Not just a boys club: Female riders enjoy Southwest Reining Horse event

Drew Butler
Janine Inmon, Terry Pannell and Susan Meyer all participated in the Intermediate Non Pro competition at the Southwest Reining Horse Association event on Thursday.

Riding reining horses is not just a sport for men or even for the youth. Terry Pannell, Janine Inmon and Susan Meyer all competed in the Non Pro competition at the Southwest Reining Horse Association on Thursday, and all three did not start in reining until later in life.

“I’ve been training for reining for about 10 years now," Meyer said. “I rode when I was a youth, but then I didn’t ride again for almost 30 years until I came back and started reining.”

Inmon had a similar story.

“I started riding horses when I was eight, but my situation was kind of like Susan's (Meyer),” Inmon said. “You get married, have a family and you follow your kid around, but then it was time for me to get into it. Our neighbor next door had reining horses, but I’d never heard of it. I knew cutting, I knew barrel racing, but I didn’t know anything about reining.”

Inmon said she got into reining after going to see a show and incorrectly thinking it looked extremely easy.

“It all looked so easy, but it’s not easy at all,” Inmon said. “It’s a learning process.”

Pannell said she also mistakenly thought reining horses would be easy.

“I used to just trail ride, but I went and saw someone do freestyle reining and I thought that looks easy,” Pannell said. “But it’s not easy. Going to nursing school was easier than this! I’ve only been reining for about five years now, and I’ve gone through three or four horses in that time, but I’ve finally got a good horse, a good trainer, and a good team.”

All three women have the same trainer, Jared Leclair, and Pannell said they all like to spend time with each other, even outside the arena.

“I think we’re one of the only groups that hangs out together, and does stuff together outside of horses,” she said. “A lot of them don’t have anything else in common, and they’re more competing within their own group. I think we compete a little bit with each other, but we’re also cheering each other on.”

All three credit Leclair with their success and skill as reiners.

“Jared is really good about managing all of our horses so we don’t really have to worry about that,” Inmon said. “It’s really important for any non pro to find the right trainer. Earlier this year Jared got nominated and won for best non pro coach. He puts up with all of us so well! I don’t think any of us would be competing without him.”

Pannell pointed out that riding reining horses is something anyone at any age can do.

“That's the good thing about this, somebody our age can do it,” she said. “If you have any experience with horses, you can do this. With a good trainer it’s very achievable.”