An NRHA Class for Every Level Reiner

Open? Non Pro? Novice? What does all this mean in the reining world?

Folks new to reining, or even those who have seen their share of events, are often confused as to just what these designations mean, but once you understand the system whereby horses and riders are categorized, it becomes much easier to understand.

National Reining Horse Association approved shows offer different classes, based on the horse and rider's earnings, to help level the playing field so that riders at different levels can compete against others whose experience mirrors theirs.

First and foremost, to compete in any approved show, riders and owners must be members of the National Reining Horse Association and any horse being shown must have an NRHA competition license. Any time they show, both the horse and the rider's performance and earnings are recorded to their lifetime record. That record determines the classes for which they are eligible.

At the peak of the class categories is the Open class. Any rider who has a current NRHA membership is allowed to show any licensed horse in this class.

The Intermediate Open classes are open to any rider whose earnings for the last three years total less than $15,000. Any licensed horse is eligible for this class.
The Limited Open class is for any rider who has earned less than $3,000 in NRHA lifetime earnings. Any licensed horse may be shown.

NRHA Non Pro classes are open to any rider holding a Non Pro card on any horse that is owned by that rider or the riders' family. The Non Pro designation is a special category for riders who do not receive compensation for riding or training horses.

Intermediate Non Pro classes are for NRHA Non Pros who have earned less than $6,000 over the last three years. Any licensed horse may be ridden, as long as it meets the ownership requirements.

The Limited Non Pro classes are reserved for Non Pro riders who have earned less than $1,050 over the last three years. Any licensed horse, owned by the rider or the rider's immediate family, may be ridden.

Rookie classes are for NRHA Non Pro riders who have not earned in excess of $100 in Lifetime Earnings at the start of the NRHA competition year.

The newest NRHA Non Pro designation is the Prime Time Non Pro category, for Non Pro riders who are at least 45 years old.

While Open and Non Pro designations are based on the rider's record, Novice Horse terminology refers to the horse's accomplishments. The Novice Horse Open class is restricted to horses that haven't earned more than $3,000 in regular NRHA approved shows. Any NRHA member is qualified to ride in this class.

The Novice Horse Non Pro class is for horses who haven't earned more than $3,000 in regular NRHA approved shows. Only Non Pro riders are eligible to ride. In the Non Pro Novice class, the horse must be owned by the rider or the immediate family of the rider.

The NRHA also has a youth category, broken into the 13 and Under and 14-18 year old categories. NRHA Freestyle Classes, offered for both Open and Non Pro riders, are a huge favorite with crowds. The other designation offered is the Snaffle Bit/Hackamore Class, which refers to the headgear used and offers classes for both Open and Non Pro riders.

"Of course, if a person is unsure about eligibility for themselves or for a horse, the best course of action is to contact the NRHA Show Department," says NRHA Show Department Administrator, Debbie Drinko.

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, contact the NRHA at 405-946-7400 or visit the web site at