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This week we are live on site in Fort Worth, Texas. We are catching all the action at the Ranch Horse Triple Crown Challenge (RHTCC). The event is being held at the APHA World Show, and has attracted a slew of beautiful, talented, and incredible ranch horses. The challenge kicked off with the ranch rail pleasure. As we continue our coverage of the RHTCC, we’ll break down each event.
On the Rail
First up, the ranch rail pleasure class, also known as the ranch rail, or ranch horse pleasure. This is the first leg of the Triple Crown Challenge. The ranch rail was held June 30th, 2023. This class might sound similar to Western pleasure, but don’t get the two confused. Whereas the Western pleasure class features horses traveling on a full drape rein, in a very collected and calm manner, the ranch horse rail looks for horses moving with light contact and with natural and noticeable forward motion.
We chatted with the judge’s monitor at the APHA World Show to talk about the ranch rail class. He sat down with us and the rulebook to break it down. Here’s a quote from the APHA rulebook: “The purpose of the ranch horse pleasure 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 on ranch task to another.”
What Does This Mean?
Let’s simplify this even more. The ranch rail class looks for horses that would be a pleasure to ride when performing ranch tasks. The horse that would be comfortable and handy, when you have a job to get done.
This means the horse should be “well-trained, relaxed, quiet, soft, and cadenced at all gaits,” according to the handbook. It goes on to state, “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.” It is important to note that riders should not ride horses on a fully draped rein in the ranch rail classes.
A Pen of Beautiful Horses
So, what did this class look like at the Ranch Horse Triple Crown Challenge? Imagine a pen full of gorgeous horses. They are on the rail and showcasing the walk, extended walk, trot, extended trot, lope, and the extended lope. Their riders are wearing traditional Western clothing, the saddles look like they could be working ranch saddles, and the gear is practical.
As the announcer asks the riders to switch up gaits, judges stand in the center of the ring. They are keeping a close eye for transitions that are timely and smooth. Throw in a few extra tasks, like reversing directions, and sometimes showcasing the back, and these horses have a chance to demonstrate their beautiful movements.
Now, something you’ll see in a ranch rail class that you won’t in a traditional Western pleasure class, is the extended lope. Can things get a little Western sometimes with this? Yes. But the crowd loves it. As the pen of horses extends their lope, they fly around the arena in level and controlled movements, and the crowd goes wild.
The Ranch Horse Triple Crown Challenge split the field into two different sections. The first split featured one of our OnDemand trainers and well-respected horseman, Cody Crow. Cody was riding My Chief’s Delight a lovely black mare owned by Michelle Steele. After finishing up with this first split, the riders received instructions to ride to the center of the arena and line up.
The second split of horses entered the arena after the first group exited. Amongst these was the king of ranch riding himself, Bud Lyon on Sumac GunnaBeFlashy, aka ‘Romeo,’ owned by Leslie Lange. At the end of this class, the horses once again lined up in the middle of the pen. The judges deliberated and announced the finalists of the class, including Crow.
The Final Round
With each split finished, and a set of finalists from both, the two groups would combine. The second group of finalists stayed in the pen, and the first group returned. The experienced judges had their work cut out, as this group of fantastic horses and riders all had their notable assets. However, one horse and rider stood out at the result of the class and emerged as the crowned winner.
Bud Lyon and Romeo were on fire during this first leg of the Ranch Horse Triple Crown Challenge. Bud, who is no stranger to the winner’s circle, rode Romeo to the victory and claimed the title. The pair was not only the victor of the RHTCC ranch rail class, but also became the first ever International Ranch Horse Association Ranch Rail World Champion!
The reserve champion of the RHTCC ranch rail is Jeff Honey and Hollywood Hot Gun. Pete Kyle and KR Smart Dreamer became the first ever IRHA reserve world champs.
All-in-all, the ranch rail was a great class to watch. The RHTCC is off to a great start here in Fort Worth. The classes are running smoothly with help from many behind the scenes. The heat might be high, but so are the spirits around the barn, as competitors prepare for the next two legs of the challenge.
Keep following along as we anxiously wait for the ranch riding and ranch trail classes. When we will see if one handy rider will top their hat with all three jewels from this Ranch Horse Triple Crown Challenge.