IMEHA Ruling on Split Reins

USEF WS 102 Rule is written in a confusing manner. It states that when using split reins Rider may hold the end of split reins to keep them from swinging and to adjust the position of the reins provided it is held with at least 16 inches of rein between the hands. IMEHA will not sanction this rule and finds that the only acceptable manner is that excess split rein bight should fall on the same side as the rein. The excess bight shall not be held in either hand for western pleasure arena.

Extra Credit Should Be Given If...

If split reins are used, the rein should fall on the same side as the rein hand.

If a romal rein is used; romal should fall on the opposite side from the rein hand (romal is usually held in the rider's other hand.

Entry Number is shown on saddle blanket or on rider's back.

Points Should be Deducted If...

Model is on the wrong lead.

Model displays an opening mouth excessively.

Rider uses spurs forward of the cinch.

Model appears sullen, dull, lethargic, emaciated, drawn or overly tired.

Model appears agitated has ears back, tail twirled, etc.

Reins are draped to the point that light contact is not maintained.

Set-Up Options

Arena Fencing Required:
Indoor or Outdoor Arena
Types of Fencing Allowed
Painted or Natural

Post and Rail

Post and Plank

Chain Link

Solid Plyboard

Plyboard with Top Rail

Post with Drape Rope

Stock Tube Pipe Rail

Interior Arena Wall

Footing Required:


No grass base

No rock base

Backboard or Natural Setting:


Freestyle Reining


However, unlike most reining classes, which require competitors perform a specified standard pattern, freestyle reining uses costumes, music, themes, props and special effects lighting to add to their presentation.

No cross entering using the same photo with Reining

A. GENERAL RULES Reining maneuvers originated from moves that a cowhorse must use in performing its duties and have been refined to the high level of competition existing today. Freestyle Reining not only provides an opportunity to use these maneuvers creatively, but also to expand them to music by means of choreography. Riders are encouraged to use musical scores which permit them to show the athletic ability of the horse in a crowd appealing way.

Required Maneuvers. Will be defined as follows:
(a) A minimum of four (4) consecutive spins to the right
(b) A minimum of four (4) consecutive spins to the left
(c) A minimum of three (3) stops
(d) A minimum of one (1) lead change at the canter from right to left
(e) A minimum of one (1) lead change at the canter from left to right

Exhibitors are allowed to use two (2) hands (as well as one or no hands) and any approved western bit, including snaffle bits and bosals approved for use in the Snaffle Bit or Hackamore classes.

Failure to perform all the required maneuvers or failure to complete the performance within the time limit will result in a score of zero (0).

Additional maneuvers such as rollbacks, backups, speed variations, and non-classical reining maneuvers such as half pass and side pass are appropriate in Freestyle and shall be given appropriate credit. Additional repetitions of required maneuvers are appropriate, but will only add or subtract from the existing scores already given for the required maneuvers, not as additional scores. (a) All equipment must be non-abusive and humane based.
(b) Any equipment not specifically covered by or in conflict with standard equipment guidelines must be non-abusive to the horse.

Time Limit. A maximum of four (4) minutes including any introductions. The time limit will be from the beginning of the music or from the beginning of the introduction (whichever is first) and will end with the music.

Costumes. Permitted but not required. Emphasis is placed on performing the reining maneuvers to music.

Props. Permitted but at no time may hinder the judges’ view of the horse. The use of props will not add to the score.


(1) Required maneuvers in Freestyle will receive a score based on technical merit. Transitional maneuvers and other maneuvers not specified as reining maneuvers will be evaluated and scored. Judges are encouraged to include remarks in the judge's comment box.

Bridleless Reining

Bridleless Reining is a performance without a bridle but a rider usually has a strap or the reins wrapped around neck to guide the horse. Bridleless Reining is not a class but usually seen as a demostration. There is no set pattern but manuevers are those normally seen in a reining class.

Examples of the Freestyle Reining Entries:
Photo Credit:

Freestyle Reining

Obvious Asset shown as a grulla Appaloosa mare. Shown by Cynthia Jameson with the comment line: Entrant is performing one of the required spins to the right during a freestlye reining class. Entrant and horse are dressed as Hell's Angels and the music is Born To Be Wild.

Photo Credit:

Freestyle and Bridleless

Outstanding photo of real entry. What a head on this horse. I wish I knew who this pair was so I could give them photo credit. Be sure to click on photo to view it in the larger state so you can be truly astounded. Rider is dressed as a gorilla. Rope to stop horse is designed as a jungle vine. Great paint of a zebra who seems to have a snake on his fanny as part of tree. I bet they used "George of the Jungle".

Photo Credit:

Freestyle Reining

Rider is Kim Crupper but I don't know the name of the horse.

Photo Credit:

Bridless Reining

Stacy and Tulsa bridless.

Photo Credit:

Bridless Reining

Bridless Reining entry showing use of neck rope to stop horse.

Required Tack:
A western stock saddle. A western style bridle (browband, one ear, two ear, with or without throatlatch) with a curb bit including a curb strap or curb chain. Standard snaffle bit and bosal hackamores are permitted.

Boots or leg protection are optional

Any cruel or inhuman tack. Otherwise anything goes.

Costume or Props:
Any type costume or props are allowed but at no time may hinder the judges’ view of the horse.

Attire is any type costuming that would go with a theme and matches costuming of horse. Theme should also match music listed in comment line.

Rein Hand Holds:

Romal Reins

Split Reins

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Updated: January 14, 2013