Rein in a different riding discipline
Western-style demonstration gives riders and instructors chance to push sport into mainstream
Riders, have you ever fancied trying something different? Instructors, are you interested in offering your pupils the chance to experience a new discipline? Well now's your chance.
The first ever National Reining and Western Show takes place this Saturday, November 5, at the Mullingar Equestrian Centre, Co Westmeath.
Western riding is a sport that has been growing in popularity in Ireland for some time, with pockets of western enthusiasts located across the country.
However, Horse Sport Ireland's voluntary reining and western committee, led by chairman Declan McArdle, Teagasc's equine specialist, is now focused on bringing western riding into the mainstream.
As Declan explains, western riding evolved from the ranching and warfare traditions brought to the Americas by the Spanish conquistadors, with equipment and riding styles that evolved to meet the needs of the working cowboy.
"Cowboys needed to work long hours in the saddle over rough terrain, sometimes needing to rope cattle with a lariat or lasso," he says. "So the western saddle has been designed to be comfortable enough for long hours in the saddle and carry extra equipment to facilitate the long working days."
The riding style, too, has evolved from the working requirements of a cowboy.
"Because of the necessity to control the horse with one hand and use a lariat with the other, western horses were trained to neck rein -- that is, to change direction with light pressure of a rein against the horse's neck," says Declan. "Horses were also trained to exercise a certain degree of independence in using their natural instincts to follow the movements of a cow, so a riding style developed that emphasised a deep, secure seat, and training methods encouraged a horse to be responsive on very light rein contact."