top of page


Halter is a type of horse show class where horses are shown "in hand" meaning that they are led, not ridden, and are judged on their conformation and suitability as breeding stock.


Showmanship, showing your horse at halter in pattern with different maneuvers.


Hunter in hand, showing your horse in English attire trough a triangle pattern in walk and trot.


Lunging your horse both ways in three gaits.


All exhibitors must enter the ring and then work individually or each exhibitor may be worked from the gate individually. When exhibitors are worked from the gate a working order is required. Exhibitors are to be instructed to either leave the arena, fall into line, or fall into a place on the rail after their pattern work. The finalist must work all (3) gaits at least one direction of the arena.


All riding for Western Pleasure classes is done with almost no contact with the Bit. The horse is obedient to the lightest lift' or touch of the rein against the neck and contact with the leg and seat.

All the critical attributes of the Western Pleasure horse should be present for those entering the Hunter and Trail classes. Horses that will do well should be soft traveling, although the Hunter class will require more contact.

Class requirements are: Mandatory to go around the arena both ways at a walk, a jog, a lope. You may be asked to change direction from the halt, walk or jog only. You must back up when asked to. An extended jog may be asked for.


The purpose of the Ranch Riding horse is to reflect the versatility, attitude and movement of a working horse. The horse’s performance is to simulate a horse riding outside the confines of an arena and that of a working ranch horse. This class will show the horses ability to work at a forward, working speed while under control by the rider. Light contact will be rewarded and the horse will not be shown on a full drape of reins.
The overall manners and the horse’s quality of movement are the primary considerations.


Western Riding is a class where the horse is judged on quality of gaits, lead changes at the lope, response to the rider, manners and disposition. The horse should perform with reasonable speed, be sensible, well-mannered, free and easy moving.



Hunt Seat Equitation is an evaluation based on the ability of a rider to perform various maneuvers in harmony with his/her horse. The communication between horse and rider through subtle cues and aids should not be obvious. Equitation is judged on the rider and his/her effect on the horse in a pattern.


Trail is an arena event, but it is directly related to riding on bush trails. It confirms the suitability of the horse as a pleasurable, adaptable trail horse. Obstacles are used to simulate situations that may be out in a paddock or in rough country. It is not designed to be an obstacle course but a test of obedience and style. The primary object of a trail class is to show the horse's ability to get from one point to another safely and swiftly - no matter what obstacles are present.

The Trial class is a practical part of riding. For this event you are looking for a horse that is going to be safe and alert. It should not be timid or over-reactive, and not 'switched off' either (that is, noticing nothing). The horse must negotiate obstacles smoothly and efficiently.

If a horse can pick its way through a course, rather than being completely controlled by a rider, it will be given credit.

A good Trail horse is one that has a kind, giving attitude, is careful, willing and quiet. The horse is asked to jog and lope as it would on the trail ride. It is asked to walk, jog or lope from one obstacle to another as well as over obstacles such as poles. There is a minimum of six obstacles, three of which are mandatory. The mandatory obstacles are (1') crossing over of four poles, (2) opening and closing a gate, and (3) an obstacle requiring a back through. This back-through may be parallel poles in an 'L', V or 'U' shape, it may be a straight or similar shaped obstacle where the horse must back through poles, around cones or around drums or pot plants. The course builder may make up another three other non-mandatory obstacles to add to the course.

In Trail events, you require from your horse, attention, cooperation and coordination. Ultimately, you are demonstrating a high degree of training. The horse must give the rider complete control of its body. The rider must have the ability to put the horse wherever it is asked to be put. The obstacles are simply the means to demonstrate this ability. To perform well, the rider must, first of all, have the ability to perform the actual physical actions without the obstacles, and then, with the introduction of the obstacles, show that the horse is aware of each, and that it is obedient to the rider while retaining attention and alertness. You must be able to ask your horse to place its feet where you want them to be, to move its quarter and front end separately, to back up, to side pass and to hold correctly as requested.

The advantage of the Trail event is that it is something everybody can do. As you train and progress with time and patience, you will be able to try more difficult courses and classes. A horse may not be a natural trail horse to begin with can become really competitive. Obviously, there are 'natural' horses that will take a lot less work, but Trail is an event that everybody can try and in which they can accomplish a great deal. There is much self-satisfaction in it, as it provides and opportunity to score individually.

In Trail events you are able to see your score sheet at the end of the class to gauge how you fared in the opinion of the judge. There is a reasonable amount of consistency throughout the judging, as the standards are set so that you can gauge how you're improving and how you are accomplishing your maneuvers.

Can other breeds compete in Western Performance (not limited to registered Quarter Horses)?
Hunter Under Saddle, Hunter Hack and Trail are all events in which any well trained horse can compete. It is not essential to have a Quarter Horse. In fact, unless it is a class for registered breed, e.g. Appaloosa, Quarter Horse or Paint, you may enter any horse.

This could work well for Hunter Under Saddle or Hunter Hack, English Equitation or Trail.

Please always check your AQHA rule book for more info regards classes

bottom of page