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Understanding each of the different Western show classes
With many different classes available to watch or compete in it can be confusing for newcomers to understand what each class is designed to measure.
The guide below serves as a brief introduction to each, but, remember, the WES rule book provides an exhaustive reference of all classes
Showmanship is designed to evaluate the exhibitors’ ability to execute a set of maneuvers prescribed by the judge with precision and smoothness while exhibiting poise and confidence, and maintaining a balanced, functional and correct body position, only the showman is judged the horse is merely a prop
The western horsemanship class is designed to evaluate the riders ability to execute in concert with the horse, a set of manoeuvres prescribed by the judge with precision and smoothness while exhibiting poise and confidence and maintaining a balanced, functional and fundamentally correct body position. The ideal horsemanship pattern is extremely precise with the rider and horse working in complete unison, executing each manoeuvre with subtle aids and cues. The horses head and neck should be carried in a relaxed natural position. The head should not be carried behind the vertical giving the appearance of intimidation, or be excessively nosed out, giving a resistant appearance.
🐴 Freestyle Horsemanship
Freestyle Horsemanship provides an opportunity to use horsemanship skills creatively and to expand them to music by means of choreography. Riders are encouraged to use musical scores which permit them to show the athletic ability of the horse in a crowd appealing way.
A good pleasure horse has a flowing stride of reasonable length in keeping with his conformation. He should cover a reasonable amount of ground with little effort. Ideally, he should have a balanced, flowing motion. He should carry his head and neck in a relaxed, natural position. He should not carry his head behind the vertical, giving the appearance of intimidation, or be excessively nosed out, giving a resistant appearance. His head should be level, with his nose slightly in front of the vertical, having a bright expression with his ears alert. He should be shown on a reasonably loose rein, but with light contact and control. He should be responsive, yet smooth in transitions when called for. When asked to extend, he should move out with the same flowing motion. Maximum credit should be given to the flowing, balanced and willing horse which gives the appearance of being fit and a pleasure to ride.
🐴 Ranch Riding
The purpose of the Ranch Riding class is to measure the ability of the horse to be a pleasure to ride while being used as a means of conveyance from performing one ranch task to another. The horse should reflect the versatility attitude and movement of a working ranch horse riding outside the confines of an arena. The horse should be well trained, relaxed, quiet, soft and cadenced at all gaits. The ideal ranch horse will travel with forward movement and demonstrate an obvious lengthening of stride at extended gaits. The horse can be ridden with light contact or on a relatively loose rein without requiring undue restraint but not shown on a full drape of reins. The overall manners and responsiveness of the ranch ridding horse to make timely transitions in a smooth and correct manner, as well as the quality of the movement are of primary considerations. The ideal ranch riding horse should have a natural ranch horse appearance from head to tail in each maneuver
Based on an obstacle course consisting of at least 6 common obstacles, this class will be judged on the performance of the horse while negotiating the obstacles, with emphasis on manners, response to the rider, and quality of movement.
To rein a horse is not only to guide him but to control his every movement. The best reined horse should be willingly guided or controlled with little or no apparent resistance and dictated to completely. Any movement on his own must be considered a lack of control. All deviations from the exact written pattern must be considered a lack of/or temporary loss of control and therefore a fault that must be marked down according to severity of deviation. After deducting all faults, set here within, against execution of the pattern and the horse’s overall performance, credit will be given for smoothness, finesse, attitude, quickness, and authority in performing the various manoeuvres, while using controlled speed which raises the difficulty level and makes him more exciting and pleasing to watch to an audience.
🐴 Freestyle Reining
Reining manoeuvres originated, from moves that a cow horse must use in performing its duties and have been refined to the high level of competition existing today. Freestyle Reining not only provides an opportunity to use these manoeuvres creatively, but also to expand them to music by means of choreography. Riders are encouraged to use musical scores which permit them to show the athletic ability of the horse in a crowd appealing way
🐴 Western Riding
Western Riding is an event where the horse is judged on quality of gaits, lead changes at the lope, response to the rider, manners, disposition. The horse should perform with reasonable speed, and be sensible, well-mannered, free and easy moving.
🐴 Ranch Trail ⭐ NEW FOR 2023 ⭐
The Ranch Trail class should test the horse’s ability to cope with situations encountered while being ridden through a pattern of obstacles generally found during the course of everyday ranch work. The horse/rider team is judged on the correctness, efficiency, and pattern accuracy with which the obstacles are negotiated, and the attitude and mannerisms exhibited by the horse. Judging emphasis is on identifying the well broke, responsive, and well-mannered horse which can correctly navigate the course. The ideal ranch trail horse should have a natural ranch horse appearance from head to tail in each maneuver.