Decisions about host countries for the 2022 world and other FEI reining championships have been shelved due to the FEI’s “irreparable differences” with the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA).

Last year, reining was reprieved from being axed as an FEI sport when it was announced on the eve of the FEI General Assembly that FEI and NRHA were close to a reaching a new co-operation agreement . But the two bodies are interpreting the agreement very differently, especially over age categories for horses.

During its three-day videoconference (June 23-25), the FEI Board was briefed on the governance-related challenges and the principle of the FEI being the sole governing body of a discipline. To date, the latter has been impossible to apply with reining – making the FEI potentially in breach of its own Statutes – because of the NRHA’s dominant role decades before the FEI adopted reining. Reining became the only FEI sport where an external governing body co-existed and cooperated by legal agreement. FEI reining has just a few hundred registered riders worldwide; NRHA has 15,000.

NRHA president Mike Hancock and commissioner Gary Carpenter confirmed that NRHA operated differently to the FEI and did not have the same level of scrutiny over participants and competitions such as, but not limited to, entries and the status (national or international) of the event deadlines. These cultural differences could not be changed.

The FEI Board accepted there were irreparable differences and deferred any decisions on reining championship allocations until next steps for FEI Reining had been confirmed. A new working group will establish conditions and key performance indicators for the FEI to govern reining independently.

The FEI 2020 World Reining Championship in Switzerland has already been cancelled because of COVID-19. The 2022 world championship venue should have been decided at this meeting, but is now on hold. The bidders are Scottsdale, Arizona; Verona, Italy; and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.