Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ranch Trail, part one

The Ranch Trail class that was part of the AQHA Ranch Horse Classic at this year's National Western Stock Show featured six separate obstacles.  Today's post covers the first three--the bridge, the gate and the jump.
Bridges are a common--and uncomplicated--trail obstacle.  The horse approach it at a walk, step atop and walk across.  
Easy, peasy and not a challenge for any of the horses in this class! 
Most of the regular horse show trail classes I've watched in the last decade have included a rope gate.  The gate in the Ranch Trail class was far more substantial, having been constructed from several metal panels.  Despite that obvious difference, the technique used to work the gate is essentially the same.  The rider positions her horse parallel to the gate, with the latch close to her knee.
She unlatches the gate, and asks her horse to take a couple steps back. 
She then pushes the gate open and walks through.
As soon as the horse has cleared the opening, she pivots around the gate's leading edge until the horse's body is once again parallel to the panels.
She back the horse into position...
and relatches the gate! 
The third obstacle was a small log jump. 
The horses were supposed to take this from a lope... 
but a lot of them slammed on the brakes... 
and crossed it at a much slower speed.
It wasn't always pretty, but everyone did make it across that log! 
Coming up nest--the log drag, a carry obstacle and the ground tie!


  1. May I use your pictures of the gate for reference?? Trail is the only thing I don't do for my ranch horse set up I'm inspired to try my hand at making the gate in your picture. Did they use a chain to latch the gate??

  2. It's always ok to use my pictures for reference. That's what I take them for!

    And yes, the gate did latch with a chain.


  3. Love to see REAL working horses... very cool! I do worry a bit about some of the smaller horses carrying sizey men. Doesn't look too comfy for them, but, such is a ranch horse's fate, I guess.

  4. I love--LOVE!!!!--these horses. All the horses looked and moved comfortably. I think a lot of English riders are just so used to seeing tiny women on enormous warmbloods that anything else looks weird. I really don't think any of these horses were having any trouble with their workload.