|The “sport” of Reining is one of the most preposterous riding disciplines of all time. The word Preposterous – contrary to nature, truth, reason or common sense; utterly absurd (Webster); appropriately describes the entire Reining scenario. I can think of no other recognized riding activity that causes injuries (usually permanent) in so many participating horses. Reining does not require the skills normally associated with working or gaming events and simply reflects the vanity, arrogance and ignorance of its human participants.|
The sliding plate shown above is one inch wide and thinner than a regular riding plate below, but some are up to one and half inch wide. Shown below is a normal light riding plate. It is narrower and thicker; hence it provides a deeper cup and better traction.
The Reining folks call "Reining"
the "Western Dressage" although they are in fact, entirely
different. Unlike the movements required in Reining, properly
trained Dressage horses perform more natural movements that are not as
likely to cause permanent leg injuries if executed correctly.
example of Reining vs. Dressage movements is as follows:
In dressage it is inconceivable to have the horse pivoting on any leg
without picking it up and moving it forward (in a pirouette,
the horse moves all four legs forward as opposed to the Reining horse
that often moves one of its hind legs backward during the spin, while
pivoting on the other!). If the
dressage horse pivots this way on one of his hind legs (or moves one leg
backward) in a pirouette or just in a simple turn on his haunches, it
will lose points for that particular drill.
In contrast, the reining people pride themselves in turning their horse
so that its hind leg acts like a posthole digger and spinning the horse
around like a maniac while the other hind leg is moving in the backward
direction. This movement is entirely unnatural for the horse and serves
no purpose relative to work or gaming.
Quick turns on the haunches are practical for the military horse, as
well as the cattle horse, therefore it is important to have the horses
trained for such moves. Here is where the problem occurs with the
Reining spin movement described above. The Reining horse does not often
pick up one of his hind legs when turning and/or move one or both legs
backwards. When trained to
move in this manner, the horse is likely to
injure his pivoting leg, especially when turning in a rough, uneven or
rocky terrain because it could jam up against a rock or in a hole.
Furthermore, the hind leg(s) that moves backward could easily get caught
on uneven terrain, causing the horse to trip and fall backwards.
example of the absurdity of Reining is in the shoeing. The shoes which
are called sliding plates are designed to satisfy only one of the
moves in the reining; i.e. sliding. Reining horses have sliding plates
on their hind legs to minimize the traction so that the horse slides
when stopped sharply.
The sliding stop is dramatic and always excites the Reining audience
who perceive the action as a skilled “accomplishment” when
actually it is the sliding plates that create the special effects for
the cheering fans! The situation becomes even worse (for the horse)
because after performing the sliding stop, the same Reining horse is
expected to run in circles at fast speeds relative to the limited
space of the arena. In this case the sliding plates are a detriment,
as the horse now needs traction to be able to perform such turns
soundly and safe. These horses often move their hind legs like
roosters, picking them quicker (higher) off the ground and
hysterically trying to set them under themselves (as they are slipping
on the sliding plates) so they do not fall.
This photo shows one of reining patterns of the insane array of circles preformed by the horse with very little traction in his hind legs.
is Reining so popular these days? Well, it was present much longer
than most people think, but until the nineties it lacked popularity.
It came to rise mainly through the interest of the Europeans,
primarily those in the eastern block. To the people in the East, the
West represented freedom and freedom was usually
"romanticized" by the "Wild West" cowboys. This
could be clearly seen when the Cold War ended in Europe and here in
the USA as well. The rising interest in “country” music also
brought the attention to horses and the so-called Western
disciplines. One can hardly imagine a cowboy without a horse. People
in Europe became fanatical about the "Wild West" thing and
the rodeo even started there.
Interest in quarter horses rose as well and so did the fascination of Reining. Since our societies are purely money (profit) oriented, Reining opened a door to new marketing potentials. The promotion of this discipline goes so far that proponents want to make "Reining" part of the Olympic Games. The hunger and desire for fame drive people to extremes, where athletes will literally sacrifice their bodies to reach recognition. Well, that's OK since we are all grown up (supposedly) and can make our own choices. Using horses for these purposes however, shows our disrespect for them and also our ignorance to the pain that these horses suffer on account of our vanity and pride.
have observed in my neighborhood a man obsessed with Reining. One
year, he sent a dozen horses to be trained for reining by a famous
trainer. When the year was over, nine of those horses
(two-year-olds) came back completely destroyed beyond further use of
any kind. However, one of the horses managed to make it to the
worlds and finished third. To the man, it was all worth it. The
racing industry is very tough on horses but in comparison with the
Reining it is the horse heaven.
It is clear that the Reining belongs to the "greenhorn" public, the city folks that know nothing about the work of a cowboy or about horsemanship. The reining discipline contradicts all aspects of true western riding and uses of horses and corrupts the basic principals of any riding style. Many cowboys in the old days were freelancers, they were not rich and the horse was the main tool of their livelihood (if they actually owned one). The importance of a horse and his value in the old west reflects in the fact that the stealing of a horse was a capital crime; men were hung for it in many places. Though I did not live in the "old west", I am sure that no decent rider or cowboy would run his horse full out and then stop him unnecessarily quickly/suddenly nor he would do other abusive things to him as it is done in the reining today such as running in circles on a "slippery" surface or the repeatedly spinning around insanely. In this particular case, the term "slippery" is referring to a riding surface that the horse's feet (hooves) cannot get a hold of since the sliding plates significantly reduce the traction in the hind legs. Asking the horse to take off, run or change direction (circles) in such shoes on a slippery surface is down outright abuse. To simulate or to feel what the reining horse feels, put on leather-sole-shoes and run on ice (slippery surface) like the Reining horse (see pattern); then see just how secure do you feel and how your knees (stifles) and ankles (hocks) will feel afterwards.
media and the movies also screw up the heads of people regarding the
use of horses. In Western movies the horses seem to gallop from
sunrise to sunset and cowboys arrive at the saloon in a sliding
stop. In the movie Black Beauty, it is the "love"
(our emotions) that seems to work miracles with a horse that could
not possibly perceive or understand love. The message I am offering
to those who think that that their horses respond to emotional love
or are capable of loving is simple; "Snap out of your dreams
(desires) and wake up to the truth of your life and to the
consequences of your deeds".
and other Western Disciplines - Horse Shows
Written by Ludvik K Stanek a.k.a Lee Stanek (2003)