The divorce is final: The equestrian sport of reining is no longer affiliated with the FEI, but the door is not completely shut.
Delegates at the Extraordinary General Assembly (EGA) of horse sport’s global governing body voted to remove reining as an FEI Discipline this week.
However, the FEI said it would “support initiatives from National Federations to preserve the FEI Reining legacy”.
The move follows interactions in the past few years between the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) and the FEI, mainly focused on the age of competing horses.
On October 1 the leadership of the NRHA declared that it had made the decision not to move forward with a new FEI agreement, citing “countless impediments throughout the relationship – legal, cultural, structural, and financial in nature”. It said that there were “numerous hurdles over that time, and include recent FEI actions”.
The two bodies had collaborated for more than 20 years.
The NRHA said that although it was announced that the FEI had terminated the original agreement in 2020, a new Memorandum of Understanding between the two organizations was approved by the FEI Board of Directors in June 2021. “The NRHA Board of Directors, Executive Committee, and Task Force members were comfortable with that agreement, which would have created a framework for a limited group of international championships.
“Then, an entirely different agreement was drafted and submitted to NRHA on September 15, 2021.”
NRHA President Rick Clark said the association was “unsure of what led up to this development, and why NRHA was not consulted”.
“At this time, the Executive Committee, with the support of the NRHA Board of Directors, has made the decision to not move forward with a new agreement with FEI.”
NRHA Commissioner Gary Carpenter said the NRHA had worked diligently over the past two years to collaboratively negotiate a new agreement and made it a top priority for the association.
“Through our Executive Committee, Board, FEI Task Force, and staff, we remained fully committed to working closely with the FEI, and were excited for what the future held,” he said.
“Unfortunately, a lack of direct and clear communication from FEI has been one of the biggest hurdles. We have constantly seen the goal post move further out of reach, to the point where a relationship is no longer feasible or beneficial to our members.”
Both Clark and Carpenter noted there was no ill will towards the FEI, its leadership, staff, and members. “We are thankful for everything the FEI has done for reining and the reining horse over the years, and proud that reining was able to contribute excitement in the form of an alternative discipline in the FEI World Equestrian Games.
“We hope that in the future we may be able to work together in some capacity,” Clark said.