Maneuver Scores


The scoring of reining horses is on a positive numeric scale with 70 denoting a correct performance.

NRHA patterns are comprised of several distinct maneuver groups, which judges are asked to evaluate on an individual basis depending on execution as dictated by the pattern description and the rules for judging.

The individual maneuvers are scored in 1⁄2 point increments from a low of: - 11⁄2 (extremely poor quality) to a high of +11⁄2 (excellent quality) with a score of 0 denoting a maneuver that is correct with no degree of difficulty.

The total of the scores applied to the maneuver groups is combined with the starting score of 70 and from this gross maneuver score, any penalties are deducted to calculate the horse’s final score.

Evaluating maneuvers


How to evaluate scores for the maneuvers:

a. the horse rider combination is on pattern

b. correctness, the maneuver is being executed correctly

c. the degree of difficulty. Credit is give for smoothness, finesse, attitude, quickness, authority and controlled speed.

A judge does not look at riding style.


The penalties below give you a guideline of what to expect. Check the current rulebook for full details.

Half Point Penalty

a) a delayed change of lead by one stride

b) starting a circle at a jog.

c) exiting a rollback at a jog up to 2 strides.

d) for over or under spinning up to 1/8 of a turn​.

e) failure to remain 20 feet away from the wall or fence when approaching a stop or rollback.

1 Point Penalty

a) each time a horse is out of lead, a judge

is required to penalize by 1 point. The penalty for being out of lead is accummulative, so the judge will add 1 penalty point for each 1/4 of the circumference of a​ circle​ that the horse is out of lead.

b) for over or under spinning up to 1/4 of a turn

2 Point Penalty

a) break of gait

b) freezing up in spins or rollbacks

c) on walk in patterns, cantering prior to reaching center of the arena and/or failure to stop or walk before​ executing a canter departure

d) on run in patterns, failure to be in a canter prior

to reaching the first marker

e) if a horse does not completely pass the specified marker before initiating a stop

f) at a circle departure or when exiting a rollback, jogging beyond two strides but less than 1/2 circle

or​ 1/2 the length of the​ arena.

No Score

a) break the law in regards to exhibition or care of animals

b) abuse of an animal in the show arena or evidence that abuse has occurred

c) use of illegal bits and equipment

d) use of whips or bats

e) use of any atachment which alters the movement of the tail

h) failure to dismount and drop the bridle to designated judge

i) disrespect or misconduct by the exhibitor

j) judge may excuse a horse at any time for unsafe or improper exhibition

5 Point Penalty

a) spurring in front of the cinch

b) use of either hand to instill fear or praise

c) holding the saddle with either hand

d) blatant disobedience including kicking, biting, bucking, rearing and striking

Zero Score

a) failure to complete pattern as written

b) use of two hands (expect in classes designated for 2 hands) or changing hands

c) use of romal other than as outlined in rule book

d) use of more than index finger or first finger between the reins

e) performing maneuvers other than in specified order

f) the inclusion of maneuvers not specified, including but no limited to backing more than 2 strides

g) equipment failure that delays completion of pattern

h) balking or refusal of command

i) jogging in excess of 1/2 a circle or 1/2 the length of

the arena

j) fall to the ground by the horse or rider

k) dropping a rein to the ground while the horse is in motion

l) failure to wear appropriate western attire, (boots, long sleeved shirt, hat)

m) turning more than 90 degrees