Working in partnership with the National Reined Cow Horse Association, the National High School Rodeo Association (NHSRA) has approved the addition of reined cow horse as an optional event. Reined cow horse will begin to phase in at NHSRA-sanctioned events this fall, joining the existing lineup of bareback riding, bull riding, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, team roping, and cutting for boys; and breakaway roping, barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying, cutting, team roping, and the queen contest for girls.
The NHSRA board of directors approved the addition of reined cow horse at its meeting in Daniels, W. Va., in January, following a year's worth of meetings and discussion with NRCHA leadership.
"We are happy to welcome the National Reined Cow Horse Association to the ranks of high school rodeo. While reined cow horse might not be a traditional rodeo event, we believe it fits nicely with our ultimate mission of preserving the Western heritage and providing opportunities for our youth members. There's no doubt our members will benefit from developing the horsemanship skills necessary to compete in such an event," said NHSRA Executive Director James Higginbotham.
Both associations acknowledge that reined cow horse will elevate the riding ability of NHSRA members who choose to learn and take part in the event.
"With the grit and skill already required of high school rodeo competitors, we expect NHSRA members to excel at reined cow horse and enjoy the new discipline. Learning our sport will enhance their their horsemanship in a way that will make them better in any judged or timed event," said NRCHA Executive Director Jay Winborn.
As the sport catches on among NHSRA members, Winborn predicts a substantial number will cross over into the NRCHA arena.
"By introducing high school rodeo contestants to the cow horse, we will attract an influx of new youth riders who want to add NRCHA competition to their horseback activities, providing a broader client base for our trainers and an additional market for cow horses," he said.
The NHSRA partnership also provides the NRCHA a broad new audience for its sport. Approximately 12,500 students in 41 states, five Canadian provinces and Australia hold NHSRA memberships, and the association sanctions more than 1,100 rodeos annually. The NHSRA produces the two elite youth rodeo events in the world – The National Junior High Finals Rodeo (NJHFR) and the National High School Finals Rodeo (NHSFR). The NHSFR is the "World's Largest Rodeo," featuring approximately 1,500 contestants from across the U.S., Canada and Australia.
The National Reined Cow Horse Association, the international governing body of reined cow horse competition, was formed in 1949. With approximately 30 affiliate clubs in the U.S. and abroad, the NRCHA works to preserve and protect the traditional horsemanship methods of the California vaquero. The NRCHA produces five major events each year: the Celebration of Champions; Stakes; Hackamore Classic; Derby; and Snaffle Bit Futurity.