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365 Days in Horse Country – Reined Cow Horse

Blog by Michael Stuart Webb | November 11th, 2013

365 Days in Horse Country – Reined Cow Horse


A special event showcasing the talents of Western stock breeds has emerged in recent years.  Called reined cow horse, or working cow horse, this sport elicits precise reining skills on the part of the horse and rider, along with solid cow sense in the horse.

Reined cow horse works like this: Horse and rider enter the arena alone and perform a prescribed series or reining patterns.  This involves cantering circles, doing spins, and completing sliding stops.  When the patter is complete, a single cow is let into the arena.  The horse and rider must control the cow in the arena, directing it where the rider wants it to go.  This is knows as fence work.  Of course the cow has her own ideas about where to go, and that’s when it gets interesting.

The National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA), a U.S. organization, governs all-breed events in the sport of reined cow horse, and it has affiliate clubs in Europe and Canada; including the Alberta Reined Cow Horse Association (ARCHA).  Classic Western breeds such as the Quarter Horse, Appaloosa, and Paint have working cow horse classes at their breed shows, which are the equivalent to reined cow horse events.

Perfecting this activity takes a lot or training and practice, especially with cows.  Those involved with the sport become hooked on it because of the great adrenaline rush it provides.