Pets & Animal Horses

An Introduction to Reining

What is Reining?:

A ranch horse that works cattle must be confident, obedient and agile. Reining is a way to display those qualities. The competition happens within an arena, and much like a dressage test, competitors execute a pre-determined pattern that demonstrates the athleticism, agility and responsiveness of the horse. Reining is different from dressage with quicker turns, stops and spins. All this is done on a loose rein, with a relaxed but ready attitude, such as one would need while herding cattle.

Circles, lines are galloped and loped, and at higher levels sliding stops and dizzying spins make this an exciting sport to watch.

The Goal of Reining:

The goal of reining is to demonstrate the qualities of the ultimate cow horse. Judges will look for straight lines, ridden in perfect control no matter the speed, the stops must be relaxed and motionless, and the spins executed around one hind leg so the horse appears to be spinning in place. Circles must be accurate and ridden at the correct pace. Transitions and lead changes must be clean (at the gallop, both front and rear legs must change) and roll backs should appear smooth.

Equipment You Will Need:

You will need:
  • Western style clothing (you may wear a helmet).
  • A Western saddle
  • Western bridle with a curb bit.

Preparing Your Horse for Reining:

Your horse will have to be fit and well schooled. Working with a coach, you'll learn how to teach your horse to spin, learn to ride straight lines, perfect circles, and smooth transitions. The aim is accuracy and obedience.

Preparing Yourself for Reining:

Learn all you can on the ground. Attend competitions, clinics and watch how the pros do it. Find a coach that you enjoy working with and understands your goals. Know that like most sports, almost any horse can compete, but the compactness of the Quarter Horse makes them the first choice for reiners. Reining patterns at the lower levels are somewhat easier than at the FEI level. But they lay the groundwork for moving up, so there are no shortcuts. Be prepared to work hard if you want to be a serious competitor.

The Benefit of Reining?:

Even if you're not interested in becoming a top level reiner, the control you and your horse will learn will benefit you on the trail, in other sports or if you actually work cattle. For those who compete often, there is the reward of seeing your scores improve over time and the challenge of new patterns.

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