Ranch Riding is a pattern class where each horse and rider team performs the pattern individually. There is no rail work – only pattern. The following description is from the USEF Ranch Riding section of the rulebook, Subchapter WS- Ranch Riding Section. This description includes pattern elements, attire/equipment, gaits, and penalties. 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 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 show 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 of primary considerations. The ideal ranch riding horse shall have a natural head carriage at each gait.
Ranch Rail Pleasure
The purpose of the ranch rail pleasure class is to measure the ability of the horse to be a pleasure to ride while being used as a means of conveyance from one ranch task to another and should reflect the versatility, attitude, and movement of a working horse. The horse should be well-broke, quiet, and willing to perform for the rider. The horse should be ridden with light contact and without requiring undue restraint. The horse should be responsive to the rider and make timely transitions in a smooth and correct manner. The horse should be quiet in the bridle and yield to contact from the rein. The ideal ranch horse should carry his/her head in a natural position comfortable for the individual at each gait. In all gaits, movements of the ranch rail pleasure horse should simulate a horse needing to cover long distances softly and quietly, like that of a working ranch horse. This class should show the horse’s ability to work at a forward working speed while under control by the rider. The overall manners and responsiveness of the horse while performing the maneuver requirements and the horse’s quality of movement are the primary consideration. This class is intended as a rail class but individuals working off the rail will not be penalized.
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 is on identifying the well broke, responsive, and well-mannered horse which can correctly navigate and negotiate the course. The ideal ranch trail horse should have a natural appearance from head to tail in all maneuvers.
The purpose of this class is to bring forth the versatility in both the ranch horse and exhibitor, in the task of performing the designated pattern constructed of both Ranch Trail obstacles and Ranch Riding maneuvers. Obstacles and maneuvers are to be judged to the standards written in Ranch Trail and Ranch Riding in each part of the patterns that pertains to these classes.
Showmanship At Halter
Correct attire consists of jods or neat dark slacks, long sleeve shirt, tie, boots and vest (no coat) or proper western attire. Hats and gloves are optional. Clothes and person should be neat and clean.
A riding crop is permitted but no appendages may be used (such as plastic or ribbon). No aids, such as noisemakers, clumps of grass, clickers, etc. are permitted. Demonstrate your ability to properly handle and show your horse. Do not try to show a horse at halter until you are sure you can control him. Show your animal to the best advantage - recognize the conformation faults of your animal and show it to overcome these faults. Handle your horse with authority, but do not excite him. Never be rough or strike your horse in the ring. Be natural. Over-showing, undue fussing and maneuvering are objectionable.
Enter the ring at the gait requested by the judge and lead in the direction indicated by the ring steward until the judge requests that the horses line up for inspection. Leave at least 10 feet (approximately 2 horse lengths) between your horse and the nearest other horse both in circling the ring and in the line-up.
When showing in line, hold the lead shank or rein in your right hand about 12 to 24 inches from the halter or bit. The other end of the lead strap or rein should be doubled in the left hand. You may change hands if it is more convenient to put your horse in position or in showing to the judge. Try to attract the horse's attention to the front so he puts his ears forward.
Your body position should be balanced over your legs to permit free movement to stay out of the judge's way and to properly present the horse. Freedom of movement and a flexible position to work the horse is essential. Any movement should look fluid, not stiff or rigid. The judge should penalize awkward or exaggerated position.
Move the horse's feet by pulling or pushing on the lead or rein as necessary along with putting your hand on his shoulder exerting pressure as needed. Never use your feet or crop to move your horse's feet.
Stand facing the horse or in front of him and face him in such a way as to be able to see the animal and present a full view of the horse to the judge. Do not be distracted by persons or objects outside the ring.
Stand the horse as straight as possible with weight distributed equally on all four feet. When standing, the horse's hooves should point straight ahead. Be careful not to stand the horse in a low place.
The standing position of the horse is with his front legs straight under him and hind legs back slightly, the park position. Do not over-stretch your horse. His head should be up; neck arched and ears forward, looking at the crop or you.
The exhibitor must look both at the horse and keep an eye on the judge, being careful to stay out of the judge's way. The exhibitor should always be on the opposite side of the horse from the judge, even when the judge is down the line or looking at another horse. Watch the judge carefully for instructions and follow promptly and sharply. Do not be afraid to adjust or mildly correct the horse even when the judge is checking your horse.
In moving the horse, stand to the horse's left and move off on a loose rein if possible. You may lightly touch the horse with your crop to start him, if needed. Move out briskly and try not to let the horse move out of a straight line. When moving away from the judge, keep the horse in line with the judge so that he may see the horse's movement without moving himself. Walk or trot your horse from the horse's left side. Bring your horse to a complete stop at either end of the line before turning him. When turning at the end of the line, turn him to the right, or away from you. When the judge is observing other horses, let your horse stand, if posed reasonably well.
Respond rapidly to requests from the judge and officials. Be courteous and sportsmanlike at all time. Keep showing until the entire class has been placed and the judge has submitted his card.
A basic showmanship pattern will be asked for.
JUDGES SHOULD CREDIT: Following instructions promptly Sharpness of presentation Awareness of what horse is doing Control Appropriate attire A well-groomed, well-presented horse - i.e. keepers out, twisted cheek pieces, etc. Correct equipment
JUDGES SHOULD PENALIZE: Incorrect or dirty attire Poorly groomed & trimmed horse Incorrect equipment Dirty equipment Improperly adjusted equipment Overuse of crop or reins Interfering with other exhibitors Over coaching from outside the ring
To be shown at a walk, trot and canter both directions of the ring. Pairs must be nicely matched. To create a pleasing picture riders should be dressed similarly and try to ride as much in time and as level as possible with each other. Alignment should be such that the judge can only see the first rider. Synchrony reflects the team's ability to perform with uniformity and precision as a pair, whether changing direction or working on the rail.