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November 6-21, 2015, Oklahoma City
Journal at the World

November 11, 2013

Ranch Pleasure Tips

Ranch pleasure exhibitors get some insight into the class from an AQHA judge.

By Larri Jo Starkey
The American Quarter Horse Journal

Sara Gugelmeyer and Colonels Miss Chic

Sara Gugelmeyer of Dalhart, Texas, demonstrates the ranch pleasure pattern November 11 on Colonels Miss Chic. AQHA judge Jim Heird was the clinician for the Nutrena Ride the Pattern clinic, which was videotaped and will eventually become a DVD. (Journal photo)

Ranch pleasure competitors gathered at a Nutrena Ride the Pattern clinic November 11 to learn some hints from Jim Heird, an AQHA judge who judged the first open ranch pleasure world championship class.

The preliminaries for AQHA’s first amateur ranch pleasure world championship begin at noon on November 12, and Jim had plenty of advice for the amateurs on how to approach the pattern at the 2013 AQHA World Championship Show. Some of his hints about the World Show pattern and ranch pleasure in general:

  • We’re looking for a broke, quiet horse that is moving forward and soft. Use the pen. Keep the horse moving and flowing and quiet. We’re not looking for small things. We're looking for a good big picture.
  • The walk is important. Most scores of the walk are a zero or a minus half. A horse that moves out at the walk is found money.
  • The lope should be a forward, natural movement. An extended lope is not a run.
  • Ranch pleasure is not reining. It’s not horsemanship. It’s its own thing.
  • The saddle should be western. A back cinch is preferable.
  • Any time you have a question about what to do, the answer is always, "What would you do on a ranch?"
  • Transitions are critical in this class. Keep your horse moving forward like you would on the ranch
  • Take the class pattern and sit in the middle of the pen and get idea where you're going to perform maneuvers.
  • The rulebook says there’s no difference between a flying lead change or simple lead change. A good simple change will beat a poor flying change.
  • The rulebook says to keep contact with the horse, and one of the fastest ways to get in scoring trouble is to have too much drape to the reins.
  • Judging is not about little things like romal or split reins. It’s about a horse’s movement. We’re trying to make this class a positive. There aren’t many deductions. If we eliminate things – by making deductions – the world gets simpler, but judging is not simple. Look for the good.

Some exciting additions to ranch pleasure are on the way. Find out what's in store for ranch pleasure for 2014.