angle-left Boxing: A Look at This AQHA Class

Boxing: A Look at This AQHA Class

Review the process and scoring system for the AQHA boxing class.
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By Robbie McCommas for America’s Horse

AQHA introduced the working cow horse boxing class in 2010. According to the Association’s rulebook, each exhibitor must perform a reining pattern and single cow work (boxing) on the end of the arena. 

AQHA Professional Horseman Bob Avila and AQHA Professional Horsewoman Marilyn Peters offer their guidance and insight on what you need to know before you compete in boxing with your cow horse

“I think boxing is a great stepping stone for people who don’t want to go down the fence,” says Bob. “It has been a win-win. People enjoy themselves, get their feet wet and relax in the pen with a cow.”

Boxing Class Process

  • Judging begins with rein work, when an exhibitor enters the arena to perform one of 12 patterns that are listed in the 2019 AQHA Official Handbook of Rules and Regulations.
  • Then, the exhibitor calls for a cow when the rein work is completed. The exhibitor is judged on his or her ability to hold the cow on the prescribed end of the arena for 50 seconds, demonstrating the ability of the horse and rider to control the cow.
  • Time begins when the gate closes behind the cow after it’s let into the arena.
  • Completion is indicated with a whistle or horn after 50 seconds. 

Boxing Class Scoring System

It’s important to understand the scoring system before you consider entering the arena. The two parts of boxing – the rein work (dry work) and cow work – are individually judged, and there are penalty points, as well as credits available.

Rein Work (Dry Work) Tips

  • Take one maneuver at a time and approach them separately.
  • Correct is always best. Focus on staying out of the penalty box.
  • Ride past your markers, not to them.
  • Count your spins.
  • Know your horse and learn to ride what you’ve got. If you’ve got a horse that will run down and stop, be brave and let him.

Cow Work Tips

  • The cow moves, the horse reacts, the rider follows. 
  • Approach the cow one step at a time. If you address the cow a little bit slower, you’re going to have a better run.
  • Give the cow enough room that it doesn’t run through you, but remember, you only have 50 seconds to work your cow and impress the judge(s).
  • Utilize the clock and move your cow if it’s just standing there. The idea of boxing is to control the cow, not letting the fence stop it.

As more and more people get excited about boxing classes, the competition has become stiffer.  But even though the class has gotten tougher, it’s important to remember two very important concepts. 

“People need to step up and ride what they can,” Marilyn says. “And have fun! It’s a fun class.”