By: WEG Staff Writer
LEXINGTON, Ky. – In less than one day, world champions of eight equestrian sports will be contested at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, and whether you’re a horse enthusiast or someone who has never touched a horse, we can bet you don’t know about every single discipline.
Reining is the only western-style discipline featured at the 2010 Games. According to the National Reining Horse Association, competitions are designed to show the athletic ability of a ranch-type horse within the confines of a show arena. Reining is America’s discipline, with a history that dates back to the Western ranch.
Reining is a judged event, and similar to Dressage, riders will perform specific patterns and movements in front of judges to receive subjective scores, based on the accuracy and style of their performance.
How does it work?
Contestants are required to run one of 10 approved patterns, which can include different maneuvers such as small, slow circles, large, fast circles, flying lead changes, 360 degree spins, rollback turns, walk-ins, sliding stops and more. All of the maneuvers and patterns are designed to demonstrate and test the different abilities of the reining horse.
Athletes complete their patterns one at a time in a closed, marked arena with judges stationed around it. The athletes are judged individually, similar to Dressage. However, in Reining, riders start with a score of 70, and for each maneuver, a horse or rider can gain or lose half of a point depending on how well they performed the maneuver.
According to the FEI, credit is given for smoothness, finesse, attitude, quickness and authority of movements. Speed also adds to the level of difficulty of the movements.
What does a pattern look like?
Required patters include several different maneuvers that riders must complete. These maneuvers are listed and drawn out so that riders and judges can visually see what all of the movements will look like within the space of the arena.
The specific maneuvers will depend on what pattern the rider is completing. A pattern might have a rider enter the arena, run to the opposite side, turn around and run back and then do a sliding stop or a 360 degree turn.
A well-performed pattern will not only follow the drawn pattern and include the required maneuvers but will also look smooth, and fast, but also controlled. The maneuvers are similar to moves that cattle horses have to perform on the ranch, and they require excellent communication between horse and rider.
In competition, a horse and rider are judged from the moment they enter the arena until they have complete their last maneuver.
Riders incur penalties and lose points for simple mistakes such as spinning more or less than 360 degrees, not getting a lead change on time or not stopping at the right location. Credit is given for performing the maneuver well, and there is no limit for how high a rider can score.
During the 2010 Games
The Reining competition will take place over four days of the 2010 Games. It will include both team and individual competitions.
For the Team Competition, all riders complete the same required Reining patterns and earn individual scores. Those scores are then combined with the other teammates for a team score for their country. The country with the highest score will win the Team Competition. In addition, the 15 athletes with the highest individual scores will automatically move on to the Individual Final.
The athletes that placed 16th-35th in the Team Competition will compete in the Qualifying Competition for the five remaining spots in the Individual Final.
The Individual Final will include the top 15 athletes from the Team Competition and the top five athletes from the Qualifying Competition. The athlete with the best score after this competition will be the world champion.
So the Reining riders have required dress?
Yes. Reining riders are required to wear appropriate western attire while competing. According to FEI rules for Reining, this includes a long sleeve shirt with a collar, cowboy boots, and a western hat or safety helmet.
Another important Reining rule to understand pertains to the reins. Riders may only use one hand to hold the reins and control their horse during competition. In addition, they cannot change hands once they have entered the arena.
Reining is an upbeat, exciting event. Don’t be surprised when you hear other spectators “hootin’ and hollering” and even whistling while riders are performing. This is different from many of the other disciplines, where spectators are encouraged to remain quiet while a rider performs.
When a rider completes a maneuver be ready to cheer, and cheer again when they’ve finished their pattern. If something “wows” you, don’t be afraid to vocalize it, just keep it positive.
Copyright 2010 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Top Sports Headlines
Sergio Garcia apologized to Tiger Woods for saying he would serve fried chicken if they were to have dinner at the U.S. Open, an ugly addition to nearly two weeks of verbal sparring.