The challenges of 2020 led the entire horse community to face uncertainty, unexpected change, and unprecedented challenges. The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) said the 2021 NRHA Professionals of the Year rose to the challenge, providing excellent care to their horses in spite of the circumstances, and ensuring that their customers—and the association’s members—found opportunities to enjoy their reining horses when they needed the outlet most.
The NRHA Professionals awards allow pros to honor their peers by selecting the NRHA Becky Hanson Horsewoman of the Year, the NRHA Professional Horseman of the year, the NRHA Non Pro Coach of the Year, the NRHA Youth Coach of the Year and the NRHA Up-and-Coming Trainer of the year.
NRHA affiliates may nominate pros for each of the awards to recognize their dedication to the reining industry—in and out of the show pen—and commitment to the NRHA’s motto of “Respect the Horse. Respect the Sport.”
“As the new chairman of the Professionals Committee, it’s exciting for me to make calls to the recipients of these awards,” NRHA Professional Nick Valentine said in a statement. “We’re thankful to the affiliates that take the time to submit nominations and let us know about the great work NRHA pros are doing in each region. These are very special awards for our professionals.”
Becky Hanson Horsewoman of the Year: Debbie Brown
Debbie Brown is short in stature, but she is a powerhouse when it comes to the reining community. A staple at shows around the country, Brown has dedicated her life to reining horses for more than 35 years and continues to be a regular face in the finals of major events on top of coaching countless youth and non pro riders to success. She selflessly shares her expertise with reiners of all levels, from beginners to accomplished non pros to seasoned professionals.
Brown is a longtime team member of Tom McCutcheon Reining Horses in Tioga, Texas. Her NRHA Lifetime Earnings (LTE) exceed $123,000.
Horseman of the Year: David Hanson
David Hanson faced many challenges in 2020, including the death of his wife, Becky, for whom the Horsewoman of the Year award is named. The longtime NRHA Professional put his own hardships aside and focused on ensuring that others could compete by championing a successful show season for his affiliate.
David and Becky spent five years training horses in Italy and showing them across Europe. When they returned to the U.S. in 2000, the couple settled in Clements, California, where they built a thriving non-pro and youth program, on top of training numerous major event finalists and top finishers. David continues to build his own legacy and honor that of his wife as an outstanding NRHA Professional.
Non-Pro Coach of the Year: Dany Tremblay
Dany Tremblay’s charisma and unrelenting smile make him one of the most approachable NRHA Professionals in the industry, which means non-pro riders gravitate to him for his advice and insight. The Canadian, now living in the U.S., is willing to help all riders be all they can be, no matter if they are his own customers or non pros navigating the sport without a professional coach. Tremblay’s eager to share his expertise in all aspects of horsemanship, from training and showing to care and attention to detail.
Tremblay, who has NRHA lifetime earnings of $905,000, and his brother, Fred, operate Tremblay Performance Horses, a full-service training, showing, marketing, and sakes program out of Overbrook, Oklahoma.
Youth Coach of the Year: Bobby Avila Jr.
Patience and persistence are the cornerstones of Bobby Avila Jr.’s youth program. He endeavors to teach every young rider the values of paying attention to the details, respect for the horse and the sport, and confidence. Young riders under his tutelage—from short-stirrup youngsters to those who compete among the elite riders in the Level 4 Non-Pro classes—start with the basics of horsemanship, which makes them solid riders who can make confident decisions in the show pen as well as in daily life.
Avila’s lifetime of experience showing horses allows him to relate to the youngsters in his program, which operates out of Zimmerman Performance Horses in Rogersville, Missouri. Avila has more than $278,000 in NRHA lifetime earnings.
Up-and-Coming Professional of the Year: Austin Roush
The young reining horses of today become tomorrow’s top mounts under riders of all skill levels. Austin Roush’s abilities with young horses—including impeccable timing and feel—make him a standout young trainer and one to watch at the futurities and derbies, which led him to be chosen by his peers as the 2020 Up-and-Coming Professional of the Year. Most notably, Roush piloted Gunna Stop (Gunnatrashya x Stop Little Sister) to the 2018 NRHA Futurity Levels 2 & 1 champion titles.
Training from Southern Trace Ranch in Belle Center, Ohio, Roush (NRHA lifetime earnings of more than $175,000) also enjoys preparing non-pro horses and coaching their riders.