Horse & Rider

Ranch Riding Geldings


Evaluate and place these ranch riding geldings. Then see how your choices compare to our expert judge’s.

of nicely turned out ranch riding Quarter Horse and Paint geldings presented with the same background, lighting, and full left-side view, which helps with accurately analyzing their balance, structure, quality, and muscling. At a show, I’d also be able to see them from every angle, but I’ll give my best assessment based on what I can see in these photos.

As a judge, I follow guidelines in breed-specific rule books, and even though this is a mixed class, these are all stock breed geldings who compete in the same discipline, so I’ll be able to fairly assess them in comparison to each other. The first thing I look for is balance, starting at the horses’ shoulders, and including their toplines, hips, heads, necks, and legs. My eye is slanted toward practicali­ty and performanc­e ability with this class of three attractive geldings.

With geldings, some of the breed quality traits that would be musts in stallions and mares aren’t as critical, as they won’t breed to pass along their plainer type. However, as with any horse, form to function is of utmost importance. Geldings need strength and correct structure to not only survive but succeed in performanc­e divisions.

In this group, this gelding best meets the requiremen­ts I look for. He’s nicely balanced, and I like the slope and muscling of his shoulders, the first place I look. He has the best, most level topline of these three geldings, with well-defined withers and a short back that’s strong across the loin, and he’s nicely turned over his croup. He also has adequate depth of heartgrith and good muscling overall.

His pretty head with small ears and large eyes shows good breed quality. If I were to fault him, it would be his neck. It’s not a non-functional neck, but is somewhat short, quite thick through the throatlatc­h, and lacks the shapelines­s and definition we want on the underside. His neck also ties in a little low to his chest, though that’s not necessaril­y bad in a performanc­e horse.

He appears to stand on four correct legs with no blemishes.

His pasterns are short, but look strong, and his hocks are neither too straight nor too angled. He looks like a competent performanc­e horse from his structure.

This colorful gelding is fairly well balanced and shows more refinement, especially through his neck, than Gelding B. However, his topline isn’t as strong or as level, with less prominent withers that sit lower than his hip, and he lacks the strength across the loin of the first-place gelding. His depth of heartgirth suits his size and frame, but he lacks definition of muscling overall.

His attractive head and neck lend to his look of refinement, and though his neck ties into his chest high, it’s more upright than I’d like to see. His shoulders are slightly steeper than Gelding B’s, and don’t have the volume of muscling.

His front legs are clean and straight with enough bone, while his front pasterns show adequate length and slope. He has low-set, well-angled hocks, but lacks definition of muscle through his stifles. With four solid, clean legs, an appealing head, adequate balance, and flashy coloring, he’s a pretty and useful-looking horse, but his uneven topline and overall lack of strength and power place him behind Gelding B.

This gelding is also quite attractive and fit-looking overall, but places behind the other two because he shows the least strength in his topline, less muscling, and a structural issue in his legs. His withers are low and join a back that’s also low making his topline uneven as it rounds up into a higher croup. His hip and tailset are some of his better features.

His head is a bit plain, lacking the breed quality of the other two, but he has a kind eye. His neck is a bit short and upright, but still probably viable in a performanc­e arena. His shoulders have average slope and his depth of heartgirth is adequate for his size, as he’s a slighter built horse than the other two.

His hocks appear to have a correct and functional angle, and his front legs are flat-kneed with adequate bone. However, his front pasterns are long, with his hooves out in front of the column of his leg, and his pastern angle doesn’t match his shoulder angle. Long pasterns may stress tendons and lead to unsoundnes­s.

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