2024 Ranch Rule Changes

2024 Ranch Rule Changes

View the recently approved recommendations from the AQHA Ranching Committee, which were approved by the AQHA Executive Committee.

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The AQHA Executive Committee recently reviewed and approved rule changes from the AQHA Ranching Committee. These were approved by the AQHA membership and the Board of Directors at the 2024 AQHA Convention in March.

All committee recommendations were reviewed for feasibility, based on a variety of criteria, including but not limited to available resources, budget constraints and necessary computer programming. Careful consideration, discussion and debate were devoted to each item. Read the full standing committee reports.

All rules are effective January 1, 2025, unless noted otherwise.

The highlights of the approved Ranching Committee recommendations are listed below.

AQHA Rule Changes

  • Create a task force to review and clarify the definition of “cowboy” as it applies to eligibility for VRH and RHC cowboy classes.

  • Offer the cowboy division only in Ranching Heritage Challenge (RHC) SHW559.3.1 Working Ranch Horse – consists of ranch reining and ranch cow work for open, limited open, cowboy, amateur and youth.

  • Add extremely out of control, dangerous or excessive schooling to all VRH/RHC classes as cause for disqualification and immediate dismissal from the class.

  • Amend SHW419.5 [Ranch Riding Penalties] Zero (0) Score:


Illegal equipment including hoof black, braided or banded manes or tail extensions


Leaving working area before pattern is complete

Disrespect or misconduct

Improper western attire

Fall of horse/rider

  • Change the qualification period for the VRH World Show to January 1 - December 31 of the year prior to the show, starting with the 2026 VRH World.

  • Amend SHW422.5 and SHW561.6 Ranch Trail Prohibited Obstacles:

Tarps, water obstacles with slick bottoms, PVC pipe used as a jump or walk over, tires, rocking or moving bridges, painted logs or poles, logs elevated in a manner that permits such to roll in a dangerous manner, any type of pinwheel regardless of spacing or gait.

  • Place all Ranching Heritage Challenge roping classes – RHC heading, RHC heeling, RHC breakaway, RHC steer stopping – by a combination of judge(s) score and time.

  • Elect 2024-25 AQHA Ranching Committee Chairman Turner Armitage

View more on AQHA’s rules and regulations

The full standing committee reports are available at www.aqha.com/committee-reports.

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