Western Terminology – Reining

Western horse and rider

Image from Tami Gramont

There is a lot of lingo & terminology dedicated to the world of western horse shows. We’ve broken the show world down into smaller sub-categories to cover them in finer detail. Here is a list of common terminology used in the world of reining.

If reining isn’t your thing, check out some other terminology.

A maneuver which requires loping in a circle over half of the arena. There are two types of circles: Small, Slow & Large, Fast. Each circle element should show two transitions, one from fast to slow or slow to fast and one flying lead change.

Degree of difficulty
Judges score maneuvers based on their degree of difficulty. Higher scores are given for a higher degree of difficulty.

Tilling the arena soil periodically to keep the show area even.

Used to create a random list of competitors for their turn in the class.

A warm up exercise where the horse runs from one end of the area to the other, as the rider controls building speed. At the far end the horse does a sliding stop right at the fence.

Labels (often orange cones) that divide the arena into thirds and indicate where the rider is expected to perform each maneuver.

Minus Maneuver
A maneuver with a low degree of difficulty.

No Score
When a horse is pulled from a competition due to illegal equipment or drugs their score is pulled and a record of the violation is filed.

National Reining Horse Association was founded in 1966 to promote the reining horse. The association sets standards for the sport of reining worldwide.

Plus Maneuver
A maneuver with a high degree of difficulty

Roll Back
The completion of a stopping maneuver, after stopping the rider should pause and then ask the horse to rotate (or roll back) on their haunches and lope off in the direction they just came from.

Run Down
A maneuver which the horse builds up speed preparing for the stopping maneuver. The run down is important in ensuring a proper stop.

Skid Boots
Protective leg wear that wraps around the fetlock joint of the hind legs to protect them from injury.

A maneuver that is performed from a gallop, as they hit the proper marker their rider will ask them to slide to a stop leaning back on their hind legs. The faster and harder the stop, the higher the degree of difficulty.

Turn Around
A maneuver in which the horse pivots around their inside back foot in a circle approx. 4 times in both directions.

Willfully Guided
Terminology used to describe a horse with a pleasant manner, quiet mouth & tail, ears alert to their rider, relaxed & attentive posture.

Zero Score
When a rider goes off pattern they receive a zero score. It is not a penalty, but rather omits that rider from the score for that particular class.


For more information about the world of reining.
National Reining Horse Association
Reiner Stuff
Reiners World

Left Anything Out?

Please feel free to comment about what we might have missed in the reining category & stay tuned for more to come. Be sure to check out more terminology from the horse world.