FEI President Ingmar De Vos and FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez at the FEI Board meeting in Moscou (RUS). • Photo by Liz Gregg courtesy of the FEI.

FEI and NRHA reach new agreement on reining

One year after the Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI) voted to terminate its agreement with the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA), the two organizations have reached a new agreement to ensure the continuation of reining on an international stage.

The agreement, reached Nov. 19 during the FEI General Assembly in Moscow, Russia, paves the way for reining to continue as an internationally recognized discipline alongside jumping, dressage, three-day eventing, endurance, para-dressage and vaulting.

A previous cooperation agreement between the two groups — as well as the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) — was terminated in November 2018. And, in June, the FEI recommended removing reining as one of its discipline. Since then, the NRHA and FEI had been in discussions about a new agreement.

The NRHA lauded the new agreement reached with the FEI, saying in a statement Tuesday morning it “looks forward to growing reining alongside FEI and through its affiliates around the globe.”

“I am so proud of our NRHA Task Force that worked diligently with the officials at FEI to come to a workable Memorandum of Understanding (MOU),” NRHA President Mike Hancock said in the statement. “All of these individuals have focused on our mission to promote the reining horse. Although each organization has different needs, we were able to meet those needs and agree on a path forward.

“This MOU provides more clarity, and the conversations have brought about better understanding. This agreement preserves the progress we have made over the last two decades, provides a means to develop more joint competitions, and protects the heritage of both organizations!”

Few details of the four-year agreement were released as of Tuesday afternoon, but a presentation showed to FEI members in Moscow indicated key points of understanding and overarching objectives. They included:

  • Ensure enforcement of the agreement
  • Consistent recognition of horse welfare, anti-doping and ethical principles
  • Create clear responsibilities for educating athletes and FEI officials
  • Review and adjust the star ranking system
  • Improve platforms for youth competitors and lower-level athletes (1* and 2*)
  • Increase participation from 1* and 2* athletes
  • Create new competition formats
  • Developing reining in new countries
  • Introduce FEI Reining Nation’s Cup® for 1*, 2* and Junior Riders in 2020
  • Establish a ranking system for 1* and 2* riders by the end of 2020

Click here to view slides from the presentation.

The NRHA said pertinent details on the agreement and its potential impact on the NRHA membership will be directly communicated in the near future as implementation plans are finalized.  

According to the FEI, feedback from the community has been overwhelmingly positive for keeping reining in the “FEI Family” and this also resonated in the comments from the floor during the debate at the FEI General Assembly.

Officials from FEI said during the General Assembly they planned to reach out to the AQHA, which does not currently have an agreement with FEI, after signing the new agreement with the NRHA.

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