Ranch or stock horses are generally well-trained horses ready and willing to perform a variety of tasks in a ranch setting. In many cases, their number one job might be transportation to and from remote parts of the ranch, so they need to travel well and be a pleasure to ride. In addition to transportation, the stock horse may be asked to work a rope, move cattle, separate a cow from the herd, and negotiate a wide range of natural and some not-so-natural obstacles, hence an all-around stock horse is a pleasure to ride, handles well and is willing to perform any task asked of him or her. In recent years, specialization in one event became popular, leading to horses good in one, but maybe not so good in other events. In the mid-1990s, a statewide group in Texas recognized the trend of specialization and saw problems arising that, in their opinion, was not good for the horse industry. They started the Stock Horse of Texas or SHOT with incorporation in 1998. The founders saw the need for affordable education for riders, so a clinic is offered the day before the stock horse show. This enables new participants to learn and then evaluate their progress in the show the next day.
Tommy Fuller, president of the Alabama Stock Horse Association (ALSHA), related that Ranch Horse Versatility events were held in Alabama consisting of five classes including pleasure, trail, cutting, working cow horse and conformation. Local entries were virtually nonexistent because there was no entry level for novice competitors. In 2008 at the Versatility event in Montgomery, SHOT members, Dr. Chris Wilson and Jimbo Humphreys invited Fuller to attend the SHOT show in Waco, TX. Fuller attended the show and was excited when he learned the philosophy of the organization with their goal of an all-around trained horse through education and rider awareness. This show would also be the national kick-off of the American Stock Horse Association, a new organization, but its programs including philosophy, educational methods and competitions were well-tested in Texas before going nationwide. The methods of how to measure the worth of a good stock horse and how to teach the skills needed to succeed are sound and well-accepted.
The ALSHA event consists of four classes including pleasure, trail, reining and cow horse. The levels of competition are youth, novice, green horse, collegiate, limited non-pro, non-pro and open, so there is a place for everyone. Equine competitors do not have to be registered, but they must be able to trot, and no mules or donkeys are allowed. Points are awarded from one to ten, so attempts are rewarded with disqualifications resulting from a lame horse, illegal equipment and cruel treatment of the horse. The stated goal of the ALSHA is to help people ride a better horse.
The pleasure class may be the most important class, because transportation to and from tasks should be functional and a pleasure. The trail class measures the ability of the stock horse to handle everyday situations and chores; these are common sense obstacles and the class is held on natural terrain where possible. The cow horse class offers the option of either roping or circling the cow. The reining patterns measure how well the horse handles and a horse with reining experience can find it beneficial when doing the cow work. The classes are all user-friendly according to your level.
Alabama Stock Horse Association began their stock horse shows in 2009 with competitors increasing from 22 at the first show to 50 at the first show held in 2010 at the Crawford Arena in Montgomery. The increase in competitors indicates the influence of education in the form of clinics and also the levels of competition available.
If you would like to ride a better horse and be a better rider, you should check out the Alabama Stock Horse Association. They are holding an event in Fayette at the Multipurpose Complex with a clinic on June 26 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and a show on Sunday beginning at 9 a.m.
Fuller shops at Farmers Cooperative Market in Leroy, where Manager Jeff Houston helps him when he has questions and stocks what he needs to take care of his animals.
Your local Quality Co-op strives to earn and keep your business and is there to help when you have questions or need something special. We also support equine activities in Alabama and are proud to see the Alabama Stock Horse Association is aiding Alabama riders in their quest to ride a better horse. While in Fayette, Fayette Farmers Co-op manager Lance Ezell will help with products they need to have a successful show.
Don Linker is an outside salesman for AFC.