Pleasure to Reining?

Last post 05-12-2010 6:41 PM by hjpowell. 6 replies.
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  • 04-07-2010 11:07 AM

    Pleasure to Reining?

    I recently bought a 5 year old gelding, who is well bred for (and started in) Western Pleasure.  I want to ride pleasure for a few years to regain the confidence I had when I was a kid, and improve my position, cues, etc.  But, eventually what I'd really like to get into is reining.  How hard would it be to convert a finished pleasure horse (hopefully he'll be "finished" by then! lol) into an amateur, weekend reining horse?  Should I just be working on a few reining maneuvers hear and there?  How different is the expectation for the headset? 

  • 04-07-2010 11:55 AM In reply to

    Re: Pleasure to Reining?

    There's more to consider than just headset with this horse. He needs the conformation, athleticism and aptitude to be successful at reining. If he's not naturally physically adept at reining maneuvers you could permanently lame him in the attempt if your training is not skillful. Actually, that's true even if he IS a natural reiner.

    Teaching a horse to get back on his haunches and stay under himself is not terribly complicated. But getting the timing right for cross-overs, planting the inside hoof and doing a good spin is. You will also have to consider the damage that can be done by teaching and practicing ( both yourself and the horse) sliding stops if he's not going to get expensive sliding shoes. An occasional sliding stop in soft footing is OK for an unshod or standard shod horse. But repeated sliding attempts and many done poorly while learning can also do a lot of damage.

    I'd say when the time comes for you to start looking into reining activities you take the horse to an experienced reiner for an evaluation first. The right horse for the right job should always be the first consideration.

    In the meantime, while sharpening your Western Pleasure skills, learning good positive stops, rollbacks and collection would be good things to prepare with for the future possibility of getting into a reining arena. ~FH 

  • 04-08-2010 8:06 AM In reply to

    Re: Pleasure to Reining?

    Excellent advice from FH, as usual.  I would just add that my understanding of training the sliding stop is that some horses like it and do it willingly, some are scared of it and will never do it well, and others cannot do it physically.  When you are ready to tackle reining I would have a trainer help you with the basics to see if your horse can and will do the manuvers.  Along with the things FH told you to work on, you could start to ask your horse to back up whenever you stop, that starts to teach them to rock back on their hocks when you stop and learn to use their rear end.  Of course, don't do this if it worries your horse or if it's going to mess up your Western Pleasure!  

    "It's easier to fly if you take yourself lightly."

  • 04-08-2010 10:38 AM In reply to

    Re: Pleasure to Reining?

    Thanks for the advice.  The horse has pretty good conformation, and is pretty athletic (although out of shape right now!).   I'm not super worried about the sliding stops, if I try reining it will primarily be at local shows, and I think there's usually only 2 or 3 competitors in the class lol.  I would be perfectly pleased with him just stopping well, without any slide, and we would at least still place Wink  If I ever decided to try to compete beyond that I would absolutely bite the bullet and buy a reiner before I risked injuring my horse.

    Beyond that, can you tell me any differences in position expectations for horse and rider between the two disciplines?  How different is headset, rider hand placement, etc?  In pleasure I know only the horse is "supposed" to be being judged, but what about in reining?  Any tack requirements or items that are not allowed?  Any info would be appreciated!

  • 04-10-2010 11:09 PM In reply to

    Re: Pleasure to Reining?

    I show western pleasure and have dabbled in reining a little here and there.  A good, broke western pleasure horse show have the same basics as a reiner.  Both should be able to collect and extend on a loose rein, have a solid "whoa", and be light and responsive to the rider, and we use rollbacks to get them light in the bridle and rocked over their hocks.  However, there are a few differences.  For example, a western pleasure horse is typically trained to "whoa" or slow down by a rider closing his leg on the rib cage instead of a more open leg position, and we don't want him to drop his butt under him--we typically want a more "up" balanced stop (think of a dressage horse).  We teach them to pivot, but a spin is trained differently than a step-by-step pivot.  The headset isn't really a big deal in reining to the degree it is in pleasure (although if you watch footage from the bigger NRHA shows, they tend to have a lower set than they did in the past).

     I think that for weekend open shows (and some weekend breed shows), your western pleasure horse should do just fine.  Think of it as an extended horsemanship pattern!  But if you want to be truly competitive, then you would most likely need an experienced reining horse.

  • 04-12-2010 1:18 PM In reply to

    Re: Pleasure to Reining?

    agree with robison here...for local stuff, you will be perfectly fine with your WP'll even see many youth at the larger WS's riding their pleasure horses in the reining.

    I showed my reining mare alot in horsemanship classes..

  • 05-12-2010 6:41 PM In reply to

    Re: Pleasure to Reining?


    Beyond that, can you tell me any differences in position expectations for horse and rider between the two disciplines?  How different is headset, rider hand placement, etc?  In pleasure I know only the horse is "supposed" to be being judged, but what about in reining?  Any tack requirements or items that are not allowed?  Any info would be appreciated!

    One of the things that is stressed at the NRHA Judge's School is that you judge the maneuver NOT the style.  In other words, it doesn't matter if your horse's head is up or down, if your free hand is beside your rein hand or clamped to your belt buckle or somewhere in between, etc., etc.

     However, there are definite rules about what you can and can't do (such as touching the saddle at any time - 5 point penalty or straightening your reins while the horse is moving - penalty score zero!). There are also specific rules regarding the equipment and dress that can and can't be used. When you are ready to try your hand at reining I suggest you go to the NRHA website ( click on the "Reining" tab then on the "Forms & Documents" link and finally click on the "NRHA Handbook" link.  Sections 95 (Rules for Judging), 101 (Patterns & Descriptions) and 125 through 144 will explain all the crucial rules that you will need to know to try to stay out of the penalty zone.

    I would also suggest that you look for a Judge's Applicant Seminar in your area.  It is $150 and 2 days well spent to educate you in what the judges are looking for. As many of the top judges teach these seminars it is an excellent opportunity to talk to them and get their feedback.  A few weeks ago a seminar was held, I believe in MI and I am told they had 60 people in the class while only 15 took the test and so were looking to become judges.  The rest were just there to learn.

     Always remember that Reiner's are a breed apart and even at the top shows, the top riders will always take the time to talk to you and to encourage and help you.

    Good luck in both you WP and Reining endeavors.

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