Tag Archives: North American Riders Group

NARG Releases Sport Report: 2020 Winter Venues

May 21, 2020 – When the North American Riders Group last sent a release about plans for the return of the NARG Top 25, the terms COVID-19 pandemic, shelter-in-place order, social distancing, and face masks were not common in our daily vocabulary. As we dealt with the challenges of a global issue on an international horse show level, and rearranged our schedules to stay at home until competition begins again, NARG decided to issue a Sport Report focusing on the Winter Venues.

NARG Top 25 work began last fall when we revisited the evaluation form, and reached out to managers, riders, and owners to get feedback. As a result, and to level the playing field, the evaluations include subjective scoring, plus NARG research and points awarded via a questionnaire answered by management.

In North America, the competition year kicked off with a winter season comprised of 21 CSI 3*, 4*, and 5* events over an 11-week period, leading directly into a busy spring season that had 12 more events of this caliber plus a Longines FEI World Cup™ Final that were to be complete by the end of May.

By the time that mid-March hit and shows were canceled, 19 shows over nine weeks at eight venues throughout North America were in the books and evaluations well underway. These events and the venues that hosted them are the focus of this first edition of the NARG Sport Report.


The sport of show jumping has evolved in the decade since we gave a voice to the riders, owners, and trainers in North America. The number of FEI events offered has more than doubled, but more importantly the star-ratings went up. For example, in 2010 there were four CSI5* events on the calendar, with three of them in summer or fall in Calgary; in 2020, there were 20 CSI5* events on the calendar, with eight (40%) scheduled in Wellington, Mexico City, and Miami, before the Canadian season even commenced.  Of course, these are pre COVID-19, but illustrate the point of how North America has stepped up in this regard.

In the four years and three months since we last released a report, new events, organizers, tours, and facilities have come on the scene, and we commend all of their efforts. We are truly sorry for those events that canceled since mid-March, as the loss is felt on so many fronts.


We were all set to have a busy year, from the NARG Top 25 perspective, focusing only on CSI 3*, 4*, and 5* events, there were 74 events and one Final to focus on. With this global change that halted the end of the winter season and obliterated the spring season, we all took a deep breath and considered what we had accomplished this winter.

Up from four events in 2010, eleven in 2015, Mexico had 22 FEI CSI 2*-5* events on their calendar. Six of those offered top competition at three impressive venues this winter.

The winter season is certainly important to the sport of show jumping in North America and worthy of its own report. Since the events are produced in two countries, at eight different venues by six managements, each week was evaluated multiple times and we averaged the scores by venue.

Although the evaluation form was updated for 2020, interestingly the highest scoring venue was within a percentage point of the top score earned by Spruce Meadows in 2015. The eight venues were separated by less than 14 percentage points, and the lowest scoring venue is certainly not ‘the bottom’ as the score would have not only made the top 25 in 2015, but securely in the middle of the list.  We also noticed that had we continued through the full year of 75 events we would have been splitting hairs with scores.

Of course, there are many events that would certainly have been recognized in the NARG Top 25 this year that we regrettably won’t be evaluating this season, including some of the top over many years, Thunderbird’s May events and the aforementioned Spruce Meadows, to name just two. NARG looks forward to the return of these as well as the GCT, Split Rock Jumping Tour, Tryon, and others to the North American calendar.

One final note – NARG is aware that our sport goes beyond FEI Jumping; that there are young horse programs, jumper development programs, as well as high performance hunter and equitation events and programs. Currently our focus is on high level show jumpers. We intend to expand that over time.

Wishing all riders, owners, trainers, organizers, and the wide net of those who help make this sport what it is, as well as all their horses, good health.  NARG presents the Sport Report: 2020 Winter Venues.

NARG Is Back with Full Agenda, New Board Members, Renewed Position, Return of NARG Top 25

Wellington, FL – June 4, 2019 – The North American Riders Group (NARG) is back on the show jumping scene with renewed intensity representing riders, owners, trainers, and their horses with a keen focus on improving our sport at a global level. After three meetings in 2019, the NARG Board has elected new members, submitted an updated position statement to the IJRC, and approved a proposal for the return of the NARG Top 25.

Who Is on Board?

After the first two meetings of 2019 in February and April, where several agenda items were discussed, the NARG Board agreed on a new Treasurer and invited three new members to join. Upon consent of all involved, the 2019 Officers and Board of Directors are: Mark Leone (USA)/President, Tiffany Foster (CAN)/Vice President, Lauren Hough (USA)/Treasurer, and Board: Kent Farrington (USA), Jimmy Torano (USA), Mark Samuel (CAN), Missy Clark (USA), Will Simpson (USA), Enrique Gonzalez (MEX), Andrew Welles (USA), Ben Asselin (CAN), and Eugenia Garza (MEX). Jennifer Markee remains as Executive Director.

