FEI’s reining issue: “irreparable differences” between governing bodies

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Individual reining silver medalists Dan Huss and Ms Dreamy.
WEG 2018 individual reining silver medalists Dan Huss and Ms Dreamy. © FEI

The FEI and the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) are still at odds over the governance of reining and the age of competing horses.

The issue was discussed at the FEI’s Board meeting this week, with FEI President Ingmar De Vos noting that the NRHA had a different interpretation of the conditions of a new agreement specifically relating to the age of horses and which party governed them. Without agreement on this principle, which would allow the FEI to have sole governance over Reining horses aged seven years and above, the FEI is in breach of its own Statutes.

The FEI President reminded the FEI Board of discussions and decisions in recent years, namely a session at the FEI Sports Forum 2019 dedicated to the “Future of Reining” followed by another session and vote at the FEI General Assembly 2019 where National Federations voted in favour of maintaining Reining as an FEI discipline if certain conditions could be met.

The FEI Board talked about the governance-related challenges in Reining, specifically with regards to the FEI Statutes and the principle of the FEI as the sole governing body of a discipline.

NRHA President Mike Hancock and NRHA Commissioner Gary Carpenter were invited to join the Board video-conference to clarify their position.

Concerns were also raised by the FEI regarding control mechanisms and logistics around entries at NRHA Reining Events. The NRHA confirmed that they operated differently to the FEI and did not have the same level of scrutiny over the participants and the competitions such as, but not limited to, entries and the status (national or international) of the event deadlines, and that this was a cultural difference that could not be changed.

In light of this fundamental difference in the interpretation of the Agreement, as well as control mechanisms around international competitions, the FEI Board accepted that there were irreparable differences between the two bodies. The Board agreed to defer any decisions on Reining Championship allocations until a decision on next steps for FEI Reining had been confirmed.

The FEI Board decided that a Working Group would be established with the involvement of the FEI Reining Technical Committee, represented at the meeting by Deputy Chair Adam Heaton, to establish the conditions and Key Performance Indicators (KPI) for the FEI to govern Reining independently from the NRHA.

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