The horse and rider team begin with a score of 70, with a theoretical range of scores considered to be from 60 (if there are no penalties or disqualifications) to 80 (a near impossible perfect pattern). Points are added or subtracted by 1/2, 1, and -1/2, -1 point increments for each of the 7 to 8 maneuvers in the designated pattern. Each part of the pattern is judged on precision, smoothness, controlled speed, authority or aggressiveness, while maintaining willingness, the higher the maneuver score.
A score of 70 is considered an average score for a horse that made no errors but also did not perform with exceptional ability. ( Just as a point of reference, a beginning reiner with an average horse capable of performing all required maneuvers at an average level of ability should expect scores in the low to mid 60's as scored by an NRHA judge at a typical WCRA show....) A score below 70 reflects deductions for incorrectly performed movements or misbehavior of the horse. A score above 70 reflects that some or all movements were above average. The more resistance or unwilling the horse appears during a maneuver, or the more maneuvers that lack finesse and smoothness, the lower the maneuver score.
Certain misbehaviors may incur additional penalties beyond a minus score for a given maneuver. Significant errors, such as an overspin (more than one quarter of a turn), will result in a "zero" score, which usually eliminates the competitor from the class. (some exceptions are made at small shows) Major errors such as going off pattern result in disqualification sometimes called a "no score" which prevents the horse from earning any awards even if he is the only horse in the class.
Reining maneuvers include large fast circles, small slow circles, 360 degree spins on the spot both left and right, rollbacks, flying lead changes, back up, and the signature reining move of sliding stops.
Judges can choose from any 1 of 10 established NRHA patterns for any given class. Patterns are posted before the class for riders. As well, for those competitors just getting into reining ,the WCRA has adopted 4 modified patterns that remove some of the more challenging maneuvers such as flying lead changes, with the goal of making it easier for the beginner to gain some show ring experience. Some modified patterns will also allow riders to ride 2 handed. You can view the 10 NRHA patterns as well as the modified patterns on the WCRA website http://www.wcra.info under Membership and Rulebooks