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Spinning In The Rein


By Allison A. Rehnborg; photos by Ryan Rehnborg

It poured cats and dogs in Murfreesboro, Tenn., during the first weekend in May, but that didn’t stop a group of dedicated reiners from plying their trade at the Tennessee Reining Horse Association’s annual spring show. There were over five hundred entries and more than fifty classes at the Spinning in the Rein show that took place at the Tennessee Miller Coliseum, May 2-5. Despite the downpour, spirits remained high among exhibitors, trainers and supporters alike.

 “We are having a great time,” Barbara Brookshire, show manager and president of the TNRHA, said on the last day of the show. “Our association is filled with super-nice, supportive people, and that’s the best thing about this show atmosphere. You go in there, go all out, have the best ride you can, and then stand on the side of the arena and cheer for everyone else, whether you know them or not. That’s reining. That’s the atmosphere.” 

Jennifer Smith Browne, a green reiner from Stuart, Florida, has been showing with TNRHA for about four years. For her, the camaraderie among the reiners is one of the main attractions of the circuit.

 “I love coming to these shows,” Jennifer said. “Even if you’re not with a group, the people are nice, they want to help you, and everyone wants you to succeed.”

While classes ranged from youth to novice to green reiner and rider, one of the highlights of the weekend involved the TNRHA Volunteer Breeders’ Classic/Spinning in the Rein Derby, which took place on Saturday night. As a special reining event for four year old horses, the derby had two sections. The Volunteer Breeders’ Classic featured only the four-year-old get of VBC-subscribed stallions, while the Spinning in the Rein section featured any four-year-old horses.

The TNRHA Volunteer Breeders’ Classic is a stallion auction program that got its start in 2004. Every year in October, TNRHA coordinates an online stallion auction. Stallion owners can donate breedings to their stallions to be sold in the auction. The subsequent offspring are then eligible to compete in four-, five-, and six-year-old VBC reining derbies.

 “We use an online auction with,” Barbara explained. “They work with us, and it’s just great. You bid online, and it’s really simple, so much easier than a silent auction or live auction. A percentage of the proceeds goes to for commission, and then the rest of the proceeds are used to fund the purses for the VBC competitions.”

The derbies at this year’s show only featured thirteen horses at varying levels of competition, but nearly $13,000 in prizes was awarded to the top rides. The rules of the competition were simple.

 “Each horse runs a pattern,” Barbara said. “We have two judges, and they score the runs. Then high score takes the candy. It was small last night, but this is our first one. We’re looking a lot towards growth.”

Judges for the show included NRHA-sanctioned judges Chele McGauley, from Mississippi, and Margaret Fuchs from Ohio. Additional vital show support included NRHA representative Landon Backus and unofficial “co-manager” Rick Walker.

“The show could not function without Rick Walker,” Barbara said. “He’s responsible for the dirt, helps work on schedules, and he’s just a big help.”

Other significant events at the show included fundraisers for the youth reining association’s scholarship fund, including a chili cook-off and a barnyard sale. Overall, the youth association raised more than $1,500.

 “I hope to do a few more fundraisers [like this one],” Samantha Knight, president of the youth association, said. “If we can raise that much money at one show, I’d like to see what we can do in a few shows. “

While guidelines and requirements for the distribution of the scholarship funds are still pending, Samantha has high hopes that future youth presidents will continue hosting fundraisers for the funds.

“I’m starting college this year,” Samantha explained. “And I was looking for scholarships all over the place. TNRHA doesn’t offer one, so I thought it’d be nice to start one because I know what it’s like to look for money.”

TNRHA’s next show will take place at the Stafford Expo Center in Harriman, Tenn., June 7-9. For more information, check out

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