• Photo by Waltenberry

NRHA Takes Action on Amateur Division

The Amateur division in reining has generated a lot of discussion in recent years, and on Monday the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) announced it had added it to a major event.

The Oklahoma City, Oklahoma-based association announced that in 2021 it will add a new division for non-pros at the NRHA Derby. The Story Book Stables Amateur Derby will debut this year, featuring $25,000 added money for this special segment of riders.

Creating this new opportunity was a goal for Brenda Joyce, owner of Story Book Stables.

“My husband, Rick Christen, and I are so excited to be sponsoring an Amateur Derby in conjunction with the NRHA Derby presented by Markel,” she said in a statement issued by the NRHA. “As always, we want to support the grassroots of the industry and encourage newcomers. We believe that these groups are critical to the health, vitality and future of the Industry. So come on Amateurs, get ready for the Derby in June!”

According to a statement from the NRHA, NRHA President Rick Clark’s enthusiasm for this new division and the opportunities it will offer to reiners is palpable. 

“I appreciate Brenda and Rick for their support in getting this going. They are willing to try something new and I predict that we will get a large number of entries in this division,” he said. “We look forward to seeing new faces and new winners in the Story Book Stables Amateur Derby.”

Who is Eligible?

To compete in the Amateur division at the NRHA Derby presented by Markel, the same horse and rider must be fully entered in the Derby Non-Pro. Excluded riders include those whose NRHA lifetime earnings exceed $100,000 in categories 1-12; as well as Category 2, 6, and 8 as of Dec. 31, 2020. Also excluded are riders currently only eligible for Derby Level 4 Non-Pro only. Other exclusions include Youth riders, legal dependents of professional equine trainers, and spouses or legal partners of professional equine trainers.

The Amateur Derby champion will be determined during the preliminary round of competition, which concludes on Tuesday, June 22, during the 2021 NRHA Derby presented by Markel.

For more information about the Story Book Stables Amateur Derby, visit