Ranch Rule Changes

View the recently approved recommendations from the AQHA Ranching Committee, which were approved by the AQHA Executive Committee.

American Quarter Horse Association

All rules are effective January 1, 2019, except for an amendment to SHW554 regarding leveling, which goes into effect immediately.

The AQHA Executive Committee recently reviewed and approved various ranch-horse-related rule changes and additions that were recommended by the AQHA Ranching Committee and approved by the AQHA Board of Directors at convention in March. All rules are effective January 1, 2019, except for an amendment to SHW554 regarding leveling, which goes into effect immediately. Read the full standing committee reports

The highlights of the approved ranching committee recommendations are listed below.

ZOETIS AQHA RANCHING HERITAGE CHALLENGE

A new section for the Zoetis AQHA Ranching Heritage Challenge program will be added to the AQHA Official Handbook of Rules & Regulations.

Ranch cutting will be added as a new class in Zoetis AQHA Ranching Heritage Challenges adopting SHW565 VRH Ranch Cutting rules.

Additionally an open 7-and-Up Working Ranch Horse class will be added.

ZOETIS AQHA RANCHING HERITAGE BREEDERS

The Zoetis AQHA Ranching Heritage-bred recognition program will be expanded to include more equine events. A AQHA Ranching Heritage intern endowment fund will also be established. 

SHOW RULE CHANGES

SHW305 WESTERN EQUIPMENT        

Change the third to last sentence of SHW305.6 to read: “In all other classes, including the reined portion of working cow horse, boxing, VRH ranch reining, VRH ranch cow work, VRH limited ranch cow work and all RHC working ranch horse classes, the free hand may be used to adjust the rider’s length of rein.” 

Amend SHW305.7 by adding: When using a snaffle bit in working cow horse, boxing, ranch riding, ranch trail, all VRH classes, and all RHC classes, a leather or other woven material chin strap of any width is to be used and should be attached to the bit below the reins. No iron, chain, or other material is allowed. The chin strap is allowed to include metal buckles and/or keepers

Amend the first sentence of SHW305.8.1 to read: “The use of two-rein equipment is allowed in working cow horse, boxing, ranch riding, ranch trail, all VRH classes, all RHC classes, for a period of one year and at the subsequent World Show for which they qualified.

SHW418 RANCH RIDING APPAREL and EQUIPMENT

Add new SHW418.7 to read: “When exhibiting in a snaffle bit or hackamore, an exhibitor may switch between two hands and one hand on the reins at any time.

SHW419 RANCH RIDING PENALTIES

Amend rule SHW419.5 to include “use of two hands (except junior and Level 1 horses shown in a snaffle bit/hackamore).”

SHW508 WORKING COW HORSE CLASSES
Amend the first two sentences of SHW509.1.6 to read: “The use of ‘two rein equipment’ is allowed as recognized by our NRCHA alliance in AQHA working cow horse, boxing, ranch riding, ranch trail, all VRH classes, and all RHC classes. The purpose of the two rein option is the transition between the hackamore and bridle and can be used on any aged horse in the youth, amateur, junior, senior or all age working cow horse class, amateur or youth boxing, or ranch riding, ranch trail, all VRH classes and all RHC classes for one year only.”

SHW552 DIVISIONS

Amend SHW552 to read: “Three divisions will be offered: open, amateur, and youth. Within these divisions there will be the following sub-divisions: open and cowboy; amateur, limited amateur and rookie amateur; youth, limited youth and rookie youth.” This change is pending computer programming. 

SHW554 ALL-AROUND VERSATILITY RANCH HORSE

Amend the second sentence of SHW554 to read: “Points earned in each individual class only count toward any award or qualification for the ranch division and do not count toward any other award or qualification for any other approved AQHA class or AQHA show award, and shall not affect leveling in any other class.This change is effective immediately

SHW555 POINTS

Amend SHW555 such that the credit system is a 50-to-1 system instead of a 9-to-1 system. The first-place horse in each class that is eligible for the all-around will receive 50 credits no matter the number of other horses entered or eligible. To be effective at 2018 VRH world show. 

