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What is Ranch Riding?

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Providing winning solutions for horse management and the environment since 1997

What is Ranch Riding?

Alayne Blickle

I can’t believe it’s October already! What I'm thinking about this month is how much fun the past show season has been. For the last two or so years I've taken a break from reining and have begun competing in a discipline called ranch riding with my reining horse Bob. Ranch riding is a nontraditional discipline that is new on the horizon but becoming increasingly popular. These days cow-horse and reining shows include ranch riding classes, plus there are complete shows focusing only on ranch riding.

Any breed horse can perform ranch riding as it emphasizes quality of movement, smooth transitions, overall manners, and responsiveness while performing the required maneuvers at a forward, working speed with light contact. I have found ranch riding to be a fun way to break up training routines for my older reining horses and offer new learning experiences for them—and me! It's an especially perfect venue for an older reiner or show horse that doesn't need to be out there doing sliding stops, spins, or other physically taxing maneuvers. It is still highly competitive and athletic, requiring a well-schooled horse and rider team.

If ranch riding is of interest to you, keep an eye out on the Sweet Pepper Ranch website as we offer clinics on this discipline. My husband, Matt Livengood, is a seasoned reining competitor, trainer, and judge and has recently received certifications in a couple of different ranch riding-type organizations. He teaches clinics on reining as well as ranch riding and ranch versatility throughout North America—and as far away as in Australia. Matt won the 2017 Reno Extreme Mustang Makeover in June.

If you are interested in seeing what ranch riding looks like here are a few links to beautifully executed AQHA ranch riding runs:

2016 AQHA Senior Horse World Champion
2015 AQHA Junior Horse World Champion


Notice how fluid and soft the rider is and how responsive and forward the horses are—a worthy goal for any of us riders! Since any horse can learn to do this, I look forward to teaching my mustang Stellar to someday becoming a ranch riding super star!

Alayne