Monday, May 25, 2009

Reining ring riding rules


In one of my earlier posts, I published a list of rules for warming up at a reining show. After last Thursday's ride, I'd like to suggest we adopt these rules for our riding nights. With so many people coming out to ride, safety is important, and we want to make it comfortable for everyone to be able to ride without worrying about whether they are going to run into someone.  By adopting these basic rules, it gives everyone an opportunity to practice all aspects of reining maneuvers in an hour long ride. Since most people seem to show up around 6:00, I would suggest we spend the first half hour on circles (spins in the center of circles) and the second half hour on straight lines (rundowns, stops, etc). If the hour previous and after 6:00 follows the same rules, everyone, regardless of when they show up will have an opportunity within an hour to participate in circling and straight lines (fencing). The end of the arena closest to the entrance will be to circles to the left (facing the stands), and the other end for circles to the right. I will put a list of the rules at the entrance to the arena, but in the meantime, please read the details below, and if we all repect these rules, we hopefully will make our riding time more productive, and safe for everyone...AS always, I'm open to ideas/comments either on this site or by e mail, etc.


1. Heads Up!! Be aware of everything that is happening around you or else you will literally run in to trouble!
2. Always run your circles towards the judges chair (in our case towards the stands).Do not lope around the perimeter of the arena or in the opposite direction of the flow.
3. Spin during the circling phase, inside the circles that are being run
4. ABSOLUTELY no spinning at the center mark!
5. Avoid stopping at the center mark. Many other riders are trying to hit this spot, keep it clear!
6. Heads up during lead changes or counter canter changes of direction.
7. DO NOT suddenly stop or back up without checking behind you first.
8. Rest your horse in the corners of the arena, walk to perimeter to cool out.
9. Socialize with friends in the corners of the arena.
10. The fencing phase starts about half way through an allotted warm up time,
11. DO NOT lope circles when people are fencing
12. DO NOT fence your horse when people are loping circles.
13. If you are trotting, trot to the inside of the circles (people going fastest have the priority to the outside of the circles)

If you happen to enter the warm up pen and all the rest of the horses are fencing, do not start loping circles. This would be very rude and dangerous. Wait until the fencing is done and then join in the circling. 

The same is true during the circling phase, don't start fencing until the rest of the crowd is ready. Parking your horse against a wall, in rundown preparation, is usually sufficient hint to the rest of the riders that fencing is about to begin.

Lack of knowledge in the warm up pen can cause huge frustration for people who are trying to get their warm up done. If someone is new to reining, and obviously doesn't know the warm up rules, politely explain them!


  1. I think it is a great idea to have a format like this. It is quite
    intimidating being a new arena rider and I don't want to be the "cause"
    of a negative experience at the same time I want to be able to ride and
    improve. So going over, knowing and using the "rules" would be very
    helpful. Thanks for the chance to post.

  2. I do agree that there needs to be some structure to oour rides as I too believe that safety is key. But Im not sure that the rules of reining are the way we should go. As there are many people who are just out to have fun on their horses and learn to ride in a nonjudgemental at tmosphere. If they happen to learn something about reining and they can get their horses to do something that resembles a reining manuever that is great. But basic areana rules are more important then following reining rules as many people will never go to a show were these rules are used. Not to mention that there are other methods of warming up a horse that are used. People who warm up differently follow basic rules and mke out just fine.

    I suggest that one end of the areana be used for warm up and the other end be used for short lessons with Randy as I thought was originally intended for our time at the areana. People who want a lesson can wait their turn and watch and learn what others are working on whether it is run downs, spins or lead changes etc. We should meet to discuss this matter. Mandy

  3. Yay.. FINALLY.. Thank you for posting this Bella..
    Please everybody read this.. It helps so much to have everybody ride together. The horses will appreciate it too. It is hard to teach your horse something and make it a pleasant ride if you have to pull them into the ground all the time..
    I would like to add that if there is people that dont feel comfortable fencing (a lot of horses are not broke enough for the task of running towards a wall and letting the wall stop themthat) that it would be good for everybody at the same time to lope quarter lines (straight quarter lines!!!)IN THE SAME DIRECTION!! Because reining is not just circles and spins.. the run downs are one of the most important parts.. so practise practise practise!!
    Thanks you Bella...

    See you all in a month.. Heading to Oregon to ride with Todd Bergen..

  4. Thanks for your posts and comments ladies. By creating a dialogue, hopefully we can come up with a solution that will (sort of) work for everyone...In response to some of Mandy's comments:

