The purpose of the ranch riding class is to show a working horse’s:

  • versatility
  • attitude
  • movement

Male showing the log portion of ranch pleasure

In this class, the primary considerations are the horse’s quality of movement and overall manners and responsiveness while performing the required maneuvers. The class should allow the horse to show its ability to work at a forward working speed while under the control of the rider. A horse being shown with light contact should be rewarded.


  • No horses younger than 3 years of age
  • Each horse will work individually, performing both required and optional maneuvers:
    • Required maneuvers: walk, jog, lope both directions and the extended jog and lope in at least one direction as well as stops, turn to change directions, and back.
    • Optional maneuvers: side pass, turns of 360° or more, change of lead (simple or flying), walk, jog, or lope over a pole(s), or some reasonable combination for a ranch horse to perform.
    • The maneuvers may be arranged in various combinations with final approval by the judge.
  • The overall cadence and performance of the gaits should be those described above with emphasis on forward, free-flowing, and ground-covering movement at all gaits. Transitions where designated should be smooth and responsive.
  • There is no time limit.
  • One of the four prescribed patterns may be used; however, a judge may utilize a different pattern as long as all required maneuvers are included plus three or more optional maneuvers.
  • A horse that fails to perform a required maneuver will be placed below all other horses that perform all maneuvers.
  • The use of natural logs is encouraged.
  • Posting at the extended trot is acceptable; touching or holding the saddle horn is also acceptable.

Apparel and EquipmentFemale showing in a ranch pleasure class

  • No hoof polish
  • No braided or banded manes or tail extensions
  • Trimming inside ears is discouraged
  • Trimming bridle path is allowed
  • Trimming of fetlocks or excessive (long) facial hair is allowed
  • Equipment with silver should not count over a good working outfit. Silver on bridles and saddles is discouraged.


Scoring is on the basis of 0 to 100, with 70 denoting an average performance.


One point penalties:

  • Too slow/per gait
  • Over-bridled
  • Out of frame
  • Break of gait at walk or jog for two strides or less
  • Split log at lope

Three point penalties:

  • Break of gait at walk or jog for more than 2 strides
  • Break of gait at lope
  • Wrong lead or out of lead
  • Draped reins

Five point penalties:

  • Blatant disobedience (kicking, biting, bucking, rearing, etc.)

Zero Score:

  • Illegal equipment: including hoof black, braided or banded manes, or tail extensions
  • Willful abuse
  • Major disobedience or schooling

No specific penalties will be incurred for nicks/hits on logs or over/under spins, but deduction may be made in the maneuver score.

Here is one example of a pattern in the ranch horse pleasure event:


  1. Jog serpentine
  2. Lope left lead around the end of the arena and then diagonally across the arena
  3. Change leads (simple or flying) and lope on the right lead around end of the arena
  4. Extend lope on the straightaway and around the corner of the arena
  5. Extended jog around the corner of the arena
  6. Collect to a jog, jog over logs
  7. Stop, do a 360° turn each direction (either direction first)
  8. Walk

Additional Resources

A Judge’s Perspective: Ranch Riding 

Judging Ranch Riding

AQHA Handbook