A reining saddle is designed for use in the sport of reining, a competitive event that involves a number of patterns of circles, spins, and sliding stops. A reining saddle provides the rider with the close contact needed to communicate those moves to his/her horse in a subtle manner.
Reining is an event created to show off a horse’s athleticism and the relationship and communication between horse and rider. In reining, it’s the horse, not the rider that’s the star. A good 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
- 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
- Seat sits low on the horse’s back and is shaped to allow the rider to roll their pelvis back for the big stops
This Saddle is very event-specific and 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.