The Workings Of The Reining Saddle

By: Janine Carter

The reining event at horseshow's around the country has become a virtual rising star in the horse industry. The reining saddle is designed to optimize the horse's balance, agility and freedom of movement. Reining is an event where winning a single championship at a national competition can make a horse and trainer the buzz of the entire industry.

Reining is a judged event that is designed to show the athletic ability of a well bred ranch horse. The rider and horse must run several patterns such as small, slow circles, large, fast circles, flying lead changes, roll backs over the hocks, 360 degree spins and fast sliding stops. The saddle each rider uses must not impede the horse and the rider must be placed in the proper position for balance while the horse is galloping and doing all these fast precise moves. Basically the rider is simply holding on and watching the show. He gives the horse his "head" and lets him do the work. The rider is mearly watching the show.

To maximize balance a reiner saddle is usually made with cut-outs in the skirt to enhance the level of communication between the horse and rider. Also the bars of the tree are trimmed down where the rider sits making the seat a "deep pocket". The seat is also made narrower giving the rider even more contact with the horse, which gives it more stability in the stops and spins. In order to make the riders legs more free-moving and improve on balance, the fenders are hung from the center of the tree rather than forward. The rigging is then dropped in order for the latigo straps to lie flat against the horse's sides. In this way the fenders don't get caught in the equipment. The horn is narrow and medium in height so that it doesn't interfere with the rider's hands yet allows light use.

A well-built reining saddle will sit balanced and level on the horse's back, evenly distributing the rider's weight. Every detail on the reining saddle gives it a fined tuned stability for maximum performance, as well as comfort. This rig is an event specific piece of equipment that must sustain long, effortless slides and fast heart-stopping spins. Competitors range in age, and are from a variety of backgrounds. Competitions can be found all over the world and the horses can be of any breed, sex, color or size. All riders must wear appropriate western clothing while performing their patterns. And the saddles must be perfect.

The required movements are as follows:

* Walk-In

* Stops

* Spins

* Rollbacks

* Circles

* Hesitate

* Lead Changes

* Run-downs and Run-arounds

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