The U.S.'s gold medal reining team at the FEI World Equestrian Games – Jordan Larson, Cade McCutcheon, Dan Huss and Casey Deary • Photo by Kelsey Pecsek Hruska

FEI Removes Reining, NRHA Responds

Reining was officially removed as a discipline by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), a move officials with the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) expected and said was the result of not being able to blend two organizations with differing business models.

During the Fédération Equestre Internationale General Assembly, which ran Nov. 14-17, reining was removed as an FEI discipline. According to former NRHA President Mike Hancock, it was not an unexpected move.

Hancock chaired NRHA’s FEI Task Force that was created in 2019 and has been involved with reining internationally in one capacity or another since the nineties.

“We’ve had many conversations with FEI including face-to-face meetings in 2018 and 2020. Both entities recognize the value of and interest in reining and reining horses worldwide,” Hancock said in a statement issued by the NRHA. “However, we were never able to blend the two organizations and their business models,” Hancock explained.

He said another factor was the announcement that the FEI World Equestrian Games would no longer be a multi-discipline event.

In past years, the World Equestrian Games operated in a multi-sport format similar to the Olympics, with athletes in different disciplines –- such as English riding events like jumping or dressage – coming together to compete for their countries at the same venue as vastly different events, such as reining.

That enabled athletes and fans from around the world to be exposed to equine sports they might not otherwise see in person or know about.

“Also, with the difficulties during the 2018 World Equestrian Games as well as the ensuing announcement that there would be no multi-discipline WEG going forward, you might say the bloom came off reining as an international event for the reining community,” Hancock said. “For NRHA, there was less attraction, but we continued with an International Competition Task Force created in 2020, and just days before the General Assembly we had conversations and tried to reach a working agreement with FEI officials. Unfortunately, this was not possible.”

Current NRHA President Rick Clark thanked Hancock and the International Competition Task Force and noted that he would repurpose it to address the possibility of future NRHA competitions in an international format.

“The NRHA still has an interest in International and Continental championships and will research resources that might allow them to take place. We are glad to hear that FEI and a good number of National Federations are supportive of us proceeding in that direction. The International Competition Taskforce created in 2020 will address this to determine if it is feasible.”

Along with Hancock, the NRHA International Competition Task Force is comprised of Rick Clark, Rosanne Sternberg, Adam Heaton, Mark Blake, Andre DeBellefeuille and Paulus Beurskens.

NRHA Commissioner Gary Carpenter added, “All of us who have been involved thank the friends we have made at FEI for the years of support in jointly promoting the sport of reining.”