Ready to Rein

Professional horse show preparation tips from trainer Jason Grimshaw.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

AQHA Professional Horseman Jason Grimshaw of Calgary, Alberta, performs four steps before he enters the show arena.

"I do this routine at home in training, too," Jason says. "If you keep the same pattern at home and away from home, your horse will recognize this as his comfort zone."

Jason's Four Steps

1. I start out by walking a circle to the right. I make sure the horse follows his nose and that his shoulders follow his neck. I make sure there is a nice arc and that the horse isn't leaning anywhere.

2.  I use my inside rein and inside leg to push the horse's body to the outside on the same arc as step No. 1.

3. Next, I do a reverse arc in the same direction. This gets the horse off of the opposite rein. For example, we will walk a circle to the right, while arced to the left.

4. I ask the horse to stop, back and do a half turn to the left, which then puts me back at step No. 1, going to the left this time.

Do more exercises like this with AQHA World Champion reining exhibitor, Craig Johnson. Whether you are just starting to ride or you are polishing a performance reining horse for competition, Craig helps you soften and smooth the working relationship with your horse in AQHA's "Reining Basics" DVD.

Jason says this process aligns the horse's entire body.

"It lets me find out what parts aren't feeling right," he says. "It is a foundation that I put on my 2-year-olds that lasts throughout their career."

If there is a maneuver in the pattern that calls for one spin in either direction, Jason spins once during the warmup. "However, after I spin once and stop, then I do three or four spins so that the horse is thinking about turning instead of slowing or stopping."

Pattern Practice

"I make sure I know the pattern," Jason says. "If I have non-pro or amateur riders, I make sure they know it. Then, I practice all the parts, but not in the sequence of the pattern. I do all the maneuvers to make sure they are correct, but I don't want the horse to be a step ahead of the rider."

Jason says every horse is different.

"I try to train my horses at home as I would ride them at a horse show. If I ride a horse for an hour, chances are it's going to take two hours to ride her at the show because everything is different. I try to have several warmup exercises that I do at home, so when we get to the show, the horses are familiar with the routine."

Jason says horses learn by repetition, so the more you can practice warmup exercises at home, the more solid the horse is at the show. When there is a problem, the foundation you build at home is good to fall back on.

AQHA's "Reining Basics" DVD gives you the tools you need to build that solid foundation. Delve deeper into the sport you love with Craig Johnson as he discusses methods to keep your horse alert and thinking during a riding session.

Varsity Reining Club Makes Big Changes

The Varsity Reining Club has unveiled some fun changes to help even more youth participate, win awards and earn scholarships in National Reining Horse Youth Association programs.

The VRC engages youth members and encourages them to become more active at both the local and national levels.

For more information on the National Reining Horse Youth Association's Varsity Reining Club, visit

Bob Avila is Coming to QuarterFest

Just added to the impressive lineup of clinicians coming to QuarterFest is AQHA Professional Horseman Bob Avila, of Temecula, California. Bob is the trainer of over 35 world champion or reserve world champion Quarter Horses, in events that range from performance to halter. Get your tickets to QuarterFest today!