NFR’s New Manager Is Ready To Go

by Ruth Nicolaus

Allen Rheinheimer’s first job at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo was raking around the barrels after the event ended.

Now he’s running the show.

The Zionsville, Indiana, man was hired earlier this year as general manager of the Wrangler NFR. The president and owner of Showtime Jump Company, LLC, he has served in the capacities of production and management of many equestrian events, including as technical coordinator for the FEI World Cup Jumping Finals two years (2000, 2003), for the FEI World Cup Jumping and Dressage Finals four years (2005, ’07, ’09, ’15)  and as show manager for the 2020 FEI World Cup Finals.

Allen grew up in Indiana on a farm that produced top show horses and beef cattle, with a father who was a horse trainer and blacksmith. As a kid, his family traveled with their dad to horse shows.

It was at a World Cup Finals in Las Vegas where he got introduced to Shawn Davis, former manager of the Wrangler NFR. They were using bulls in the opening, and Allen volunteered to help Shawn, who was production manager for the event.

Shawn told Allen, “if you can do that, you can get a job at the National Finals.”

So Allen took him up on it.

It was 2000, and that year, Allen’s job was to rake around the barrels after the barrel racing finished.

“My job was 15 seconds a day,” he said. “I got to know everybody there well because I had a lot of time on my hands.”

Since 2000, he’s done a little bit of everything at the National Finals: from construction maintenance manager to opening director and more, “basically about everything except judge, announce, and be chute boss,” he said. “So there’s not much that I haven’t touched in that rodeo and been a part of, over the 21 years that I’ve been there.”

Allen notes there’s plenty of crossover between the equestrian events he’s worked and the National Finals.

Both types of events have “contestants at a high level and spectators at a very educated level,” he said.

But there are obvious differences. One is the variety of livestock needed for the rodeo. “One big difference in managing the rodeo versus managing horse shows is dealing with the livestock. We have 310 bulls and bucking horses, 120 steers and 70 calves. Caring for all of that is a big difference.”

The ground conditions are another difference between horse shows and the Wrangler NFR.

“On the equestrian side of it, it’s more of a synthetic sand surface or sometimes grass. And the rodeo is a sand/clay based arena, so it’s a big difference, in how you maintain those surfaces.”

Communication is key to the role he plays, he believes. With over 250 contract employees hired by the Wrangler NFR, he’s emailing and talking, a lot.

“I had to get an extra battery for my phone, because my phone didn’t stop ringing.”

Meetings are part of the communication, too. He holds two weekly meetings and a monthly meeting with the PRCA. Zoom meetings help, though. “Zoom has made our lives so much easier this year, not having to travel,” Allen said. “We get a lot more done, and a lot more done ahead of time.”

This year’s National Finals will have bigger openings and more entertainment. The stage used for the openings will be larger, and Congressional Medal of Honor winners have been invited to the rodeo and will be honored throughout the rodeo’s 10-day span.

It is a privilege for him to be part of pro rodeo’s largest event.

“It’s an honor to be in the position that I’m in and having the confidence of the people who work here, that I’ve worked with, side by side. It’s an honor to have the respect of those people.”

And he says Las Vegas is ready for its rodeo fans to return.

“Vegas is rolling out the red carpet for us, to make us feel comfortable, to welcome us back.

“There’s no town in the world that can host this rodeo like Vegas can. It becomes a cowboy town, no doubt, when the Wrangler NFR is in town. I’m excited to be back, I’m excited for the fans to be back. We’re just happy we’re able to do it.”

 

 

 

 

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