Reining is a western competition for horse riding wherein the riders will be guiding the horses through an exact pattern of spins, circles and stops. All the work will be done at the lope or the gallop. As originated from the working cattle, it is usually defined as a Western type of dressage riding. It is requiring the horse to become responsive and to be in tune with its rider, from which the aids need not be easily seen and will be judging the horse on it capability of performing a set pattern of movements. The horse must be controlled or guided willingly with just little or no apparent resistance and must be completely dictated to. A horse pinning his ears which convey a threat to the rider, will be refusing to go forward, bouncing his rear, running sideways, wringing his tail in irritation or displaying a poor attitude overall is the ones that is not willingly guided, and will be judged accordingly.

Reining Movements

The patterns of reining included an average of 8-12 movements that the horse need to execute. The patterns are requiring the following movements:

• Circles – The horse need to perform fast and large circles at a slow and smaller circles, and near-gallop in a lope. They must be round perfectly, having the rider to dictate the pace of the horse. There must be an easily seen change of speed since the rider transitions from the small and slow to the large and fast circles. Most of the circles are incorporating changes in direction requiring a flying lead change.

• Flying Change of Lead – The horse will change its leading front and will back legs at the mid-stride of the lope, throughout the suspension phase of gait. The horse must not break or even change its speed. While finishing a change of speed will be able to improve the score, being precise is a significant factor to judge: A horse that takes more than one stride in completing the change, or a horse that is changing late, early or changing just the front feet and not the back feet are going to be penalized.

• Rundown – The horse is galloping or running beside the long side of the arena, a minimum of 6 m or 20 feet from the rail or fence. A rundown a movement required prior to a rollback and sliding stop to the direction designated. It is either towards the nearest wall or towards the judge depending on the pattern.

• Sliding Stop – The horse is accelerating to a gallop, then suddenly come to a total halt, as it plant its back feet in the footing. It will allow the back feet to slide some feet, while continuously letting its front feet to walk forward. The back has to be raised upward and the hindquarters will come well underneath. A specifically powerful stop, depending on the conditions of the arena, may produce a cloud of dust or flying dirt. The movement has to finish a straight line and the position of the horse must not change. This movement is a crowd favorite, together with the spins.

• Backup or Back – The horse will quickly back up for at least 3 meters or 10 feet. The horse need to back up in a perfectly straight line, stopping when being asked and will hesitate a moment before its next movement. It is being judged on how smooth, quick and how straight the line is.

• Rollback – Without hesitation, the horse performs a 180 degree turn immediately after being halt from a sliding stop, and goes forward again immediately into a lope. The horse needs to turn on its hindquarters to bring its hocks under, and the movement needs to be continuous without hesitation.

• Turnarounds or Spins – Starting from being on a standstill, the horse will spin 360 degrees or more for up to 4 and 1 quarter full turns in place surrounding its stationary in the hind leg. The pivot hind foot will remain in significantly the same location during the spin, even though the horse is going to pick it up and then put it down when it turns. Spins are being judged on the smoothness, cadence and correctness. The speed will add into the difficulty, improving the score of a spin that is done correctly. A pattern is requiring for at least 1 set of spin in every direction. The horses have to stop the spin in the designated place or become penalized for under or over spinning. Sometimes, the term Pivot is used in describing a turn on the hindquarters of up to 360 degrees wherein the horse need to keep a rear stationary of pivot foot.

• Hesitate or Pause – The horse will be asked to stand still for several seconds in settling between particular movements in the pattern of reining, specifically after the spins. Pauses will not judge as a movement as such, but horses that are ill-mannered or behaving with impatience when being asked to wait are going to be penalized.

Origins of Reining

During the American history and date back into the earliest Spanish settlers in what today is the Southern United States and Mexico, which include California and Texas, the ranches have to manage the cattle from horseback. Cattle have been moved, doctored, branded, herded and sorted, usually on the open range without having the advantage of barns, fences, or other things that holds the animals. A great cowboy must have a nimble and quick horse, one that is able to quickly change direction, stopping on a dime, sprinting on an errant cow.

Mostly, the horse must be controlled by weight and legs, and will be ridden with a light touch on the reins and with just one hand, using the rope or hat in moving beside a reluctant herd animal. These ideal characteristics’ informal demonstrations among the ranch vaqueros and cowboys has evolved to the sport of reining, and the related events of working cow horse and cutting as well as some other classes of horse show. Other nations that have the traditions to her livestock on massive areas like Argentina and Australia have developed the same traditions which blended into the sport since it expanded all throughout the world.