I get asked frequently to clarify adjusting reins legally while showing in romal reins vs split reins, since the current rulings in NRHA, NCHA and NRCHA are different, I’ll cover each in the next 3 articles.

Rein Adjusting Rules Clarification when using a romal in the NRCHA and AQHA Cow horse classes

The rider must use romal reins when showing a cow horse (in cow horse reining, boxing and fence work unless showing in the snaffle or hackamore.) 

The rider is not allowed to have any fingers between the reins, and they must be held in a fist position with the thumb up. 

Reins can be shortened or lengthened by pulling or pushing respectively on your romal with your non-rein hand while the horse is in motion as long as the reins are held in a legal manner (i.e. no fingers between them unless you’re in the two rein). 

The non-rein hand is not allowed to touch the reins or a zero will be applied. 

The keeper that attaches your romal to your reins is considered part of the romal so can be touched with your non-rein hand. The non-rein hand should hold the romal, but in the herd work and boxing, the romal and reins can be held in one hand allowing the other hand to be free to hold the saddle horn.

One rein can be “cheated” that is shortened by “slipping” a rein, however if seen by the judge, a 1 point penalty will be applied.

Be sure to practice adjusting your reins correctly at home until you get very dexterous with them!


Would love your thoughts, please comment.x