments in the show pen include the 2003 Novice Horse Open World Championship, 2010 NRHA Futurity Open Reserve Championship, and 2011 All American Quarter Horse Congress Championship among many others.
McEntire has coached and mentored many students to their first wins, first titles and multiple year-end championships. He has been called patient, honest and forthcoming. McEntire’s training philosophy is embodied and guided by his appreciation and consideration for the horse.
NRHA Professional Horsewomen of the Year
Melanie Wilhelm, Nazareth, Texas has been an NRHA Professional since 2004. Known for her NASCAR Freestyle Reining exhibition at the 2012 4R Performance Horse Hometown Heroes Slide and NRHA Cowtown Classic Invitational Freestyle, Wilhelm is active in her local affiliates and 4-H clubs promoting the sport of Reining and youth programs. She has been the president of the West Texas Reining Horse Association and is currently the treasurer.
Wilhelm encourages her non pro and youth clients by setting goals and pushing her students to reach them. She leads by example as she reaches her own open goals, like becoming a 2011 NRHA Derby Open finalist.
NRHA Professional Non Pro Coach of the Year
Kim Yancey, Ione, Calif. has been an NRHA Professional since 2003. Yancey has been featured on NRHA’s Inside Reining, participates at RHSF Rookie Days presented by Classic Equine and sponsors NRHA shows. She rode to a 2008 Top Ten finish in the Novice Horse Open. Yancey has guided countless non pros to many NRHA wins over the last 10 years. Most recently, Yancey coached the 2011 Silver Spurs Equine Rookie of the year Champion and Reserve Champion.
Yancey takes her time with her clients making sure they understand concepts as they work on their set goals. She has been called the “Mother Teresa of Reining” due to her honest, caring characteristics as well as caring for the horses as her own.
NRHA Professional Youth Coach of the Year
Mack Weaver, Morgan, Utah has been an NRHA Professional since 2009. With the most nomination ballets of all the Professional Award nominees, Weaver has made a great impact on the youth where he emphasizes respect, work ethic, volunteerism and above all fun. Weaver demonstrates patience and a unique aptitude to teaching horsemanship skills to the young riders he coaches. Weaver and his wife, Ashley, are always willing to give up their time to volunteer with the youth in the Intermountain Reining Horse Association by helping raise money even by riding all day dressed as a women – all for love of their youth.
With his continual promotion of the sport of reining, Weaver uses his extra time to put on clinics. He was one of the trainers that help put on the Purina Ride a Reiner at the Professional Bull Riders World Finals last fall. He also helped coach one of the police officers for the 4R Performance Horses Hometown Heroes Slide in 2012.
NRHA Professional Up-And-Coming Trainer of the Year
Matthew Hudson, Marieville, Quebec has been an NRHA Professional only since the beginning of 2012. He finished the year in the Top 20 Professionals earning more than $96,700. In the last two years, Hudson has increased his NRHA Lifetime earnings from $27,000 to more than $190,000. As a leader in the professional groups in Canada, he is a great advocate and supporter of NRHA and the sport of Reining. He is confident, competitive, hardworking and humble.
The year 2012 was a great one for Hudson. He was an NRHA Futurity Open Level 4 and 3 division finalist, All American Quarter Horse Congress Futurity Level 3 Open Co-Champion and Level 4 Open finalist, National Reining Breeders Classic Level 3 and 4 division finalist along with being named Trainer of the Year for Quebec.
Interested in the NRHA Professional program? Visit their website for more information.