Real Western > Horseback Ridin' > Western Riding Competition > Western Horsemanship

Western Horsemanship

HorsemanshipAs other events judge the quality of the horse, this event judges the basic skill and performance of the rider.

Judges look to see if the rider's posture is good, whether they are signaling the horse properly and in a timely manner, whether the rider's rear is bouncing and other points which completely expose a rider's ability, thus making this event a very tough one to compete in.  When competing, you are most often wondering if you will be able to perform in you usual manner, you are so nervous you mind is blank and then the competition is over before you know it.

This event is made up of two parts.  In the first, each rider performs individually according to a preset pattern one at a time.  In the other, known as Rail Work, all competitors ride in the arena at once.


Several markers (the red cone you see in the photo above) are placed on the ground, and each rider is required to follows these in the manner depicted in the picture below (competitors are required to memorize the pattern before the competition).  For example, you proceed to one marker at a jog, and when the horse's shoulder crosses the marker you are to slow to a trot.  The required movements vary with the class of competition.

Theses patters are shorter than you would think, and just when you thought you had run, you have to stop and reverse... If you panic after a mistake, it is over before you can correct it.  The conclusion calls for you to back your horse up exactly six steps, and in patterns which require the gallop, if you perform even a hair before the mark, you can forget winning anything.  It's a pretty strict event as you can see.

Example: Amateur Class PatternHorsemanship Amateur

  1. Right lead LOPE from A
  2. JOG at B
  3. STOP at C and a 450 degrees pivot turn to the right
  4. WALK from C
  5. STOP at D and a 270 degrees pivot turn to the left
  6. Left lead LOPE from D
  7. STOP at F and 6 steps back

Competitors are given an outline and instructions as shown above.
Movements are to be performed when the horse's shoulder crosses the appropriate marker.

  1. Begin a gallop from the right, at A (If you begin from the left, you can kiss victory goodbye!)
  2. Slow to jog at B.
  3. Stop at C, and change directions by turning 450 degrees to the right.
  4. Start moving again at a walk from C.
  5. Stop at D and change directions again, this time turning 270 degrees to the left.
  6. Gallop again at D.
  7. Stop at F, backup 6 steps and you are finished. (Must be 6 steps, not 7 not 5)


Rail Work is much like Western Pleasure, but instead of judging the horse, Rail Work judges the skill of the rider only.

All competitors mount, and walk along the fence of the arena at the direction of the judge, as they call out the movements such as;

"Walk, please."
"Jog, please."
"Lope, please."
"Reverse, please."
"Stop, please."
"Line up, please."

You need not execute the command as soon as it is given, but perform it in accordance with your horses' pace.  Thus making it seem natural, which is what is being looked for in this competition.  Unlike the British, you are not required to stay in a line, and may overtake a rider in front of you if you want, but you may interfere with them, by say, moving directly in front of them for example.

Copyright © 1997-1998 Real Western All Rights Reserved.
Unauthorized Reproduction and Copying Prohibited