"Saugeen Bluffs is located in the heart of Bruce County along the Saugeen River. It includes a horse campground with large, spacious sites tucked in amongst towering hardwoods. The park is quaint and charming located approximately 4 km north of the Village of Paisley and only a 15 minute drive from the Lake Huron Shoreline and sandy beaches.
There is over 15km of trails in mature woodlands for both campers and day rides. The park also features a shower building, laundromat, store and an activity centre, which is available to campers to rent (for special occasions), or utilize during your stay, free of charge with an internet cafe. There is a large picnic shelter and Event Ring available to horse campers, as well as scheduled workshops and clinics throughout the season."
I decided to check out the Event Ring at the campground and see what Greg was doing with a ranch horse clinic. I wanted to find out some of the rules to this new sport of the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA). Formally known as the Ranch Horse Pleasure class, it was debuted at the 2012 and then 2013 AQHA World Championship Show. It joined the Versatility Ranch Horse competition list of classes which have been around since 2002.
The ranch riding class is to idealize the working ranch horse and rider. Exhibitors are encouraged not to wear bling, no hoof black or braiding, no fancy clothes and to use tack similar to a ranch horse (ie. rear cinch and breast collar). Exhibitors may stand while doing the posting trot and can certainly hold the saddle horn like other working cow horse events.
According to AQHA's website: "The Versatility Ranch Horse competition promotes the athletic ability and versatility of the horse and is demonstrated in six classes – ranch riding, ranch trail, ranch cutting, ranch reining, ranch cow work and ranch conformation. In the AQHA ranch riding class, the horse is shown individually in pattern work and is judged on the precision of the pattern maneuvers and the horse's movements."
According to the AQHA Rulebook, what exhibitors need to know in ranch riding:
- The horse should simulate a horse riding and working outside the confines of an arena.
- The horse should execute the maneuvers at a forward ground-covering pace.
- As for rein length, the rider should have light rein contact. The instructors specifically noted that the horse should not be shown on a draped rein.
- Additionally, a horse may not be entered in a western pleasure and ranch riding class at the same horse show. This rule applies to all AQHA divisions (youth, amateur, Select and open).
Greg's clinic comprised of a general description of ranch riding, what the judge's are looking for and the AQHA rules. Rules particular to ranch riding for which the exhibitor will be penalized for over bridling, draped reins and being too slow per gait. Transitions are a big part of ranch riding, so Greg had his students worked on extending their trot and downward transitions. They also practiced their extended lope. Followed by working on circling, steering, spins, stops, body control (side passing, 2 tracking), lead changes and backups. Note: The lead changes can be simple (but must be within 3 strides or less).
|A student working on a spin.|
Greg Crispin has been competing in ranch riding classes with the OQHA (Ontario Quarter Horse Association) since it started in 2014. He also offers training and lessons in ranch riding since 2014/2015. You can check out his facebook here.
Greg recalls to me a memorable moment during the clinic where one girl was trying to get her horse to lope which she hadn't managed to do up to that day. With Greg's encouragement, she succeeded and we all applauded and cheered.
Ranch Riding in Ontario
Greg Crispin on ranch riding in Ontario: "It started in Ontario in the same year as when the AQHA made it a standard VRH class in 2014. The shows started in Ilderton at the OQHA shows. They also have the class now in Orangeville, Ancaster and Carp. Some of the saddle clubs like Mid-West are starting to have classes as well. The Northeastern Reined Cow Horse Alliance held a ranch riding class at their 2017 show at REACH (Clinton, Ontario). Fall fairs like Harriston are starting to get the class down to the grass roots."
Lastly Greg commented: "I want to thank Roxanne Lashbrook for organizing it and looking after everything."
There will be another ranch horse clinic this summer. For more information, please check Greg's facebook page.
You can get more information about the Saugeen Bluffs Horse Campground here.
Putting my spin on clinics and the Saugeen Horse Campground
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