Announcer Guide

The announcer at a Versatility Ranch Horse show can be the key person to keeping the show running smoothly and on time. Here are some suggestions for messages to share with your exhibitors and spectators.

An announcer sometimes wears many hats at an AQHA event. He may be the timekeeper, scorekeeper and housekeeper. However, it’s important to remember that an announcer also can be a key person in keeping the show running smoothly and on time, in addition to providing your message to exhibitors and spectators. Below are several suggestions to include in announcer scripts for a Versatility Ranch Horse competition.


Good morning and welcome to the [event name]. The versatility ranch horse competition was developed by the American Quarter Horse Association along with several groups and organizations who wanted an event to showcase the talents of the working stock horse. The first event was held in January 2002 and since that time, AQHA versatility ranch horse competitions have been held coast to coast. You’ll find this competition exciting as the versatility of the working ranch horse is demonstrated in six classes – ranch riding, ranch trail, ranch reining, ranch cutting, ranch cow work and ranch conformation. Champions are crowned in each class, but consistency is the name of the game as an all-around champion is determined by the highest placing horses and rider across three categories. Four divisions are offered for exhibitors to compete in – open, amateur, cowboy and youth.


Class descriptions are key in letting the audience and exhibitors know what’s coming up next. The fact sheet in the VRH marketing kit has a complete description of each class. Scoring can be explained plus other elements of the competition such as a list of the trail obstacles. Patterns for the working ranch horse category are available to show management and can be distributed along with the entry list and score sheet handout. Here are some things to remember about each class:

Ranch Riding – For ranch riding classes, horses show individually, and the class can be conducted inside or outside an arena. In this class, judges are looking for relaxed, responsive horses with soft and cadenced gaits. The horse should make timely transitions in a smooth and correct manner, plus the horse should be soft in the bridle and yield to contact.

Ranch Trail – Obstacles found in a ranch trail pattern are approximate to those found during the course of everyday work. Judges are looking for a gentle, well-trained, responsive and well-mannered horse that can correctly navigate and negotiate the course, and to do so in a correct and efficient manner. Rule SHW561 outlines the class, including mandatory and prohibited obstacles.

Ranch Reining – Ranch reining measures the ability of the stock horse to perform basic handling maneuvers. This class can be held with or separate from the ranch cow work class; if the two are held together, they are still scored and placed as individual classes. This is a summation of what the judges are looking for in ranch reining: “To rein a horse is not only to guide him but also to control his every movement. The best reined horse should be willingly guided or controlled with little or no apparent resistance and dictated to completely.”

Ranch Cutting – Similar to other cutting classes, ranch cutting is judged on the ability of the horse to work a cow by separating it from the herd and holding it. The objective is to cut one or two cows, based on the division. For open, cowboy and amateur division competition, there is a two-minute limit where each exhibitor must work two head, with the option of working the full two minutes. In youth competition, on the other hand, there is a one-and-a-half-minute time limit where the exhibitor must work one cow but has the option of working the full minute and a half.

Ranch Cow Work – When it comes to the ranch cow work class, riders have the choice between ranch cow work or limited ranch cow work for youth and amateur exhibitors, where riders are allotted one minute and forty-five seconds to complete the work. There are three parts to the limited ranch cow work: boxing the cow; setting up the cow and driving it down the fence to the opposite end of the arena; and boxing it at the opposite end of the arena. For ranch cow work, there are three parts to the class: boxing, fence work and roping or circling. The horse and rider must accomplish all three parts in three minutes.

Ranch Conformation – To be eligible to compete in the ranch conformation class, the horse must be shown in at least one class in one of the other categories the day of the show. Judges are looking for balanced, structurally correct horses with adequate muscling. Exhibitors show their horses in a good working halter – rope, braided, nylon or plain leather – exhibit the horse at a walk and trot, then line up for inspection by the judge.


There are many opportunities throughout the day to promote programs, inform spectators and exhibitors, and thank sponsors. Try to keep each announcement to 30 seconds, which is the standard length of radio spots. The next page includes scripts about AQHA programs.