Reining vs Reined cow horse - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 06-25-2020, 12:54 AM Thread Starter
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Reining vs Reined cow horse

Looking for opinions from reiners, cow horse people, and people from other disciplines such as dressage and jumping looking in at these sports from a different perspective.

Reining horses(picture 1) are shown on a drape rein in a single reining pattern which involves being guided and controlled the whole time through maneuvers such as spins, sliding stops, circles, lead changes, and rollbacks. Here is the 2017 NRHA Futurity winner(most recent one on YouTube), to see what reiners currently look like.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVxyG1RTTb4

Reined cow horses, on the other hand, are shown in three events: rein work(a reining pattern), herd work(cutting a cow), and cow work(moving a singular cow in a large arena. These horses are shown in a more collected frame, and here is a 2017 AQHA competitor.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6g4f9gxGO9Y

I have grown up around reiners and reined cow horses at the lower levels, so you could say my perspective is biased, but I am just curious about how everyone else feels about reining versus reined cow horse. I donít want to offend anyone or assume anything that isnít true, but from my perspective, reining trainers often have a bad rap from people from other disciplines. Reiners start their horses at 2 and often show them in high level, high pressure competitions as 3 year olds, and often those horses are injured, burnt out, or at the end of their show career by the time they are 7 or 8 years old. In the reined cow horse, there are futurities for three year olds, but from what I have seen, reined cow horse trainers focus on the longevity of the horseís career more than reining trainers usually do. Reining trainers are also sometimes seen as cruel or abusive in some ways, and while this is certainly not true for all, it is seen more in the reining than the cow horse, most likely because of the higher pressure, higher stakes, higher competitiveness, and higher paying shows. While reined cow horses travel in a collected frame, breaking at the poll more like a dressage horse, reining horses, especially in recent years, have the very low headed, sometimes forced style where they break at the withers and drop their head down, sometimes almost in the dirt.

While there are obviously good and bad trainers in both disciplines, what is yíalls opinions on the ethics, training methods, showing techniques, and overall care for the horses in both disciplines? Which have you heard more positive or negative things out of, and for what reasons?

Thanks!
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post #2 of 13 Old 06-25-2020, 01:07 AM Thread Starter
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The first two are reining, the second two are reined cow horse.
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post #3 of 13 Old 06-25-2020, 10:09 AM
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Personally, as an English rider, I am way more drawn to reined-cowhorse work, including the reining work done in it. I feel like it is more 'realistic' in real world work, as I highly doubt a horse would be dragging his nose in the dirt while working a cow, like reining horses do during their patterns. Plus, as someone who is mostly interested in eventing, any discipline that works in multiple rings, each with their specific skillset, is way more impressive to me.

I really wish both rings would toss futurities out the window though, and give these horses time to mature. No horse should be in the show-ring as a barely-grown baby, even if they are three years old. I can only imagine how hard rollbacks, hard stops, and cow-work can be on them. Plus, even if they are showing at three, that likely means they were started at two, which is limiting the work being forced on their still-growing bodies.
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post #4 of 13 Old 06-25-2020, 02:35 PM
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I know close to nothing about western riding so I somehow concluded that the reining competition horses graduate to actually working cows. Clearly, I was mistaken.

Anyhow, to my amateur eye, a reining horse without a cow looks somehow unnatural. I horse working a cow looks breathtakingly amazing. Please feel free to disregard, I have neither theoretical knowledge nor practical experience to be competent to have a relevant opinion.
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post #5 of 13 Old 06-25-2020, 09:03 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for yíalls answers and I definitely agree with what you said. Reining by itself almost seems kind of pointless without the purpose of a cow, except for just being ďpretty.Ē

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post #6 of 13 Old 06-26-2020, 11:10 AM
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That last pix on your 2nd post is Brother Jackson & Ken Wold. I'm hoping to get a baby from him ... either this year (if my mare ever decides to settle) or next. He's a nice horse.

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Originally Posted by WalkTrotLope View Post
In the reined cow horse, there are futurities for three year olds, but from what I have seen, reined cow horse trainers focus on the longevity of the horseís career more than reining trainers usually do.
I have been showing in reined cowhorse for 10 years; my first two horses I trained myself. I have been to MANY MANY clinics with some of the top names in reined cowhorse. In my experience, sadly, this is not necessarily true. The focus is really on Snaffle Bitters and if a horse doesn't make it there, if they are up there in the results at a Snaffle Bit Futurity, they might be campaigned for the Derby. And depending on the horse (and who they end up with) if they are money earners, they are campaigned as Bridle horses. To get a competitive Snaffle Bitter, the training can be hard on the babies, but since they are being required to do three events, the trainers are concerned with conditioning, but it's a fine balance in the youngster to condition & train them to be competitive at the Snaffle Bit.