NARG is grateful to all past Board Members whose contributions have given the organization the fundamentals needed to continue to serve the needs of the membership and represent North American riders, owners, and trainers. With a renewed sense of commitment and energy, NARG welcomes the three new board members.

Advocating for the Sport with an Updated Position Statement

Also on the agenda for the February meeting and a follow up meeting in April was updating and reinstating the NARG Position Statement to the International Jumping Riders Club (IJRC). This includes key topics that are significantly important to the sport of show jumping today and in the future. The four page statement addressed the Blood Rule with solutions for revision in approach and rulings; adjusting the allocation of FEI Ranking Points for the AAA Category as well as the Nations Cup Final; the escalating costs of competing at FEI events in North America, particularly 2* shows; and the potential implementation of an FEI Course Designer Certificate of Capability.

The Return of the NARG Top 25

After a five-year break, NARG is pleased to announce the return of the NARG Top 25 in 2020. Taking this year to analyze six years of past reports, study the current show jumping landscape in North America, revamp the evaluation system, NARG web site and communication systems, discuss presentation methods and reach out for feedback from an evaluation panel in the sport, NARG will be well-prepared to present the next generation of the NARG Top 25. EqSol returns as not only producer of the NARG Top 25 report, as they were from 2010-2015, but the niche agency has agreed to take on the vision and mission of the entire project from concept to completion.

With a ton of potential, the broad plan for the NARG Top 25 is slated to have a tremendously positive impact on our sport, athletes, and horses.

The energy behind these efforts is palpable. Together we will once again improve our sport. Want to participate? Have ideas? Contact Jen Markee at 516-428-4423.

Media Contact: Lenore Phillips
561-753-3389 | lrb@phelpsmediagroup.com

WIHS Jumps to #7 in NARG Top 25 Rankings

Harrie Smolders and Emerald on their way to a win in the $125,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Washington for the President’s Cup. © Shawn McMillen Photography.

Washington, D.C. – February 26, 2016 – The Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) made another major jump in the standings in the North American Riders’ Group’s (NARG) yearly report of the top 25 horse shows in North America. A consistent presence in the NARG Top 25 since the report was created in 2012, WIHS is now the seventh-ranked horse show in North America, moving up an impressive seven places from last year.

NARG evaluations focus on the quality of the experience for competitors, including footing, stabling, and course design as well as the experience for spectators, such as hospitality, pace, marketing, and in-arena experience.

“WIHS wrapped its 57th year with one of the most successful events in its long history and, in the process, jumped from fourteenth to seventh in the rankings,” stated NARG. “This first-class venue has a unique atmosphere and an air of importance second to none. Organizers put in 150% to produce a celebratory week of equestrians at this nation’s capital, with great ceremony and abundant press coverage. The downtown D.C. neighborhood around the Verizon Center transforms into a festival of horses, drawing more than 26,000 fans.”

The report continued on to say, “Despite its space limitations, the downtown Washington location creates a magical experience for all participants. To compete at WIHS is worth some big city sacrifices, and since we began the NARG Top 25 many aspects have improved. Kudos to the management team, the sponsors, and to the city of Washington, D.C. for its ongoing assistance in managing the complex logistics of this extraordinary event.”

“The Washington International Horse Show is honored to be recognized as one of the best events in North America,” said WIHS President Victoria Lowell. “This event has a lot of history, but we are continuously working to improve the experience for competitors and spectators alike. The broad visibility of the show brings equestrian competition to a whole new audience and it is important to attract the best riders and horses in the world.”

For WIHS Show Manager David Distler, refining the logistics of the show each year is very important. “There are constraints of hosting a horse show in a busy downtown district, but everyone at WIHS is committed to making the show as safe, convenient and fun as possible for all exhibitors,” said Distler. “This year we addressed footing issues and improved stabling. Given the restrictions, we do everything we can to make the show run smoothly and to give the horses and riders a great experience. We will continue to do everything we can to keep advancing, and we are extremely happy with our significant move up the NARG standings.”

