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WSF introduces stock horse competition

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Ditching the fake tails and bling of traditional horse shows, stock horse competitions have become all the rage in the show horse world. The competition provides an avenue for ranch-type horses to show off their skills in classes such as reining, cow work, trail and horsemanship.

            “It’s pretty obvious there is a lot of interest for these types of shows,” says Bill Gentle, Wyoming State Fair (WSF) Stock Horse Show superintendent.

            Gentle has been working with Wyoming State Fair for a couple of years to get this show on the schedule. 

Growing interest

            “These kinds of shows appeal to people with working horses,” says Gentle. “Though we won’t be offering it, many stock horse-type shows will offer a working cowboy class, which requires that exhibitors be actual, working hands.”                 “I think we are the most excited about the number of exhibitors in the novice and youth classes,” says Gentle. “Everyone has to get started somewhere and its really exciting to see so many beginners and young people wanting to get involved.”

            Gentle explains the show will help qualify riders for the National Ranch and Stock Horse Alliance Finals, held in Guthrie, Okla.

            “Exhibitors have to show in at least three sanctioned shows to qualify for the NRSHA Finals,” Gentle says. “These shows use Stock Horse of Texas (SHOT) rules, though there isn’t a qualifier for the SHOT finals, exhibitors just have to be a member of the association.”

            Gentle explains stock horse shows got their start in Texas and Oklahoma, hence why the governing rules of the event stem from SHOT and the finals are held in Oklahoma.


            Stock horse competitions are broken down into four classes and up to seven divisions. Classes include reining, cow work, trail and pleasure. These classes are divided into divisions based on age and experience of the horse and rider.

            According to SHOT rules, divisions at a show may include open, level one open, non-pro, limited non-pro, intermediate, novice and youth. Traditionally, professional trainers and horseman show in the open classes, while the remaining classes are reserved for non-professional horseman and are determined by experience, novice being the least experienced.

            The stock horse event is comparable to the ever-growing ranch riding event in the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA).

            “The purpose of this class is to measure the ability of the horse to be a ‘pleasure’ to ride, while being used as a means of conveyance from performing one ranch task to another,” the SHOT handbook states.

            The trail class tests a horse and rider’s ability to deal with situations encountered while being ridden through a pattern of obstacles typically found on a ranch.

            The stock horse reining class, similar to traditional reining events held in associations such as AQHA and National Reining Horse Association, judges a horse and rider’s ability to perform basic maneuvers.

            According to SHOT, reining patterns must include a combination of stops, spins, rollbacks, circles, backups, hesitations, lead changes and rundowns.

            “The ideal stock horse must also be a cow horse, and the working cow class demonstrated a horse’s ability to do cow work,” SHOT states.

            Riders in the cow work class are judged in three parts, boxing, fence and roping or circling.

            Each rider will begin with the boxing, where they will be judged on their ability to control the cow and hold them on one side of the arena.

            Once the boxing maneuver has been completed, riders must drive the cow down the fence and turn the cow at least once in each direction.

            Following the fence work, riders may choose between circling or roping the cow. If the rider chooses to rope, they will be given two throws and be judged on their ability to rate the cow and stop them.

            Those riders choosing to circle will be judged on their ability to circle must smoothly maneuver the cow 360 degrees each direction without interference from the fence.

Callie Hanson is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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