Ranch Pleasure

In the second year of competition, AQHA judges want to see even more forward movement from ranch pleasure horses.

The American Quarter Horse Journal
August 20, 2013

Sara Gugelmeyer shows ARC A Lil Cash Please at the 2012 AQHA World Show in ranch pleasure

Amateur Sara Gugelmeyer shows ARC A Lil Cash Please at the 2012 AQHA World Championship Show in ranch pleasure, which was the first time the class was offered at the world show level. (Journal photo) BELOW: Watch a video about the ins and outs of AQHA's ranch pleasure class.

Growing pains are to be expected. After all, ranch pleasure is in only the second year of competition at AQHA shows.

One such growing pain is this: Horses aren’t being shown with enough forward movement.

The problem, says Alex Ross, AQHA senior director of judges, is that some AQHA exhibitors have never seen a ranch horse at work in a pasture. Those exhibitors don’t understand the long, free-flowing stride that a horse needs to get a hungry rider from the back pasture to the supper table in time for hot chicken-fried steak.

“Exhibitors who have shown in mainstream western pleasure classes have been showing their horses differently,” Alex told the Journal. “Now we just need them to stretch those horses’ legs out even more, so their horses look like ranch horses and not mainstream pleasure horses.”

A few words come up repeatedly when top exhibitors discuss ranch pleasure horses. One of the most common descriptors  is “broke.”

“To succeed in ranch pleasure, the horses have to perform well at basic maneuvers taken from trail, western riding, horsemanship and reining,” explains AQHA Professional Horseman Bill Bormes of Castle Rock, Colorado. “This class is, right now, producing an educated horse, capable of moving on in his careers, successfully competing in any number of events.”

In the September issue of The American Quarter Horse Journal, editor Larri Jo Starkey picks the brains of Alex and Bill, as well as top amateur competitors Sara Gugelmeyer and Charlene Morgan, plus AQHA Professional Horseman and judge Karen McCuistion, who judged ranch pleasure at the 2012 AQHA World Championship Show.

“Ranch pleasure is a great way for exhibitors to connect with the western lifestyle,” Karen says. “People who try the class can and should imagine themselves traveling over miles and miles of open range.”

Be on the lookout for “Ranch Pleasure Review” in the September Journal, which offers insight on what judges are looking for in AQHA’s newest class.

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