The ranch trail class should test the horse’s ability to cope with situations encountered while being ridden through a pattern of obstacles generally found during the course of everyday ranch work, the horse/rider team is judged on the correctness, efficiency and pattern accuracy with which the obstacles are negotiated and the attitude and mannerisms exhibited by the horse. Judging emphasis on identifying the well broke responsive and well mannered horse which can correctly navigate and negotiate the course.
The ranch trail course will include no less than six and no more than nine obstacles. Three of which are mandatory. It is mandatory that the horse be asked to walk, trot, and lope during the course. Walk can be part of the obstacle score or be scored with the approaching obstacle. Trot must be at least 35 feet and score with approaching obstacle. Lope must be lead specific, at least 50 feet and score with approaching obstacle. Care must be exercised to avoid setting up any obstacle that may be hazardous to the horse or rider.
When setting courses, management will be mindful that the idea is not to trap a horse/rider team or eliminate it by making an obstacle too difficult. All courses and obstacles are to be constructed with safety in mind so as to reduce the risk for accidents. The show committee shall have the option of setting up the trail course to best fit the arena conditions. An outdoor course is recommended if appropriate terrain is available. Each single performance event can be time consuming, especially with large classes, so it is imperative that time restrictions are placed on this class. The show committee, either through a pilot run or estimation, shall select a course that has a continuous and positive flow that can be negotiated in four minutes or less.
Judges must walk the course and have the right and duty to alter the course if it is not in keeping with the intent of the class. Judges may remove or change any obstacles they deem unsafe, non-negotiable or unnecessarily difficult. Any time a trail obstacle becomes unsafe during a class; it shall be repaired or removed from the course. If the obstacle cannot be repaired and some horses have completed the original course, the score for that obstacle will be deducted from all previous draws in that class.
The course must be designed using the mandatory obstacles and maneuver plus optional obstacles. Combining two or more of the obstacles is acceptable.
For more information see Rule Book.
The purpose of the ranch riding class is to measure the ability of the horse to be a pleasure to ride while being used as a means of conveyance from performing one ranch task to another. The horse should reflect the versatility, attitude and movement of a working ranch horse riding outside the confines of an arena. The horse should be well-trained, relaxed, quiet, soft and cadenced at all gaits. The ideal ranch riding horse will travel with forward movement and demonstrate an obvious lengthening of stride at extended gaits. The horse can be ridden with light contact or on a relatively loose rein without requiring undue restraint, but not shown on a full drape of reins. The overall manners and responsiveness of the ranch riding horse to make timely transitions in a smooth and correct manner, as well as the quality of the movement are primary considerations. The ideal ranch riding horse should have a natural ranch horse appearance from head to tail in each maneuver.
Horses shall be shown individually and the class may be conducted inside or outside of an arena. The pattern may be started either to the right or left direction. Show management has the option to set the markers to designate gait changes. If the class is held inside the arena, the course shall be set up to make approximately one pass of the arena in each direction. The optional ranch riding pattern may be used or another pattern may be used as long as all elements of the class are fulfilled as follows:
- Horses will be shown individually at three gaits; walk, trot, and lope in each direction of the arena.
- Horses will also be asked to reverse, stop and back.
- The judge must ask for an extended trot and extended lope at least one direction of the ring.
For more information see Rule Book.
The ranch reining class measures the ability of the ranch horse to perform basic handling maneuvers with a natural head carriage in a forward-looking manner. The ideal ranch reining horse should have a natural ranch horse appearance from head to tail in each maneuver. Patterns may be chosen from any of the ranch reining patterns or approved by the show management and judge.
For more information See Rule Book
This class is judged on the ability of the horse to work a cow by separating it from the herd and holding it to determine the horse’s ability to work the cow. A single cow is cut from the herd and the horse must demonstrate the ability to work the cow. The ideal ranch cutting horse should have a natural ranch horse appearance from the head to tail in each maneuver.
