Let’s Hit the (Ranch) Trail

Coverage of this event is brought to you by Cosequin®.

Inside the Will Rogers Coliseum, a freshly groomed arena awaits. It is adorned with obstacles that one might find in a working ranch situation. These included opening and closing a gate, walking a bridge, lope over logs, a sled pull that required a dally, and interactions with a couple of side-eying longhorns. The ranch trail was slated to start on Monday, July 3rd. The Ranch Horse Triple Crown Challenge continued, and riders readied their horses.

Jeff Honey and Hollywood Hot Gun step onto the bridge obstacle.

The Final Round

This class was the third and final leg of the RHTCC. Exhibitors had already demonstrated their movement and transitions in the ranch rail and ranch riding. Now, judges looked for a horse’s willingness to complete typical ranch tasks, and his attitude and mannerisms while doing so. The ranch trail class holds an allure for folks that want to showcase not only their horse’s movement, but his ability to handle obstacles and face challenges head on.

Cody Crow conquering the walk over logs.

Breaking Down the Ranch Trail

From the APHA rulebook, “Horses should receive credit for showing attentiveness to obstacles and ability to negotiate through the course when the obstacles warrant it while willingly responding to rider’s cues on more difficult obstacles. Quality of movement and cadence should be considered part of the maneuver score for the obstacle.” This means that horses in the ranch trail should acknowledge obstacles and pay attention. While also completing the task without reluctance or fear.

If you’re interested in this class, fortunately many of these obstacles are easy to practice at home. Lope over logs are tougher to nail than walk over logs. Start slow and space them out generously at first. If your horse is new to handling a rope, begin on the ground to accustom him to it. Then, ensure he is comfortable with the rope touching his hindquarters and legs before attempting to dally and pull an object. Practice being proficient at the sidepass and back, as these are common challenges in the ranch trail class.

 [Find more from Cody Crow about introducing your horse to the rope]

The Pattern

As exhibitors worked their way through the pattern, ground crew was quick to replace or reset an obstacle knocked out of place. At the finale of the pattern, riders were required to stop next to a pen holding a couple of longhorn cattle. Some horses gave these critters a second glance, and some slid to a stop, then continued on without hesitation. For those wanting to enter the ranch horse world, introducing your horse to cattle is a great idea as cattle are often present in a ranch trail class.

As the final leg of the RHTCC came to a close, judges set off to deliberate and compare scores. When the horses gathered back in the arena for the awards ceremony, a familiar name rang out from the loudspeakers, declared as the victor of the class.

The Winner

Bud Lyon of Whitesboro, Texas has become a staple in the winner’s circle when it comes to ranch and reining horses. The RHTCC was no different. For the ranch trail class, Bud emerged the victor, seizing the top four placings and sweeping the leaderboard. Bud and Whizenboonsmal, owned by Madison Rafacz rode to the championship, and accepted their winnings Monday afternoon. Bud rode Gunner Got Out, Lil Trash Talk, and Sumac GunnaBeFlashy to wins in the next three placings, as well.

Gunner Got Out and Bud Lyon took second in the RHTCC ranch trail class, and first in the Sweepstakes. Bud and Whizenboonsmal took first in the RHTCC ranch trail.

From start to finish, Bud Lyon shone bright in all three legs of the Triple Crown Challenge. Atop trusty horses, watched by proud owners from across the country, Bud emerged as the Triple Crown Champion in all three classes. The APHA World Show winds down this week. We’ll recap the final scores and tally up the total victories later for all involved. Stay tuned.

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