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.

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