Ranch Riding , sometimes referred to as Ranch Pleasure, is a relatively new pattern class , where the riding style is smooth and efficient as if the horse and rider are working on a ranch. Ranch Riding typically consists of standard patterns as published by breed and other associations. As Ranch Riding continues to become more and more popular, new patterns are being added that include more challenging maneuvers and obstacles to test the skill and versatility of horse and rider.
Ranch Rail, sometimes called Ranch Rail Pleasure, is a relatively new rail class whereby horse and rider work at more natural and forward gaits which are commonly used in ranch work. This class encourages a natural headset and extended gaits are often called for such as an extended walk, trot and lope. In this class, the judge(s) are looking for horses that have ground covering gaits that would be a good mount for a day working on the ranch.
The Ranch Trail class is a pattern class designed to exhibit a horse's versatility and willingness to perform tasks that may be encountered on a ranch. Natural appearing obstacles are preferred. Riders may be asked to open/close a gate, drag a log, dismount/mount, cross a bridge, sidepass a log, lope or trot over a log, move items, etc as well as perform at all gaits, pivot and back.
Ranch Conformation is also sometimes referred to as Ranch Halter. The purpose of this class is to preserve the Ranch Horse type by selecting well-mannered horses in the order of their resemblance to the breed ideal. Judges look for a combination of balance, structural correctness, and movement with appropriate breed/sex characteristics and adequate muscling.
Any working western saddle in serviceable condition will work for ranch horse classes. Dress for ranch horse classes is ranch attire meaning a long sleeve western shirt, belt, jeans, cowboy boots and cowboy hat/helmet. Often a wild rag, vest and/or chinks are worn. For women, the hair is pulled back in a low ponytail or worn in a braid or side braid. In all ranch horse classes, fake tails and hoof black are not permitted. Trimming ears and muzzle is discouraged. Clipping bridle path is allowed. Silver and "bling" are discouraged. The overall cadence and performance of gaits should have an emphasis on forward, free-flowing, and ground-covering movement. Transitions should be smooth and responsive.