    1) "there are many people who are just out to have fun on their horses and learn to ride in a nonjudgemental atmosphere"....That's great, but remember, we are a REINING club-that was the motivation to start this club, and we are a branch of our parent club, the Western Canadian Reining Association. If you are joining the club simply as a chance to ride and socialize, I believe there is a club currently operating in our community (The Outriders) that is all breed /all discipline, that may be a better fit....
    In further response to the comment
    2. " basic areana rules are more important then following reining rules as many people will never go to a show were these rules are used"
    I once again would respond that we are a REINING club, and our goal is to educate our members about REINING specific concepts, whether it is a warm up, or learning and trying different maneuvers. The hope would also be, that members will at some point feel confident to go to a WCRA show as these shows are set up with MODIFIED patterns to accommodate and encourage people who are new to reining an opportunity to try a pattern with some of the more challenging maneuvers (such as flying lead changes, and riding one handed) removed. Although most WCRA shows are "big" shows, they are actually more accommodating for people new to reining to try a class, than for example, our small local show, where riders are expected to complete a full reining pattern with no accommodations for beginners. Most branches of the WCRA also offer reining specific schooling shows, where again beginners have a chance to try showing, usually in a modified pattern, but where the same warm up rules are expected. If we are to host such a show in the near future, and we want our own members as well as others from outside our club to participate, it would be important that we operate under the "reining rules" and not "general riding rules".
    3. "people who want a lesson can wait their turn and watch and learn what others are working on whether it is run downs, spins or lead changes etc."
    The fact that Rand is available and willing to offer "lessons" is awesome, and if he is willing to offer instruction to anyone who is interested that is even more awesome. Within the course of any given hour, maybe we can see who would be interested in working specifically with Randy, and make accommodations in the arena to accommodate that. If there are 3 people in a group of 15, who want to work with Randy, then maybe we can make a small area available, and vice versa if there are 15 people and all but 3 want to work with him, we make most of the arena available. Hopefully, we can work this out on an hour by hour basis, and try to accommodate everyone that is coming out to ride.....OR, maybe we say from 5:30-6:00 (for example), is for anyone wanting lessons, and everyone works around that...

    LASTLY...."We should meet to discuss this matter. "
    I absolutely agree! We need an opportunity to meet now that the club is growing so as a group we can collectively decide the direction we want to take as a club. We tried to pull something together last weekend, but the Forset Grove fire kind of messed that up! (Glad to hear that you were able to save the farm , Mandy!!). The next few weekends are tied up with shows. Anyone have any suggestions???

    Thanks again for the comments! I hope more of you will join in this discussion here, so when we do meet, we will have a sense of the bigger picture from all members!!


  5. Hi there 100 Mile Sliders! I'm really enjoying looking in on your blog from time to time.
    Bella, you did a great job of setting out the ring rules for reiners. The first time I rode in a warmup pen at a reining show I was terrified, but soon I found that as long as everyone (or almost everyone) understands the rules, we can all ride safely.
    I've started showing at AQHA shows in the last year or so and THAT can be scary! Everybody in the warmup pen is doing something different and you can't find a clear path to ride in.
    I see from the comments that there may be some people joining your rides who don't plan on competing in reining shows. But as a chapter of WCRA, of course reining is your focus. It's really important--if for no other reason than our insurance coverage--that each chapter adheres to the objects of the WCRA, which are all about reining. And even those who don't show reiners can ride safely, when the direction of travel, etc., is predictable.
    So, I congratulate you on agreeing on safe practices. And I look forward to seeing lots of you at Riverslide!

    Kathleen Keating
    President, WCRA

  6. Thanks Bella, the fire came to close for comfort but we were able to get our horses out to safety quickly, (thanks to Cecee and Ron of the outriders for looking out for them for the time they were at the rodeo grounds)

    Reading your response to my post:

    I did not mean to say that basic areana rules are more important just that following them also is helpful, as I did not have a problem riding that week doing so. I am sorry for that comment, I did not mean to upset anyone. I realize that it is a reining club and I want to learn as much about reining as I can. I also am training my own horse to do it (hopefully, lol), so to me having others instruction and sharing a knowledge base is why I like to be there. Warming up as we would at a WCRA show does not school my horse or me, although I do agree everyone should know what it is like. I also realize I am just one person but I just want to offer another side to reining night that could work.

    Have fun everyone tomorrow night, see everyone next week because it is Kolton Allwoods birthday, HAPPY BIRTHDAY Kolton!!!!!

  7. I really appreciate you offering your voice, Mandy, and no offense is a new club, we are bound to have growing pains, and I'm sure that by having an open dialogue, we can come to a consensus that will work for everyone. I only wish we had more people expressing their opinions. You obviously bring a lot of talent and experience to the club, and it is great to have you out.
    I'm curious to your statement "warming up as we would at a WCRA (or ANY reining ) show does not school my horse or me"...
    The main reason the reining warm up is designed the way it is, is to school your horse in all the reining maneuvers....
    Thanks again for contributing to this discussion. It is truly appreciated!
    And...Happy Birthday, Kolton!!

