Learn to Speak Reiner

Reining has its own vocabulary that’s essential to understanding the sport. Here’s a handful of common words and phrases you’ll hear around the barn and in the show arena.
  • A rule known as A. General — The “golden rule” under which reiners are judged.
    • A. General: 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.
  • Penalty — Points deducted from the total score for performing the maneuvers incorrectly. Penalties range from ½-point to the entry receiving a zero score for the entire pattern. Examples include ½-point for under-spinning up to 1/8 of the turn to 5 points for bucking.
  • Maneuver Score — The score assigned by a judge for every maneuver completed in the pattern by the horse and rider. Maneuver scores can range from -1½ to +1½ in half-point increments, depending on the quality of the maneuver.
  • Maneuvers
    • Stops — The action of slowing the horse from a lope to a stope position by bringing the hind legs under the horse in a locked position sliding on the hind feet.
    • Spins — A series of 360-degree turns, executed over a stationary (inside) hind leg. Propulsion for the spin is supplied by the outside rear leg and front legs.
    • Circles — At the lope, of designated size and speed, which demonstrate control, willingness to guide, and degree of difficulty in speed and speed changes.
    • Rollbacks — 180-degree reversal of forward motion completed by running to a stop, rolling (turning) the shoulders back to the opposite direction over the hocks, and departing in a lope as one continuous motion.
    • Lead Changes — Changing the leading legs, at a lope, when changing the direction traveled.
  • NRHA Futurity — Starting on Thanksgiving Day each year this event features the top 3-year-old horses from around the world. It’s also considered one of the most prestigious titles to win in the sport of reining. To learn more about the NRHA Futurity click here
  • NRHA Derby — An event held each June featuring 4-, 5-, and 6-year-old horses.
  • Nominated — For a horse to be eligible to compete at the NRHA Futurity or Derby, the must be entered into the Nomination Program. To learn more about the nomination program visit -> www.nrha.com/nomination
  • Competition License — The registration papers for NRHA. Each horse is required to have a competition license so NRHA can maintain accurate competition records for that horse.
  • Pattern — Horses and riders are judged on their maneuvers, and the maneuvers as a whole make a pattern. NRHA has 15 approved patterns that reining events can choose from. Riders in the same class will all complete the same pattern.
  • Aged Events — An event that requires the horse to be a specific age to participate. Examples include the NRHA Futurity and Derby.
  • Eligibility — The guidelines used to decide if a horse or rider is able to compete within certain reining classes.
  • Freestyle — A class where NRHA riders can perform their own reining pattern to music of their choice. Many riders choose to dress themselves and their horses in costumes for added effect. It provides an opportunity to use the hallmark reining maneuvers creatively, but also to expand them to music by means of choreography.
  • NRHA Professional — An individual who is paid to train or assist in training a performance horse or rider.
  • Non Pro — An individual who competes in reining events but does not receive remuneration for the training or showing of a performance horse or instructing an individual.
  • NRHA Affiliate — A local club that has received an approved status by NRHA. Affiliates host reining events throughout the year. To learn more about affiliates or to find one near you visit → https://nrha.com/affiliate
  • NRHA Judge — A certified individual who has attended a judges’ school, passed a judging exam, and been approved by the Board of Directors. To learn more about the NRHA Judges Program click here
  • NRHA Steward — An individual who serves as a liaison between exhibitors, show management officials, and judges. In addition, stewards field any complaints of unsportsmanlike conduct, abuse, or reports of rule violations, etc. To learn more about the NRHA Show Stewards Program click here
  • Zero Score — The score assigned to a horse and rider if they fail to follow a certain set of rules while performing the pattern.