Taylor Sheridan at the Run for a Million in Las Vegas.
The NRHA will honor Taylor Sheridan for his contributions to the sport in December. Photo by Molly Montag

The First Cowboy: Taylor Sheridan first NRHA honoree

The inaugural recipient of the National Reining Horse Association’s Reiner of the Year award is Taylor Sheridan, the organization announced from its base in Oklahoma City late Tuesday night. 

The actor, director and screenwriter made his mark on reining as the creator and producer of “The Last Cowboy,” the highly acclaimed reality-based TV program on Paramount Network, which tied into August’s Run for a Million in Las Vegas.

“The enduring positive energy, new relationships, and fresh perspective that Sheridan has brought to the sport of reining qualified him as the ideal recipient of this prestigious award,” the NRHA said in a news release.

The NRHA Board of Directors voted to approve both the award and candidate for recognition, officials said.

The award, established by the NRHA Hall of Fame Committee and supported by the Reining Horse Foundation (RHF), was designed to honor a person or entity who “enacts a measurable, positive influence on the industry.”

Sheridan, a native of Cranfills Gap, Texas, will be recognized alongside this year’s class of NRHA Hall of Fame inductees during the NRHA Futurity at Sliders’ Night Out presented by Toyon Ranch on Dec. 4 at State Fair Park in Oklahoma City. 

A horse enthusiast since childhood, Sheridan began reining after his Hollywood acting and directing career took off. His credits include “Sons of Anarchy,” the highly popular “Yellowstone,” and the writer of the movie “Hell or High Water,” starring Jeff Bridges. 

“Taylor is a man of great vision and determination,” said Mike Hancock, president of the NRHA. “His tenacity and persistence helped drive the production [of “The Last Cowboy” and the Run for a Million] faster and farther than anyone else could have. We’re so happy to announce that he’s our Reiner of the Year.”

“The Last Cowboy,” which chronicled the journey of eight reining professionals as they prepared elite horses for the Million Dollar Invitational — the marquee event during the Run for a Million — was widely credited by the critics for increasing exposure to reining.

“The television series and the event in Las Vegas brought reiners together in a unique way and exposed a new audience to the sport of reining,” the NRHA said.

In addition, “The Last Cowboy” highlighted the many positive aspects of reining, from the family atmosphere to the care riders invest in their horses to maintain their welfare. The program also brought some of NRHA’s largest events to the attention of an expanded audience.

The RHF will also recognize new and previous NRHA Hall of Fame inductees as well as the Dale Wilkinson Lifetime Achievement Award recipient and celebrate the sport’s legacy and bright future. For details on how to host a Hall of Fame table or become a major event donor, contact Leslie Baker, executive director of the RHF, at [email protected] or 405-946-7400.