Insiders Guide: Green Reiner show preparation

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
I think everyone has heard this quote from Benjamin Franklin, and it is so true – especially when it comes to the green reiner!
Imagine this. You’re about to enter the show pen and you look around at your fellow competitors and wonder “Am I good enough?” Then self doubt creeps in and you start to second guess EVERYTHING. By the time your draw is called into the pen, you are a bundle of nerves; doubting everything that you have worked so hard on. You’re hoping you will at least remember the pattern and you just want to get though this.
It does not have to be this way, when you have a plan!

It does not have to be this way, when you have a plan!

Having a coach guiding you through a show is beneficial to all level of rider, even the professionals.

If though you are doing this on your own, here are some pointers that will help set you up for a successful ride in the show pen.

Getting ready

  • Give yourself time to get you & your horse ready – rushing does not create calmness. 
  • I usually suggest to my clients to prepare for their class 10 horse draws before they go in. (About 45 minutes.)
  • Now is not the time to change your routine; if you want to use polo wraps instead of boots – practice at home first!

Warm Up

  • Warm your horse up with jogging, flexing, and you have touched on all your manoeuvres: spins, lead changes, stops, check your horse is guiding well in the circles. 
  • You know your horse – how long it takes to warm the horse up will vary. Some horses might get to a show and be less focused so taking your time to get them focused is key. 
  • Don’t overwork those manoeuvres! You want your horse to be focussed not exhausted when you go and show
  • Don’t watch what other competitors are doing warming up. Stick with what you know, as the show is not the place to change your training. 
  • Know your pattern. If you are really new to reining I would even suggest drawing it out on a piece of paper or walking it on foot. Visualizing the pattern is a great tool in helping you remember. 
  • Know where your markers are in the pen to familiarize yourself with your surroundings. For example, where will you do your large and small circles? your approach to the lead change? where you are going to stop?
  • Don’t compare yourself to anyone. Compare yourself to your last ride, always trying to better YOU!
  • Lastly, wish your fellow competitors “Good luck!” it’s good sportsmanship.  Walk into that pen with a smile and go have some fun!

In the Pen

  • First off breathe. I’ve seen many riders going around the pen with a brilliant red face! They forgot to breathe! Oxygen helps you think straight and will relax you.
  • Break down your ride in sections, focus on each maneuver as the pattern dictates. For example, if the pattern starts with spins, focus on those first. This way it doesn’t seem so overwhelming. 
  • If by chance something goes wrong in one of your manoeuvres (for example, you stop short in one of your spins,) forget about it and concentrate on your next manoeuvre. Just keep riding through -nothing can change that mistake but don’t dwell on it!
  • Judges like a precisely laid out pattern – this should be one of your main goals in the pen.
  • Look up when you are riding! Chances are, if you are looking in the direction you are going; your horse will follow. It is such a simple thing, yet it’s truly powerful. It also makes you look more professional!
  • Lastly, enjoy your ride! Don’t rush through it to “get it over with”. You have paid your entry fee and the judges fee so use your time in the pen to show you and your horse to the best of both of your abilities.

After Your Run

  • To understand your score, review your score sheet from the judge and copy it down so you can build a story for improvement This is where a coach can really help. They can go over each manoeuvre with you and dissect your run so you can better understand why you received the score you did.  
  • Most people will have someone video their run for them so they can view it later. This is great yet most times this video is taken from a spectator’s view. I really like viewing a video from the judge’s point of view. At the ORHA we have Sports Rush Media video all the runs, you can come and view your run (from the judge’s angle) for free at the show. A coach can help you here because you can both watch the run together, with the score sheet and discuss what points in the run were good and what needs to be worked on for future runs.
  • You can also purchase the video, and if you do this is a great learning tool to have. You can look back on it to see your good points, what needs to be worked on and as time goes by it is fun to look back just to see how much you have improved.
  • Lastly, remember that reining is possibly one of the most demanding disciplines so the best advice I could give to you is to be patient and kind to you and your horse. You will have good runs and you will have bad runs so learn to accept that and if you are consistent, work hard and have an open mind to learning – you will better yourself as a reiner.

Start putting your plan together and we look forward to cheering you on at the ORHA shows! 

About Jen

Jen is horsewoman with a life-long passion for developing both horse and rider. Jen is a successful competitor in the ORHA & NRHA with Rookie Pro, Limited Open and Novice Horse Level 1 titles as well as 3 Top Ten World titles to date.

Her Students have also received numerous year end titles in ORHA & NRHA.