NRHA Germany
NRHA Germany

Reining BASICS

What is Reining

Reining is a judged event designed to show the athletic ability of a ranch type horse within the confines of a show arena. In NRHA competition, contestants are required to run one of ten approved patterns, included in the NRHA Handbook. Each pattern includes small slow circles, large fast circles, flying lead changes, roll backs over the hocks, 360 degree spins done in place, and exciting sliding stops that are the hallmark of the reining horse.


In NRHA competition, reining horses are judged individually as they complete one of the patterns. One or more judges score each horse between 0 and infinity with 70 denoting an average score. Each horse automatically begins the pattern with a 70. The judge can either add or deduct up to 1 and 1/2 points on each maneuver in half-point increments based on the "quality" of the maneuver. Penalties are also allocated for minor deviations from the pattern; major deviations result in a zero score for the go. …In scoring, credit is given for smoothness, finesse, attitude, quickness and authority when performing the various maneuvers. Controlled speed in the pattern raises the level of difficulty and makes the reining horse more exciting and pleasing to watch. Increased level of difficulty is rewarded with higher scores if the maneuvers are performed correctly.

The Reining Horse

The reining horse must be agile, quick, and very responsive to the rider's commands. Powerful hindquarters are required to hold position in a sliding stop or a rollback, excellent coordination is required for proper spins and flying lead changes. Correct leg conformation is essential, as the limbs and joints are often under considerable stress in competition. The horse must also have an excellent temperament to perform with both speed and precision.


In the Showarena Riders must wear a long-sleeved shirt, jeans, cowboy boots and hat. In most competitions, they also wear chaps. Gloves are optional..

Reining horses are equipped with special Western saddles.

Reining horses are usually fitted with special horseshoes on the hind feet called slide plates. Slide plates have wider bar steel and are smoother than regular horseshoes. The shoes allow the hind legs to slide along the ground with less resistance.

Sometimes reining classes at breed shows are split into "junior horse" and "senior horse" divisions. Depending on the breed, Junior horses are either 3, ore 4 years old, and allowed to show in a snaffle or bosal. Senior horses who age out of the junior horse divisions at age five must be shown in a curb.