Putting on a Show

Here’s how to create a basic AQHA versatility ranch horse competition.

Putting on a versatility ranch horse competition can be a daunting task if you look at the complexity of the event. Two cattle classes and three drywork classes mean that in addition to cattle, the facility and judges need to accommodate a wide range of needs.

Planning and a checklist will assist you in having a smooth-running, quality competition. Here are some of the important basics to get your started:

Check the AQHA Handbook

You need AQHA’s approval for an AQHA show. There are two processes for a previously approved show and for new show approval, so make sure you read the AQHA handbook.

Choose the Date

When choosing a date for the event, pick one as early as possible. Try to avoid weekends that might conflict with other events in the area, which might limit attendance. AQHA’s rules also limit how close one event can be to another, both in distance and time.

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Choose your date before you choose your facility, judges or cattle supplier. After the date is chosen and approved by AQHA, then lock in the other elements.

Choose the Facility

When picking a facility for the event, you will need to match it to the requirements of this five-class event and the number of anticipated participants.

Most competitions require two arenas: one for the cattle classes and one for the dry-work classes. Two arenas help with the flow for participants and the amount of set-up time.

Facilities differ in the fees charged for arena, stalls and services. Understand the payment terms and cancellation policy. Check to see what insurance you need, concessionaire requirements including health certificates, alcohol/pet policies and other rules and regulations of the facility.

Also, ask yourself these questions:

    • What type of stalls are available; how many; charge per stall and stall cleaning/stripping?
    • Is bedding available on site?
    • Is there adequate trailer parking?
    • Where is the parking in relation to stalls and the arenas?
    • Can riders stay overnight in their trailers?
    • If the arenas are outdoors, is there an alternative place to show if the weather is bad?

Choose the Judges

Judges must be chosen from AQHA’s approved list, as per AQHA Rule 407m. If a judge is unable to fulfill a judging commitment, the acceptance of a substitute will be at AQHA’s option.

Be clear on the judge’s compensation needs: mileage, meals, lodging and per diem, for example. To help your budget, try to use judges that do not need to travel great distances to the event.

Put your expectations, the judge’s needs and a cancellation clause in a written agreement with signatures by both parties. Keep in mind that an agreement goes in two directions. Not only is the judge agreeing to commit to your event, but you are agreeing that the judge can schedule your event in his calendar. That means that if you cancel the judge, that person could be out the income he would have made on your event. With enough advance notice, that person could have scheduled another income-producing event on that day. Be careful canceling on short notice.

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Choose the Cattle Supplier

Cattle can make or break an event. Choose your supplier for type of cattle and cost. Arrange for cattle that have not already been used for other events, are not sick or injured, are not sour or wild, and do not have horns. Be clear in your cattle agreement as to who is providing the feed for the cattle and the transportation costs.

Put cost per head, feed and transportation costs, delivery/pick-up dates and a cancellation clause in a written agreement with signatures by both parties.

Because VRH is a relatively new event, cattle contractors might want to know what you will be doing with their stock. They are particularly interested in whether you will be roping them. Be accurate in your description. Assure them that we “stop” cattle; we don’t “jerk down.”

Also, many cattle contractors will want a death/injury clause incorporated into their contracts or agreements. This is a standard clause stating that if any of the stock are injured or die while in your possession, that fair market value will be paid. A fairly common association/club policy states that a contestant may be liable for this cost if he causes the injury or death.

For the ranch cutting class, numbers will be placed on both sides of the cattle by glue or paint. The numbers must be large enough not only for the participant to see, but so that the judge can see the numbers at a distance. A judge needs to be able to confirm that the participant pulled out the correctly numbered cow. Check with your cattle contractor on preference for glue-on or paint numbers.

Post-Event Evaluation

All events benefit when the management looks at strengths, weaknesses and areas of improvement. Review the participant evaluation forms. Your efforts, through others’ eyes and viewpoints, can help make your next event more user-friendly and draw more competitors.

A customer-is-always-right attitude frequently results in higher numbers and higher profit.

To see some versatility ranch horses in action, check out America's Horse TV.

America's Horse Cares

Now is the perfect time to make your gift to the American Quarter Horse Foundation. Not only will you benefit the people and horses served by the American Quarter Horse Foundation, and if your gift is completed by December 31, 2009, you will receive income tax relief. Visit the Foundation’s Web site and click Donate Today. You can also call (806) 378-5029 to make a donation.

AQHF Gift Ideas

Need help finding that perfect Christmas gift? Don’t look any farther than the American Quarter Horse Foundation. We have the ideal gift for anyone and everyone on your list. Go to the Foundation’s Web site to make a gift in honor or memory of that special person or horse. If you make your gift by December 11, 2009, the Foundation will send a special holiday card to notify the honoree of your gift.