If you want to be part of a rowdy crowd at the World Equestrian Games (WEG) this year, you need to attend the reining competition. Reining is the fastest growing discipline in equestrian sport. It’s fun to watch because the crowd whistles and hollers for flying lead changes, spins, sliding stops and more.
Reining competitions are judged events designed to showcase the athletic ability of a ranch horse. Each horse begins a pattern with a score of 70, and judges can add or subtract 1½ points for each maneuver. Maneuvers include walk-ins, sliding stops, spins, rollbacks, circles, back ups, lead changes, hesitations, run-downs and run-arounds.
Reining is sometimes considered the dressage of the western world. It was recognized as a discipline by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) in 2000 and was included for the first time at the WEG in Jerez, Spain in 2002. There are individual and team events.
Reining competitions take place on a very specific footing that allows top performance and helps ensure soundness. The footing is usually a clay base with a combination of sand and silt as a loose topping. You can see the footing fly up when a horse really drops his hindquarters for a fancy sliding stop.
The WEG reining competition will take place Sept. 25 through 30, 2010. After the final round of WEG reining competition on Sept. 30, there’s going to be a Freestyle Reining Exhibition. It’s the first in WEG history that freestyle has been showcased. In freestyle reining, riders and their horses wear costumes while performing a reining pattern to music. Non-classical maneuvers, such as the half-pass and sidepass, can be included in the patterns. Freestyle reining competitions are a blast to watch. You never know what your favorite competitor might do!