SHW556 VRH CLASS PARTICIPATION
Amend SHW556.3 to read: “No braided or banded manes/tails or tail extensions, except in any VRH or RHC class where roping is involved, the horse’s mane may be braided for a distance of 12”-16” in front of the saddle pad. No ribbons or other kind of ornamentation will be allowed.” 

Amend SHW556.10 to include “When ground-tying with split reins, one or both reins may be dropped; romal reins may be loosely draped over the horn when used with or without a get-down rope. Hobbles are allowed.” 

Amend the first sentence of SHW556.11 to read: “The use of two-rein equipment is allowed in working cow horse, boxing, ranch riding, ranch trail, all VRH classes and all RHC classes for one year only.”

Add SHW556.12 to read: “When exhibiting in a snaffle bit or hackamore, an exhibitor may switch between two hands and one hand on the reins at any time.

SHW557 SCORING SYSTEM

Amend SHW557.2 by deleting the phrase “leaving working area before pattern is complete.

Amend the first sentence of SHW557.3 by adding the phrase “or leaving working area before pattern is complete.”

SHW560 VRH RANCH RIDING

Amend SHW560.3 regarding credits and penalties by:

  • Removing “gapping mouth” as a 1-point penalty
  • Adding 3-point penalty for out of lead or cross-cantering more than two strides when changing leads Add 3-point penalty for trotting more than three strides when making a simple lead change
  • Removing the phrase “first or second cumulative” from the 5-point penalty

With respect to SHW560.3, SHW561.10, SHW562.3, SHW563.2, SHW564.2, SHW565.9 and all RHC classes the use of two hands (except junior and Level 1 horses shown in a snaffle bit/hackamore) shall be an Off-Pattern (OP) instead of a 5-point penalty.

SHW561 VRH RANCH TRAIL
Amend SHW561.6 subsection 2 to specify that Gate is required to be a hinged swinging gate (not a rope gate).

Amend rule SHW561.10 to include the phrase “failure to open and shut gate or failure to complete gate” as an Off-Pattern. 

Amend SHW561.10 regarding penalties by:

  • Adding 1-point penalty for one to two steps on mount/dismount or ground tie, except shifting to balance.
  • Adding 3-point penalty for three to four steps on mount/dismount on ground tie.
  • Adding 5-point penalty for five or more steps on mount/dismount or ground tie.

SHW562 VRH RANCH REINING

Pattern 6 is removed. 

Amend the first two sentences of SHW562.2 to read: “To rein a horse is not only to guide him but also to control his movement. The best reined horse should be willingly guided or controlled with little or no apparent resistance.” 

Delete the third sentence of SHW562.2 which reads: “Any movement on his own must be considered a lack of control.” 

Also, amend SHW563.2 by adding the phrase “bringing the cow straight over backwards landing on its back or head with all four feet in the air” to the disqualifications penalties. 

Amend SHW562.3 Penalties by adding the phrase “trotting in excess of ½ circle or ½ the length of the arena” to the Off-Pattern penalties. 

SHW564 LIMITED RANCH COW WORK AMATEUR/YOUTH
Amend SHW564.2 Credits and Penalties by adding “driving cow down the opposite fence (changing sides)” as a one point penalty. 

SHW565 VRH RANCH CUTTING
Amend the first sentence of SHW565.2 to read: “In all divisions, there will be a two-minute time limit.” 

Delete SWH565.3, which currently reads: “For youth competition, there will be a one and one-half minute time limit. Each exhibitor may work one or two cows and has the option of ending their run before the one and one-half minute time limit or working the full one and one-half minutes. Working two cows does not assure extra credit to the run.”

Amend SHW565.9 by adding the phrase “lameness, abuse, disrespect or misconduct” to the disqualification penalties. 

SHW566 VRH RANCH CONFORMATION

Amend SHW566 by deleting the following sentence: “The ranch conformation class must be held after the conclusion of the other events, except at the AQHA Versatility Ranch Horse World Championships.” 

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