camera man filming a horse
The NRHA plans to once again discuss the approval status of the upcoming Run For A Million reining. The show, which was designated as Category 11, is part of a planned documentary series about reining and the riders participating in the show. • Photo by Kelsey Pecsek Hruska.

Run For A Million’s Approval Status Goes Back Before NRHA

The Run For A Million reining will once again be debated by the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) when it comes before the group’s Board of Directors this week. At issue is the long-term impact the lucrative invitational show could have on the NRHA’s earnings records and milestones.

The show, slated for Aug. 15-17 in Las Vegas, will feature a dozen riders vying for a purse of $1 million. Produced by Brumley Management Group LLC, the event will also feature additional classes, such as added-money challenges and a freestyle invitational.

Last week, the NRHA announced it decided to approve the show for Category 11. Under that designation, money earned at the event would count for a horse’s and rider’s lifetime earnings, as well as for the NRHA’s all-time records.

Even before the decision was made, there was robust discussion on social media amongst reiners about whether money won at the show should count toward a horse’s record with the NRHA or be included when determining which horses are the NRHA’s all-time leading earners. Some fans and industry participants also questioned whether members of the NRHA Executive Committee or its Board of Directors who have direct ties to the Run For A Million or its competitors should be allowed to vote on the event’s status.

That discussion continued after the NRHA’s decision last week.

On Friday, Run For A Million Co-Producer Amanda Brumley posted a letter online acknowledging the controversy and asking the NRHA to create a new category for the show in order to keep it from affecting the association’s records. Creating the new category would allow the class to be NRHA approved without having the payout count toward competitors’ lifetime earnings in addition to year-end awards or Top 20 rankings, she said.

“It was never our intent in creating this event to cause any type of catastrophic impact on the history and records of the NRHA,” Brumley wrote. “On the contrary, this event’s one goal is to bring new light to the sport of Reining [sic] and encourage growth in all levels of the industry.”

Later Friday, the NRHA announced it will revisit the issue of Run For A Million approval. The issue will come before the NRHA Board of Directors on Wednesday, May 15.

Created by Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Taylor Sheridan, the Run For A Million’s $1 million invitational will include nine riders with at least a million dollars in earnings, as well as three additional wild card riders. The lineup includes million-dollar riders Andrea Fappani, Casey Deary, Shawn Flarida, Jordan Larson, Franco Bertolani, Jason Vanlandingham, Craig Schmersal, Tom McCutcheon and Duane Latimer. The wild cards are Abby Lengel, Cade McCutcheon and Matt Mills.

Riders can choose any horse to compete in the $1 million-dollar invitational. They are allowed to bring three horses to the venue, the South Point Equestrian Center in Las Vegas, and can ride any of the three in the invitational.

The Last Cowboy will air on Paramount Network. The channel is the home of another of Sheridan’s projects that feature Western performance horses, Yellowstone. 

Camera crews shot footage for the show at the National Reining Breeders Classic and the Cactus Reining Classic. They also plan to attend Reining By The Bay this summer, and have already shot footage of invitational riders at home training their horses, Brumley said.

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