Assessing a Horse’s Steering Situation with Trainer Bud Lyon (Part 1)

Assessing a Horse’s Steering Situation with Trainer Bud Lyon (Part 1)

The cornerstones of reining are circles, spins, rundowns and sliding stops. Those are the fun maneuvers, but without solid fundamentals that include responsive steering and guiding, a horse loses its ability to perform.

The horse can only run a pattern, somewhat like a mouse learning to run a maze. Throw a new turn in the maze, and the mouse fails to get the cheese. 

Reining trainer Bud Lyon realized his horses, as well as other seasoned reiners from different programs, lacked a solid understanding of rein pressure and responsive steering when he shifted from reining patterns to ranch riding.

“Several years ago, I started to transition to showing in the ranch riding in addition to reining,” said the Whitesboro, Texas, trainer. “We have set patterns in reining, but none of the patterns are symmetrical in ranch riding. They require more steering and guiding all over the arena. Clients sent reining horses to me to get shown in the ranch riding, and that is when I realized that some of us in the reining industry had drifted away from the steering fundamentals.”

In this Learning Curve three-part series, Lyons explains why he believes laying a foundation is important, how he assesses a horse’s understanding of steering and how it all ties together in the show pen.


In part one, he talks about how to assess a horse’s understanding of steering. Parts Two and Three will be published at