Saturday, May 9, 2015

Finding a Home in Ranch Versatility

Here in central Ohio, winter ended late and spring lasted about 2 minutes.  The calendar may say MAY, but the weather says JULY.

But 90 degrees or not, SHOW SEASON is ON.

B and I are attending the Ohio Foundation Quarter Horse Ranch Versatility shows this year.  Classes run the full gamut from rail classes, trail, horsemanship, reining and including cattle classes like boxing, roping, etc. The shows are all-breeds welcome so along with the QH's and Paints there are ponies, a Belgian, an OTTB... you name it.  There are year-end awards for each class as well as the Versatility and new this year is a Green Versatility award.... Buckles to the winners.

This first show was actually perfect weather.  Warm and sunny but with enough breeze not to get overheated.  It's about a 2-hour drive to get there so we hauled over on Friday so we could have plenty of time to acclimate the boys to the grounds and the cattle. On Saturday night we left at 8:40pm and they hadn't finished class 17 yet.... there are 23 classes.  But I had to be at work in the morning for commencement, so we couldn't stay. Next show we plan to spend Saturday night as well.

B and Ledger starting Trail Class

B is a veteran of these shows and won two year-end buckles and a few other top 3's with Zip in 2014.  This year she is showing her new stunning palomino we call Heath Ledger.  Ledger is only 5 and B's only had him for 4 months so she's easing them into showing with just reining and trail.

Kevin and I decided to go for the Green Versatility so we bit the bullet and entered the four required classes: Ranch Riding (walk/trot/extended trot/lope on the rail), Horsemanship (pattern), Green Reining, and Green Boxing... yup, that one means there's a calf involved.

There were 15-23 entries in each of our classes and I was thrilled that we placed in four of our five classes.  We were 7th in Riding and Trail and 3rd in Horsemanship and Green Reining. Both of which surprised me because I have a whole list of things that we clearly need to work on!

Since it was the first time (to my knowledge) Kevin had been that close to a cow, we took it very easy in the green Boxing and kept a nice "big bubble" between us and the calf, just enough to make him move a little, but not enough to encourage quick movements that may have unnerved my red friend.  I'm sure we were DFL but I know I can try harder next time since his first experience was so chill.  The class consists of them letting one calf out of the pens and you work the calf back and forth without letting it turn a corner and run down the fence.  Obviously the more the calf moves (with you "on" it) the better your score.  We just walked slowly towards the calf and moved it about four feet right and left and the time was up.  The calf then tried to follow us out so I got another minute of practice heading it off and sending it back down to the pens.  DFL or not, it was a success in my book!

Wait, so you used to show the Pleasure All-Around, what's with Ranch?

At the time that I bought Junior, I really wanted a western pleasure horse.  I had grown up hunt seat on Arabs and I'd always admired the girls with the QH's that beat me at all the shows.  Also, their outfits were way more fun.  At 16 hands, Junior was better suited for Hunter Under Saddle.  Really he became a jack of all trades but a master of none.  When B took us to one of these Ranch shows back in 2013 we really liked it.  The classes and the atmosphere were so aligned with what I had been looking for.  I wanted to show western but my horse wasn't competitive in Pleasure and I wasn't interested in doing what it would take to make him competitive if it involved making him look like a crippled horse.  No soapbox, just not my thing.

I knew I had found a home with the Ranch Horse shows and was looking forward to transitioning Junior into more of those classes.  Now that I'm looking forward to my next horse I know that this is the direction I would like to go in. I love showing a horse doing a job, doing something with an outcome and purpose.  Today's Western Pleasure baffles me.  I still sit at Congress and wonder, if you are going that slow, why are you going at all?  To me it serves no purpose.  Pleasure used to be the "beginner" class and then you worked your way up to things that mattered more like horsemanship, trail, and go figure: cattle work.  When I watched the Ranch Pleasure at Congress I saw an end goal.  I saw that the horse's movement and response was cattle-worthy. There is a horse and a discipline for every person and I'm so glad I've found mine.

I'm hoping to take Kevin to 4 of the 5 shows this year and continue to show in those 5 classes, plus throw in Conformation just for funsies.    Kevin's teenage girl is working with me a bit and we are hoping to haul to a local show in two weeks to see how they do together.  I just love summer!

Awaiting the results in Ranch Riding


  1. Awesome!! Great to hear that you had a good first show! I hope the summer continues on well for you.

    I totally agree with you on the WP angle. The ranch stuff is way more interesting to me and my horse. We don't have ranch only shows like you do though, so I just do AQHA trail and ranch pleasure (the pattern class), but it is way more up my alley than WP!

    My friends have to drag me in to watch WP at Congress...I'd rather shop! lol We always miss the ranch classes unfortunately.

  2. So cool! I watched Ranch Pleasure for the first time at Congress a few years ago and it was really cool to watch. At the time a stunning dapple grey was leading the nation and I was lucky enough to see their go -- it was BEAUTIFUL!

    You'll have to let me know when/where your next show is so I can stop by!!

  3. Delayed reaction but.....congrats!! Will be eagerly awaiting more adventures!

  4. Seems like you are experiencing some great adventures with your horses. One of my favorite breed of horses are the quarter horse. I love their stance and how versatile they can be with proper training. Ranch horses are great too. I remember watching my uncle with his own horse tackling calves at events at one of his ranches. I hope to read more about your adventures in the future.

    Wilbert Bowers @ Mirr Ranch Group