Objective will be to cut two cows, one numbered and one non number cow, with the assistance of two turn back riders and two herd holders. Show management may supply the two herd holders and two turn back riders or exhibitor may supply their own helpers. If an exhibitor is a herd holder or turn back rider, he/she may use the horse that they are competing on, or use a different horse. Any person who is a herd holder or turn back rider but not an exhibitor, must hold an Honorary Volunteer Membership. The first exhibitor, in a new herd determines who settles the cattle.
Exhibitors will have a two and a half minute time limit, to work two head of cattle. Time will begin when the rider crosses a time line just prior to entering the herd. Time should not start until exhibitor crosses a pre-determined and marked time line. Cattle numbers can be announced prior to crossing the time line. The rider will then quietly separate his/her cow from the herd. Each exhibitor has the option of ending their run before the two and a half time limit or working the full time limit.
Unnecessary roughness or disturbing the herd excessively could result in disqualification. Ultimate credit will be given to the horses demonstrating excellence in the herd work by committing to, driving, setting up and working a cow in the center of the arena with minimal disturbance to the herd. Horses will not be penalized for reining during the cutting portion, but should display natural ability.
Youth 13 and under that have entered the versatility section DO NOT complete in the cutting. If a youth 13 and under wishes to compete in cutting, they have the option to enter the individual youth cutting class.
For more information see Rule Book.
Working Ranch Horse
The ideal ranch horse must also be a cow horse and this class demonstrates and measures the horse’s ability to do cow work. In addition the ideal ranch cow horse should have a natural ranch horse appearance from head to tail in each maneuver. Holding the saddle horn is permitted. There is a time limit per horse/rider team to perform depending on the division and the time begins when the cow is turned into the arena. If the time has been met, the judge should blow the whistle once for the exhibitor to cease work. The judge may blow a whistle once at any time for the exhibitor to cease for safety reasons. Judges will give credit for what they have seen. Only the judge may award a new cow, by blowing the whistle two times, for a contestant to replace a cow that will not honor a horse. If the judge awards a new cow, the exhibitor has the option to refuse the new cow by continuing to work. If the exhibitor accepts the new cow, the time for working the cow will start over. If the exhibitor intends to accept the new cow, the exhibitor must pull up immediately. In the circling portion of the judging, one whistle will terminate the work and two whistles will award a new cow. When multiple judges are scoring, any one judge may terminate the work or signal for a new cow.
Open, Limited Open and Amateur Divisions
Exhibitors in the Open, Limited Open and Amateur divisions are allotted three minutes to complete the work. When there is one minute left, the announcer will call, one minute remaining. At three minutes, the announcer will call for time. There are three parts to the class: boxing, fence work and roping or circling:
- Part One – Boxing the Cow:the rider shall ride into the arena, face the cattle entry gate and signal for their cow to be turned into the arena. The cow shall be controlled on the entry end of the arena, for a sufficient amount of time to demonstrate the horse’s ability to hold the cow. If the cow does not immediately challenge the horse, the rider shall aggressively move in on the cow to demonstrate his/her horse’s ability to drive and block the cow on the entry fence.
- Part Two – Fence Work: After the cow has been controlled on the entry end of the arena, the rider shall set the cow up and drive it down either side of the arena. The cow should be turned on the fence at least once in each direction. The first run out for a turn should be past the half way mark of the arena. All turns down the side shall be completed before reaching the end fence.
- Part Three-Roping or Circling:Open and Limited Open exhibitors must rope the cow. The Amateur exhibitor has the option of circling the cow or roping the cow, but cannot combine the two to get credit for this portion of the run.
- To rope the cow, the exhibitor must be carrying a rope when the run starts. The exhibitor may pull up after the fence work, take down the rope and proceed to rope the cow. The exhibitor must then rope the cow and bring it to a stop. In the roping portion of the class, two throws are permitted and the horse will be judged on two maneuvers: tracking /rating and stopping the cow. It is not necessary that the exhibitor catch to receive a score in the roping portion. The catch is legal as long as the cow looks through the loop and the rope pulls tight on any part of the animal’s body except the tail. The rope may only be dallied. If the exhibitor does not catch, the horse will be given credit for tracking and rating and will be assessed the appropriate penalty.
