Born that Way

By Patty Wilber

I read an article talking about the early days in reining and the importance of having a horse that was bred for its job. Born that way!

Buckshot (A Para Dox) (click his name to see pictures)  is a four year old stallion that is bred to rein, and owned by Whispering Spirit Ranch. I have had him since December 2010, and have been working on his……. reining.

Buckshot says, "Thanks for this very dignified picture!"

Reining involves:

Running Large Fast and Small Slow Circles.  The change of speed must be noticeable and must occur at precisely the correct location.

Lead Changes. The horse must run both right and left circles and must change leads, at precisely the correct location.

Spins. Usually 4 to 4 1/4 spins, each direction.  The horse must have his inside hind foot planted and he should move around that foot with speed.  Check out this fun YouTube video that shows some top reiners spinning and other stuff too.

Stops. The horse must be able to run full speed and slide to a stop.  There are stops on the above video.  Stops are influenced by the build of the horse (breeding!), training, shoes and the ground surface.  Here is a picture of sliders (CR62R , shoes that go on the hind feet to enhance sliding.

Note the sliders are very wide and smooth--like wearing socks on a wooden floor--they allow the horse to slide, if the ground is not too deep, in which case the horse just gets buried when he tries to slide!

Rollbacks. The horse stops and slides, then has to do a 180 turn, preferably all at once (so not like a spin), and take off at a lope.

It takes quite a while (18-24 months by some estimates) to develop all of these moves so that they are precise and correct, and like any athletic endeavor the build of the horse is really important to his ability to do these moves.  Born that way.

I have been riding Buckshot for about 5 months, and he has been coming along steadily, but kind of slowly, in my estimation.

Two weeks ago he went to a show and did his first reining pattern in a competition setting.  His moves are far from ready, and we did the event mainly so he could have experience Being There. It went about as I expected–not real pretty but still valuable arena time with just a little pressure.

Went home and kept working.

Took him to another show this past weekend.

Holy Cow. The improvement was tremendous.

1.  He was super focused, light and responsive.  That was the thing I was the most impressed with.

2. He got all his lead changes (but not quite on the precise spot).

3. His circles were very round and he really shut down his speed from the large fast to the small slow circle on the left lead.

4.  His stops (especially the last) were amazing! So amazing that people (LOTS! of people) came up to me to comment.  The next day the judges also went out of their way to compliment his stops.

This change in two weeks is a result of two things:

1. (Apparently I am into lists today).  Training! Setting up exercises to build the horse’s confidence, training his body for the maneuvers, preparing his brain, and getting him in tune with me.

2. Breeding.  The horse has to have the the innate ability to excel. Horses with less ability can be trained to perform, but they simply cannot do as well as those that are…

Born that Way.




About BlogPatty

Here's the skinny: I have a thing for horses. They make sense to me. I have a small horse training business (it's a "boutique" training business, not because it's super fancy, but because the horses get a lot of personal attention). I also go by Dr. Wilber, and teach biology full-time at a Central New Mexico Community college.
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2 Responses to Born that Way

  1. Doranna says:

    Ha! all that cool reining stuff aside, there’s a rabicano in that video, like on the neat weird colors link from last week…

  2. Patty says:

    I didn’t even pay attention to that!

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