The Washington International Horse Show has been a treasure on the North American calendar for 58 years, and celebrates its tradition and history while continuing to grow and exceed expectations each year. A goal of WIHS organizers every season is to appeal to a larger fan base and bring new spectators to the sport by providing exciting and innovative sporting entertainment. Among its advances, WIHS worked with SAP this year to develop an app that allowed the audience to judge the WIHS Equitation Finals along with the officials, bringing WIHS to the forefront of entertainment technology in the sport. The opportunity to earn points to qualify for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Finals, plus large prizes, also drew more international riders in 2015.

The 58th annual Washington International Horse Show returns October 25-30, 2016, to Verizon Center in downtown Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit www.wihs.org.

For more information about the North American Riders Group, please visit www.narg.org. To read the complete NARG Top 25 of 2015 report, please visit http://www.narg.org/news/NARG-Top-25-of-2015-web.pdf.

About Washington International Horse Show, www.wihs.org

Established in 1958, the Washington International Horse Show is one of the oldest and most prestigious equestrian sporting events in the U.S. More than 26,000 spectators attend the six-day show, which includes Olympic-level competition along with community and charity events. More than 500 top horses and riders come to D.C. from all over the globe to jump for more than a half a million dollars in prize money. Highlights include $125,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Washington, the President’s Cup Grand Prix, presented by Events DC, (Saturday night), The Boeing Company Puissance high jump competition on Military Night (Friday) and Kids’ Day (Saturday), a free, fun and educational community event. The Washington International Horse Show Association, Ltd. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. WIHS is an official USEF Heritage Competition and is currently ranked #7 in the Top 25 Horse Shows by the North American Riders Group. WIHS is rated CSI4*-W by the Fédération Equestre Internationale, the world governing body for horse sports.

Royal Horse Show Voted Top Indoor Event by North American Riders Group

Photo by Ben Radvanyi Photography.

Wellington, Florida – Toronto’s Royal Horse Show was ranked number one indoor horse show and top three overall when the North American Riders Group’s ‘Top 25 of 2015’ was revealed at its annual meeting on February 23 in Wellington, FL.

Used as a benchmark for competitions across the continent, the North American Riders Group’s (NARG) annual ranking employs a wide variety of criteria to assess show jumping events. Footing, Stabling, Jumps and Courses, Technical Aspects, Financial Aspects, Ceremony, and Marketing are all categories taken into consideration by independent evaluators.

Ranked number five in 2014, the Royal Horse Show has jumped up two placings for a spot in the top three against all shows in North America. Canadian events swept the top three with Spruce Meadows in Calgary, AB, once again earning the number one spot followed by Thunderbird Show Park in Langley, BC. In addition to being the number three event overall, the Royal Horse Show maintained its position as the best indoor event in North America.

“Now in its 93rd year, the staff knows how to put on an entertaining show that appeals to the public,” read the NARG ‘Top 25 of 2015’ report on the Royal Horse Show, entitled ‘Fit for a King’. “Hundreds of thousands of spectators flock to The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair each year and the Royal Horse Show, the highlight of the Fair, can be assured of sell-out crowds and a super-charged feel, creating an extraordinary atmosphere for top sport. As the top indoor event in North America in 2015, The Royal is truly an event fit for big prize money and show jumping royalty.”

The 2015 Royal Horse Show saw the debut of the $132,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Toronto, won by two-time Olympic team gold medalist McLain Ward of the United States riding HH Azur for Double H Farm. 2002 World Champion Dermott Lennon of Ireland and Loughview Lou Lou finished second while 2015 Pan American Games contender Roberto Teran of Colombia placed third riding Woklahoma, underscoring the international caliber of competitors drawn to the annual Royal Horse Show. The Royal was one of only four Canadian events to be selected for the newly-formed Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League, a qualifying event for the 2016 Longines FEI World Cup™ Final to be held in March in Gothenburg, Sweden.

“We are thrilled to retain our number one ranking as the premier indoor horse show in North America and proud to be recognized as the number three event overall by the North American Riders Group,” said Charlie Johnstone, CEO of The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. “Thanks to our committees, volunteers, sponsors and fans whose continued support help make the Royal Horse Show a world-class event.”

For more information on the Royal Horse Show, the marquee event of The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, please visit http://www.royalfair.org/horse-show.

About The Royal
The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair is the world’s largest combined indoor agricultural and equestrian show. This year, the 94th Royal Agricultural Winter Fair runs November 4-13, 2016, at Exhibition Place in the heart of downtown Toronto. For competition schedules, live webcasting, results and to purchase tickets, please visit www.royalfair.org.

Contact: Jennifer Ward
Jump Media
Cell: (613) 292-5439

The Second Annual NARG Riders’ Grant — Congratulations to…

Anita Mont and Fly Light – by Alison Hartwell.

