Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Reiners By The Bay

I have to admit that I’ve always been an english rider at heart, ever since starting riding lessons at age ten. Back then it was huntseat, but in more recent years I took up dressage. 

I have, however, always loved the Quarter Horse breed. In fact, my own horse is a very atypical Quarter Horse much better suited to the english riding disciplines than to the life of a cowpony, but he has that wonderful QH gentile, laid back personality. I’ve never had lessons in riding western although I do know the difference between direct reining and neck reining and that western riders ride with only one hand on the reins. And, I know all the parts of western saddles and other tack. I watched a lot of westerns when I was a kid in the 50’s after all. 

That’s about the extent of my western riding knowledge so when I went to the Reiners By The Bay show two weekends ago at Flintfields Horse Park, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect or when the best time to go was. A check of the website revealed only a list of classes with unfamiliar designations and no explanation as to what those designations meant. 

Unfortunately, I chose to go on Sunday rather than Saturday because of the predicted high heat, and that turned out to be a mistake. All the good (upper level) classes were on Saturday. The Sunday schedule had promised a full list of classes, but when I got there in late morning, only two classes remained; both for green horses and riders. 

Ah well. It was a learning experience if nothing more, and after checking out the light direction and accessibility to the ring, I lucked out by standing next to a woman who was there with reiner friends and was friendly enough to  clue me in to a few things. 

Maybe it was the fact that these were green horses doing the required movements awkwardly and slowly, but I suddenly understood the opinions of non dressage enthusiasts about watching dressage. Once you’ve seen one or two horses go, you’ve seen it all and the rest is pretty boring. 

My railside shooting companion did tell me that this show was a nationally sanctioned event and that they hoped to make it an annual show. I do, too, because I’d love to watch the upper level horses perform their spins and sliding stops in more dramatic fashion. 

I was informed that reiners are both very friendly, supportive of one another and noisy in voicing that support during rides. 

Dogs go to reining events, too. This is an interesting looking canine, don't you think? 

Some of the entrants were all dolled up in fancy clothes like you see in western pleasure classes with matching saddle pads. 

One of the required movements consists of going fast around in a circle three times in each direction. 

But the really exciting movements in reining are the spin, here executed in slow motion 

and the sliding stop. I have been told that the rider must not haul on the horse's mouth to get the desired fast sliding stop, haunches down and front feet walking to a stop. 

I'm pretty sure this is frowned upon, but after all this is a green reining horse. 

All in all, the camera performed perfectly, I learned a lot and am already looking forward to next year's show. Plus, I did get some great shots to use for paintings and saw some handsome cowboys, cute girls and pretty horses. 

That made the day very worthwhile. 

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