If a horse is not competitive at the Snaffle Bit, depending on the owners' funds and the trainer's opinion of the horse's abilities, many horses are sold, re-sold and resold again. Some Non-Pros end up with these horses, but many of the horses are mentally fried, which can be too much to many Non Pros. Some are mentally fried and have physical problems. It's not easy to keep a horse sounds before & through the Snaffle Bit. Some of the horses go on to be barrel horses and/or rope horses. Very few go on to compete as Bridle Horses in the Open division. Some actually do get rested and conditioned back up for Non-Pros.

It is a business, just like reining. Owners want results; trainers want to give them. After listening to Andrea Fappani's Podcast (Along for the Ride - it's pretty good; he gets some good guests on), it sounds like reining & reined cowhorse are very similar.

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Reining trainers are also sometimes seen as cruel or abusive in some ways, and while this is certainly not true for all, it is seen more in the reining than the cow horse, most likely because of the higher pressure, higher stakes, higher competitiveness, and higher paying shows.
I don't agree with this at all. Abusive/cruel trainers are found just as often in reined cowhorse; it's just not as well known a sport and doesn't have the attention on it that reining does.

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Originally Posted by WalkTrotLope View Post
reined cow horses travel in a collected frame, breaking at the poll more like a dressage horse, reining horses, especially in recent years, have the very low headed, sometimes forced style where they break at the withers and drop their head down, sometimes almost in the dirt.
Listen to Andrea Fappani's podcast; they talk about this alot. He says it's the judges who reward these types of horses in reining, so that is what the trainers focus on. Reined cowhorse is certainly not without its' faults, but you can't work a cow with your nose on the ground.

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Originally Posted by WalkTrotLope View Post
While there are obviously good and bad trainers in both disciplines, what is yíalls opinions on the ethics, training methods, showing techniques, and overall care for the horses in both disciplines? Which have you heard more positive or negative things out of, and for what reasons?
Listen to Andrea Fappani's podcast & the cowhorse podcase, Cowhorse Full Contact with Russell Dilday and Chris Dawson (this is my favorite podcast). They have trainers on there who started in reining (and got to the top) and are now competing in reined cowhorse. These trainers all say the same thing - they like the versatility of reined cowhorses and they like that reined cowhorses are allowed to think. Reiners typically are required to be totally obedient; cowhorses have to think for themselves in the cow work (sometimes with a little input from the rider).

What I do like about reined cowhorse is that you CAN take the long route if you choose - go from snaffle bit to hackamore to two rein, then straight up in the bridle. I did that with my 2nd mare; what a great journey that was!

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Originally Posted by ClearDonkey View Post
I really wish both rings would toss futurities out the window though, and give these horses time to mature. * * * Plus, even if they are showing at three, that likely means they were started at two, which is limiting the work being forced on their still-growing bodies.
I agree with you. It would be nice if they would move the futurities to the 3 or 4 year old years. My mare that I compete on now, I bought as a 2 yo; she had been started before I got her. She was not seen as a Snaffle Bit contender so was sold early. There are some youngsters who are mentally and physically mature at 3 yo (and you can see it in their 2 yo year), but she wasn't. We let her mature a bit with light riding before I started showing her. But I didn't really compete on her until later.

Both reining and reined cowhorse have their good points and bad, as with all disciplines. I loved reined cowhorse and was taught before I got into it to take care of my horses body and mind; But I have no illusions that it is "better" than reining in training or ethics, methods or show practices.
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post #7 of 13 Old 06-26-2020, 12:31 PM Thread Starter
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@kewpalace I definitely agree with everything you said. There will always be good and bad in both.
@kewpalace I actually listen to Andrea Fappaniís podcast. It is super helpful and informative, and Andrea is one of the best in the industry, as in he cares for his horses, puts in the time to learn how to do things right, and always puts in the time and effort to always be learning and improving. I think he, and most of the guests that he interviews on the show, are what reining trainers should be. However, Andrea and his guests commonly talk about the problems with some of the up and coming trainers who donít put in the time and donít care about the horses or the sport. There are obviously trainers like this in every industry, reining and reined cow horse alike.