Wellington, FL – February 4, 2014 – Now in its third year, the NARG Riders’ Grant is designed to afford an emerging rider, dedicated to the sport of show jumping, an opportunity to achieve levels they would otherwise not be able to attain without a boost. The grant provides the winner with $15,000 USD for expenses within North America approved by the NARG Board.

The North American Riders Group congratulates 21-year-old Anita Mont of Wisconsin as the recipient of the 2014 NARG Riders’ Grant.

Mont’s history began like many young girls. “Even though no one in my family rode, I have always had a love for horses. As a child, I didn’t play with dolls. I preferred horses. I constantly begged my parents for riding lessons. When I was 5 years old, my mother found a coupon in the newspaper for lessons at a local stable. I was hooked at the first lesson and I knew from the very beginning that I wanted to jump…”

Among her accomplishments over the years, Mont took a three-year-old pony with 30 days under saddle all the way to Pony Finals as well as tenaciously working with a difficult mare and qualifying her for Junior Hunter Finals. Now as a professional, Mont is training and campaigning a young jumper and bringing along two homebred yearlings.

Developing horses, catch riding and working with a variety of experts to hone her skills from care to training and sales to competing, Mont is ceaseless in her desire to learn. Branching out from her Wisconsin roots, she has worked with and for trainers in Minnesota, Kentucky, New Jersey and Illinois, including six months as a working student for Chris Kappler Inc. from October 2011 to April 2012.

Anita Mont and Blizzerd - by Shawn McMillen
Anita Mont and Blizzerd – by Shawn McMillen

After years of devotion to every aspect of being an equestrian, Mont’s parents were well aware that their daughter had an enduring passion and was willing to put in the work to achieve her goals. With this in mind, they purchased a 20-stall barn in Mukwonago, Wisconsin, to help her establish a breeding and training business. Mont took on a lion’s share of the responsibilities of farm management, while continuing to further her education in the saddle. When Mont decided to turn professional, her parents offered her full ownership of the training business, aptly named Dare to Dream Farm, LLC.

When asked how she would utilize the grant money, Mont explained the essence of a young professional’s path, one that indicates the pursuit of the dream. “While showing is important, I feel training is the key to success. The grant money will allow me to obtain much more valuable training than I could otherwise afford. Since coming to Florida this winter, I have already reached out to some trainers and recently started working with Anne Kursinski. I will also be able to compete at WEF more than my original tight budget would’ve allowed. There is no doubt that I will work hard to make the most of the NARG Riders’ Grant.”

NARG, and the grant recipients, are extremely grateful to the Southern-Heathcott family who make this grant possible.

About the North American Riders Group – NARG
The North American Riders Group, NARG, remains steadfast in achieving an essential goal – improving our sport so that once again show jumping in North America will rank among the greatest in the world. It takes teamwork to achieve a goal of this magnitude. Representing the riders, trainers and owners in North America, NARG takes the necessary steps to work openly with show organizers, governing bodies and associations, as collectively we all make up the team that must evolve with the times to see this come to fruition.

With your participation, NARG’s voice becomes incrementally stronger and clearer. To bring change we must be able to speak with a singular voice. Join us. Visit www.narg.org or call 561.386.4525 for more details.

Alltech National Horse Show Is Again One of NARG’s Top Ranked American Events

©2012 Shawn McMillen Photography. McLain Ward and Antares F captured last year's $250,000 Alltech Grand Prix

Lexington, KY – February 11, 2013 – The second year production of the Alltech National Horse Show at the Kentucky Horse Park once again received a top ranking from NARG, the North American Riders Group. The show was staged at the beautiful Alltech Arena on October 31 through November 4, 2012.

The North American Riders Group (NARG), representing the riders and owners in North America, is comprised of the top horsemen from the United States, Canada and Mexico and was formed with the goal of improving the sport of show jumping. The NARG Top 25 initiative is a prime example. NARG, in their report, stated, “This effort has created a mirror in which top equestrian events can reflect on what is important to us, how to improve and whether they truly seek to be a Top 25 event. And this year is proof that those who aspire to be great are willing to look, listen and improve.”

The Alltech National Horse Show was one of those events that listened and accordingly, improved on their score from last year. “We take the NARG rankings very seriously,” said Mason Phelps, Jr., the President of the National Horse Show Association. “There were a number of items that last year’s report brought to our attention and our manager Hugh Kincannon and the entire Alltech National Horse Show team worked diligently to improve in those areas.”

