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Ranch Horse Versatility

This morning I decided to head to a nearby town and check out a Ranch Horse Versatility show. I’ve often thought about showing in this discipline, but first I needed to go and see exactly what’s involved so I know what I need to work on. Looks like I’m gonna be busy!

I only stayed for the first half of the show and the classes I watched were ranch cutting, ranch trail, and ranch riding. Later in the afternoon the rest of the cattle classes were held.

Ranch cutting involves riding into a small herd of cattle and sorting out one. Each of the cattle are numbered, and as you ride into the cattle, you are given a number. Once you have that animal sorted out, your job is to prevent it from going back with the rest of the herd.
ranch cutting horse

The cattle are quick and your horse must be equally as quick and even more athletic. A great cutting horse is a fun thing to watch, and even more fun to ride.

palomino cutting horse
cutting horse

Ranch trail classes are a small course with a series of obstacles that you might run across on a ranch – logs to walk or lope over, gates to open, taking a rain slicker off the fence, drag a log and go through lots of water.


opening and closing a gate
This gate was particularly tricky, in that you had to pull it towards you with your right hand, turn around and back through it and then close it, all the while never removing your right hand from the gate. This really shows how much control you have over the individual body parts of your horse and can you move them in very small increments and not over do it.
horse loping in the alley
This horse was asked to pick up the right-lead lope. This means the horse will start by picking up his right front leg first. Typically, in a ranch setting, a rider doesn’t worry about this too much, since the horse will naturally pick up whatever lead he needs to in order to go the direction you are asking him to go. Because of this a lot of ranch horses aren’t always asked to depart on any particular lead. Getting this in a straight away, as in this alley, is often more difficult, since the horse isn’t bending any particular direction.
horse draggin a log

In ranch horse riding, riders must demonstrate that they can work at different gaits – walk, trot, lope – and at different speeds – extended or working trot, jog, lope & extended lope, as well as perform some basic maneuvers such as a stop and a pivot. Unfortunately I wasn’t quick enough with my camera to catch a nice sliding stop or a pivot.
horse loping
galloping horse
While I would do reasonably well in some of these classes like the ranch trail and the ranch riding, I still need a lot of work on cattle to compete with these folks. I can’t throw a rope to save my life……let me clarify – I can throw a rope just fine, however catching something with it is an entirely different story!

Regardless, it’s still a fun way to spend the day with friends, in a comfortable relaxed environment where everyone helps everybody else out. That’s what I’m talking about.

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