Reining shines at Manfeild
A WESTERN riding discipline that demonstrates how closely humans and horses can connect is staging at Manfeild soon.
Reining is a horsemanship competition born in the United States in which the riders guide their mounts through a precise pattern of circles, spins and stops.
It has an enthusiastic and growing New Zealand following, with core support from this region.
“We have many local members from Feilding and within the lower North Island who will be attending,” says Pauline Scahill, explaining the impetus for why the New Zealand Reining Association choosing Manfeild Stadium as venue for the ‘Summer Reining and Ranch Show’ on the last weekend of March.
Approaching its 20th anniversary, the association is a non-profit that has progressively grown over the years and developed a fun, family atmosphere.
Adding this event to a regional show schedule that culminates with a national event gives plenty of opportunity to showcase and encourage individual developments, she says.
“NZRHA continue to work with international judges and clinicians to help our members improve their reining capabilities (and) we are working towards a transtasman reining challenge in the near future to further enhance our members’ opportunities.”
Competition at Manfeild restricts to March 30, with the immediate day before, and two days after, being for training.
Like all Western riding disciplines, reining draws from cowboy days, with typical daily duties required for moving stock now translating into challenging modern routines.
The sport remains rooted in practical application as participants often cite that reining-trained horses are good for just about any kind of work around a property, and often prove excellent first horses for youngsters.
The highest levels of dedication and diligence are asked as riders guide their mounts through sprints, sliding stops, tight circles and rollbacks – where the horse must pivot on its hind hooves, effectively turning on a coin.
The competition requires an exceptional level of mutual trust between rider and horse; watching animals that are willing, eager to work and doing exactly what they’re trained to do with ease is mesmerising.
Insight into how the discipline is judged will come from a seminar, on the event’s opening day, involving the weekend’s chief adjudicator, international judge Shane Watts, of Australia. He is also conducting a post-competition training clinic, on the Sunday and Monday.
Reining is so big in America’s rural heartland there are national events across numerous states. These lead to year-end challenges and qualification for world-championship competitions. It’s possible for top riders there to earn more than $1 million over the course of their careers.
Caption: Catherine Ladd and Melody Jay demonstrate the exceptional level of mutual trust between rider and horse demanded by reining, a Western riding discipline.
Photo: Squiggletop Photography.