Oklahoma City, Oklahoma - Thursday, February 07, 2002 - The first-ever National Reining Horse Association European Championship Show has been scheduled for July 4-7, 2002 in Bolzano, Italy.
According to NRHA Executive Director Dan Wall, the details for the European Championships were finalized in late January by the NRHA's International Affiliate Subcommittee.
For Wall, the creation of the NRHA European Championship represents the first step in creating a true, worldwide reining community and the solution to a problem that has existed for years. Wall became aware of the situation when he attended the German Breeders Futurity a few years back.
He remembers, "I watched Francesco Arrighi ride a Hollywood Dun It son to win the reining and earn over $12,000. Since it wasn’t an NRHA approved show, those earnings would not be recorded on the horse's official NRHA Lifetime Earnings, the rider's earnings or on Hollywood Dun It's sire record."
Although there is a significant amount of big-money reining activity, nowhere in Europe has there been a composite record for horses and riders. A horse could have earnings in the German association or the Italian association or both. There was no connectivity between countries or with the NRHA, so horses and riders had no official documentation of their lifetime earnings.
"Although the autonomy helped to retain countries' identities, it made it more difficult to market horses outside their home country," explained Wall. "With the growing strength of the European breeding industry, this was becoming a handicap."
When the issue was first addressed at the initial meeting with the European Reining Associations hosted by the German Reining Horse Association, two options for a solution were discussed. Either the NRHA could become involved or a similar entity had to be formed in Europe.
Dave Young, representing the Dutch Reining Horse Association, summed up the feelings of the group. He explained, "The more we looked at it, the more it made sense to bring those countries and their programs into the NRHA. Already in place and ready for their use were the NRHA staff and office, official rules, eligibility lists, the judges education and certification program, and the computerized record-keeping capabilities."
In meetings that continued to pursue the idea, the European associations asked for certain concessions from the NRHA and one of the first requests was for the European Championship Show. Others were web links to the European affiliates to stay in touch through the NRHA web site. The European associations also requested the establishment of an International Committee and that was accomplished during a December 1st meeting held during the 2001 NRHA Futurity. The International Committee is chaired by Dave Young of The Netherlands. First Vice Chairman is Nick Cornelissens of Belgium and the Second Vice Chairman is Bill Archer.
Finally, the European contingent wanted the ability to separate earnings - in other words, to be able to track Belgium earnings, for example, along with the overall NRHA earnings. All the requests were met by the NRHA.
With the European Championship scheduled, a committee was created to develop the framework and conditions for the NRHA European Championship Show. On the committee are Dan Wall, Giancarlo Doardo (Italy), Nick Cornelissens (Belgium), Eric LaPorte (France), Marco Stors (Luxemburg) and Dave Young (Netherlands).
The European Championships will be a modified version of the hugely successful NRHA Affiliate program held stateside with some changes to fit the European theater. Any NRHA show approved in Europe will qualify exhibitors who are NRHA members to come to the finals. Unlike the United States system, though, where riders can qualify to represent multiple affiliates, points earned in any country count toward the riders home country standings. The only qualification is that riders must attend two shows in their home country to be eligible. For 2002, the qualifying period ends May 31.
Five riders per class from each country will qualify and represent their country as individuals and teams in open, limited open, non pro, limited non pro, rookie and youth competition. Team placings will be based on the top three scores from the five qualified team members.
Wall thinks the event will give European countries a stronger incentive to have their shows approved and provide opportunities for European owners and riders as their points not only qualify them for the European Championship, but also give them an opportunity to earn NRHA Year End Top Ten awards. He believes it is the first step toward creating a world-wide record system for the reining industry.
And the European contingency will become an integral part of the NRHA. Wall explains, "The NRHA International Committee, which consists of two delegates per country, gives them a role in governance of the sport in that the International committee will have NRHA Board Representation. This is really gaining momentum. We hope to see continued growth worldwide and to give the European reining community a voice in molding the future of the sport of reining."
He stresses that each country's autonomy will be retained. "We're doing this in order to make each individual country stronger - not to do away with a country's organization or futurities."
Giancarlo Doardo will manage the European Championship show at the Bolzano, Italy facility that features a 2,000 seat covered show arena and covered warm-up arena. Doardo's The Equestrian Association Management (TEAM) produced the 2000 AQHA Youth World Cup and other highly successful events.
The National Reining Horse Association is the governing body of the sport of reining, responsible for promoting the sport, working to insure the highest standards of competition and educating its members and the public about reining. For information on the National Reining Horse Association, call 405-946-7400 or visit the NRHA Official Web Site at www.nrha.com.