The National Reined Cow Horse Association formed in 1949 to preserve the heritage of the working cow horse and traditional horsemanship that was prevalent across California in the 18th century. Over time, the cow horse developed as the vaqueros' top partner. The horse could be controlled with a light touch on the reins and could compete against even the most challenging of cattle. Today, the reined cow horse legacy is exhibited through the hundreds of sanctioned events that are held year round. Riders compete in three events: herd work, rein work, and cow work.
During a visit to his Paso Robles, California, facility, horse trainer and NRCHA competitor Phillip Ralls taught Lucchese about each of the events.
Herd work initially resembles cutting and follows many of the same rules set forth by the National Cutting Horse Association, with the exception that some classes allow for two hands on the reins.
During the rein work portion, riders demonstrate the athleticism of the equine. Following a specific pattern, the team is judged on cadence, sliding stops, and turns.
In the final event, cow work, the duo of horse and rider show the ability to control a single cow. The team must box it in at the end of the arena before running it down the fence. Finally, they must bring the cow to the center and circle it.