ARHA Classes

The ARHA has a variety of classes to choose from.

We are flexible with our shows and can add other classes depending on interests in the area.

Class Descriptions

Click on a class to view a description and an example video.

Dry (Non-Cattle) Classes

The horse will be judged on type, conformation correctness, and
athletic ability with the all around equine in mind. Ranch Horse Conformation is defined as the physical attributes necessary to perform under saddle in multiple ARHA events. The ideal standard in evaluating horses in conformation should include but not limited to soundness and correctness in conformation, particularly feet and legs with emphasis on correct manner of travel including athletic ability and the “appearance of” agility.

Showmanship is designed to evaluate the exhibitor’s ability to execute a pattern prescribed by the judge. Exhibitors movements should be workmanline and efficient and the horse should be obedient and cooperative. This class is judged on 0-100 score scale with 70 denoting average with 1/2 point increment scoring. Exhibitors will perform a designated pattern approved by the judge. The following maneuvers are considered acceptable: lead a horse at a walk, jog or extended trot, or back in a straight or curved line or a combination of both, stop; or turn 90 (1/4), 180 (1/2), 270 (3/4), 360 (full turn) degrees or any combination or multiple of these turns. No pull turns are allowed. The judge must have exhibitors set the horse up squarely for inspection sometime during the class.  Judge will approve the pattern.

The horsemanship class is designed to evaluate the rider’s ability to execute, in concert with their horse, a set of maneuvers prescribed by the judge with precision and smoothness while exhibiting poise and confidence, and maintaining a balanced, functional, and fundamentally correct seat. Horses should have forward motion. The ideal horsemanship pattern is extremely precise with the horse and rider working in complete unison, executing each maneuver with subtle aids and cues. The horses head and neck should be carried in a relaxed, natural position. The following maneuvers are acceptable in a pattern: walk, jog, lope, extended jog in a straight line, curved line, serpentine, circle or figure 8, or a combination of these gaits and maneuvers; stop, back in straight or curved line, turn or pivot, including spins and rollbacks on the haunches and/or on the forehand, sidepass, two-track or leg-yield, flying or simple lead changes, counter-canter, or any other maneuver, or ride without stirrups. A back should be asked for at sometime during the class. Judges should not ask exhibitors to mount or dismount.  Judge will approve the pattern.

The purpose of this class is to bring forth the versatility in both the ranch horse and exhibitor, in the task of performing 1 of the 8 ARHA designated patterns, constructed of both Ranch Trail obstacles and Ranch Reining maneuvers. Obstacles and maneuvers are to be judged to the standards written in Ranch Trail, Ranch Riding, and Ranch Reining in each part of the patterns that pertain to these classes. Horses will be scored on a basis of 0-100, with 70 denoting an average performance. There will be no time-limit. A simple or flying lead change should be executed precisely in the specified number of strides and/or at the designated location. A simple lead change is performed by breaking to a walk or trot for one to five strides (before break of gait penalty applies). Flying lead changes should be simultaneous front to rear. All changes should be smooth and timely. This class will also be judged on quality of movement on horse by standards written in the Ranch Riding portion of the ARHA Rulebook. For specifics and details of credits, deductions, and penalties refer to class in question. The Ranch Riding portion will be scored in ½point increments from –1½ to +1½ on the score sheets on the overall quality of the horses movement. Judge will score on all gaits performed at the end of the pattern on the overall average of each gait. Transitions should be performed where designated, with smoothness and responsiveness. Posting at extended trot is acceptable. Exhibitor may not hold the saddle horn.

This class denotes the ability of the ranch horse to be reined willfully through all maneuvers of the approved patterns. There are ten ARHA approved patterns that can be selected from to use. Contestants should not be penalized for reining their horse through the pattern in a reasonable manner. Stops should be hard and deep as if needed to stop and go in the other direction. Stop should be square and done without resistance (it should be at the judge’s discretion on what he/she considers an excessive slide. Excessive stops beyond 10 feet should be minus in ½ point increments. Turn rounds should be those of a working horse, they should be correct and job efficient.

Ranch Riding showcases a ranch horse’s gates on the rail of the arena.  Horses must work both ways of the ring at all three gaits to demonstrate their ability with different leads. At the option of the judge, horses may be asked to extend the walk and the jog, one or both ways of the ring. The extended jog is a definite two- beat lengthening of the stride, covering more ground. Cadence and balance with smoothness are more essential than speed. Passing is Permissible and should not be penalized as long as the horse maintains a proper and even cadence and rhythm. Horses are required to back easily and stand quietly. Horses are to be reversed to the inside (away from the rail). They may be required to reverse at the walk or jog at the discretion of the judge, but shall not be asked to reverse at the lope.

This class will be judged on the performance of the horse over obstacles with emphasis on manners, response to the rider and quality of movement. Credit will be given to horses negotiating the obstacles with style and some degree of speed, providing correctness is not sacrificed. Horses should receive credit for showing attentiveness to the obstacles and the capability of picking their own way through the course when obstacles warrant it, and willingly responding to the rider’s cues on more difficult obstacles. The course must be designed to require each horse to show the three gaits (walk, jog, and lope) somewhere between obstacles as part of its work, and the quality of movement and cadence should be considered as part of the maneuver score. While on the line of travel between obstacles, the horse shall be balanced, carrying his head and neck in a relaxed, natural position. The head should not be carried behind the vertical, giving the appearance of intimidation, or be excessively nosed out, giving the appearance of resistance. Gaits between obstacles shall be at the discretion of the judge. The pattern and obstacles will be selected by the judge.

