A 3-year-old stallion stands tied in a small, covered enclosure.
Herd work is most often included in three-year-old futurity and four- and five-year-old derby classes.
Herd work is also included in a "Bridle Spectacular" class.
The training could not be done by just any Californio, and reining horses were valuable because of the difficulty of training and scarcity.
A finished reining horse could be controlled and directed with minute movements of the fingers of the left hand, which hovered above the saddle horn.
Over time, the "Californio" cowboy or vaquero developed a system of training working cow horses that became famous for its elegance, precision, and difficulty of training the horse.
The roots of these methods are in European dressage, a system to train horses for war.Adopted by the pre-Moors and Moors in Spain, and transferred to the Spanish conquistadors, the Californio methods created horses so sensitive to their riders' signals they were known as "Hair-trigger" or "whisper" reined horses.At the time, a finished reining horse (as it was called) required at least seven years to train: three to four years to train the basics in a bosal hackamore, then at least a year carrying both the bosal and the high-ported spade bit (named for the spade-shaped port which was from 1-3" high) to help the horse learn how to carry the bit, then several years refining techniques in the spade until the horse was a "made" reining horse.By the early 20th century, the reined cow horse had gone from being a necessity to a luxury, and there was little activity to sustain the history or background of this training tradition.Most ranchers were struggling to survive the Great Depression.The influx of newcomers into the Golden State helped to dissolve the vast cattle ranches of earlier days.