About Western Seat/Reining Seat Equitation
Western Seat/Reining Seat Equitation and Western Horsemanship riders should
give the impression of being in absolute control. Riders must have a very
secure seat and leg with a quiet, guiding hand as the performance of the
horse is also considered. The rider should have purpose, direction and
follow through in all gaits and maneuvers.
The Western Seat/Reining Seat rider should give the appearance of control,
adaptability and the ability to demonstrate how to properly ride a reining
horse and perform a reining horse pattern. Riders are judged on seat, hands
and performance of the horse. However, riders are being judged and the
performance of the horse is not considered more important than the method
used to obtain it. Methods used, hand, leg and body position, must be
considered as well as how the aids were applied and what results were
achieved. Speed and flare should not be sacrificed for correct position,
control or smoothness. Riders should, however, show authority and show to
the best of their ability.
Riders must wear Western hat; long-sleeved shirt with any type of collar;
a necktie, kerchief or bolo tie or brooch; trousers or pants; (a one-piece
long-sleeved equitation suit is acceptable provided it includes any type
of collar). Chaps and boots are required. A vest, jacket, coat, and/or
sweater may also be worn. Horses shall be shown with a stock saddle and
a standard Western bit. Standard snaffle bits and hackamores are allowed
if riding a junior horse.
In both Western Seat/Reining Seat Equitation and Western Horsemanship,
the rider’s body should appear comfortable, relaxed and flexible while
sitting erect and straight in the saddle. The body should be erect and
straight but not stiff. Riders should be sitting squarely in the saddle
with the legs directly under the body, not pushed forward. The rider’s
seat must be secure, heels should be under the rider’s hips, the knee in
contact with the saddle, calf in contact with the horse, ankle relaxed and
the heel down. The stirrups should be just short enough to allow the heels
to be lower than the toes and the feet should be placed in the stirrups
with the weight on the ball of the foot, not on the tip of the toe or pushed
home to the heel. This position gives the rider the most effective use of
Riders must sit straight and in the center of the horse’s balance, keeping
complete contact with the saddle. A quiet, light hand should be held in
the proper position while maintaining a consistent head position and balance
in all gaits. A secure leg position is necessary for control of the horse
and maintaining consistent gaits, transitions and maneuvers.
At all gaits the rider should be straight with only a slight motion in the
saddle keeping with the rhythm of the horse. Riders are to sit to the jog
and at the lope should be close to the saddle without popping out of the
saddle or leaning back. At all gaits the rider’s legs must remain directly
underneath the body and the upper body must not fall behind or in front of
the vertical. All movements of the horse should be governed by the use of
imperceptible aids. The obvious shifting of the rider’s weight, leaning to
direct the horse, or over-use of spurring, should be penalized.
Since riders only use one hand for reining, it is imperative that the rider
uses the hand, seat and legs in coordination to guide the horse.
Arms are held in a straight line with the body. The reining hand, or the
hand holding the reins, is bent at the elbow. Only one hand is used for
reining regardless of the type of bit used. Hands should not be changed
during the class. However, either hand may be used for reining and either
is considered correct.
When romal reins are used the hand is to be around the reins. The rider can
hold romal reins or the ends of split reins with the free hand, the hand not
used for reining, to keep them from swinging and to adjust the position of
the reins, provided it is held with at least sixteen inches of rein between
When using romal reins or when the ends of split reins are held in the hand
not used for reining, no finger is allowed between the reins. All fingers
are around the reins with the thumb on top and the reining hand is held in
a vertical position. The position of the rider’s free hand is optional but
should be kept free of the horse and equipment and held in a relaxed manner
with the rider’s body straight at all times. It is common for a rider using
romal reins to allow the free hand to rest securely on the thigh keeping
the elbow close to the body and the shoulders straight and even. The free
hand should not float, change positions or bounce around.
When using split reins and the ends of the reins fall on the same side as
the reining hand, one finger is permitted between the reins. The reining
hand is held in a natural position, not necessarily vertical. The position
of the free hand is optional, but should be kept free of the horse and
equipment and held in a relaxed manner with the body straight. Riders often
hold the free hand in a position bending at the elbow, or resting securely
on the thigh. Either is acceptable. The elbow is close to the body and the
shoulders are straight and even. The free hand should not change positions,
move or bounce around.
Using either method of holding the reins, the reining hand should be above
the horn and as near to it as possible. Bracing against the horn, saddle
or riata is penalized.
Riders enter the ring at a walk or jog and are judged at a flat-footed four
beat walk, two-beat jog and a three-beat lope both ways of the ring. The
order to reverse may be executed by turning toward or away from the rail.
All competitors are required to back in a straight line during the line up
in all classes. Judges are encouraged to call for at least two tests to
be performed by competitors being considered for an award. Judges can
choose from a list of tests.
In Western Horsemanship, emphasis should be placed on the horse and the
rider working together. Rail work is optional at the discretion of the
judge. Execution of required gaits, transitions, tests, and correct form
of both horse and rider, while maintaining a pleasurable ride, are the
When performing the pattern in a Western Horsemanship class, riders should
show complete control, precision, accuracy and smoothness. Execution and
correct form of both the horse and rider while maintaining a pleasurable
ride are the main criteria for this class.
Portions of the text provided courtesy of the Arabian Horse Association,