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4 tips to ace Ranch Horse Pleasure

What’s so special about a no-frills pattern class that has so many riders racing back into the show pen? Ride just one ranch horse pleasure pattern and you’ll understand.

Paints are the perfect mounts for this simple-yet-challenging class, which has grown tremendously since its inception in 2014.

Ranch horse pleasure isn’t just for horses brought in from the range, however, and anything from tried-and-true work horses to reining or forward-moving pattern horses and beyond can enjoy this new event, if they can prove they have what it takes to be a rancher’s best tool.

For the January issue, the Paint Horse Journal teamed up with APHA judge and Markel Professional Horsewoman Heather Young of Whitesboro, Texas, to learn more about this exciting class. Read on for tips to ace your first ranch horse pleasure class, and pick up your copy of the January Journal to get the full scoop. Subscribe, renew or order a back issue of the Journal today!

  • Read and understand all rules governing the class. A digital, mobile-friendly version of the 2015 Official APHA Rule Book is available, with ranch horse pleasure rules beginning on page 266.
  • Ranch horse pleasure is an individually performed pattern class, and judges may choose from four official patterns or create their own that includes a combination of required maneuvers. Unlike other pattern classes, few markers are used in ranch horse pleasure, requiring riders to form a plan.
“You have to memorize your pattern and place it in the space you’re given,” Heather said. “You’ve got to pick out your own points in the arena for your turns and transitions.”
  • Transitions are frequent in patterns; horses should be able to change gait and extend or collect willingly and easily. Smooth transitions—with little set-up, light cues and a soft response—show a high degree of difficulty and are credit-earning situations.
  • When evaluating movement, Heather recommends considering the purpose horses used on ranches to work all day; movement should be smooth, yet efficient.
“I’m looking for a natural, soft-moving horse that I wouldn’t mind riding all day to get a job done,” Heather said.
Heather also demonstrated APHA’s ranch horse pleasure pattern 1 and sat down with the Journal to evaluate her performance.



 [Reprinting all or part of this news release is permitted, so long as credit is given to the Paint Horse Journal and a link provided back to apha.com.] 

About APHA
The American Paint Horse Association is the world’s second-largest equine breed association, registering more than a million horses in 59 nations and territories since it was founded. APHA creates and maintains programs that increase the value of American Paint Horses and enriches members’ experiences with their horses.