- To circle the cow, the amateur exhibitor will maneuver the cow smoothly at least 360 degrees in each direction without interference from the fence. The circle’s size, symmetry, speed and relative balance from the right and left show control. Tightening the circles down with fast head-to-head speed will be a credit situation. The circles should be complete before the cow is exhausted. Once an exhibitor has committed to circling the cow, if the cow falls no new cow will be awarded. The exhibitor will complete run by riding around the fallen cow to fulfill circling requirements. In the circling portion of the judging, one whistle will terminate the work and two whistles will award a new cow.
Limited Amateur Division
Limited Amateur exhibitors are allottedone minute and thirty seconds to complete the work. When there is 30 secondsleft, the announcer will announce 30 secondsremaining. At one minute and thirty seconds, the announcer will call for time. Exhibitors are not required to use all of the allotted time, but must ride until the judge whistles the end of the run or time expires, whichever occurs first. There are fourparts to the work: boxing the cow; settling up the cow and driving it down the fence to the opposite end of the arena; boxing it at the opposite end of the arena, and then driving the cow past the middle marker again. There is no expectation that the exhibitor will make a ‘fence turn’, rather the drive down the fence demonstrates correct position and control around the corner.
- Part One – Boxing the Cow: The rider shall ride into the arena, face the cattle entry gate and signal for their cow to be turned into the arena. The cow shall be controlled on the entry end of the arena for a sufficient amount of time to demonstrate the horse’s ability to “hold” the cow. If the cow does not immediately challenge the horse, the rider shall aggressively move in on the cow to demonstrate his /her horse’s ability to drive and block the cow.
- Part Two – Set up Cow and Drive down Fence to Opposite End of Arena:After the cow has been controlled on the entry end of the arena, the rider shall set the cow up for driving down the side of the arena. When coming out of the corner, the horse shall be close enough to cow to demonstrate control with cow against the fence. This distance and control should be maintained for approximately ½ to ¾ the length of the arena. Rider will then stop and release the cow and move horse toward center of arena to set cow up for boxing.
- Part Three – Boxing the Cow at Opposite End of Arena:The exhibitor will regain control or “hold” the cow at end of the arena to demonstrate the horse’s ability to “hold” the cow.
- Part Four – Drive the cow back down the fence past the middle marker and continue until the judge blows the whistle to show completion.
Novice Amateur, Green as Grass and Youth Divisions
Novice Amateur, Green as Grass and Senior/Junior Youth ranch cow work exhibitors will have an allotted time of 50 seconds to box the cow. The rider shall ride into the arena, face the cattle entry gate and signal for their cow to be turned into the arena. The cow shall be controlled on the entry end of the arena for a sufficient amount of time (50 Seconds) to demonstrate the horse’s ability to “hold” the cow. If the cow does not immediately challenge the horse, the rider shall aggressively move in on the cow to demonstrate his/her horse’s ability to drive and block the cow.
For more information see Rule Book
The purpose of ranch conformation is to preserve the ranch horse type selecting well mannered individuals in the order of their resemblance to the breed ideal and that are the most positive combination of balance, structural correctness, and movement with appropriate breed and sex characteristics and adequate muscling. The ideal ranch conformation horse should have a natural ranch horse appearance from head to tail. The ranch conformation class must be held after the conclusion of the other events.
Horses are to be shown in a good working halter: rope, braided, nylon, or plain leather. Any horse shown in ranch horse conformation class may not be shown with an allowed lip cord, however a lead shank with an attached chain may be used under the chin or over the nose.
As the horse approaches, the judge will step aside to the right to enable the horse to trot straight to a cone placed 50 feet away. At the cone the horse will continue trotting, turn to the left and trot toward the left wall or fence of the arena. After trotting, horses will be lined up head to tail for individual inspection by the judge. The judge shall inspect each horse from sides, the front and rear.
For more information see Rule Book.