Learn To Win at Ranch Riding

By Nadia Aslam with Debbie Cooper and Gary Roberts

Gary Roberts and Debbie Cooper both have the magic touch when it comes to Ranch Riding! We sat down with them to find out what it takes to win this popular class.

What Got You Started In Ranch Riding?

Gary – I thought it looked like a lot of fun, and a great second class for Reining horses. It’s a super class for my amateur riders; they love it. It has provided a new venue for a lot of reining horses to have a remarkably successful second career.

How Long Has Ranch Riding Been Around?

Debbie – Although it’s a class steeped in old tradition, it’s a newer class with AQHA. I think we’re in year nine or ten now!

What Makes It Different To The Other Classes Available?

Gary – The first thing that pops into my mind is the expense, or rather, the lack of expense. The tack, attire and quite possibly the horses are less expensive than a high-end All-Around horse for example. It also provides a less intimidating class for an entry level rider as the maneuvers are fairly basic. The biggest and best difference, it’s a class filled with camaraderie among the exhibitors. When all is said and done – win, lose or draw, we’ve all had a good time!

Debbie – Anybody and everybody who wants to have fun showing a horse. It provides a challenge and incorporates a little something from several of our other classes. It has brought a lot of us together as we encourage individuals from other disciplines, such as Reining, Cow Horse and even All Around.

It’s fun interacting with all of these groups; we have all become so specialized, we seldom visit outside of our own arenas.

Do You Need Any Special Equipment?

Gary – You need good working equipment, preferably in keeping with traditional and functional Reining equipment. A breast collar and back cinch is highly recommended. Keep in mind, this is still a horse show class, you should present yourself and your horse as you would for all other classes. Including a nicely groomed horse with clean equipment and suitable attire.

Gary’s Number One Tip For Winning Ranch Riding

Gary – As a judge, my number one tip would be, I want to see a forward moving pattern with precise transitions, and a horse that looks through the bridle with a pleasant expression – that tells me he enjoys his job.

Debbie’s Number One Tip For Winning Ranch Riding

Debbie – My number one tip would be for riders not to get complacent – strive for perfection no matter how simple a maneuver might appear. It’s not enough to simply fulfill the requirements, be the best you can be at each maneuver, work to plus the maneuver that are your strengths, and show correctly on the maneuver that aren’t.

Gary Roberts is an AQHA and NSBA judge, he was named AQHA Professional Horseman of the year in 2014, and operates his training stables in Murietta, CA.

Debbie Cooper is an AQHA, NRHA and NRCHA judge, at the 2015 AQHA World Show she placed top ten in Junior Ranch Riding, and guided Tricia Sarchett to victory in the Amateur class. She operates DC Performance Horses in Scottsdale, AZ.