The Ranch Horse Concept
It’s not hard to understand the concept of Ranch Horse as a competitive class of western riding. Because, in essence, it turns back the clock. If you believe that Western Riding competition has its roots in the old time cowboys’ day off, this is it. They got together on a Sunday to see whose horse was best. And so, all the various forms of western competition that are now big time specialist professional sports grew out of that. Reining, Cutting, Barrel Racing, Roping, Rough Stock (the list is almost endless) can trace their ancestry back to working cow horses having a relaxing day off.
The point is that all these specialist classes developed into big money professional competitions in America. They went a step beyond what a good horse is all about. Now, western horses are bred just to perform well in a 3 minute go-round. And that’s the beginning and end of their day! Ranch Horse therefore developed as a a kind of backlash against all that specialisation. It’s therefore easy to get enthusiastic about a branch of western riding competition that harks back to the way it all started and embodies equine versatility.
More skills required?
On the face of it, the classes seem to be yet more skills needed by the versatile horse and rider. That can be off-putting but detailed consideration shows them to be very closely related to, but slight extensions of, the traditional skills of western riding competition . The one demerit may be that there’s no room here for fans of sparkle and shine. The accent is on the working horse but that’s not to say that scruffy will do. Because, more than in any other western riding discipline, the accent is on the abilities of the horse rather than the rider. So, a good working horse is more highly regarded than, perhaps, a fine example of its breed.