Last Updated on January 12, 2022
Many horse enthusiasts are fans of reining competitions, enjoying the speed and accuracy of these incredible horse and rider combinations! But what breed of horse is used for reining, and how are they trained?
A certain type of horse is needed to withstand the physical and mental demands of reining. Let’s take a look at the world of reining and find out what is the best breed of horse to use!
What Is Reining?
Reining is an equestrian sport that is based on the Old West methods of using horses as part of a working ranch. During this time horses were used to herd and move cattle around the ranch and across the range. Horses are still used for this purpose on many modern-day cattle ranches!
Reining competitions were developed so that cattle herders could compete against each other and show off their horse’s capabilities. A good reining horse is capable of a wide range of working tasks and should be versatile and adaptable. A reining competition gives a chance to showcase these talents to the equestrian community.
The competition normally involved the horse and rider working together to complete a preset pattern of movements. The aim is to find the horse and rider combination who can turn, stop, and slide accurately and quickly. These movements should appear effortless, with the rider lightly guiding the horse.
The types of movements seen in reining patterns include:
- Small, slow circles
- Large, fast circles
- Flying changes
- 360-degree spins
- Sliding stops
Reining competitions are judged on a point scoring system, with a panel of judges assessing the accuracy and ease of each movement. Although the crowds at reining competitions love fast spins and long sliding stops, the judges are also carefully looking for how well the horse and rider work together.
How Are Reining Horses Trained?
Training a reining horse is a long and rigorous process, and starts when the horse is just two years old. Horses can compete in reining competitions from as young as three years old.
This is a very young age for a horse to begin training, and they are not fully mentally or physically developed at this stage. For this reason, young reining horses should not be trained for more than 30 minutes per day, 6 days per week. However, there is still a high injury rate due to the immense pressure put on the musculoskeletal system.
Training a reining horse involves building up the basic movements required during competition. The aim is to encourage the horse to carry his weight on the hindquarter, freeing up the front end for swift turns and sliding stops.
This training is done through increasingly difficult maneuvers, aimed at increasing the range of motion of the horse. The trainer will also teach the horse to back up and spin, improving flexibility and building muscle strength. Training a reining horse is a very special technique and should only be done under expert supervision.
What Breed Of Horse Is Used For Reining?
A good reining horse is one with an athletic build and strong, muscular hindquarters. It should be quick-thinking and a good learner, making it able to respond to subtle cues and instructions. A top-class reining horse will form a unique partnership and bond with its rider and trainer.
Most reining enthusiasts agree that the best breed of horse for reining is the American Quarter Horse. This old American breed of horse was developed out of a need for a fast and versatile ranch horse, and its skill in all aspects of Western riding is unparalleled.
The American Quarter Horse has all the features desirable in a good reining horse. They have strong limbs, able to withstand fast turns and sharp sliding stops. Quarter Horses also have incredibly muscular hindquarters, giving them the power to accelerate, turn, and spin with ease.
However, reining isn’t all about Quarter Horses! Other popular breeds for this equestrian sport include the American Paint, Appaloosa, and Morgan Horse. You will notice that all these breeds are medium-sized, with a similar body shape and physique.
A horse does not necessarily need to be purebred to be a good reining horse. As long as it is athletic, agile, and responds quickly to instructions it could have what it takes to become a reining champion. So why not give reining a try with your horse – you never know, he could be a natural!
How To Learn Horse Reining?
If you are interested in learning how to ride a reining horse the best place to start is to find a reining professional in your area. Reining is not a skill that can be learned by reading books, and you should start by riding a reining horse that is already trained in these movements. As you become more experienced, you can start teaching reining maneuvers to your own horse.
To find a reining professional, the best place to consult is the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) website. A good reining trainer will evaluate your skill level and match you to the right horse to begin your training. If you are already a relatively competent horse rider, they should work with you to develop and improve your reining skills.
As you learn to rein on a horse that is already trained, you can start to work with your trainer to teach your own horse to rein. In order to do this, you may need to invest in specialist tack and equipment, such as a Western Riding saddle.
So, as we have learned, reining is an equestrian sport based on the Old West principles of cattle herding. A reining horse needs to be agile and quick-thinking. The most popular breed of horse for reining is the American Quarter Horse, although some other breeds can also become talented reining horses.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on the best horse breeds for reining! Would you like to give reining a try on your horse? Or maybe you’re a fan of another breed of horse for reining? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!
Kate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse
care for the vast majority of her career. She has been around horses since
she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local
stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management. She
has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in
various equestrian sports at different levels.
After Kate qualified as a veterinary nurse, she provided nursing care to the
patients of a large equine veterinary hospital for many years. She then went
on to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in
the country. This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of
horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for
educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their
Kate Chalmers BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN (Equine) Dip HE CVN REVN RVN A1