Continue reading Alltech National Horse Show Is Again One of NARG’s Top Ranked American Events

Live Oak International Top Three on NARG Specialty Event List

Rodrigo Pessoa of Brazil competed in the inaugural CSI2* Live Oak International. Photo by PicsOfYou.com

Wellington, Florida – In its inaugural year, CSI2* Live Oak International in Ocala, FL, was ranked one of the top three ‘Specialty Events’ in North America by the North American Riders Group (NARG).  The second annual CSI2* Live Oak International for show jumping takes place from March 20 to 24, 2013, running concurrently with the long-standing CAI-B driving event.

While the NARG’s annual ‘Top 25’ list has become a means of recognizing the top show jumping competitions in North America, this year, a new category for specialty events was introduced.  Designed to recognize stand-alone events, usually held for a shorter period and focusing on top level competition, the ‘Specialty Event’ category was created to give special recognition to those quality events that run outside of the typical horse show formula.

Despite having only been held once, Live Oak International was ranked third on the ‘Specialty Event’ list behind the New Albany Classic and Family Day in New Albany, OH, and the American Invitational in Tampa, FL, which is now in its 40th year.

Continue reading Live Oak International Top Three on NARG Specialty Event List

Alltech National Horse Show Is NARG’s Top Ranked American Event for 2011

February 1, 2012 – The Alltech National Horse Show, following its debut at the Kentucky Horse Park last November, on Tuesday evening was awarded the North American Riders Group’s highest ranking for any American horse show.

The North American Riders Group (NARG), representing the riders and owners in North America, is comprised of the top horsemen from the United States, Canada and Mexico and was formed with the goal of improving the sport of show jumping. In their presentation of the NARG Top 25 Horse Shows of 2011, they stated, “The North American Riders Group remains steadfast in achieving an essential goal-improving our sport so that once again show jumping in North America will rank among the greatest in the world.”

Their report said, “After overwhelmingly positive results from our 2010 Top 25 report, NARG and a host of volunteers once again spent hundreds of hours to numerically evaluate 50 of the top horse shows in North America.”

Continue reading Alltech National Horse Show Is NARG’s Top Ranked American Event for 2011

The Inaugural NARG Riders’ Grant Awarded to Sarah Johnstone

The inaugural NARG riders' grant was awarded to Sarah Johnstone by Beezie Madden. Photo By: Kenneth Kraus/PhelpsSports.com

Wellington, FL – February 1, 2012 – New in 2011, the NARG Riders’ Grant is designed to afford an emerging rider, dedicated to the sport of show jumping, an opportunity to achieve levels of performance they would otherwise not be able to attain. The grant provides the winner with $15,000 USD for expenses within North America approved by the NARG Board, a new Beval Artisan saddle, products from Ariat, PR from Phelps Media and a custom web site by Spotted Toad Design.

After extensive discussion and multiple meetings, the NARG Board awarded The 2011 NARG Riders’ Grant to twenty-year-old Canadian Sarah Johnstone. A devoted young professional, Johnstone was a self-proclaimed barn rat who began working at the stable by age ten. As she continued to compete, Johnstone always worked to pay her way. Proving that hard work and a strong sense of commitment bring success, Sarah achieved an impressive list of accomplishments in the last decade. These include winning the Canadian Jump Canada Medal Finals and Canadian Equestrian Team Finals (CET) in 2006, taking 4th in her first CSI4* Grand Prix in 2010, topping the field in the FEI CSI3* Open Welcome at International Bromont last July and earning a short list position on the Canadian Show Jumping Team in 2011.

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The NARG Top 25 of 2011 – See Who’s Best in Show

Year Two: The NARG Top 25 Shows in North America Are Revealed

Wellington, FL – February 1, 2012 – Following the overwhelmingly positive response to our 2010 Top 25 report, NARG’s host of volunteers once again invested hundreds of hours to numerically evaluate 50 of the top horse shows in North America. The 2011 results are an interesting mix of events – including a couple of Canadian champions, a promising new beginning for The National Horse Show, several new discoveries and two most improved shows.

Canada claimed the top two spots this year. The highest marks once again go to Spruce Meadows, a venue that continues to exemplify our aspirations for great sport in North America. The number two title this year goes to a Canadian discovery, Thunderbird Show Park. Both venues are tremendous places to compete and show jumpers should seriously consider adding these solid examples of top tournaments to their summer schedule.

Continue reading The NARG Top 25 of 2011 – See Who’s Best in Show