  8. When schooling a horse properly you need to work in more than just in training ahorse to stop requires more than fencing and running down....i do agree with reining warmup rules at a show but i don't like them at our night rides.....i have ridden dressage, jumping, open shows, and breed shows as well as reining a reining show i find i must go off and find a quit corner outside of the warm up ring to warm up properly as circles and run downs do not work ...that is my opion..yes we are a reining club and as far as i can see all members are here to learn..some just to get more out of their horse others to actual have a goal of someday riding in a show....following rules that ONLY apply at a show are not helping the majority of our explain the rules so all understand and don't feel like ducks outa water at a show is wonderfull....but i really don't think that they are applicable here...again my opion....and sorry for any spelling mistakes...i ride much better than i spell...Dawnna

  9. Thanks again Bella but I would not say that I have a lot of experience as I have only been to one WCRA show (lol). I guess I have ridden for many years like Dawnna in a few different disciplines. Each is very similar in schooling to have a horse schooled for higher level manuevers it involves bending, flexing and soft suppleness in the ribcage and in the bridle. As well as collection and drive and balance from the hocks for those pretty stops and easy transitions from fast to slow etc...A collection of exercises ( for me) achieves this it includes flexing the poll and neck, sidepass and leg yield, reverse ark, balancing the hocks with fence turns and half turn arounds.

    Warming up at a show is used for focus and relaxation and a reminder of what is needed within the pattern of reining.

    To school me: reminders of keeping my body balanced and centered on the horse, using my leg and weight at the correct times and improving feel. All is done by working through a series of exercises. Having someone experienced on the ground watching (like Randy) pays off big time.

    That for me is the difference between schooling and warming up.

    PS Bella you are very good at keeping discussions going. But this one is dead on my end I think people have heard enough of me
    Plus I don't think i have filled out the official paper work to be a member so i should not have an opinion ha ha... Mandy

  10. I think part of the issue is that we've interchanged some terms-warm up, vs schooling. I think we're trying to establish a STRUCTURE to allow people to school and/or practice/learn reining maneuvers, with the possibility of having some feedback and/or direction from Randy, on our riding night. In response to both Dawnna's and Mandy's last comment....The established rules of a reining arena (in my humble opinion) allow everyone the opportunity to do that, in a SAFE and PREDICTABLE environment. I'm not a trainer, but I've watched a lot of reining trainers work in a clinic, training, and show setting, and always using the established arena rules for reining. As far as I'm aware all of the schooling exercises you described above are easily accomplished within the framework of the reining arena rules....
    And Yes, having someone on the ground who can give feedback, in a structured setting is really valuable.
    Again, in order to come to a consensus, we need to meet to discuss this further, as a club and get something established that we can agree on!! And I think I too, have probably said enough at this point....


  11. HI Guys & Gals!!
    Well I do agree that we need some kind of structure to our Thursday night. I my opinion most of our members are not ready for this type of practice arrangement, and everyone is coming at all different times through out the evening, so setting a type of schedule for the entire arena would be very hard. I think that everyone needs pointers, and Randy is great for that!!! He has helped me a lot!!!
    If I had a choice on what I wanted to happen on Thursday night(for now) is that half of the arena is used to get help from Randy or who ever is there to help us and the other half is used for warming up, and people can sit and watch the lesson(people learn a lot from other people)
    Once we know who is going to be competing with Reining I do agree that we need to follow some of the reining protocol but for now people are learning, and we are trying to get people out and learning (about reining and general horsemanship skills) and we don’t want to scare them away by getting them to do lead changes, sliding stop, and spins before they are ready or even know how to properly.
    Anyways, that is how I feel, but we need to have a meeting regarding this as soon as possible, and get everyone’s input. I can be available during the week, and I am willing to come out to Interlake’s area if it is need. See you Thursday night!! Happy Birthday Kolton!!!!!!!!-Tiffany:)

  12. Thanks for posting your thoughts and comments everyone! I was thinking that maybe it might be a good idea to invite Amanda Self up to our meeting to help guide us through the process of creating a structured riding night. She has been through the process of starting up a reining club (at least) a few times, and is also a highly experienced and knowledgeable reining trainer. A few of us that are going to Kamloops next weekend will see her there, and can talk to her about it....How do you all feel about that??

  13. Hello Everyone,
    I am - not yet - a member of the club but the paperwork sits on my desk.
    I have been a "guest rider" a couple of times and had my thoughts about the unstructured riding.
    A bit about myself: I have been a dressage rider all my (horse)life, which lasts (the horsey part) now for 38 years. I competed a lot and had to ride in small arenas with a lot of people. I never had as much trouble riding a decent pattern as I had during the Thursday nights.

    Nobody is perfect - so why not start learning about BASIC arena rules and then understand the specific reining rules.
    Why not setting two times for two groups. The beginner reiners and the young members first, the more experienced, more advanced reiners after that.
    That would give the riders who would like lessons and some more basic instructions a safe place to be. AND: everyone from the first group could stay to watch the second group to learn!

    In this first group the BASIC arena rules should be followed: left shoulder to left shoulder. The faster gait stays at the fence, the rider who wants to walk the horse has to stay on the second track. "Parking" only in the middle of each circle.

    The second group should not have any problems to follow the reining rules - that is what all of them want to do anyways. REINING.

    Riding in an arena is a treat - specially once the weather is not friendly. But riding in an arena requires a lot of discipline. You share the space with other riders of any level and other horses. Some are younger and not as experienced, some are "been there done that". Riders as well as horses.

    So - rules will help. No matter whst.

    Be safe and see you soon in the arena in 100 Mile.

  14. It is too bad that everybody around here seems to be working against eachother instead of hand in hand.. come on guys... let get our act together and share the passion we have for horses and reining...

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