Reining 101

Everything you ever wanted to know about reining, and then some.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

Reining has been called the dressage of the western world. As in dressage, a rider pilots a collected horse through a prescribed pattern while being judged on smoothness, control, attitude and finesse.

However, all similarities stop there. Where dressage is slow and measured, reining is a fast-paced thrill ride full of hard-driving runs, explosive stops and dizzying spins.

What Is Reining?

Reining evolved from the everyday ranch horse, which was quick on his feet and could be directed by a light rein. Proud of their hard-working mounts, cowhands would get together and challenge one another to see whose cow horse could stop harder, slide farther and turn faster. Thus, the reining competition began.

Today, reining is a judged event designed to show these same athletic abilities in a horse, but within the confines of a show arena.

Each horse and rider perform an individual, pre-assigned pattern from memory. In National Reining Horse Association competitions, contestants are required to run one of 10 patterns. There are 11 patterns in AQHA events.

AQHA's “Reining Basics with Craig Johnson” is a valuable addition to any horseman’s DVD library, whether you are learning to ride or an accomplished rider, Craig has helpful instructions for you and your horse. Order your copy today!

Each pattern includes 360-degree spins; flying lead changes; small slow circles; large fast circles; rollbacks and sliding stops. The rider and horse must complete these various maneuvers smoothly and accurately, while maintaining controlled speed.

Keeping Score

The best ride is one that appears effortless while combining technical difficulty and stylistic elements.

A judge scores every part of the pattern from the time the horse enters the ring until the last maneuver.

Each rider enters the ring with a score of 70, which denotes an average performance. The judge then adds or subtracts points during the performance. With seven to eight maneuvers in each pattern, each gets a score ranging from minus 1 1/2 (extremely poor quality) to plus 1 1/2 (excellent quality). Points are given for level of difficulty and finesse, while points are taken away for loss of control of the horse or deviations from the pattern. If no points are given or taken away, that denotes a maneuver that is correct with no degree of difficulty.

Why Didn’t That Really Fast Horse Win?

At reining shows, it’s not unusual for the crowd to get excited and whoop and holler for explosive stops and super-fast spins. Although these horses sometimes win, other times you might be scratching your head as to why they didn’t score well.

Remember, the judge is scoring the entire run. Even if a horse has beautiful, long sliding stops, he’ll lose points if he races out of control in his large circles.

Roll It!

Celebrities join forces for the Celebrity Slide at the 2009 National Reining Horse Association Futurity benefiting the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

It’s Not Easy, but It’s Fun

As with dressage, reining is a challenge. It takes many hours of practice and plenty of skill to even get a score of 70. But the best thing is that it is a wonderful discipline for both the horse and rider, and it will make them more versatile and better performers as they move into other events.

Going Global

In 2000, reining was approved by the Federation Equestre Internationale, and in 2002, the sport took the international stage as part of the World Equestrian Games in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. Reining was again a part of the World Equestrian Games in 2006 in Aachen, Germany, and is now preparing for its third appearance at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky.

2010 NRHA Derby

Keep up with the NRHA Derby June 21-26 in Oklahoma City through the Journal on the Road blog at The open finals will be Saturday.

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Competitors from around the world will shoot it out in five fast-paced, exciting events: reining, working cow horse, roping, cutting and ranch remuda, with more than $300,000 up for grabs in all divisions.

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In AQHA's "Reining Basics with Craig Johnson," Craig demonstrates how the working relationship between horse and rider softens, gets smoother and becomes increasingly responsive, until the cues are nearly invisible. Order yours today!

Fly Control Tips From Tractor Supply Co.

Insects can distract you and your horse when you’re trying to look and perform your best. Keeping insects at bay requires a multifaceted approach.

At home, keep your stalls dry and free of manure to prevent flies from breeding, circulate air inside the barn, use traps to capture any flies that do hatch, and encourage birds, bats and other animals that thrive on insects to help control the bug population.

On the road, apply insecticides to your horse to deter any flies. Apply sprays liberally before you enter the show ring, and don’t forget to bring your fly spray and mask with you for use before and after the performance.

At Tractor Supply Co., you can find all the bird attractants, muck boots, shovels, absorbent bedding, shop fans, fly traps, masks, sprays and grooming supplies you need.

Visit your local Tractor Supply Co. store, or shop online and get a coupon for $5 off to use on your next purchase of $25 or more. Online offer valid through July 15, 2010.