Monday, February 21, 2011

Choosing A Trained Reining Horse

Riders who are new to reining usually buy a horse that is already trained rather than buying a prospect but finding the right horse – one that is affordable, sound and “fits”- is a process.

 Locating reining horses that are for sale is the first step. Asking around, checking out ads in magazines and on the internet and narrowing it down to those you can afford usually will turn up a few possibilities. (Remember – flights and road trips can add to that purchase price!) Now check the horses on your list against the following guidelines:

 What attributes must a trained reining horse have?
A good reining horse should possess all the same qualities that a reining prospect does, which are: good breeding, good conformation, a "trainable" disposition, a "willing to learn" attitude, courage and heart. (Refer to Choosing A Reining Prospect)

 How do I find a reining horse with these attributes?
Go to reputable trainers and take your coach or an experienced reiner with you when you look for a horse.
 1. Buy a well-bred horse if possible. Check out the performance records of sire and dam just as you would for a reining prospect.
2. Check out the performance record of the horse. If he has been in the reining pen, you will want to look up results. Talk to the person who showed him and, if possible, get a video of the horse to watch and show to your trainer.
3. Conformation is still very important. You want to be confident the horse will stay sound. Look for balanced conformation and soundness. (Check out last week’s post – Choosing A Reining Prospect for conformation points). If you are not sure what to look for, ask the opinion of someone you trust. It's always a good idea to get a vet check as well to make sure there are not unsoundness issues that are not discernible to the naked eye!
4. Ride the horse and ask your trainer to ride him too. Perform the maneuvers and even ride a pattern. Feel how the horse moves, if he is cooperating with you. Is he relaxed? Does he wait for you to ask instead of volunteering. Does he give to rein pressure? Does he yield to leg pressure without jumping away from your leg? Will he run circles both fast and slow? Does he change leads? A rider who is new to reining should ride a good-leaded horse. After all, the worst maneuver ever can only be scored -1 ½ whereas a horse is penalized one point for every quarter circle he is out of lead – that could be 12 penalty points in one set of circles!

What you don’t want to feel when you ride him:
  • He is nervous.
  • He doesn’t want to walk into the pen or stand in the center.
  • He jumps into spins.
  • He speeds up, tries to take the bit or jumps into lead changes.
  • He throws his head or is otherwise scared of the bit.
  • He charges into stops.
  • He does not want to stop.
Riding the horse is by far the best barometer of the reining horse’s talent and attitude. If he is kind, willing and comfortable performing maneuvers, I can overlook less-than-stellar breeding and/or performance record, especially for a first time reiner. And one last hint: Almost without exception, it’s better to ride a horse you have to “push” than one you have to “pull” on. You can be sure that a little anticipation at home will be a lot of anticipation in the pen.

The following video is of Wildwood Magic Miss and a prospective buyer in and out of the arena. The rider had never reined before and this was the first time she had ridden Magic. This is how I want my horses to go for a new rider - relaxed and happy.

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