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The Versatility Ranch Horse competition demonstrates the versatility of the working ranch horse in five categories - ranch riding, ranch trail, ranch cutting, working ranch horse and ranch conformation. To be eligible for points in the Versatility Ranch competition one rider/one horse must enter all five classes. Credits will be applied per class according to the placing received based on the number of horses competing in that particular class. AQHA points are awarded based on the total earned credits that determine the final placing. There is an open division for horses shown by the recorded owner or by immediate family members or shown by a full-time employee (six months or more). An Amateur division for exhibitors who fulfill the amateur requirements under Rule 403, amateur eligibility. Amateur and novice amateur divisions will show concurrently with the open ranch division with placing for each respective division recorded. The Versatility Ranch Horse competition promotes the athletic ability and versatility of the horse. A Youth division also is offered to exhibitors 18 years of age or younger (age as of January 1) as long as they are the recorded owner or exhibit a horse owned by his or her immediate family members. Youth exhibitors may show horses owned by a ranch where the exhibitor's family is a full time employee (for six months or more).

THE CLASSES

RANCH RIDING
This class shows the horse's ability to move at a working speed with a rider. Horses will be shown at three gaits  walk, trot and lope  in each direction of the arena. Horses also will be asked to change directions while on the rail, stop and back. A horse will be given credit for traveling with his head held in a normal position, ears alert and moving at a natural speed for the gait requested. Credit also will be given for making a smooth transition between the gaits, for keeping the correct lead and for maintaining the gait until the judge asks for a change. A rider must show his horse with only one hand on the reins, unless the horse is five years old or younger and is being shown in a snaffle bit or hackamore (bosal).
RANCH TRAIL
This class contains a course with a minimum of six obstacles and is designed to show a horse's ability and willingness to perform several tasks that might be asked of him during the course of a normal day's ranch work. Whenever possible, realistic or natural obstacles are encouraged and the course is encouraged to be set outside of an arena using the natural terrain of the land. The horse will be judged on three gaits walk, trot and lope  performed between the six obstacles to be determined when the judge chooses the pattern. A horse will be rewarded with higher credit for performing these gaits on the correct lead and with an alert attitude. Mandatory obstacles include opening, passing through and closing a gate and dragging a log either in a straight line or around a set pattern. The third mandatory obstacle requires the horse to remain quiet while the rider dismounts, removes the bit completely from the horse's mouth and rebridles, and then picks up all four of the horse's feet. Some optional obstacles include crossing a water hazard; being hobbled or ground tied; and crossing a bridge.
RANCH CUTTING
A single numbered cow is cut from the herd and the horse must demonstrate its ability to work the cow. When satisfied that the horse has proven its cutting ability, the horse and rider must then pen the cow at the far end of the arena. Contestants will have two and one half minutes to cut and pen a designated cow from a herd of at least 10 head. Horses will not be penalized for reining during the cutting portion and should display the horse's natural cow ability.
WORKING RANCH HORSE
This class combines the ability of the working ranch horse to rein, handle cattle and put its rider in the position to rope and stop a cow. The class is to be judged in three sections reining, cow work and roping  with scores from each section added together for the final score of the class. Each contestant will perform individually. A maximum of six minutes is allowed to complete the class. When the six-minute time limit has expired, the exhibitor will be required to exit the arena.
 
