Did the NRHA Abandon Their Welfare Statement?

In March 2016, the NRHA abandoned their welfare statement, and all other statements contained within its Code of Ethics for NRHA Professionals. The program is 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 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. The public using a member’s 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 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 that promotes the image of the Reining horse industry.
  6. When representing the reining horse industry avoid conduct that could 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.

© 2016 ReiningTrainers.com  All Rights Reserved.

17 replies
  1. Dan Waters
    Dan Waters says:

    They don’t care how they treat horses or clients from what I read here. “Conduct my affairs in the sport of reining with integrity, sincerity, and accuracy in an open and forthright manner.” A statement the NRHA should be governed on I say.

  2. Leaving NRHA
    Leaving NRHA says:

    Notice no-one is wanting to put their name on FaceBook comments but hundreds of likes. Scared of retrabution from the almighty NRHA- me included. Great to see someoe putting the truth about this association out in the open. I will not be rejoining next year as its ugly now and horses suffer. I travelled to European show and was disappointed to say least.

  3. Had Enough
    Had Enough says:

    I stopped my membeship with the NRHA after lodging a complaint and being given the run round. They don’t handle them so this does not surprise me. Trainers protecting trainers not horses

  4. Rebecca Jackson
    Rebecca Jackson says:

    As your post says “you judge an association by how they manage their code of ethics”.So true ! I work for a professional association that takes their code seriously and acts on complaints from members and the public. It is our ethics that matter. We work hard to improve our business and it works. I find this disguisting that they have a code and seem to be using to be seen to be doing the right thing with no intention of actually enforcing or acting on it. I have searched their NRHA1 website and they have many ‘romantic’ statements of horses being part of the family but I cannot find anything on where to lodge complaints by the public which is pretty normal. All a bit misleading I say.

  5. Daralyn Davies
    Daralyn Davies says:

    The governing body is responsible for enforcing and taking action against any persons not abiding by the policy. It is their job to ensure all policies are being abided by .. We have the same problem here in Australia .. Funny how when a complaint is made no one wants to know about it .. I feel action will only take place if enough members jump up and down

  6. Susan Rodgers
    Susan Rodgers says:

    I walked away from the reining scene years ago after what I saw in the warm up pens and in the barns. Disgusting!! That was over 10 yrs ago and I still won’t watch it. Those poor horses and what they have to endure for the sake of money. Such an abusive shame. PS: I’ve been defriended many times for what I see and speak of. I hope the NRHA steps up and starts taking care of their animals.

  7. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    The Veterinarians association, doesn’t have any recourse for those that don’t fallow their code, the have a member council that will or upon their decision reach out and council a professional, the State Board refers you to the local association, the state Board can only deal with mal practice dealings. Not ethics or business practices. No different.

    • Animal Welfare
      Animal Welfare says:

      It may depend on the country also. Many countries have veterinarian associations that manage complaints and follow their codes. They have independent boards that manage the complaints and they are graded and handled by specialists when necessary.

  8. KH
    KH says:

    Maybe it’s time for a NEW ASSOCIATION! One that will really CARE ABOUT THE WELFARE OF THE HORSE!!
    Here is a chance to really make a difference and do things right!!!

  9. Rookie Times Infinity
    Rookie Times Infinity says:

    Several shows within the past several years, I have witnessed bloodied sides on horses that were whisked off to the wash racks and then “patched” with some sort of tar. Im not talking the 70s, 80s or 90s either. These particular horses (plural) came out of a consistently winning non pro barn where the main rider has graced the cover of the “Reiner” and many inside pages over the years. I approached several NRHA certified judges and trainers who in summary, told me that nothing could be done in part because of the way the rule was written, in part because it was easiest to turn a blind eye or be ostracized, and in big part to the fact that this person donated loads of money through sponsorship and other to the association. MONEY. It’s not about the horses at all. Sad.

  10. Tired of the reining professionals
    Tired of the reining professionals says:

    It’s all about the trainers. Ever try getting in or out of the futurity or derby?? Trainers rigs are parked all day long and the NRHA allows it. Never have a problem getting in or out of a show like the one in Las Vegas, because the cops there don’t care whose name and logo is on the side. So if they won’t make a trainer move their rig, they probably won’t discipline them for abuse.

  11. Laura Henderson
    Laura Henderson says:

    So I read this article 3 times and still don’t understand what the issue is. How is the addition of the statement “The NRHA does not endorse or recommend any trainer or professional and is not responsible for action or inaction of any trainer or professional.”, abandoning the welfare statement? Of course the association can’t endorse any one professional in that database some of them are not Reining trainers some are coaches in other performance discipline that are required to show Open and have a pro card. So of course the NRHA can’t endorse them as trainers or professionals nor should they. I’m shocked they it took them so long to have that statement up on the page. And I don’t see how that statement “abandons” the welfare statement.

    • Animal Welfare
      Animal Welfare says:

      Laura the article is not limited to one point. Firstly Why suddenly did they make the change? Did someone take them to task on their Code of Ethics. Secondly they state they do not govern – enforce the code of ethics so what is the point of it. It is all just fiction on paper. The NRHA Professionals are not accountable for their conduct in any way. Why are then even asked to sign it? Some conjecture is that it is misleading to the public that the code exists. Please go to the Poll and read the points and we look forward to your vote.

  12. Catina
    Catina says:

    I was into the reining world for a while. Loved loved the sport. But my trainer was same as all of them. My horse was the only one he brought that was not aced before they competed. My horse was the only one not ran in the practice pen for at least and hour before competition. I never got less than 3rd and even beat my trainer in a green horse class. The next day he horse I beat had horrible spur makes all the way up his “shoulders” blood drawn spur marks. My trainer was so mad I beat him. That was the very last show we ever did and my horses came home from that trainer. We left the reining world.

  13. Joy Frannicola
    Joy Frannicola says:

    This is one of the reasons we left NRHA. We’ve dealt with several trainers and only a couple had our horses’ health and our best interests at heart. ANYONE can hang out a shingle and call themselves a “trainer”. Disgraceful. My current trainer does all around, and shows some reining events. My horse has never been treated so well.


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