The Northeast Reining Horse Association (NERHA) held their largest annual reining horse show, called the Northeast Super Slide-In, on Aug. 24-27 at the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, MA.
Each year the four-day show offers a variety of classes and several divisions of competition which allows riders and horses of all ages and skill levels to compete. More experienced reiners use the event to compete for cash prizes and year end points awards while green reiners use it to gain valuable experience.
Show Secretary Cathy Nevitt says this is the fifth year in a row that the show has taken place in West Springfield after being held in Northampton, MA for a long time. To help continue the show’s success in the current location the NEHRA offered was an extra slate of classes this year, which gave some exhibitors an extra incentive to make the trip and participate.
“At this show we have three full slates of classes,” Nevitt said. “Usually it’s just two. It’s a little cheaper for some people because they only have to travel once to take part in what is essentially three shows.”
Nevitt says there were a total of 100 horses registered for this year’s show. A majority of those were American Quarter Horses but there were some American Paint Horses as well. There were a total of 50 riders to go along with those horses. Some riders were as young as eight years old and others were in their 60s.
While most exhibitors came from the surrounding New England states there were some that traveled from much further away. Nevitt says riders are motivated to take part in Northeast Super Slide-In for many different reasons.
“We have seven ladies who come out from Morrisville College in New York to do a lot of the green reiner classes,” Nevitt said. “We have two people here from Palm Beach Garden in Florida. These two have been up here in the Northeast for quite a while competing in different horse shows. They are actually competing for the world titles.”
Nevitt says the top performers in open, non-pro, novice and novice horse classes earned cash purses of up to $1,000. Riders competing for year end point awards receive shiny gold colored belt buckles during next year’s Spring Spin show in April.
“Everybody gets a cash prize except certain club classes,” Nevitt said. “It’s broken down by percentages and how many people are in a class. Our club gets the money from fundraisers and sponsors.”
The first two days of this year’s show consisted of a variety of amateur and professional reining classes. During these classes participants are required to run one of 13 association approved patterns. Each pattern includes small circles, large fast circles, flying lead changes, roll backs over the hocks, 360 degree spins done in place and exciting sliding stops that are the hallmark of reining horse competitions. Judges look at a combination of technical and stylistic elements coupled with the degree of difficulty.
In a continuing effort to draw a wider group of riders the NERHA once again included two ranch horse pleasure classes. The idea, which was taken from American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) shows and introduced for the first time last year, consists of riding patterns that are different and less intense than the regular reining patterns.
“There were six ranch horse owners out of Maine who used to be reiners so they asked us about including it,” Nevitt said. “We tried it and it worked out pretty good last year so we’re doing it again. In all we had 28 people take part in it just for a change of pace. It’s a fun class for a lot of people. It allows them to unwind.”
The NERHA added some fun events to the third day of the show. First there was a longest slide contest in which riders and their horses competed to see who could make the largest single sliding stop. The horses taking part in the contest did not have to be owned by the rider and the same horse or rider was allowed to enter the contest as many times as they chose. Participants paid $25 per slide attempt with the winner taking home $500.
A second fun event that included horses was the fastest spin contest. Using a radar gun judges clocked the time that it took for a rider to turn their horse 360 degrees from a standstill position on stationary hind legs. Each spin attempt counted as one entry and once again the same horse or rider were allowed to enter the contest as many times as they chose.
The NERHA also held an intriguing raffle at this year’s show. For $100 per ticket exhibitors had an opportunity to win frozen semen belonging to a Smart Chick Olena sire.
Nevitt says other activities included an exhibitor dog race, exhibitor obstacle course race and a pizza party.
“It’s just something different other than riding a horse,” Nevitt said. “It allows our exhibitors to relax and have a little fun.”
Offering fun activities to club members and exhibitors is one way that the NERHA has been able to evolve and get new members over the years. The club was founded in 1975 with a mission to promote and encourage development, participation and public interest in the sport of reining in the Northeast. The NERHA is also one of the first, largest and most influential affiliates of the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA).
Heather Powell, who is an NRHA board member and horse show judge, says despite the fact that the NERHA has grown and evolves over the years to accommodate a wider group of riders, the sport of reining is currently staying stable. She says the main reason that there is not much growth happening right now has to do with cost.
According to Powell the biggest expense is the initial purchase price of a horse. Horses of a high pedigree are especially pricey. Powell says novice riders who are on a shoestring budget and have time to work with their animal may want to look into purchasing older non-pro reining horses.
“They are usually older but well broke, which makes them good enough for a novice rider. They just require more work,” Powell said.
Hiring a trainer and transporting horses are the other two big expenses associated with showing. Powell says the two go hand in hand sometimes because the trainer can do both. Price ranges can vary on trainers so it is up to the horse owner to find one that fits their budget.
For more information about the NERHA visit their website at www.nerha.com.