NRHA Hires Billy Smith as Next Commissioner

Following the announcement of current NRHA Commissioner Gary Carpenter’s retirement at the end of the year, NRHA has hired Billy Smith as his replacement to lead the association.

“We are thrilled to bring Billy on to take over the reins in the wake of Gary’s retirement, said NRHA President Mark Blake. I want to thank Jim Harlan and his team at MJM Global Search, Inc. as well as the official search committee, for all their hard work. I believe we have found the best possible individual to take over and help continue to move the association forward.”

Smith, who is stepping down as the Executive Director of the American Paint Horse Association (APHA), boasts a well-rounded resume of education and decades-long industry experience, including tenured positions at the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA).

During his time at APHA, the world’s second-largest breed association, Smith spearheaded several key initiatives, including the creation of the award-winning CHROME publication and overseeing a successful relocation of the headquarters to the Fort Worth Stockyards.

His extensive information and technology experience proved essential in the creation of the first-ever equine show judge, exhibitor, and trainer educational platform, HorseIQ.

Additionally, under his leadership, the American Paint Horse Association Junior Paint Horse Association World Championship Show was founded as an all-scholarship youth breed equine championship, achieving $1.5 million in funding.

The Chrome Cash Incentive, a program designed to directly impact Paint horses in western performance horse events, has garnished massive appeal under Smith’s direction. It was recently expanded to include even more traditional all-around events.

“NRHA is fortunate to have attracted a leader of the caliber of Billy Smith. I have known Billy for years, and he has always been an innovator, and I know he will bring that creativity, passion, and strategic thinking to NRHA. We have so many great opportunities at hand, and he is absolutely the right person to capitalize on them. I know I am leaving NRHA in capable hands. I look forward to seeing what he does for the association and industry,” said current Commissioner Carpenter.

Smith will begin work alongside Carpenter next month to ensure a smooth transition of power.

“Nothing is harder than leaving an organization you love unless it’s going to an organization you know you’ll grow to love. APHA has emerged as a leader in innovation, and I hope to carry that spirit to NRHA and honor the great work launched by Gary Carpenter,” said Billy Smith.

Founded in 1966, the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion of the reining horse in a fun-filled, family atmosphere. NRHA’s mission is to promote the reining horse worldwide while celebrating and advancing the finest traditions of Western horsemanship. To learn more about NRHA, how to join, or to become a fan, visit

Media Contact:
Haley Carmen
Sr. Director of Communications
National Reining Horse Association
(405) 946-7400 x 102