July 01, 2011
Reining events demonstrate the specialized skills needed to work with horses on the prairies and badlands in the westward expansion of the nineteenth century.
Reining competitions take place in arenas where one of ten patterns are run at a canter by each participant. Although they vary in when moves occur, pattern terminology includes circles, large and fast or small and slow, roll-backs, spins, flying lead changes and sliding stops. Each movement is one that a working ranch horse would use in its daily herding activities, brought to a high level of precision.
Hunter seat riding is a style of riding horses that was developed to enable the animals to have speed and maintain balance when traveling over uneven terrain and encountering obstacles that must be jumped--such as fences enclosing fields.
Hunt seat equitation classes judge the rider only, including his or her position on the flat and over fences and overall effectiveness while riding. Therefore, it is not imperative that the horse has perfect movement or jumping form, but it needs good manners and an attractive way of going that does not detract from the rider's performance. Although temperament is not judged, horses with a more tractable temperament are generally easier to ride, and can therefore help riders demonstrate their skills.
Horsemanship is described as a class to evaluate the rider's ability to execute, in concert with their horse, a set of maneuvers prescribed by the judge with precision and smoothness while exhibiting poise and confidence, and maintaining a balanced, functional, and fundamentally correct body position. The horse and rider should work in complete unison; there should be subtle aids and cues. This type of horsemanship involves showmanship and hopefully, sportsmanship.
In a Western equitation class a rider may be asked to perform a test or pattern, used to judge the rider's position and control of the horse. Tests may be as simple as jogging in a circle or backing up, or as complex as a full reining pattern, and may include elements such as transitions from halt to lope or lope to halt, sliding stops, a figure-8 at the lope with simple or flying change of lead, serpentines at the lope with flying changes, the rein back, a 360 degree or greater spin or pivot, and the rollback.