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Ranch Pleasure

Learn more about one of AQHA's new classes, ranch pleasure.

Editor's Note: This article was originally posted February 2012. As of January 1, 2015, the class is now referred to as "ranch riding," and judging criteria can be found in Rule SHW416 of the AQHA Official Handbook of Rules and Regulations.


I was really intrigued when I heard that AQHA is going to be offering a ranch pleasure class, but what really is ranch pleasure? How is it judged? What is the horse and rider required to do? And what makes it "ranch" pleasure?


Ranch pleasure is a class designed to showcase the movement and versatility of ranch style horses. It will be an open, individually worked, scored class, similar to the ranch riding class in versatility ranch horse competition. This means that the horse and rider enter the pen and compete individually from other horse and rider teams.

There will be a pattern determined by the judge. The pattern will consist of specified gaits, the walk, the trot, extended trot, lope, extended lope along with three of the five optional maneuvers and a change of director somewhere in the pattern.

The five option maneuvers are sidepass; turns of 360 degrees or more; change of leads (simple or flying); walk, jog or lope over pole(s); and any other reasonable ranch maneuver.

What are AQHA judges looking for in western pleasure? Learn how western pleasure horses are evaluated from Alex Ross, AQHA executive director of judges, in "Showing to Win: Western Pleasure."

AQHA is including sample patterns in the AQHA Official Handbook of Rules and Regulations, but judges will be able to draw their own as long as they include the required gaits and three of the optional maneuvers.

The horse and rider will be scored on movement, which is cadence and rhythm of gaits, smoothness and consistency in performance, along with ow they perform the optional maneuvers. Then the score sheets will be posted for the exhibitors' benefit.

It's called ranch pleasure. The horses should not perform the gaits as they do in traditional western pleasure classes. This is ranch pleasure and they should be presented in a more forward-moving style than the typical western pleasure horse.

--Alex Ross
AQHA Executive Director of Judges

Want to learn more about ranch horse pleasure? Read "A New Pleasure" on Page 176 in the February 2012 issue of The American Quarter Horse Journal.