November 2017 Issue - page 7

by Alicia Stephens-Martin
A gate on your ranch was left
open and a calf has escaped from
the herd. No need for silver-stud-
ded saddles or buckles with
bling. What you need is a steady
steed, willing to move forward
on the open range, pick through
the rocky cliffs, leap logs, back
through brush, and await your
next cue. This task is a true test
of horsemanship. No trainer, just
horse and rider outside the barrier
of the ring.
Ranch Riding has been
brought east by the EMRHA
(Eastern Mountain Ranch Horse
Association), ECSHA (East Coast
Stock Horse Association), and
the newest, ECRRA (East Coast
Ranch Riding Association). With
this discipline galloping into un-
charted territory, there are many
questions. So, let’s clear the ring.
In the early stages of SHOT,
the Stock Horse of Texas Associa-
tion, B.F. Yeates, a Texas educator,
judge, horseman and builder of
large programs for youth and adult
horsemen, attributed the contin-
ued growth of Ranch Riding to
its versatility. In a 2006 article
written by Beverly Mosley in
, Yeates said, “I want a horse
that I can show at a walk, trot,
and lope. I can extend the gaits
and I can bring him up and bring
him back. I want him to be a nice
horse to ride. But I also want him
to run a reining pattern. I want
November 2017
Page 7
Ranch Riding Emerges as a New Discipline for Eastern Riders
him to work through a trail course
and to work a cow. Now that's
versatile, and that's what a good
ranch horse, stock horse, today has
to do." Since the onset of his idea,
Ranch events and organizations
have sprouted across the country.
Every aspect of Western
Riding stems from work on the
range, from swinging a rope, ty-
ing it to the horn, even attire like
the dust rag worn around the neck
or the chinks- half chaps for easy
dismount. The ‘all around horse’
must tackle tasks like shooting,
herding, and galloping, not to
mention the dreaded cow. Where
do easterners begin to learn to
compete, and how does it relate
to you and your horse?
When I first heard about this
discipline, I was confused with
the name: “Ranch Pleasure” or
“Ranch Riding,” now which is it?
The ranch part has transformed
to a day of showing with Ranch
Pleasure being one class. Each
class is judged individually on the
horse and rider combination, not
horse and trainer. Judging consists
of how the team performs maneu-
vers such as side pass, 360 degree
turns, or lead changes—simple or
flying. Gaits—walk, trot (this term
is applied instead of ‘jog’ to instill
forward motion), and lope—must
move freely and must extend when
asked. Extension is vital. Whether
it is a trail class or pleasure, some
riders actually stand in their stir-
rups to push the horse onward.
Getting Involved
First, determine what organi-
zation is right for you. Many large
national associations like APHA
and AQHA offer Ranch Riding.
But expect a pricier venue. Other
organizations have exclusives to
areas of the country or to events,
like SHOT, NVRHA (National
Versatility Ranch Horse Associ-
ation), or RHAA (Ranch Horse
Association of America) which
is geared toward cattle. Research
the rules of each group like bit
type, tack requirements, patterns,
and maneuvers. For example, the
AQHA requires halter classes. The
APHA has four patterns, and cross-
ing over fromWestern Pleasure to
Ranch Pleasure is not allowed. Due
to popularity, many organizations
have expanded classes to junior
and senior divisions, novice, ama-
teur, and open classes.
In the east, there is EMRHA,
ECSHA and now, ECRRA. EM-
RHA and ECSHA have a variety
of classes including both stock
and ranch events. ECRRA was
the vision of Terry Helder. A cli-
nician and horseman from Penn-
sylvania, Terry was concerned
about the declining industry. He
too wanted to see versatility that
(Continued on page 9)
JJ Martin rides Southern Bell through an obstacle at a recent Ranch Riding event. All challenges—and
tack and attire—in Ranch Riding events stem from tasks and equipment that are common to ranch work.
Photo credit: Kelsey Brindle and Teah Glunt/Beat of my Heart Photography
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