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The North American Riders Group: Setting Higher Standards for Show Jumping Competitions

NARG Board of Directors Jimmy Torano, Mclain Ward, Murray Kessler, Beezie Madden, Kent Farrington, Chris Kappler, Norman Dello Joio and Mark Samuel (photo courtesy of NARG)

There exists a constant presence of teamwork between horse and rider and this teamwork must be maintained in order to drive success in any equestrian sport. The North American Riders Group (NARG) strives to develop teamwork amongst riders, trainers, and owners to once again allow show jumping in North America to rank amongst the greatest in the world. The NARG wants to improve the overall quality and cost control of competitive show jumping in North America through working openly with show management, governing bodies, and associations that facilitate show jumping competitions. The NARG believes that to bring change the group must be able to speak with a singular voice backed by riders and the supporting personnel directly involved with show jumping. Founding members of the NARG include Beezie Madden, McLain Ward, Chris Kappler and other top performers who believe in the mission of the NARG. The NARG is open to any active rider within North America, Canada, or Mexico who is in good standing with the United States Equestrian Federation. The NARG also provides a grant valued at $15,000 awarded at to a rider based upon financial need, past performance, and goals to allow the rider an opportunity to achieve newfound levels of performance they otherwise may not have been able to attain.


The NARG has perhaps garnered the most attention toward their name by creating an annual list of the “NARG Top 25” shows in North America since 2010. The list serves as a guide highlighting North America’s best horse shows that deserve recognition for offering important events for top riders. The list evaluates shows based upon criteria like footing, stabling, jumps and courses, technical and financial aspects, ceremony, marketing, and other categories. The evaluation form used by the NARG is the same for each ranked show. The form includes 42 individual criteria grouped into 8 categories. The awarded scores are tallied by category and then each grouping is assigned a weight that reflects the overall effect and importance it has on the show. Footing and stabling make up 40% of the total score and the remaining 60% is split among the remaining six categories. The completed evaluation form is then peer reviewed, examined by the NARG Board of Directors, and presented to each horse show manager. A full listing and explanation of the rankings of the NARG Top 25 of 2012 can be found here:


Spruce Meadows was the top ranking show of 2012 after earning the same top spot in 2010 and 2011.  The NARG lists Spruce Meadows as “ a must on any equestrian’s bucket list” and assures that “ whether you compete as an amateur, a junior, or participate in the various team competitions, Spruce makes each exhibitor feel like an Olympian” (NARG Top 25 2012).  The Devon horse show came in with a second place ranking followed by Thunderbird Show Park in third place. Ranking 4th was the Alltech National Horse Show (see Alltech section), of which is a proud media partner.


The International Omaha ranked fourteenth and was commended by the NARG for impressive first year success. John McQueen of Queenie Productions ( is the competition manager for The International Omaha and said “ it is wonderful to be ranked 14th out of 25 of the most prestigious horse shows in the world in our very first year.” McQueen attributes the success of the show to “ the special nature of the show, 2 days with ten classes offering $150,000 - the incredible staff and volunteers that made each and every exhibitor feel welcome and special - the excitement of offering world class equestrian competition for the first time in a city where sports of all

types are king.” McQueen explained that this year “ we have expanded the competition to include FEI classes, we have increased the prize money offered, our exhibit hall space is larger and we have an independent production company coming in to film the event and provide it on national television.”

 The Top 25 of 2012 also included a selection of specialty equestrian events that were noted for their commitment to the sport and philanthropic backgrounds. The Evergreen Invitational was listed in the NARG mention of specialty equestrian events and is an event local to the Chicago area. Held at the Pritzger family’s private farm, the event raises money for the women’s health program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. 


The NARG seeks strength through numbers and is continuously building their organization.  They are currently seeking members willing to get involved as volunteers and as financial supporters. Join the NARG today at or check out their Facebook page at