The NRBC has changed its schooling protocol for the 2021 show in Katy, Texas. Several trainers were quoted in support of the move in a press release detailing the changes, including Andrea Fappani. • Photo by Kristin Pitzer.

NRBC Announces Schooling Protocol Change for 2021

 The National Reining Breeders Classic announced it will change its schooling hours and protocols at the 2021 event.

According to an announcement from the show, all arenas will be closed at 7 pm each night and will reopen for riding two hours before time to prep the arena the next morning .If classes run past 5 p.m., in a particular arena, it will be open for two hours following the end of the class

NRBC President Tom McCutcheon explains, “It’s a new stage of history for reining,” NRBC President Tom McCutcheon said in a statement announcing the changes. “We are not where we were 20 or even 10 years ago. We feel that it’s time to evolve with the times for the betterment of our industry.”

The NRBC said its Board was unanimous in making this change and the decision was based on two important facets of reining. Paramount in the decision was the welfare of the horse, and the board felt that this new direction was essential to the soundness, health and longevity of reining horses.

“It’s really about taking an opportunity to try to change the culture of our industry – trying to find a balance between the normal 24-hour schedule that can be fatiguing for horses, trainers, assistants, owners and Non Pros,” McCutcheon said. “We have to remember that we are competing for the discretionary dollars of today’s horse owners and they have many options both inside and outside the equine industry. It’s really about the NRBC trying to take the opportunity to have an amazing, fun show for exhibitors and owners alike.”

NRBC Vice President Colleen McQuay noted, “Schooling at night has always been a part of reining. Reiners have felt since day one that they had to get on the ground. It’s time to change that old mindset to today’s needs.”

The New Protocol

The following protocol will be in place for the 2021 NRBC, set for April 18-25 in Katy, Texas. Arenas will be closed two hours after the end of the last event of the day in that arena or at 7 p.m., whichever is later. For the ensuing two hours, there will be fencing (stopping) only, and the arena will be worked every 20 minutes. After closing for the night, the arena will reopen two hours before the beginning of ground preparation for that day’s classes.

Non-competition arenas will be closed at 7 p.m., each day and open at 7 a.m., the next morning. Adjustment to the schedule will be made in the case of inclement weather.

The NRBC admits the new policy has already sparked plenty of discussion. Some trainers are glad to hear of the change, it said in the announcement of the new protocols, while others are concerned with getting their horses prepared. 

“I’m excited about limiting riding hours at the NRBC. The Derby-aged horses know their jobs and are for the most part very comfortable in a show arena,” Equi-Stat Elite $6 Million Rider Andrea Fappani said in the statement released by the NRBC. “Once they test out the ground a few times, they should be good to show. I’m looking forward to being able to have a normal schedule for a change and enjoy spending some quality time with my customers.”

Fappani was quoted in the statement saying derby horses don’t need to be ridden hard at shows.

“If we have prepared them properly at home, getting them comfortable with the ground is the only thing we have left to do once we get to a show,” he said. “This new format will be fair for all of us and it will prevent a lot of horses from getting overworked and stressed.”

NRHA Professional Kole Price was quoted in the announcement saying he welcomed the chance to try something different, adding the schooling changes should allow riders and horses to get a good night’s sleep so both can perform better.

“I’ve been to shows where you don’t get to go out once with your customers,” Price said. “I’m thinking that maybe knowing that the schooling time will be during certain times will also encourage people to watch and enjoy the time to interact with their friends.”

The release, which is posted in full on the NRBC Facebook page, quoted additional trainers speaking in support of the change.

“We want to thank our riders and trainers in advance for their support in taking the next step to ensure the health and welfare of our riders and horses to secure the future of our sport,” McQuay said.

For nearly 25 years, the National Reining Breeders Classic program and show have held a singular place in the reining industry. For information on the NRBC, visit the website at, email to [email protected] or call 580-759-3939.