Invite Your Friends to Come Rein

Created 10 years ago to pave the way for newcomers, the Entry-Level Program, including Classic Equine Green Reiner and Ride & Slide, could be the perfect way for your riding friends to experience their first slide.

By Sara Honegger

Encourage your friends to become reiners by trying out one of the entry-level offerings, such as the Classic Equine Green Reiner program. (Photo by Waltenberry)

How many times have your non-reining friends asked about your sport and said they wanted to give it a try, but were apprehensive to test the waters? Did you know NRHA offers an Entry-Level Program that caters to newcomers? This is must-know info when a friend wants to have a go at the slide of their life.

Ten years ago, a task force formed to develop a way to invite more people into our sport using three parameters: it needed to be low-cost, encourage people from other disciplines to try reining with a horse they already owned, and create an environment with eligibility restrictions that allowed riders to feel they were in a true entry-level class.  

“We knew if we wanted to invite people in, the classes needed to be cost-effective and offer an introduction to the sport, which is where the rule about riding one- or two-handed came from,” said Jennifer Hoyt, NRHA Professional, past board member, and original Entry Level task force member. “Maybe someone had a hunt-seat horse that wasn’t one-handed yet, or a horse that may not have flying lead changes figured out yet, so we wanted them to have an option to do a simple lead change, too. We modified the ease of maneuvers so they could step in on a horse they already had, even though it may not yet have slide plates.”

Hoyt added that the ability for any horse to be eligible to enter, regarldless of ownership, remains the main motive for not requiring a competition license. These factors make the program an easier entry point, regardless of age or discipline.

“Someone explained to me that the learning curve to play golf is almost insurmountable,” said Ann Salmon-Anderman, chair of the NRHA Judges Committee. “I don’t know that it’s any different to learn to ride a reining horse properly—it’s a huge learning curve. We need to facilitate that learning, and these classes area  great way to do that.”

Along with opportunities to ease into reining, these entry-level classes also allow contestants to speak with the judges after their runs. This not only allows contestants to learn from their mistakes, but it also bridges the gap between rider and judge. Anderman mentioned that after talking to the judge, riders often realize officials are on their side and that riders hold ability to control their own scores.

“We need to invest in the potential people who are the future of our sport, and those few minutes are a great investment,” Anderman said. “To help them understand how they’re being judged—that is empowering! Once you understand the rules and how easily you can change your score to the positive, it is very exciting to do.”

Hoyt admitted that when the task force created the program, they could have never imagined the growth reining would experience. By continuing to promote entry-level classes, NRHA is also promoting the growth of the sport. 

“We need everybody in this sport,” Anderman said. “We need futurity horses to show every year, because we need those horses to filter out into the industry. Those highly trained horses end up in the Classic Equine Green Reiner, Ride & Slide, and Rookie programs. We need trainers to make horses that will make great entry-level horses, people to buy them, and those riders to filter up. We need the whole industry—and it takes every person; the entry-level riders are just as important as the futurity riders.”

Start Showing! 

Here are the details of how to participate in the Green Reiner program. Share this with your friends who are interested in giving reining a try.

  • Purchase a $40 associate membership. 
  • No competition license or non pro declaration needed.
  • No ownership restrictions.
  • Choose to ride one- or two-handed; switch between the two hands if you need to.
  • Perform simple or flying lead changes.
  • By participating in Green Reiner classes, you automatically start working your way toward the jacket and belt buckle—no sign up necessary!
  • Talk to judges at the conclusion of the class to learn more about your run.
  • Follow standard NRHA rules for legal bits and attire.