AQHA adds Ranch Horse Appearance Rule

December 6th, 2017 8:51 PM | 2 Comments


[photo credit: Ruehle Photographix]

[photo credit: Ruehle Photographix]

Participation in American Quarter Horse Association-approved ranch horse events and classes is at an all time high. Due to the increased growth, a new rule has been added to help maintain the integrity of the ranch horse.

“Horses competing in Versatility Ranch Horse, Zoetis AQHA Ranching Heritage Challenges and ranch riding classes should have a natural ranch-horse appearance from head to tail in each maneuver,” said Kim Lindsey, AQHA director of ranching. “This means that the horse should look like a ranch horse focused on the task at hand.”

The new Rule SHW419.4, effective January 1, 2018, states, “Unnatural ranch horse appearance (Horse’s tail is obvious and consistently carried in an unnatural manner in every maneuver).” 

Judges can assess a 10-point penalty for unnatural tail appearance.

The new rule appears in the 2018 AQHA Official Handbook of Rules and Regulations. For more information, visit


2 Responses to “AQHA adds Ranch Horse Appearance Rule”

  1. I worry about this rule because I have a horse with a natural tuck and floor length tail. Nothing has been done and she never swishes and it looks like an altered tail. Can I contest if I get marked down? But then it would be to late! It would be nice if gate people checked first by lifting tails before entering!

  2. I raise horses that naturally carry their tails in their natural position which is tucked down and not up in the air. I would certainly hope that a natural tight carriage won’t be penalized! I can see dead and doctored tails getting points deducted, but not natural ones.

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