On November 19, 2018, Sabrina Ibanez, secretary general for the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), notified the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) and American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) via email that its 2014 Cooperation Agreement was officially terminated by the FEI. The letter of termination came after several months of discussions over specific age classes, FEI stewarding requirements and medication regulations in regards to the sport of reining.

According to an official statement put out by NRHA on November 20, NRHA leaders offered to travel to the FEI office in January to negotiate a continued relationship but FEI officials declined the opportunity.

One of the biggest changes to reining classes the FEI was requiring would be to make all NRHA reining classes for horses seven years and older be FEI-approved, run under FEI rules and be held in accordance with the respective National Federation.

NRHA vice president Mike Hancock stated, “After discussions with show management teams, we discovered how complex and expensive this would be for them. In the end, we felt it would be more detrimental to the growth of older horse competition to move forward with this concept. However, we are hopeful to discuss other opportunities for future growth and mutual benefit with FEI.”

The AQHA posted a statement on November 19 which reported on the notification of termination and commented on how the AQHA felt it was not necessary. AQHA reported that the letter stated that the association was in breach of the 2014 agreement in terms of age divisions, reciprocity and steward/drug regulations. “AQHA does not feel it has breached the terms of the agreement and welcomes continued dialog with FEI,” the press release stated.

The association went on to explain that “AQHA’s regulations and practices, in particular those associated with stewards and drug testing, are consistent with and meet such requirements. Simply put, our top priority as an association of horsemen is the health and welfare of our sport and of this great animal.”

NRHA also explained that is has established its own rules and guidelines in terms of stewarding and drug testing. “The safety and well-being of reining horses is the utmost priority for NRHA, and it will continue to take appropriate measure to maintain and enforce those rules, including its own set of medications rules and penalties.”

Reining was first recognized as a sport by AQHA in 1949. The NRHA was founded in 1966 and reining became an official FEI discipline in 2000.

The Equiery wants to know how these FEI changes affect Marylanders who participate in reining. Please send your thoughts and comments to editor@equiery.com.