By Frank J. Buchman
Ranch horses have always been essential tools for cowboys.
Now, such important part of taking care of the ranch, cowboys compete to see who rides the best horse.
One of several organizations sanctioning such rivalries is the National Versatility Ranch Horse Association (NVRHA).
To keep events more localized, there’s the South Central versatility Ranch Horse Affiliate.
That group initiated the Big Bluestem Ranch Horse Show set October 21-22, at Council Grove, according to Matt Lange
There’ll be a training clinic Saturday and NVRHA sanctioned competitions Sunday, said Lange, horse trainer and show host.
Actually, there are five divisions of competition. They are ranch cutting, ranch riding, ranch trail, working ranch and ranch conformation. Both days begin at 9 o’clock in the arena just east of town.
Jay and Gina Hanson, renowned trainers from Hugoton will be the Saturday clinicians.
“The NVRHA’s mission is to raise awareness of and appreciation for, the versatility of the ranch horse and to foster the preservation and enhancement of western culture and heritage,” Lange said.
Additionally, the group provides a program and place for showcasing the ranch horse. It maintains a link among breed associations, the ranching community, professional horsemen and versatility riders.
“Vision for the group is to continue bringing horsemen and women together to experience the ranch horse culture and heritage in education, relaxation and fun,” Lange said.
There is a two-tiered point system for both amateur and open riders that rewards competitors for their achievements, he pointed out.
In ranch cutting, there are two-and-a-half minutes to sort a cow from the herd. It must keep it from going back with the other cattle and then be penned.
Riding a set pattern, ranch riding contestants are judged on how broke a horse is in responding to cues. Patterns include walk, trot, lope both directions stop and back.
Ranch trail class features seven obstacles designed to show a horse’s willingness to perform normal ranch work.
Working ranch horse is a class combining reining ability, cow sense and positioning in order to rope and stop a cow.
In ranch conformation, horses are shown at halter for evaluation of structural correctness, balance and functional ability.
Saturday’s clinic is limited to 25 riders, while all contestants are invited to enter Sunday’s show.
There will be horse stalls for rent and limited trailer hookups with participant motel accommodations also available.
Information is available from Lange at 785-466-1187, or at www.nvrha.org.