A reining saddle is designed for use in the sport of reining, a competitive event that involves meticulous patterns of circles, spins, and sliding stops. A reining saddle provides the rider with the close contact needed to communicate those moves to his horse in a manner so subtle that they will ideally go unseen by the spectator.
Reining is an event created to show off a horse’s athleticism and the advanced communication between horse and rider. In reining, it’s the horse, not the rider that’s the star. The reiner saddle will place the rider in the proper, balanced position and keep the rider out of the horse’s way.
Typical features of a reining saddle include:
- Medium height horn and fork (lower than on a cutting saddle) so as not to interfere with the rider’s hands or reins
- Seat sits low on the horse’s back and is shaped to allow the rider to roll their pelvis back for the big stops
- Cutout skirts to put the rider’s leg close to the horse for communication
- Free-swinging fenders hung from the center of the saddle tree to provide maximum freedom for the rider to communicate the cues
- Thinner stirrup leathers to remove bulk and allow the leg to be closer to the horse
- Front cinch only. No flank cinch.
- Dropped rigging to lessen the bulk under the rider’s legs
- Silver trim is common to add some flash at competitions
The reiner is a very event-specific saddle designed to provide the rider with the maximum amount of contact with the horse for subtle communication cues that appear invisible. Although a reiner is definitely not appropriate as a working saddle, some riders like to use reining (and cutting) saddles as an overall training saddle because of the close contact and communication it provides with the horse.
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