Daughter would like to try reining in N. CA where do we go?

Hi - HJ person here trying to understand the world of reining. My daughter who is a novice rider would like to try reining. I cannot for the life of me find a reining barn that has horses to lesson on in Northern California - Bay Area. It appears its very much you own a horse and train with a trainer or own a horse and trailer out to a trainer. I’d like her to “try” reining before we commit to leasing or buying. Anyone have any insight on where or how we can try it out for a few months in our area?

Maybe try PM @TheHunterKid90 poster.
She is a reining trainer/competitor and may know who in your area you can contact.
The two trainers I know that were there have moved to the North-East TX reining hub, not in CA any more.

I don’t know how far away he is, but I highly recommend David Hanson - Hanson Performance Horses.

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I second Hansons. He is in Clements, couple hours drive from the bay but it would be worth the drive if he has a lesson horse for your daughter to ride. (Plus you can stop at Ricottis on the way through!)
Unfortunately what you’re running into is pretty typical and can make getting into some of the western disciplines difficult.

Edit to Add… if you’re willing to go that far, Mike Boyle is up the road in Ione.

I suggest you contact Mike Boyle, who is also near Clements. I knew him and Barbi at college, and years later boarded at the same facility, where they stood Topsail Cody. Bob Loomis, TC’s owner, would come and give clinics and give us H/J’ers heart attacks. Mike might have some contacts local to you; he’s former president of NRHA.

Eric Thomas is in the east bay.

West Coast Reining Horse Assn is based in north bay, and might have some reccos.

Also check out NRHA’s Find A Trainer page.


Barbi and Mike Boyle are a great choice. They have an assistant named Jason who is amazing with the youth kids.
Also check out the Buy A Pro auction going on now. Many many professionals have donated their services and many of them horses to use so you can spend 3-4 days riding with them and learning! It would be a fantastic way for your daughter to dip her foot in and see if she likes reining.
If she wants to commit, there’s many generous owners willing to lease to youth and non pros every year.

True that, we have helped some junior that our trainer thought needed a good horse.
Junior really was helping at the barn for a chance to learn and having that horse let her do that and win her share in 4H, AQHA and NRHA, some year end and championships.
Have one such win picture hanging on the wall.

Also consider colleges with equestrian teams.
We also have loaned horses for their end of year competitions and they have done very well.

While is best for reining to have your own horse, to start, there are ways to learn first and see how interested a junior may be for the long haul.
In that part of California, reining is big, has several top trainers and a is great place to learn.

I’ll check out both Boyle and Hansens. Such a different sport than the h/j world - there are quite a few hj trainers in the bay area - some good some meh - most have some sort of lesson horse/lease program. Interesting to see there is really only a couple of great professionals people recommend - like quality versus quantity in this case.
I’ve also heard the reining world is much more reasonable - cost wise - shows and such versus the h/j’s. This makes my heart pitter patter!

Id check out IEA teams in that area and that will probably give you a lead! If they do IEA they probably have lesson horses!

Having been involved in reining in IEA, I would say that it is not an accurate representation of the sport. Most of the horses donate or brought by teams to compete are washed up, runaways or not even trained for reining and the poor kids have to wing it.
I found it made the kids ride defense crossing their fingers their mount wouldn’t run off with them and hopefully eventually stopped when they said woah. :woman_shrugging:t2:
I get it, it’s hard to find people to donate horses…I donated a few a few years back, they were low level Reiners but they knew their job and were safe. The kids were so excited to ride nice quiet and safe horses.

Well not every kid privileged enough to get into the sport otherwise and feel very lucky to ride “washed up” “runaways“… :roll_eyes:

I think you misinterpreted my statement.
If her daughter is interested in reining, IEA will not give her an accurate representation of the sport. In fact, it may scare her off if. Trust me, Reiners that haul around the corner and bolt in run downs are scary.

True that, but then, consider that happens at the lower levels of reining also, is part of learning and getting better and to pick the better trainers and horses.

I agree that at the lower levels of any discipline you see the ones making mistakes, the horses that are less accomplished and the struggling by all, is part of the process.
Ever watch a lower level jumping class?
Some rounds are hair-raising, close your eyes and hope no one got killed.

I know that when we loaned suitable reining horses for the college teams to compete, one which won twice the championship, with two different very accomplished riders, the horses were the same we were showing and winning with, not any badly trained, unsafe runaway.
It is up to the trainers to accept or refuse a horse that is not adequately trained or safe.

I think every beginner should get a video of their first lessons, showing them that they too at one time were less than perfect, to keep them humble and kind to those coming behind them on their quest for more knowledge.

I just think it’s unfair to make such a blanket statement for all IEA reining horses like that. The IEA lesson horses will probably not be as nice as your finished reiners but if someone’s looking for a good intro to the sport that might be a good option. Also I don’t know of any competitive reining trainers with lesson horses at least in my area with the exception being trainers that also happen to coach IEA/IHSA because they have to have lesson horses.

:rofl: Bless your heart, there’s always one that takes offense to everything.


For sure Bluey! I’ve seen some awesome horses donated to the college teams, especially at the Derby for the college class they run there.
The IEA has just seemed to be poorly stocked with horses (from the areas and shows I’ve been to (eastern seaboard) and it would be pretty disappointing to a kid to join IEA learn and show reining and draw a wild Appaloosa that has no clue what a spin or lead change is. (Not saying this to poke fun at Apps…one of my students actually experienced this.)

IEA is a great for our sport because it levels the playing field for everyone. You get good draws and bad draws and but that’s life and that’s an important lesson for the kids to learn. Plus if you make it to the higher levels the horses are consistent and actually pretty nice. I think turning your nose up at the whole program is frankly elitist.

If you want to level the playing field, IEA shows would be structured like NCAA meets.
Five riders from each team show in each discipline, one rider from each team ride the same horse and whoever shows it better gets the point for their team.
They also get a warmup on each horse to get a feel for it, in IEA they don’t even get to pick up the reins and take a hold of the horses chin. The first time they feel anything so when they’re walking (or loping in the pen to show).
I’m not going to keep arguing with you as it’s clear you are very set in your opinions.
Happy New Year!

Plus when you donate a horse for those classes you get free stabling for that horse thru the whole show.

I do agree, reining is about realizing when you start there is so much to it, you don’t know what you don’t know.
Reining is about the insatiable quest for more knowledge, the old “oh, how interesting!”.
What is funny to those getting slowly educated to the finer points of reining, how those just starting become instant experts, until they realize is going to take a lifetime to realize how much they are missing.
Reining is definitely not for the impatient.
It finally sinks in when they keep questioning why those mean judges are not marking them higher, the picture looks so perfect to them. :stuck_out_tongue: