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NRHA Announces Rule Changes

NRHA logo BWThe National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) concluded its August 2015 board of directors meeting, making several recommendations and approving several important rule changes in an effort to advance the sport of reining. In addition to important event conditions and guidelines, the board also discussed all 2016 rule change proposals submitted to the body earlier this year. The board considered long-term administrative, global and fiduciary impact, in addition to member feedback provided via its website, direct contact and letters from the membership.

“This was a tremendously effective meeting and many important rule changes were put into place starting Jan. 1, 2016. Several administrative changes to the handbook were also approved to streamline processes and help NRHA to continue to grow in the future. Most importantly, these changes make reining better for all spectators and competitors leading us into our 50th anniversary year in 2016,” commented NRHA President Rick Clark. Clark added that he hoped the membership goes and votes on important bylaw change proposals and executive committee candidates before Sept. 9 to have their voice heard.

In addition to the approved rule changes below, the NRHA board of directors approved a winter meeting in January 2016 in Oklahoma City, made exceptional strides to advance, rework and enhance the NRHA’s technological backbone, and approved a new deadline for submitting rule change proposals. Members also should note rule change proposal 81-02-16 that requires a rider and owner to be current members before showing. The previous practice was to bill non-members for a membership and to award all monies on the competition record; however, non-members will now be disqualified, not billed and will forfeit all winnings.

Below is a summary (with a brief of the intent of the change) on the action taken at this year’s August board of directors meeting. All action taken will become effective Jan. 1, 2016. For more detailed and complete information on each item, log onto the Members Only section of

41-01-16: Increases the protest filing fee to $250 to help cover legal costs.

44-01-16: The appeal of a hearing body’s decision will be reviewed by the executive committee, reviewing only the information presented to the investigative review committee and hearing body. No additional information will be admitted.

44-02-16: The decision of the hearing body will be released to the persons involved as soon as possible, as an immediate notification may not be possible.

47-01-16: Maintains uniformity with other sections of Disciplinary Action.

47-02-16: Rewords the heading of the section to correspond with wording in the rest of the section and to maintain uniformity with other sections of Disciplinary Action.

48-01-16: Includes not allowing contact with either the NRHA board of directors or executive committee in the course of a protest.

48-02-16: Revokes the NRHA membership of any member who has been suspended for more than five consecutive calendar years, either through disciplinary action or failure to pay.

50-01-16: These changes include more consistent references to the Animal Welfare and Medications Policies and the Medications Hearing Panel.

54-01-16: Testing fees will be applied as described in the NRHA Animal Welfare and Medications Policy, and NRHA European Region Animal Welfare and Medications Policy. A $7 fee will be assessed per horse, per event, effective Jan. 1, 2016. The updated policy (NRHA Policy 11-07-27: Animal Welfare and Medications Policy [Excluding European Events]) can be found in the Members Only section of

60-01-16: Allows current NRHA Professionals to maintain a Code of Conduct form on file as long as membership remains current. There is not a lifetime NRHA Professionals membership; therefore, annual membership fees still apply.

61-01-16: Lowers the waiting period to three years for those members who are no longer an NRHA Professional and wish to become a non-pro.

62-01-16: Allows non-pro competitors the opportunity to participate in the sport without the strict horse ownership restrictions that are currently in place. The lease fee is $100, with renewals being $20, only if completed prior to the lease lapsing on NRHA records. Money earnings during the term of the lease would track as if the lessee is the owner of the horse. All leases end Dec. 31 of the calendar year.

64-01-16: Improves timelines in responding to Apprentice applications. All questionable applications will be passed forward to the non-pro committee for review.

66-02-16: Makes the categories of competition and class eligibility easier to understand in a chart format.

68-01-16: Eliminates duplicate information already included in the Rules for Judging.

74-01-16: Creates a chart to allow exhibitors easier access to event type approval deadlines.

80-01-16: Clearly defines the requirements and duties of the NRHA show representative position, making this information easier to locate and read.

81-01-16: This moves G. GENERAL SHOW CONDITIONS before F. EVENT APPROVAL and allows the handbook to flow better from the perspective of the exhibitor.

81-02-16: Removes the provision allowing all non-members to be fined and billed for the membership dues, and now does not allow earnings accumulated at that show to be recorded. Any non-members will be disqualified and forfeited. All riders and owners must be current or join at the time of entry.

82-01-16: Now, the NRHA handbook clearly states the need for riders in Para-Reining classes to wear ASTM/SEI certified helmets at all times while mounted (during warm-up/practice and while showing).

89-02-16: Allows Para-Reining classes and events to be held in conjunction with other Para Equestrian events, such as but not limited to USA Reining and AQHA Para events. A Para-Reining show may be held as a stand-alone event.

89-03-16: Correctly uses only the terms jog and lope when referencing the gaits typically referenced in the Western stock horse industry – trot and canter has been removed.

90-01-16: This edit gives exhibitors and show management flexibility to break ties other than using the coin flip option.

99-01-16: This adds clarification to the rules and requires a youth to have a birth date on file.

99-02-16: This addresses the youth lease and follows the same approved changes outlined in 62-01-16.

100-01-16: Removes the section concerning Youth Incentive Awards from the NRHA handbook. Once removed from the handbook, it will become a policy.

104-01-16: This change now enhances the duties of the NRHA steward to draw more attention to the welfare of the horse.

112-01-16: This change adds a judges monitor job description, further defining what is expected of them and who will be able to utilize them.

117-01-16: Allows for tails to be lengthened by hair-to-hair attachment, including weighted tails.

117-02-16: Allows for riders to straighten the excess rein while in motion as long as they do not alter the tension or length of the reins.

118-01-16: Adds further definition to actions resulting in a score of 0 (for example, rollbacks and the center line).

119-01-16: Adds further definition to actions resulting in a half-point penalty (for example, the center line).

123-01-16: Approves the addition of two new official NRHA patterns.

125-01-16: Rewords patterns one, three, six, seven, eight, nine, 10 and 13 to describe the most desired way to accomplish the transition from circling to the stop.

158-01-16: Allows AA and A events to utilize the 2-point penalty review without having to put it in individual event conditions. Judges will be allowed to review break-of-gate, jogging more than two strides and freeze ups, as long as one judge calls the penalty.