The modern reining horse’s roots date back to the bygone era of the Old West where horses were a vital part of every working livestock ranch. Horses needed to be sturdy, quick, responsive, and agile to be able to herd and move cattle and other livestock across the range. A reining competition essentially shows off the skills and athletic abilities necessary in the working ranch horse, but does so within the confines of a show pen and the movements you see in competition today have become extremely precise and highly refined.
There are a total of 10 approved official reining patterns, and horses exhibit individually-performing, compulsory movements which include small slow circles, large fast circles, flying changes of lead, roll-backs, quick 360-degree spins, and the ever-exciting sliding stops which have become the hallmark of the reining horse. Probably due to its exciting, fast-paced action and its accessibility for any breed of horse, coupled with its enriching programs for riders of all experience levels, the discipline of reining has enjoyed one of the fastest rates of growth, experiencing a 40% increase in worldwide participation in the last 10 years. There are currently over 700 approved reining competitions held annually, up from 265 just a decade earlier. To learn more about the Western discipline of reining, visit the United States Equestrian Federation at usef.org.