 
PATTERN 1
PATTERN 2
Reining pattern: One of two approved patterns will be used for this class. Maneuvers include at least one circle in both directions, a change of leads
in each direction, at least one 360-degree turn in each direction, a rollback in each direction, stop and back.
Working the cow: After the exhibitor has completed his reining pattern, he will call for the cow to be turned into the arena. Upon receiving the cow, the contestant shall hold the cow on the prescribed end of the arena for a sufficient amount of time to demonstrate the ability of the horse to contain the cow. After a reasonable amount of time, the contestant shall take the cow down the fence, making at least one turn each way on the fence.
Roping: The exhibitor must then rope the cow and bring it to a stop. The horse is judged on his ability to trail, rate and stop the cow. There is to be no dragging and the exhibitor is allowed only two throws. Ropes cannot be tied to the saddle horn. It's not necessary for the exhibitor to catch in order to receive a score. However, if there is no catch, a five-point penalty will be subtracted from the roping score.
RANCH CONFORMATION
The goal of the ranch conformation class is to preserve American Quarter Horse type by selecting well-mannered horses based on their resemblance to the breed idea. Horses should have a positive combination of balance, structural correctness and movement with appropriate breed and sex characteristics, along with adequate muscling. Horses are to be shown in a good working halter (rope, braided, nylon or plain leather). Horses will walk to the judge one at a time then trot straight to a cone. At the cone, the horse will continue trotting, turn to the left and trot toward the left wall or fence of the arena. After trotting, horses will be lined up head to tail for individual inspection by the judge. The judge shall inspect each horse from both sides, front and rear. The ranch conformation class will be held after the conclusion of the other four events. All sexes will be shown together as one class.
Ranch Division: Stallions, mares and geldings
Youth Division: Mares and geldings
DIVISIONS
OPEN RANCH
This division is for horses shown by the recorded owner or by immediate family members as outlined AQHA Official Handbook of Rules and Regulations; or for horses shown by a full-time employee (six months more) and/or children of the ranch which owns the horse. For exhibitors, which are not listed as the current owner of the horse, the exhibitor must be pre-approved through an AQHA application process to verify that at least 70 percent of the exhibitor's income is derived from employment with the listed owner.
AMATEUR
Horses shown by exhibitors who fulfill the amateur requirements under Rule 403, amateur eligibility. Amateur and novice amateur divisions will show concurrently with the open ranch division with placings for each respective division recorded.
YOUTH
Exhibitors 18 years of age or younger (age as of January 1) may show in this division. The exhibitor must be the recorded owner of the horse shown or show a horse owned by his or her immediate family members. The exhibitor may show horses owned by a ranch where the exhibitor's family is a full time employee (for six months or more).
GENERAL RULES
All horses must be registered with the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA)
Each exhibitor must have current individual membership in the American Quarter Horse Association or American Quarter Horse Youth Association (AQHYA)
No horses less than three years of age may be exhibited
No hoof polish
No braided or banded manes
No tail extensions
Trimming the inside of ears is discouraged
Trimming the bridle path is allowed, as well as the fetlocks or any excessive (long) facial hair
TACK AND EQUIPMENT
A good working outfit is encouraged and should count over silver-inlaid equipment. Silver on bridles and saddles is discouraged.
Refer to guidelines listed in Sections 442 and 443 of the AQHA Official Handbook of Rules and Regulations regarding the use of bits and other equipment
POINTS
AQHA points will be awarded based on the final placing of all eligible horses. To be eligible for points in the Versatility Ranch Horse competition, one rider/one horse must enter all five classes. Credits will be applied per class according to the placing received based on the number of horses competing in that particular class. Horses competing and placing in the top nine will be awarded one credit for each horse or contestant placing below them, plus one credit. Total credits will not exceed nine credits for first place. Credits received in each class will be totaled. After totaling, the horse receiving the highest number of credits will be placed first in the Versatility Ranch Horse competition. The horse receiving the second highest credits will be placed second in the Versatility Ranch Horse competition and so on. In the amateur division, final placings will be based on the order of finish in the class based on credits earned. For example, if the highest placing amateur is third overall, then that exhibitor will place first in the amateur division and third in the open division. Amateur exhibitors can earn points in both open and amateur divisions. AQHA points will be awarded in the Versatility Ranch Horse class according to the existing point schedule. (Chart 415A of the AQHA Official Handbook of Rules and Regulations). Ties in the final placing for the Versatility Ranch Horse competition will be broken by the highest placing horse in the Working Ranch class.
AWARDS AND RECOGNITION
An AQHA Year-End High-Point award will be awarded in both the Ranch, Amateur and Youth divisions based on the number of points earned from January 1 to December 31 of each year.
All achievements will be included on horses' show record and exhibitor/owner award record.
Awards at individual shows may vary.
Owners of horses enrolled in the Incentive Fund are eligible to receive money earned based on total versatility ranch points earned during the year. Sires of horses competing in the Versatility Ranch Horse competition which are Incentive Fund-nominated also can earn yearly dividends for their nominators.
SHOW APPROVAL
A letter stating the date and location of the desired Versatility Ranch Event must be submitted a minimum of 90 days prior to the event for tentative approval
Approval of dates will be based on a 300-mile radius
The event will be approved if there is not a known similar approved Versatility Ranch Event on the same date within the mileage radius
Competition may be held in conjunction with other events
There will be a $50 approval fee
Judges from the list of AQHA-approved Versatility Ranch Competition judges must be hired to officiate the event
Results of event must be submitted to AQHA on official report form no later than 10 days after the conclusion of the event
A listing of AQHA-approved Versatility Ranch Horse events will be included in The American Quarter Horse Journal and online.
Materials to help show management with event promotion are available, including an automatic news release sent to local newspapers announcing the dates of the event
 EXAMPLE OF CREDIT DISTRIBUTION
Contestant (Division)
Ranch Riding
Ranch Cutting
Ranch Trail
Working Ranch
Conformation
Total Credits
Open Placing
Amateur Placing (within class)
Nov Amateur Placing (within class)
AQHA Points Open - Amateur
Open
7
8
8
9
9
41
1st
-
-
2
Novice Amateur
8
7
7
3
7
32
2nd
1st
1st
1-1
Amateur
2
5
6
8
8
29
3rd
2nd
-
1/2 - 1/2
Open
4
2
9
4
5
24
4th
-
-
Amateur
5
6
2
5
4
22
5th
3rd
-
Open
1
2
5
6
6
20
6th
-
-
Open
9
1
1
7
0
18
7th
-
-
Amateur
3
3
4
2
3
15
8th
4th
-
Novice Amateur
6
0
3
1
2
11
9th
5th
2nd
Open
0
9
0
0
1
10
10th
-
-
This example represents a class with ten contestants. Refer to the AQHA Official Handbook of Rules & Regulations for more information on the number of points earned in larger-entry classes.



 
Link to AQHA