If you’ve always been tempted to give reining a try, take a look at Horse & Hound’s Storm Johnson’s tips for first-time success.
Storm’s 14 tips for first-time reining success
1. Relax! For reining you need to be relaxed, particularly through your shoulders, as the horses are very responsive to changes in your body position.
2. Find a registered trainer — David and Sarah Deptford are UKCC level 3 & 2 coaches.
3. Ride at a licensed riding establishment — the same way you would with any riding school. Sovereign Quarter Horses is approved by Cambridgeshire County Council and the AQHA UK.
4. Don’t rush out to buy all the gear — a riding hat, some comfortable jeans and a pair of jodhpur boots are all you need for your first few lessons.
5. Be prepared to ride on a loose rein — many riders transferring from English-style riding struggle to let go of the contact, but you will find everything easier if you prepare to ride from your legs and seat.
6. Don’t worry if you’ve never ridden before — David and Sarah meet many first-time riders, some of whom are well into their 60s and 70s!
7. Start on a schoolmaster – I rode Sarah’s mare Chexy (Chex Out This Action), a 13-year-old saint who knew the handbook forwards, backwards and sideways – allowing me to concentrate on my riding.
8. Watch someone experienced ride first — it is much easier to get the hang of it when you’ve seen someone in action. Try attending a demo or a lecture first to get a feel for the style. David and Sarah perform several demos throughout the year – including this year’s British Dressage championships.
9. Ask questions — don’t be afraid to ask if something feels strange or counter-intuitive. If you are struggling with something during your lesson, consider asking your trainer to hop on and show you.
10. Take a support team — reining is a real adrenalin rush and having someone there to cheer you on will fill you with confidence.
11. Don’t over-prepare — the hardest thing for me was learning not to prepare for the movements a few strides away. Reining horses will pick up on any change in posture and you may find yourself starting the movement early.
12. Don’t click! Reining horses are very responsive to the voice, and where a click on your own horses may just give a little more energy, things are different on a Quarter — as David told me, “if you click, she’ll gallop!”
13. Learn how to dismount — don’t make the same mistake I did, or you may find yourself hung from the saddle horn by your sports bra…
14. “Forget everything you’ve ever learned” — wise words from Steph Hurst at Sovereign Quarter Horses.
Keen to give reining a try?
Lessons cost £48 for an hour. Visit www.sovereignquarterhorses.com
Don’t miss the full article about trying reining for the first time in the 1 January issue of Horse & Hound magazine