* Photo by Molly Montag.

AQHA Adds Ranch Horse Versatility Classes, Options

New classes and options have been implemented for versatility ranch horse shows sanctioned by the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA).

Previously, AQHA-sanctioned shows were required to hold limited-division classes concurrently with the respective youth and amateur classes. Effective immediately, AQHA-sanctioned shows can offer standalone limited amateur and limited youth classes, the association announced.

In addition, AQHA has completed programming to implement new Rookie amateur and Rookie youth versatility ranch horse classes. Approved shows can also offer open versatility ranch horse classes as junior and senior or as an all-ages open class.

The AQHA Executive Committee previously approved the amateur and youth divisions to be split into three subdivisions: amateur/youth, limited amateur/limited youth and Rookie amateur/Rookie youth.

Amateur and youth exhibitors are required to go down the fence and are given the option to circle or rope in their cow work.

Limited amateur and limited youth exhibitors are required to box-drive-box-drive in the cow work.

Rookie amateur and Rookie youth exhibitors are required to box only.

These classes were member-driven initiatives voted on at past AQHA conventions and on hold pending computer programming. Each class was designed to enhance the showing experience for VRH competitors by providing more opportunities for skill development.

Limited Class Eligibility

The same horse-and-rider combination may not cross-enter amateur, limited amateur and/or Rookie amateur at the same show. The same horse-and-rider combination may not cross-enter youth, limited youth and/or Rookie youth at the same show. There are no eligibility restrictions, including no earnings or point caps, on limited amateur and limited youth classes for horses or riders.

Rookie Class Eligibility & Rule Variations

VRH Rookie ranch cow work amateur and youth are boxing only with a 50-second time limit, per SHW565. In versatility ranch horse Rookie ranch trail amateur and youth, Rookie exhibitors do not drag an obstacle. Rookie eligibility is 10 points or less and $500 or less in any western class as defined in SHW552.4.

World Show Qualification

For AQHA Versatility Ranch Horse World Championships qualification, the same horse-and-rider combination may only enter once per division. For example, amateur, limited amateur or Rookie amateur may only enter in each of the corresponding six classes once.

Individual Versatility Ranch Horse classes are not eligible for year-end high-point awards. The year-end high-points are awarded to the all-around versatility ranch horse winners, including limited and Rookie divisions.  

The AQHA says anyone interested in competing in one of the new classes at an upcoming show and the class isn’t on the show schedule should contact the show management of the AQHA-sanctioned event.

For more information on AQHA-approved classes, visit The rules are published in the 2021 AQHA rulebook.