Adaptability, Usefulness…That’s Versatility!
By Catherine Carmena-Daylong
The Texas chapter of the National Foundation Quarter Horse Association wants YOU!  Our club has the best thing going since gel pads and you aren’t there!  How do I know you aren’t there?  Because I was there and you weren’t.

Do you like to cut and sort cattle?  Will your horse stop and turn around for you?  Will he go over a tarp on the ground?  Can you handle a rope?  Well, tune up Ole Trusty and come join us for great camaraderie, and a fun weekend with your horse.

This is what you need:  A horse registered with NFQHA (See for details), tack with no silver (we are grassroots and “ranchy” – the one with the most silver does not win), a NFQHA Rule book to learn a few patterns (comes with membership), and a friendly, supportive attitude for competition.

How does the NFQHA shows differ from AQHA shows?  I guess the word “Ranchy” sums it up.  To me the big goal is to win the Ranch Versatility competition.  This competition is based on your scores from 5 classes:

Ranch Cutting – it is a reined cutting event – “throwing your horse away” as you would a finished NCHA cutter will get you DQ’d.  As with working on a ranch the goal is to keep the calf separated from the herd.  Therefore keeping your hand in working position is mandatory.  The big difference in this Ranch cutting class is that after you demonstrate your horse’s ability to hold a calf, you then must pen it!  Yes, take the little unwilling bugger down the fence and put it in a pen.  So this class combines a little working cow horse and penning skills as well as cutting.

Ranch Reining – very similar patterns to NRHA and AQHA except again its “ranchy”.  Your horse is not required to slide 40 feet – in fact it is strongly discouraged since if you did that during everyday ranch work you would loose working advantage over the cow.  A successful stop in this competition is one where your horse is soft and willing to stop – right away, waiting quietly for his next instructions.  “Settling” your horse is just as important as the big stop since NFQHA promotes the quiet, level headed working horse.

Ranch Trail – this class differs from regular AQHA trail classes in several ways:  you must demonstrate that your horse is not rope shy.  You don’t necessarily have to catch anything (thank goodness!) – just show that your horse is quiet when you swing a rope over his head and that you can drag something (i.e. a log) behind him.  We also cross tarps, bridges, open and close gates, carry slickers, rattley bags and other potential “horse eating” objects.  Again this class is to demonstrate a quiet minded horse.

Ranch Riding – this class is all about transitions.  You memorize a pattern and at certain cones you change gaits.  Maybe it’s an upward transition, for example from a walk to a lope, or perhaps it is a downward transition (a trot to a walk).  All of the NFQHA classes discourage the horse from dropping his head below the wither, and DQ horses that are behind the vertical.  Also the successful horse will move freely and naturally – no funny lopes here.

Last event is a Timed Agility pattern – This class is usually the last class of the day.  We are generally all tired by this time and ready to unsaddle – for some reason this is where most of the whooping and laughing comes into play in support for your competitors.  Since it is a timed event, almost anything goes!  The first obstacle to the left is a regular barrel, so you zip around it.  Next, where the 2nd barrel usually sits is a “keyhole” (an alley) made of poles.  So you run into the alley, do a rollback and come back out of the alley.  Last obstacle is a series of poles – just like in pole bending.  It is set up where the last barrel usually sits.  So you weave through those and head home!   It is a really fun pattern and the one where my horse and I have improved the most over the last couple of years.

There are many other classes outside of the Ranch Versatility classes.  We have just added a Color class and a Conformation class to our In Hand Trail class series.
Roans, Buckskins, Palominos and Duns (including grullas) can participate in the Color class.  The rules favor the “no chrome” horse.  Black legs, dark hooves receive higher scores than stockings, blazes, etc.   NFQHA encourages the natural horse, so please do not clip those ears and muzzles – we like em fuzzy!

Your young horses will benefit from the In Hand Trail classes.  There are age divisions for yearlings, 2 year olds and 3 and over.  Practice forehand turns, haunch turns and sidepasses from the ground for this class.  Like the Ranch Trail class you may be asked to carry a noisy slicker or the like, cross bridges, tarps, or trot poles in hand for this class.

Other classes include:  Cow Work, Team Sorting, Team Penning, Barrel Racing, Pole Bending, Key Race, Steer Daubing, Dally Team Roping, Heading, Heeling, Specialty Cutting and Western Riding.  Doing the best in as many of these classes as you can will earn you the High Point prize.  Some shows offer saddles for this prize.

Also different groupings of these classes into Jackpots can earn you some money to offset your entry fees.

In all, the Texas Foundation Quarter Horse Club is a wonderful place to get your horse exposed to the show arena.  It is a very enjoyable environment for competitors of all ages and skill levels.  We invite you to join us!  Our next meeting is June 17, 2006 at C & J BBQ located at1010 South Texas Ave, Bryan, Texas.  We will start at 6:30pm

Our next show is December 2nd & 3rd, 2006 at Washington County Fairgrounds in Brenham, Texas.  I hope to see you there!

For more information you can contact Catherine Daylong at 830-426-3388 or visit

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