As the international body governing and setting the standards, the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) has a vital role in the duty of care to the horses that are crucial to the sport of reining. As an organization, they have the power to set and influence the welfare and standards of the humane treatment of horses that is acceptable to the horse community at large.
The NRHA state in writing they can only take action on what is written in the Rule Book (handbook). The 2016 Handbook cites the intent of welfare but is focused on medications only. It does not set out any standards in relation to training and unacceptable practices at events such as jerking reins, excessive spinning and spurring which occur in the warm-up pens as set by the AQHA . There are no statements for prohibited equipment outside the judging arena.
The NRHA Professionals Code Of Ethics Program states it is governed, however, the NRHA Professionals state they do not govern any statements in the Code of Ethics, as they do not appear in the Rule Book.
All protests are heard behind closed doors demanding confidentiality of outcomes. They are assumed to be being heard and judged by their peers and often friends. There is no result announced and no record available of penalties, reprimands or other actions to allow.
The NRHA Must Change and Be Accountable and Transparent in relation to the welfare of reining horses and how trainers operate themselves as NRHA Professionals.
The reining horse and horse community at large have growing concerns for the welfare of the reining horse. The welfare statements and actions of the NRHA are currently not curbing the problems beyond medication control. Their welfare statement is well below the standard of the respected American Quarter Horse Association.
Horses are suffering through excessive spurring, rein jerking, spinning in warm-up pens; an example of what also occurs at home. The show managers, stewards, and marshals are ineffective as there are no constructive and definitive statements in the Rule Book to hold trainers and competitors to account. They goodwill gestures at best and often good friends of those that may well be crossing the line of acceptable animal welfare.
November 14th, 2016: The awareness of this poll is now public and will be shared with tens of thousands of interested people showing a priority need for the NRHA for change. The Poll will remain live until acceptable improvements are made for reining horse welfare and trainers are accountable for their conduct. We have over 2000 votes already showing a desire from Reining Enthusiasts and NRHA members that change is wanted. The comments on our FaceBook page tell stories of why change is needed now.
Click here to take the Poll for Change.