4-H’ers experience Reining horses June 18
DAMASCUS — Members of the Dream Riders 4-H Club of Queen Anne’s County traveled to Damascus in Montgomery County, Saturday, June 18, to experience riding Reining horses. They visited “Summer Wind Farm”, owned by nationally renowned Reining horse trainers Bob and Debbie LaPorta. Bob LaPorta has been training Reining horses for nearly four decades, the past 12 years as a professional, producing many winners, both riders and Reining horses.
The 4-H’ers who attended were Rachel Grabowski, Mackenzie Miller, Heather Arscott, Sofia Kolobow, Abbi Walters, Leah Vanderhoff and Ashlee Dilling — who was invited from the Pony Express 4-H Club.
Reining is a western riding competition for horses where the riders guide the horses through a precise pattern of circles, spins and stops. Originating from working cattle, reining is often described as a Western form of dressage riding, as it requires the horse to be responsive and in tune with its rider. A good cowboy needed a quick and nimble horse, one that could change directions quickly, stop “on a dime,” and sprint after an errant cow.
Reining as a sport was first recognized by the American Quarter Horse Association in 1949. The National Reining Horse Association was formed in 1966 in the U.S. and developed a world-wide membership.
LaPorta told the 4-H’ers, “There are Reining horses and competitions in Poland, and Japan, and over 40 nations around the world. If the International Olympic Committee was to add a new equestrian sport, I am confident it would be Reining.”
The 4-H’ers watched as longtime Laporta student, Tricia Tillman, 16, of White Hall, demonstrated the basic moves of a well-trained Reining horse, which included large and small circles while loping the horse, both left and right piloting spins, and an accelerating lope that concluded with the classic sliding stop — the marqee move of Reining horses. All of these moves are judged in a competition to determine the winning horse and rider. Tricia has been training with LaPorta since she was 4 years old. Both Trisha and her mom, Kimberly Tillman help LaPorta with his Reining students, and Tricia is nationally ranked Reining horse rider with the NRHA.
Wearing required 4-H safety helmets and riding boots, each of the 4-H’ers were allowed to ride LaPorta’s welltrained Reining horses, performing the large and small circles and piloting spins. They were not allowed to do the sliding stops, as that move requires more than a novice rider to perform it safely.
All of the 4-H’ers said they had fun and wanted to come back for LaPorta to give them a more intense lesson.
4-H’er Rachel Grabowski said, “I thought it was very educational. Mr. LaPorta, Tricia and Ms. Kimberly all really know what they were talking about with Reining horses, that was clear.”
Members of the Dream Riders 4-H Club gather outside Summer Wind Farm in Damascus, Saturday, June 18, where they traveled to learn about Reining horses. From the left, assistant trainer Kimberly Tillman, Debbie LaPorta, Ashlee Dilling (of Pony Express 4-H Club), trainer Bob LaPorta (wearing cap), 4-H’ers Sofia Kolobow, Mackenzie Miller, Leah Vanderhoff, Heather Arscott, 4-H leader Karen Marx, Abbi Walter, Rachel Grabowski, and assistant trainer Tricia Tillman of White Hall.
From the left, with Reining horse assistant trainer Tricia Tillman, 16, looking on, Dream Riders 4-H member Mackenzie Miller of Grasonville practices a pivot turn on one of nationally renowned Reining horse trainer Bob LaPorta’s well-trained horses. LaPorta hosted a Reining horse clinic at his Summer Wind Farm in Damascus, Saturday, June 18.
Tricia Tillman, 16, of White Hall, demonstrates a Reining horse “sliding stop” Saturday, June 18, at the barn where she has trained since she was 4 years old.