Andrea always talks about the the fact that he doesnít care where the horses head is, but that horses head being down is just a side effect of him being relaxed, soft, confident, and having natural ability. However, like he often says in the podcast, young trainers start trying to force that horses head down at 2 years old and create a crippled, unnatural looking horse by the time they are 4 years old.

Andreaís talk with Todd Bergen kind of highlights what I am trying to say. He says that a lot of the reason he switched over to the cow horses was that the nature of reining is that you have to control the horses every move, and he literally says you have to teach those reining horses not to think for themselves. He likes the cow horses because they can think on their own, exactly like you said. I think that the nature of the reining horse competitions, when trained by inexperienced or less good trainers, can cause more bad horsemanship because of the demands of the sport.

When I say that reining trainers are seen as more abusive, I am talking about her the perception of them by other disciplines, I donít actually think that good reining trainers are cruel to their horses in any way. If you go on some of the English riding websites and blogs, you can often find things about reining trainers being abusive, just because often these people donít understand how reining horses are made in their conformation and ability, so when we see a relaxed horse with its head down, they see something that looks forced or unnatural.

I donít actually have too much experience in either discipline, but I am so glad to learn from others and have people like all of you tell me your opinions. @kewpalace , if you disagree with any of what I said or want to talk, Iíd love for you to reply or PM me. You have more experience than me, but I am looking to dive deeper into the western performance horse world, and eventually maybe go into training horses(Iím still in high school). Thanks for taking the time to help me and like Andrea(and every good horseman) says, never stop learning. 😀

Also, where do you find this cow horse podcast, I really want to listen.
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post #8 of 13 Old 06-26-2020, 12:37 PM Thread Starter
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@kewpalace good luck with your Brother Jackson baby😁

Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway---John Wayne
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post #9 of 13 Old 06-26-2020, 02:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WalkTrotLope View Post
Andreaís talk with Todd Bergen kind of highlights what I am trying to say. He says that a lot of the reason he switched over to the cow horses was that the nature of reining is that you have to control the horses every move, and he literally says you have to teach those reining horses not to think for themselves. He likes the cow horses because they can think on their own, exactly like you said. I think that the nature of the reining horse competitions, when trained by inexperienced or less good trainers, can cause more bad horsemanship because of the demands of the sport.
Todd Bergen was exactly who I was talking about; he's an excellent trainer and I got a lot out of listening to him both on Andrea's podcast and Cowhorse Full Contact.

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I donít actually think that good reining trainers are cruel to their horses in any way.
Good trainers, period, are not cruel/abusive. Regardless of discipline & you'll get the young and/or bad and/or inexperienced trainers in all disciplines who seek to cut corners to win.

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Originally Posted by WalkTrotLope View Post
If you go on some of the English riding websites and blogs, you can often find things about reining trainers being abusive, just because often these people donít understand how reining horses are made in their conformation and ability, so when we see a relaxed horse with its head down, they see something that looks forced or unnatural.
Yes but they could say the same about any western (or even English if they are honest) discipline; they only pick on reining (or Western Pleasure) because they are more in the public eye. And many, even if they don't understand western, are not wrong simply because they don't understand how the horse is trained; an experienced horseperson can still see whether a horse is intimidated by the rider even if there are no physical evidence of cruelty/abuse.

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I am looking to dive deeper into the western performance horse world, and eventually maybe go into training horses(Iím still in high school). Thanks for taking the time to help me and like Andrea(and every good horseman) says, never stop learning. 😀
The NRCHA Eastern Derby (which includes derby classes, spectaculars & horse show) is in Cordova TN 7/14-19; I don't know how close you are to there, but that would be a great place to go and watch some runs. It's the 1st year for that event. They are still accepting entries, so it is not yet known who will be there. Entry deadline is today, so entry verification list should be up soon and the draws will be up 7/7. They have the schedule posted. Check out the nrcha.com website.

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where do you find this cow horse podcast, I really want to listen.
I listen off the Apple Podcast App, but they have a FB Page and I bet you can find it other places, too. Just look for Cowhorse Full Contact. I like Chris' sign off ... "Ride Fast and Make Good Decisions."

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good luck with your Brother Jackson baby
Thank you ... if my mare ever settles ....
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post #10 of 13 Old 06-26-2020, 02:55 PM Thread Starter
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@kewpalace I actually live in Cordova TN and the Show Place Arena (which Iím assuming this show is) is like 10 minutes away from my house! I go there for ranch shows all the time. I had no idea they were doing that there an I am going to make sure I mark my calendar and go because that would be a super fun place to go watch!

Thanks and now I canít wait for July 14!😀
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