Did the NRHA Abandon Their Welfare Statement?

In March 2016, the NRHA abandoned their welfare statement, and all other statements contained within their Code of Ethics for NRHA Professionals. The program designed to govern the standards of reining trainers and a compliance requirement that remained the same since 2011. What caused this major change in their position on the Code of Ethics and regulation of trainers?

Typically, a Code of Ethics sets a standard that both members and the public can rely upon in their dealings with an association and its members. Companies, Not-For-Profits and Associations published codes to provide the public and fellow members with confidence and a recourse if they feel unfairly treated in dealings with a member. A place to hear their concerns independently and fairly.

Many companies and associations are judged by how they respond to their Code of Ethics. Accounting firms, legal firms, realty and other services like veterinarians ask their members to subscribe to their membership and code of ethics/conduct. Public using a members services are invited to lodge complaints where they believe the service provider has failed in their duty of care. But not the case with the NRHA.

NRHA Professionals Card Application & Code of Ethics States:

We, the members of the National Reining Horse Association Professionals in carrying out our role of providing service to the Reining horse industry, recognize the need to do so in a professional manner, and to represent the sport of reining in a professional manner with the highest degree of integrity. Therefore, we have set forth the following code of ethics, which shall govern our endeavors in the industry.

By signing this application, I agree to be bound by the rules of the NRHA Professional Code of Ethics. I understand that in order to participate in this program, I must maintain a continuous individual membership with NRHA. As a member of the NRHA Professionals, I will:

  1. Adhere to the professional standards of the NRHA and work to further its goals and objectives.
  2. Ensure that the welfare of the Reining horse is paramount and that every horse shall at all times be treated humanely and with dignity, respect and compassion.
  3. Conduct my affairs in the sport of reining with integrity, sincerity, and accuracy in an open and forthright manner.
  4. Act with integrity in my dealings with reining clients, other NRHA members, and the public when representing the sport of reining. In this regard, any horse shown by my spouse, client, or child will be economically owned as prescribed by applicable NRHA rules.
  5. Handle my reining horse business in a manner in which promotes the image of the Reining horse industry.
  6. When representing the reining horse industry avoid conduct that could to discredit the NRHA or its membership

NRHA Professionals program has members in some 24 countries across the globe. The public can readily access and are reading the statement on their website application form.

Something happened in March 2016 and they added an extra line to the application form. It says:

The NRHA does not endorse or recommend any trainer or professional and is not responsible for action or inaction of any trainer or professional.

You can view the current copy on their website here.

Furthermore, the NRHA (the owners of the NRHA Professionals Program) are limited in their authority to discipline someone except by the very limited and abstruse rules contained in the NRHA Handbook on non-medication and welfare. In fact, Code of Ethics points 2-3-4-5-6 do not appear anywhere in the NRHA Handbook nor is it even mentioned.

So who governs and ensures the NRHA Professionals abide by their Code Of Ethics at it states should happen?

Members and Reining Enthusiast Public need to really start asking questions about this association. Questions like:

  1. The Code of Ethics implies it expects trainers to abide by rules that affect their behavior away from events in dealings with the public and horses. How are you governing trainers and ensuring they abide by the code?
  2. Why are they asking people to sign the code of ethics if there is no recourse against them? Is this a marketing gimmick to get more people involved?
  3. How would you judge an Association that has a disclaimer of no responsibility on their Code of Ethics and not referenced in their rule book?

What other questions do you think the reining trainers and NRHA should be answering?

Let us know what you think and if anyone knows why they changed their position in March 2016, please let us know.