Cherie- You are absolutely right about needing connections, and yes, working with a trainer is pretty much a "must"-the difficult part is that in my area (and to a great extent the OP's) good reining trainers are few and far between. Totally agree with the need for one though.
I just want to do little local things... Maybe even try local team penning?
I have a trainer now that has ridden the real deal and trained some local level competing reining horses... But she herself is not into showing... That's all I could find...