Cattle Classes

This class is designed to show a horse’s ability to separate a cow from the herd, hold that cow away from herd, then drive that cow away from herd and to pen it. This class is to be judged on the horses natural cow ability, agility and to respond softly to the rider’s cues to help rein horse into position to hold cow from herd, on the way to pen and to pen cow. Horse should display softness of handle and quietness in herd. Horse and Rider should work as a team, seeming effortless to work together. In the Ranch Cutting class exhibitors are permitted to hold romels and
tail in one hand while holding the horn with other hand. Should an exhibitor chooses to show this way they must enter the arena with reins in
one hand and are not allowed to touch rein with off hand at anytime during the class or if the exhibitor chooses to comes in to the pen with both hands on the romels, they will be required to keep both hands on the reins, in the same way as when they entered the pen.

This class will be judged on the Horse’s natural cutting ability but the Exhibitor can handle the horse in a ranch type atmosphere. Exhibitors are permitted to hold romels and tail in one hand while holding horn with other hand. If exhibitor chooses to show this way they must enter the arena with reins in one hand and are not allowed to touch rein with off hand at anytime during the class. If exhibitor comes in with both hands on the romel they are required to keep both hands on the reins, the way they entered the pen.

This class allows exhibitors to show their horses one handed with romel reins. Exhibitors are permitted to hold romels and tails in one hand while holding horns with the other hand. If the exhibitor chooses to show this way they must enter the arena with reins in one hand and are not allowed to touch rein with off hand at any time during the class. If the exhibitor comes in with both hands on the romels they are required to keep both hands on the reins, the way they entered the pen. The use of Roping reins/one piece reins will be allowed. No tie-downs or martingales etc. may be used in this class. The intent of this class is to show the ability of the horse and rider skill of handling cattle as if they were doctoring injured or sick cattle. Cattle should be handled as calmly and slowly as possible. The judge should judge this class as if the cattle belonged to him or her. Entries do not have to separate their cow from herd and should not receive credit for separation from herd. When a cow is separated from the herd there should be no excessive running or cutting of the cow. This is a judged event with a 90 second time limit. 70 denotes an average score. The rope must be thrown and the contestant may throw only two loops. Any attempt by exhibitor to trap, snare, or collar cow by holding onto the loop will be cause for disqualification. A second rope may be used, but the total number of loops thrown may not exceed two (2). If a second loop is used it must be recoiled. The Honda on the rope used must be of a factory plastic breakaway design. Horse and rider must start from behind a starting line which will be located 1/3 of the arena length away from where ten (10) calves are held as a herd with each bearing a number 0 – 9. A random draw will be used to select the calf to be roped, which will be announced to the contestant when the horse crosses the starting line. The contestant must make a legal catch of the designated calf and dally up. A legal head catch is a loop that goes completely over the calf’s head and Honda can be broken by any part of the calf’s body, but must go over the calf’s head first. When the calf breaks free from Honda, the Flag Judge will signal the end of the run.

The Ranch Boxing class will consist of a single cow worked (boxing) on the end of the arena. The time limit for the class is fifty (50) seconds. This class is designed to demonstrate and measure a horse’s ability to do cow work. Holding the saddle horn is permitted in this class. This class will be judged on run, rate, control, degree of difficulty and eye appeal.  There will be no schooling between cows if a new cow is awarded. The rider will face the cow end of the arena and call for a cow. Each exhibitor upon receiving a cow, shall hold that cow on the prescribed end of the arena for fifty (50) seconds, demonstrating the ability of the horse and rider to control the cow. Time shall begin when the gate closes behind the cow after being let into the arena. Timing will be done by the announcer or judge starting when the cow is turned into the arena. At fifty (50) seconds, the announcer will call time. The judge may blow a whistle at any time for the contestant to cease work for any safety reasons. If blown out the contestant shall receive a no-score. Scoring will be on the basis of 0 – 100 with 70 denoting an average performance. This class will be judged from –1½ to + 1½ in ½ point increments. a) The judge may blow the whistle at any time to terminate work. A score of zero will be given if the work is not completed at that time. Each work will be limited to fifty (50) seconds. b) There will be no schooling between cows if a new one is awarded. The penalty for this is a -0-.

This class combines the reining ability, cow sense and roping ability of the horse and will be judged on horse’s ability to do these. Each contestant will perform individually. First with the reining pattern and then releasing one cow into the arena. A breakaway rope will be used. Each exhibitor will be allowed a maximum of six (6) minutes to complete the class. At the Four (4) minute mark, there will be a two minute warning. When the six (6) minute time limit has expired, the exhibitor will be excused from the arena. The class will be judged in three parts. The reining, the cow work and the roping portion, At the end of the performance, the scores for the three portions will be combined for the final score. Rules for reining portion are defined in the Reining section of this rulebook. Rules for the cow working portion are defined in the Working Cow Horse section of this rule book.
The rules for the roping portion are listed below. The working ranch horse class, the horse will be judged on three (3) maneuvers:
1). the ability to trail,
2). the ability to rate,
3). the ability to stop with the cow at the end of the rope.
In the roping portion of this class a break away honda factory plastic type must be used. If the honda fails to break away it will result in a DQ in the roping portion. As long as rope goes over the head, any catch will be considered a legal catch.


The purpose of this class is to simulate the task of catching a live cow on the ranch. This is a timed event that will start when exhibitor and/or cow crosses the time line. The time line should be placed on the end where the cow will be released, ⅓ of the arena. Exhibitor may not cross the time line until the cow is released into the arena. When exhibitor is ready one (1) cow will be turned into the arena. The exhibitor has thirty (30) seconds or two (2) loops to catch the cow.