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  • Writer's pictureFran Cleland

Sand dancers of a different kind show off their moves

ABOVE: Hannah Lloyd and Blondiesgottagun dancing in the sand. Picture: EQUINE PROMOTIONS

WATCHING the Let’s Rein Jackpot Show held at Elmore Equestrian Park recently I began to understand why one of the most decorated dressage riders of all time took up the discipline.

Dutch champion Anky Van Grunsven, whose rides on the magnificently athletic Bonfire delighted fans for years at World Cup and Olympic level, changed sports and was part of the bronze medal-winning reining team at the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky in 2010.

Though it seemed an unusual move at the time, there are similarities.

ABOVE: Fancy footwork from Lyndon Hale and Fizzics. Picture: EQUINE PROMOTIONS

Both disciplines are a judged event designed to show the athletic ability of a horse within the confines a show arena.

Contestants in both are required to run one of the approved patterns that increase in difficulty at higher skill levels.

In reining, each pattern includes small slow circles, large fast circles, flying lead changes, roll backs over the hocks and 360 degree spins – all much the same movements as dressage, just with different names.

So apart from the exciting sliding stops that are the hallmark of the reining horse, a different breed of horse and more colourful clothing, reining is really just another form of sand dancing, or that is how it seemed to me as I watched competitors like Karin Turner putting her horse Hollywood Gazillionaire through his paces at Elmore.

Karen was among the winners on the day, taking sashes for three events in the intermediate non-pro, limited non-pro, prime time non-pro at Elmore.

Young Holly Thurgood also put on a fine performance, riding the calm Buckskin Jazzed Out Stylish to win NRHA Green Reiner L1, and Terry Loughnan riding Valentina Whiz was judged as champion of the Novice Open L1.

While dressage is done in silence, one of the fun aspects of reining is that you can cheer from the sidelines.

Take the tip, the next Let’s Rein Jackpot at Elmore is on Sunday, July 16. Go and watch, you’ll enjoy yourself.


(Click on any image to expand)


1. A Hollywood Rose and Kay Couch

2. Jazzed Out Stylish and Holly Elizabeth Thurgood

3. Reysn Hope and Wayne Hinder

4. Little Miss 2 Guns and Stephanie Smith


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