Reining began as a way to show what the "western" horse could do in the absence of a rope or cow. By the late 1950's Reining had seeded itself in the Midwest. Under the personal influence of Dale Wilkenson (hailed as the father of Reining) of Findlay, OH, this event was fine tuned with style, finesse and elegant horsemanship. It has emerged as the premier western horseshow event.
In 1966, the National Reining Horse Association, also based in Ohio, was formed to promote the sport of Reining to all breeds of horses. The NRHA has since moved to Oklahoma City, OK, and remains today as the governing body of worldwide Reining.
New England owners were anxious to bring their nationally renowned reining horse’s home to compete. New England trainers (Bill Waterman, Tom McDowell, Joe Delano - all who trained under Dale Wilkenson) were anxious to have careers locally as reining trainers. Together they formed a strong association amongst themselves to promote reining in the Northeast.
In 1975, with the support of family, friends and reining enthusiasts new and old, the NERHA was born. In the beginning NERHA used the format of the NRHA, organizing and subsidizing classes at AQHA and other interstate shows. NERHA began midweek "money night" Reining events. Clinics and demonstrations were also offered, open to all interested. Reining classes already existed for the seasoned reiner but there was need to reach a wider group of riders. NERHA used a little yankee ingenuity and, in a bold move, created reining classes for the beginner. Today the vision from the 70's has evolved into the well-received "Rookie" division of the NRHA. By 1979 Reining interest had grown enough to allow the NERHA, with the support of the NEQHA, to add a reining futurity.
During the 1980's Reining grew rapidly and became an industry of its own. One could easily find reining horses, trainers and breeders throughout the Northeast. The NERHA began offering large sums of money to class prizes.
By 1984 the NERHA was still sponsoring reining classes and hosting its own reining show, the Super Slide-In. The Super Slide-In is still the largest Reining event hosted by the NERHA.
As the NERHA evolved, club members unselfishly gave their time and expertise to the promotion of reining. From an NERHA founder, Dave Hodges, came the idea of the NRHA Affiliate Circuit Championships inaugurated in the early 1990's. It continues to be a strong goal for many reiners.
NERHA members continue year after year to receive national honors. Today NERHA can boast to be not only one of the first NRHA affiliates, but one of the largest and most influential. NERHA is strong and growing and our contributions to Reining continue today.