The sport of reining exhibits the athletic ability of horses by running them through established patterns that include lead changes, rollbacks, spins, sliding stops, and circles of various sizes and speeds. Riders guide their horses through these patterns before an audience; a panel of judges uses an intricate scoring system to rate contestants. During the reining competition, horses vary their gait between a lope and a gallop, according to the demands of the pattern. Ideally, horses remain responsive to their riders without the use of visual aids. Horses should put up no significant resistance, willingly following the lead of their riders.
Reining dates back to the earliest settlers in North America. As they began to establish ranches, they required efficient methods of managing their cattle. Generally, they herded their cattle on open ranges without barns or fences. In order to control their herds, cowboys required horses to stop and turn quickly. They usually only had one hand free to control the horse as they used the other to perform a variety of tasks, such as roping. Eventually, individuals began demonstrating their techniques at informal events. These shows gradually evolved into the sport of reining, as well as several other related competitions. Similar developments in other areas of the world, such as Argentina and Australia, integrated with reining as the sport reached international prominence.
The sport has grown exponentially in popularity over the past decades, especially with the advent of organizations such as the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA). Today, more than 15,000 members belong to the organization, which operates more than 700 shows. The NRHA Executive Committee works with a number of other equine organizations around the world to promote the sport.
About the Author: Antoinette Rand actively participates in a number of groups dedicated to the promotion of competitive horse events and breeds, including the NRHA and the American Quarter Horse Association. A resident of Texas, she additionally belongs to a number of local organizations. Dedicated to giving back to the community, Antoinette Rand has also participated in Team In Training, through which she raised funds for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.