A Judge's Perspective: Youth Ranch Riding

AQHA Judge Jan Hay helps us understand the winning ranch riding run at the 2017 Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show.

In a field of 115, Gracelyn Jacobs and Wild Card Jackon rose to the top in the ranch riding at the 2017 Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show.

In the video above, we sat down with AQHA Judge Jan Hay, who helped break apart Gracelyn’s go and how she earned that top spot. Watch the video, then you can read key points that Hay thought made Gracelyn’s run shine gold.

Scroll down to the bottom of the page, where we show the full pattern.

“Willing, guided and natural” are what Hay uses to describe this great ride.

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The pattern starts with a walk into the arena, lope right lead and extend right lead, collect:

“(The rider) enters the arena with a true purposeful walk, steps into the right lead staying between the reins at the extended lope. (The horse is) looking through the bridle.”

Lope Right Lead:

“Still comes through, staying true between the reins.”

Change Leads:

“Lead change straight and true.”

Extended Trot/Trot:

“Breaks to the extended with good lengthening of stride, very natural carriage rates down again above average maneuver.”

Walk to Gate:

“Now walking to the gate great expression, true purposeful walk like you would see for a ranch horse doing nowadays.”

Right-Hand Push Gate:

“Approaches the gate, covers the gate entrance, and no cattle were let out. Stayed flat-footed, stands quietly. Again, above average.”

Side Pass to The Left, Half-Way to The Right:

“Sidepass over the log, very sure-footed. Still holding natural carriage, like what we would like to have for a ranch horse.”

Walk Across Log and Lope Left Lead:

“Stepping into the left lead lope, smooth transition. Again, natural head carriage pleasing to watch, easy to ride, and good ground covering lope.”

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 Walk/Walk Over Logs:

“Broke to the walk, smooth transition, looking straight through the bridle. Plus one. ...Walking over the logs above average, straight and true.”


“Good execution.”

Lope Left Lead, Build to an Extended Lope, Collect:

“Now to the left lead, building, building to the extension, again looking straight through the bridle, follows her hand where she points.”

Stop and Back:

“Willing, guided, natural and flat-footed.”

360-Degree Turn Both Directions (either direction first):

“She chooses right first, back to the left, above average.”


For a total score of: 78

(Jan Hay Scorecard)