Reining 101

“To rein a horse is not only to guide him, but also to control his every movement. The best reined horse should be willingly guided or controlled with little or no apparent resistance and dictated to completely. Any movement on his own must be considered a lack of control. All deviations from the exact written pattern must be
considered a lack of or temporary loss of control; and therefore, a fault that must be marked down according to severity of deviation. After deducting all faults set here within, against execution of the pattern and the horse’s overall performance, credit should be given for smoothness, finesse, attitude, quickness and authority of performing various manoeuvers, while using controlled speed which raises the difficulty level and makes him more exciting and pleasing to watch to an audience.”

Reining Manoeuvers



The horse runs along the long side of the arena building speed, at least 20 feet(6 m) from the fence or rail.

Sliding Stop

The horse stops, by driving its hocks underneath him and sliding on his hind feet while continuing to let its front feet “walk” forward. The back should be raised upward and hindquarters come well underneath. A particularly powerful stop may, depending on arena conditions, produce flying dirt and a cloud of dust. The
movement should finish in a straight line, and the horse’s position should not change. This movement is a crowd favorite.



The horse, without hesitation, performs a 180-degree turn after a sliding stop, and immediately lopes off. The horse must turn on its hindquarters, bringing its hock well under, and the motion should be continuous with no hesitation.


The horse backs up quickly for at least 10 feet (3 m). The horse must back in a perfectly straight line, stop when asked and hesitate a moment. It is judged on how quick, smooth and straight the line is.



The horse must perform large,and fast circles at speed and smaller, slow circles at a lope. They should be perfectly round, with the rider dictating the pace of the horse. The change of speed or “shutdown” should be without any resistance from the horse.


The Spin

A 360 degrees spin, in place around its stationary inside hind leg. The hind pivot foot remains in essentially the same location throughout the spin. Most patterns call for 4 rotations. Spins are judged on correctness, smoothness, and cadence.


Flying Lead Change

The horse changes its leading front and hind legs at the lope during the suspension phase of the gait. Precision is the most important factor in judging. A horse taking more than one stride to complete the
change, or that changes early, late, or that changes only the front feet and not the hind feet will be penalized.


How is a reining pattern scored?

Every entry starts with a score of 70. Points for each manoeuver are added or subtracted by 1/2, 1, or 1-1/2 points for each of the 7 to 8 manoeuvers in the designated pattern as follows:

-1 ½ for an extremely poor
-1 for very poor.
– ½ for poor.
0 for correct with no degree of difficulty.
+1/2 for good execution.
+1 for very good.
+ 1 ½ for excellent.

Each part of the pattern is judged on precision, smoothness, finesse and the “degree of difficulty” for each manoeuver. Penalties may be assessed for specific infractions. Penalties range from a half-point (1/2) to five (5) points for each infraction. Going off pattern or using illegal equipment will result in a “zero score.”