New to reining - looking for education on what to look for

Hi all - you may remember me. My daughter was looking for reining lessons in California. We found a wonderful place at Boyle ranch - they are amazing! I’m trying to educate myself on what to look for in a good reiner - versus a just okay reiner. I can tell you a nice HJj versus a so so one - aka why one is priced at $100k and one at $50k. Can someone educate me on what you are looking for in a reiner- like why one is priced at $25k versus $50k? Videos or examples would be SUPER helpful. I just cannot tell beyond one is a pretty color or built super downhill.

Hmmm. I dont know much about modern competitive reining. However, in general, like h/j it’s a performance sport. So when you are looking at a horse, it could be a prospect that shows promise or it could be on the way up and show promise to advance, or it could be top of its class, or it could be a school master slowing down.

Good QH are naturally catty, but reining is like dressage in that it is predominantly learned skills that are judged on technicalities that can evolve over the years. Speed and precision.

So in addition to raw talent, the quality of the training and the mind of the horse are big factors.

If you want to know what makes a top reining performance you probably want to watch championship videos but it would be so useful to be able to see score cards or have someone knowledge talk you through a few videos. As with dressage, at the top it’s going to be some subtle things about movements that determine the placings.

The top horses will be the ones that can best do the current competition moves.

I don’t think you can evaluate one just from a confirmation sales photo. I mean like in dressage, you can tell the difference between a good specimen of purpose bred horse and some random grade pony. But line up 3 similar good enough purpose bred prospects, only the very lucky and skilled will pick the best one, and they will want to see it move and if it’s a jumper, go down a free jump chute.

The one thing I do know about reiners is that they get started very young compared to other riding horses, the work is hard on their hocks, and they have shorter careers because of this.

I would add that when you are used to the way of going of bigger English jumpers, the movements of even just decent QH reiners and cutters and cattle penning horses look like magic.

Beg to disagree about reiners being less apt to stay sound for any reason.
Many, many in the beginner and older classes attest to how even older, many reiners are still doing just fine, not crippled early any more than any other athlete in any other discipline may.

In fact, plenty of studies now show that starting a horse early to do the task it will be trained and doing all it’s life results in a sounder horses over the years.
Yes, it was a surprise to everyone, even those conducting the studies, that expected to show that people should wait until more mature to start horses.
Many still think so, ignoring that with what we know today, that is not so.

If you want to learn more, your trainer is who should walk you thru videos and at shows thru some runs and show you what judges are looking for and how to evaluate horse’s ability levels.

As a beginner, you don’t need a high priced horse that will beat everyone.
Best is a horse that is well trained and kind and will let you learn, not do more than you ask for.
Too much horse may scare you a bit and that brings bad habits created by anticipating to have more horse than we can handle.
Best is a horse that is doing just that, teaching beginners.

Reining has many class divisions so anyone will have a good experience competing at their level, especially important at the lower levels.

Do PM @TheHunterKid90 for detailed answers.
She is an up and coming trainer, now as assistant to a big name trainer.

Once you get into reining more, you will find a very welcome group of riders that help each other more than in other disciplines, as they truly are competing against themselves, to do better, not so much to beat anyone else.
Be warned, it is not as easy as it seems, but oh so much fun.
You never get perfect, but trying to is part of the fun.


So happy you ended up at Boyle Ranch! Great choice of fabulous professionals!
There are a few main areas that we look at in a reining horse.
Train ability (good mind)
Raw talent
Show record

All of these things play into price of said horse.
If the horse is a yearling then more interest is on pedigree (maybe what the dam has already produced), conformation and how they move in a round pen and the pasture.
Remember, these things are indicators in a young horse, no guarantees!

Now let’s pick all these things apart…pedigree. Pedigree plays an important role in unproven stock, mares and stallions. If you’re buying a proven gelding, pedigree probably means very little although it might attract you to a horse. He’s already a winner himself and you’re not buying him to reproduce.

Conformation. Conformation is a great indicator on future soundness and natural ability. There are also horses that defy conformation all the time. Working for a breeder I’ve seen high hocked, crooked legged high necked etc over the years and many never take a lame step in their lives and have plenty of ability. I wouldn’t go seek these horses out but there are horses that prove us wrong every day.

Third and probably most important for me is Trainability. In my opinion a horse just have an excellent trainable mind to be a reining horse. Obedient and smart without being too thinky. A team player and one that tries every day. I will take a less talented horse with a great mind over a super talented horse with a poor mind every day of the week.

Raw talent is an obvious one. But like I said, you have to combine it with a good mind.

Show record…a horse with a show record has proven what he or she can do. A horse with some wins or earning $ in good company is a safer bet than one that has never shown. On the other hand, a horse with a show record that’s 10 pages long will probably be a little sour in the pen. He may change leads when he’s not supposed to, or get chargey in a run down because he’s gone around the ends of the pen so much. A longer show record isn’t necessarily better.

