Sunday, August 16, 2009

So What's VRH Anyways?

Two days into this blog and I figured you might want to know what it is that I am actually trying to do! So let's identify THE GOAL!

The competitions were started unofficially on ranches all over the country centuries ago but the AQHA started with organized competitions in 2002.They were developed to show the wide range of usefulness and handiness of a ranch horse.

Versatility Ranch Horse Competitions are made up of 5 classes that are all done with one rider on one horse.The classes are as follows:Ranch Riding,Ranch Cutting,Ranch Trail,Working Ranch and Conformation.

Ranch Riding is judged on the horse's movements in natural working speed at all gaits (walk,trot and lope)in both directions.Contestants are also asked to reverse on the rail,stop and back.The extended trot and canter may also be asked of the contestants.Think of it as Western Pleasure before they were asked to put their noses on the ground and go super slow!I'm not too worried about this part.Seems pretty basic and in 5 years-heck we'll be pros at this part!

Ranch Trail is made up of at least 6 obstacles that may be found on the ranch.Three of these are mandatory(opening and shutting a gate,dragging a log in a straight line or a pattern,dismounting/removing bridle/re-bridling/picking up all 4 four feet/mounting).Optional trail obstacles might also include crossing a water hazard,being hobbled or ground tied,and crossing a bridge. Hayden is pretty good at most of these especially the mandatory ones! He may question the water depending on how it's set up...

Ranch cutting involves the rider/horse combo to cut or separate a cow from the herd and pen the cow.They have 2 and half minutes to demonstrate the horse's natural ability to work the cow. Reining the horse will not be penalized.This is where it starts to get tricky. Remember I don't live on a ranch! No problem! We have started to implement the help of a local cutting trainer! And the best part is that he said Hayden has a lot of "cow" to him! That's good to know! I thought he was just ultra sensitive!

Working Ranch Horse combines 3 sections:reining,cow work and roping.The contestant first performs a set reining pattern.After the reining pattern is complete the rider calls for a cow to be turned out in the arena.They then show they can control/contain the cow in a set area of the arena for a set time.Next they would take the cow down the fence,making a turn each way on the fence. After reining and working the cow,the rider then ropes the cow and stops it.5 point reduction for not catching!-Ok! So remember-I do NOT live on a ranch,so I am just going to have to implement the help of yet another local trainer who does rope! Don't worry! It's all in the 5 year plan!

Finally there is Ranch Conformation. This class is based on balance,structural correctness,degree of muscling,breed and sex characteristics. Horses are to be shown in a working halter! No SILVER! No clipping of ears! (Hayden is SOOOO happy about this!)I think we have this class down. Hayden will stop and square up and stand there all day and I have an excellent source that says Hayden is pretty easy on the eyes and the conformation to back it up! Yeehaw!

So do I sound like I know what I am in for?

To help get me prepared I have read the book "Training and Showing the Versatility Ranch Horse" by Laren Sellers. I have read and printed out the AQHA Rules on the class as well as the judges guideline sheets for each class.Yeah I'm a nerd I admit it.But wait! There's more! I have also bought AQHA's educational video on the classes! Told ya I am a nerd! But that's ok! I won't suck because I wasn't educated!

So where are we now? Well today it was raining and I took the day off to be with family.But tomorrow is a new day and I will fill you in on the training we have done since January to get us where we are presently!

In the meantime, here's a picture of me on Hayden at the local covered arena.


  1. How fun Emily! I love reading about your adventures. I remember one you wrote a couple of years ago and posted on FT. I was ROTFL, it was so descriptive I could have been there!