Have you ever marvelled at the spectacle of horse and rider twisting and turning  each other around obstacles in the arena and wondered just what does it take to perform in this fast and furious yet high disciplined event of Reining and Roping and just how it all began?

Origin dates back to Eqyptian Pharaohs and Spanish

It’s commonly thought the American Cowboy were the first to introduce Western riding. The discipline dates back as far as Egyptian Pharaohs and Spanish Conquistadors. This ancient style required the rider to use one hand to maneuver the horse whilst also trying to lasso cattle. Today Western riding has developed into a competitive sport performed at a Rodeo or specialized roping or reigning events..

Reining isn’t just Circles and Spins.

Reining at its best is when the rider and horse guide their way through obstacles effortlessly at a pace known “lope” – or in layman’s terms a slow canter and at a gallop. When competing, the eye of the judge is looking at the ability of the horse to perform a set of patterns. Patterns in forms of Circles, Spins and Stops- all must be exact or more to the point precise. Each pattern is required to be performed with subtle and fluid precision, which is why the sport is often compared to a form of dressage. The Reining pattern includes an average of eight to twelve movements –

Four Reining Pattern Movements .

  • Rollback -  180-degree turn after halting from a sliding stop, and immediately moves  forward again into a “lope”
  • Flying Lead Change -  the horse changes its leading front and hind legs at the lope  mid-stride
  • Rundown -  "runs" along the long side of  arena, minimum of 20 ft. (6 m) from the fence or rail
  • Sliding Stop:  accelerates to a gallop , suddenly comes to a complete halt, planting its hind feet in the footing and allowing its hind feet to slide several feet, while continuing to let its front feet "walk" forward

What to look for when selecting a Reining Horse?

The most horse suitable for reining should be responsive and have the ability to co-ordinate with the rider.  It is most important that the horse can be controlled well and performs willingly without obvious hesitation.  For the best performance the rider and horse must 1st establish a very good relationship. Without the rider and horse understanding each other, it will restrict the ability of both to perform at the best of their ability and be judged poorly.

Roping and the Wild Wild West

 The American Cowboy was instrumental in developing the art of roping, driving and herding.The cowboy  dedicated time and their strength in driving cattle and guiding livestock to their final destination. Journeys were often very long, and during the journey to break the boredom and “blow off steam”, the cowboys held their own competitions involving riding, driving, and roping. As life and equipment modernized the need for driving cattle diminished as did the need for cowboys.  Work was not easy to find for the redundant cowboy, so they created the “Wild West Show.

These events allowed the cowboys to show the world their excellent horseman skills and earn a living from prizemoney and entertain those who came along. It then inspired the modern rodeo.Th e events of a rodeo – roping cattle, restraining, branding and then rearing,  all inspired the rodeo of today. With a growing audience, the rodeo also evolved and is now categorized into more specific events with team roping being amongst the most popular event.

10 Practical Tips to maintain a Top Performance from your Western Horse.

  1. Check your horse’s teeth. Dental health is vital for best performance.
  2. Feed your horse quality feed. Poor quality feed to your horse will have a negative impact on its performance.
  3. Condition your horse well; your horse won’t perform well if he’s over-trained or under-trained.
  4. Tack must fit well. Wrongly fitted tack will cause discomfort to your horse.
  5. Important not to overwork your horse. Training should be as required and varied to keep your horse mentally stimulated.
  6. Mix your horse’s programs up –allow your horse to enjoy turnout time with his fellow horse.
  7. Check for signs of Gastric Ulcers due to Stress.
  8. Ensure adequate and clean water is always available.
  9. Reward your Horse with  treat after a ride or performance
  10. Grooming - daily grooming is important and shows how much you care.