Also, one of my favorite says is Broke, Sound, Cheap…pick two.

With that said, if you are horse shopping, you, your daughter and your trainer have to decide at what level your daughter hopes to compete at in the near future. I recommend looking for a horse that is one level above her. If she’s a green Reiner, look for a nice rookie horse. If she’s a rookie I would look for a youth or limited nonpro horse. Looking a level above allows your daughter to use this horse for longer without buying a top level horse that will probably intimidate her.

On the east coast, I sold a green Reiner a world champion older gelding for 10,000. She showed him for two years and pointed out of all the green classes. However buying an older gelding she knew there was going to be maintenance involved. It was something she was willing to compromise on to get a great teacher for very little $.
Her second horse was a rookie/limited non pro mare she bought for 25,000. In contrast to the gelding, this mare was derby aged (able to show in higher money classes) with impeccable pedigree (means more on a mare due to reproduction value). This mare didn’t have as much of a show record as the gelding but she was also a zero maintenance horse. She also showed this mare for 2 years with a lot of success.

Her third horse was a good non pro mare I won 6 bronze trophies on. She was also impeccable bred and derby aged with a great mind and sound. However talent wise, she was a step up from the rookie mare. She paid 35,000 for her.

The Tulsa derby is coming up. Find the live feed and watch the open derby. Watch and mentally compare all the horses spinning. Watch how the ones that keep cadence in their turns and build speed through the entire spin is marked higher.
In the circles, look for the riders challenging the maneuver with loose reins and big speed transitions.
In the stops, look for a horse who comes around the end of the arena soft and relaxed, then builds speed into the stop without skipping gears. In the stop, look for a horse that softly breaks over in the front end, both hind feet stay in the ground and the front end loosely pedals. The stop is completed with a roll back that is directly back in their run down tracks.

Last but not least, read A General in the rule book:
To rein a horse is not only to guide him, but also to control his every movement. The best reined horse should be willingly guided or controlled with little or no apparent resistance and dictated to completely.

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You learned to evaluate Hunters by seeing tons of them going round and round, even if you weren’t specifically watching. By immersing yourself, you absorbed more then you realize. By being aware and listening carefully you learned price ranges and approximately where a horse belonged.

Same thing here. Watch. Watch. Watch. Ask questions, listen be aware of what’s going on. You are with a very good barn here too, ask the trainer if you have a question and by all means use them if you are considering a purchase until you immerse yourself deeper in Reining. It will come in time.

Always remember things that can effect price may not be obvious. Just as in the Hunter world, ridability, trainability and health/soundness history along with suitability for a particular buyer can effect price as much as performance, maybe more. Longer you are around, more of that you can absorb as well.

Have fun learning. Oh, bet your fellow clients in that barn are pretty knowledgeable too. Sit in the stands with them, watch their runs.

Location is also a huge factor. Horses in CA and TX will sell for more due to their location than horses elsewhere.

Commissions and what trainers expect to make factors in.

@TheHunterKid90 hit the nail on the head (also who I’m going to need to find me a horse :laughing: )

When looking at the older horses you have to balance maintenance/ soundness and their anxiety in the show pen.

If you are a beginner and you need to be stopping and spinning every ride to get yourself better you might not want an older horse that’s already on equiox, injections, cosequin, adequan etc and still comes out of the stall stiff. It’s like having a campaigner Eq horse that can still get around at the shows but shouldn’t be jumped more than once per week at home.

Similarly with horses that are not naturally “thinky” but as they get more and more seasoned they anticipate. So much happens in the center of the ring that even if you keep them on the correct lead it can be hard to make it look pretty when they drop their shoulder, look off or whatever. You see seasoned horses that start to get anxious while you are trying to settle them to start your pattern back up two steps and you have a zero. It can be hard to gain confidence in the show pen.

I know I have definitely had draws in IHSA where when asking the horse to lope off on the right lead they are like “okay pattern 4, hold on!” There are only so many patterns and they do learn them!

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So RoughOut tell me what you would buy if - you are a junior with riding experience but mostly english (so you’re solid at wtc) but just starting out reining. I’m curious what you would look for - I 1000% agree and what I’m a bit concerned about - is she needs to practice but if we buy something with lots of experience it’s not going to be able to hold up to the practice she needs. However - the horses work load would decrease as she’s not going to be running the big patterns or however you’ll them like the previous riders giving the horse the experience. Also please tell me about hock injections in a 5 year old. Is this normal - would you be concerned? For HJ’s this would be a run for the hills situation - but this us a different discipline so if it’s common I’m not going to be concerned.